“They can’t yank a novelist like that can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him.”
Let’s talk about dedication and what a pain in the ass it can be.
Being a success at anything takes dedication. It takes getting up every day and doing it, even, and especially, when you don’t want to. It’s so easy to take a day off, but it’s even easier to take that second day, and that third day, and by that point you might as well just take a week off, a little vacation from the thing that’s giving you so much trouble, and by God you can come back to it next Monday well-rested and with fresh eyes.
But then something comes up Monday morning and you didn’t get started as early as you wanted to, and by Tuesday you’ve lost the train of thought you had two weeks ago and you think maybe what I need is to just work on something else, something small and simple, just to get the gears moving again. Maybe instead of writing new words, I’ll just take today and PLOT, so that tomorrow the words will come even easier because the story is already there in rough outline.
And then the next day comes and you stayed up too late and kept hitting the snooze button, or your kid has something at school or a doctor’s appointment you forgot about and you say well, that’s okay, I’ll just get the words done later, after dinner.
But then tonight’s the Survivor season finale and you have to know who won, you can’t wait and be behind the rest of the world; you’d have to avoid Twitter and Instagram for the next few days until you can finally catch up. Besides, it’s one TV show, it’s not like they announce a new winner every week!
Do you see a pattern here? Life happens, there’s nothing we can do about that, but what we CAN control is our own actions and our own level of dedication.
If you want to be a writer, there’s only one thing to do: WRITE. Write every day, especially on the days you don’t want to, because those are the days your dedication comes through, the days you can show yourself just how badly you want this.
It’s so easy to get bogged down and burned out, but when you’ve dedicated yourself to something, it’s easier to fight through the exhaustion and do it anyway.
And for some of us that dedication isn’t even a question, because for some of us, this life, this creative drive, is all we’ve got. I’ve had day jobs my entire adult life, but I still got up every day and wrote because writing is my dedication, my day job is … just a job. I’m not dedicated to my day job the way I am to my writing and I’ve taken way more days off from that job than I have from writing. I’ve never taken a vacation from writing, and when I have a vacation from my day job, that just gives me more time to write. My dedication to writing has never been in question. It’s why I get up in the morning; the words aren’t going to write themselves.
This applies to everything. Whatever you want to be good at, whatever you want to succeed at, you HAVE to dedicate the time and attention to it, otherwise you’re just indulging in an occasional diversion from real life.
“Life can’t ever really defeat a writer who is in love with writing, for like itself is a writer’s lover until death–fascinating, cruel, lavish, warm, cold, treacherous, constant.”