I am an aspiring author who is often plagued by doubt. Who doesn’t actually have time to write. I sometimes have a hard time recovering from criticism, and when I talk about my book to “real” people, I sometimes think I can hear crickets chirping in the background.Why does anyone bother? Many writers will TELL you they write merely for the love of writing. And, I love writing, too. I love that I created a world of people, and to me, they all seem real. Sometimes, while driving or washing the dishes, I even find myself wondering what my characters are up to. Okay, that sounds a little crazy, and it is, but generally writers can be pretty crazy, so clearly I’m on the right path.
But, Imma tell you right now, I don’t just write for the love of writing. I write with one goal in mind. I write to (eventually) get paid. I write with the hope that one day a maid will clean up the mess my kids have been making ever since I began to write. Is that aiming to high? Well, in a year I’ll let you know. When my alarm goes off at 4:45, I’m faced with a decision. Do I roll out of bed so my characters can finish their battle with the Stones of David in Nigeria, or do I continue to sleep in my nice warm blankets? I mean, who am I kidding? I don’t know how to write a book. I’m not going to be the next Leo Tolstoy, am I right?
There are a million published authors out there who have produced great novels despite doubts of their own because they found the motivation to keep on going. Recently, a fellow aspiring author asked me how I stay motivated. The truth is that while I face many challenges in my writing, keeping motivated is not one. When doubt creeps up, I surround myself with positivity. I collect positive quotes and videos like some people collect reasons not to try. That way, I can remind myself that people (me) can still be great writers even if they’re not “naturally gifted” because:
- A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. –Junot Diaz, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, 2008.
That little doozy is saved as a background to my phone. I also think EVERYONE should see Jim Carrey give this commencement speech. It has a ridiculous number of hits, so maybe you already have. If not, WATCH IT. If you can’t watch the whole thing, check out these highlights.
- I have no limits. I cannot be contained because I am the container.
- . . . you can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.
- Your need for acceptance can make you invisible in this world. Let the light shine through your form. Risk being seen in all of your glory.
- I was concerned about going out into the world and doing something bigger than myself until someone smarter than myself said there’s nothing bigger than myself.
- Take a chance on faith. Not religion, faith. Not hope, faith. Hope is a beggar. Hope walks through the fire and faith leaps over it.
If you’re having trouble staying motivated, try watching Oprah’s Master Class on OWN, where the “masters” of various fields (mostly celebrities) explain how they got to where they are, and the lessons they learned along the way. My favorite show so far, not surprisingly, features the lovely Miss O herself, although Billy Bob Thornton, Sharon Stone and Susan Sarandon are very close runners up. These morsels of wisdom come from Oprah:
- When you do well, when you do your best, people notice.
- Luck is preparation meeting with the moment of opportunity.
- Every single thing that has ever happened to you is preparing you for the moment that is to come.
- It’s not about the other guy. It’s about what you can do. You need to give it everything you’ve got, all the time, for yourself.
Despite the story in my last blog where I threw The Secret in the bin at the airport in Montreal, I believe in the power of positive thinking. I wouldn’t take the time to write if I didn’t. Despite the (sometimes) glazed expressions that crop up when I explain my plot, I love my plot. I just need to find a way to explain it properly. When I get hit with doubt, I take a few days and wallow. But, I pick myself back up. Because that’s what writers do. My motivation comes from the knowledge that writers are people. They’re not superheroes. They have families, and doubts, and the same 24 hours in a day that I have. And, if I try hard enough, my book WILL be great.
Writing a book takes time. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. Aspiring authors give up every day. So, what’s the secret to finishing that novel?
How are YOU going to stay motivated?