Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How to tell if you're committed to your writing

"If you're interested, you do what's convenient. If you're committed, you do whatever it takes."--John Asaraf

I used this quote last night at sobertruths.blogspot.com to talk about why my relationship with getting off sugar is different this time around. And it's such a good quote and so pertinent to our relationship to our creative self-expression that I wanted to post it here and talk about it from that perspective.

If you're interested in starting to write, you'll probably do what's convenient: buy some books on becoming a writer (although you may not read them or read them all the way through) and then buy some more. You may buy some blank journals or notebooks or a new thumb drive. You may start attending writer's conferences or the local book festivals and you'll listen to writers talk about their lifes, their sucesses, and their efforts. But chances are if you're only interested and not committed, you won't do a lot of writing and you won't keep at it, because it isn't convenient. It isn't convenient to spend a couple of hours writing each day in an already full life of work and family and relationship and all the things that keep us busy. And so it's easy to let this new interest go as quickly as the use of that sports equipment in your basement.

If you're more interested than just starting, you may take some classes and as long as you have the deadlines, you'll produce the writing assignments (or most of them because work or a vacation may interfere). You'll read a few more of those books, maybe something more specific to the genre you're interested in. Or you'll start reading writing blogs and you'll begin to do some Internet research on a bigger project. You'll research some writing retreats or residency program requirements. You might even join a support or critique group as long as it's conveniently timed. But chances are you won't be writing regularly. You won't be able to set deadlines for yourself and keep them. When the inner critic starts pushing you around, you won't push back. Instead you'll find it harder and harder to go to your desk or pick up your notebook. Then you'll be too busy or too tired to go to the group.

I know all this because I've been in both places. And I'm in something parallel now. I am committed to completing my second novel. I work on it steadily, scheduling time, locking my inner critic in the front hall closet when his voice gets too loud. I keep the characters and their problems fresh in my mind and give them some attention each day. I know I will finish the novel and probably by year's end.

The problem is with trying to market my work. I am interested in getting published. I'm actually very interested. But I'm not committed. I'm doing only what seems safe and convenient. Anything too risky, too scary, too "whatever it takes" isn't happening. It's easier to fall back on my commitment to write. It's more convenient to write (less risky) than put myself out there.

So how do we move from interested to committed?

1 comment:

  1. Jill,

    Thank you. Your message helped me to show up at my writing desk again when I was reflexively heading out to do busy work. You also helped me to express myself beyond my normal edge of niceties today.