“It’s not rocket science,” I said to a small group of hopeful people who wanted to become published authors. It was the first time the founders of Write Well, Sell Well OKC had hosted a writer’s intensive at Lake Eufaula. Until then, I’d had no idea how many misconceptions people had about writing. Especially writing in the Christian market.
We’d almost had a runner the night before. One woman had felt so overwhelmed and unprepared that she almost slipped out in the darkness and drove back to her home state. Her bunkmates talked her down. Today she is a published author and hasn’t been a flight risk since.
Another woman looked at me with wide eyes and suggested that perhaps she should go back to college and get a doctorate in English. Then she’d come back and share what she’d written.
We talked her down.
I’ve found that a lot of beginning writers…don’t write.
Why? They’re waiting to be transported into a cloud of glory where they take dictation from God. So caught up in the inspiration that every word is perfect. “Isn’t that the way you do it?” one of them asked.
I mean, there are people who can do that. You know, the fortunate few who are blessed with a family trust.
Who don’t need to make a living.
However, if you plan on making this a career, you write. All the time. You write when all the ladies on your block are playing tennis in the morning, going to a tea house for lunch and then shopping for antiques. Trust me, it was hard to miss the fun. But I had goals which I would never reach if I played with them.
“You’re just no fun,” one of my friends told me.
“You’ve lost your inner child,” another said with reproach.
I had to put my inner child in time out to work hard enough to build a successful writing career. There are those rare moments when inspiration hits. When that happens, I write.
But those moments are like falling stars. Look away and you’ll miss it.
I write when I feel as inspired as a slug in a hailstorm.
I write when I feel achy.
I write when the blank page mocks me.
I’ve learned to push through every obstacle and distraction.
I’ve learned to write my way through messes in my manuscript.
“This isn’t rocket science,” I repeated to the group at the lake house. “Becoming a successful writer isn’t too difficult for any of you. But it does require a particular skill set which you have to learn and practice to improve.”
I went on to explain that when I was studying to become an R.N., I didn’t have the skills to start an IV, drop an NG tube or resuscitate a dead body. Those were skills I studied and then I practiced until perfected. Just like I had to do when I changed careers to become a writer.
Good writers don’t appear in a cloud of glory. They are molded through an ongoing determination to learn, a work ethic and a simple tenacity that won’t quit.
It’s not rocket science. But when you apply that determination to learn, the willingness to put your inner child on hold while you work and refuse to quit, an interesting thing will happen. Your career will take off like a rocket launched from NASA.