Sunday, December 3, 2006

How Dedicated Are You?

Writing is a funny thing. It seems that everyone I meet has "been planning to write a book" when they have time. The trick is, you have to MAKE the time.

Personally, I'm thoroughly immersed in the writing world and have been since I first decided to take up this life. I volunteer my time to RWA and the LIRW, I belong to two very active critique groups, and I love to talk about writing with anyone who'll ask. When I'm not writing my own stories, I'm reading something off my constantly-growing collection of books written by friends and associates, or critiquing a work for one of my groups. I love discovering a new turn of phrase or plot point. For me (and most writers), it's all about the next line of dialogue, the next scene, the next story. Yes, there have been times where real life has called me away, but all too soon, Gertrude starts whispering in my ear again, and I find myself drawn back to the desktop to tell another couple's great tale of love and happily ever after. True success in writing only comes through dedication. Just ask Nora Roberts.

During a recent chat, another writer (hi, Deb!) confessed that she thought of a great story idea while in church and wrote it on the church bulletin so she wouldn't forget it. Now, that's dedication! Most writers admit to having written something on a cocktail napkin, a receipt, the back of an envelope or a steamy shower door at one time or another.

Yet, there are those writers who start out gung-ho, maybe finish a manuscript or two, but for whatever reason, they lose the passion. Maybe they received one too many rejections, maybe something serious took them away from the craft and they find it difficult to dive in again, or maybe the business end just depresses them too much. These are the writers who, after a time, find themselves with "too much to do to write" or hanging on to a writing group for "sentimental reasons." Guess what, gang? Writing is a business, not a club you join for the occasional chat or sentimental stroll down Memory Lane (i.e., "Remember when I thought I was going to be a published writer...?").

Real writers show up at that keyboard every single day. They write, they read, they critique their partners' works in order to strengthen their own prose. They live, eat, sleep and breathe the writing process. Anyone who tells you differently is selling snake oil in a magic elixir bottle. So plan to show up every day. Or don't show up at all.