One thing I’ve heard a lot about over the years is writers talking about giving up. I’m sure you’ve heard it too. Sometimes it comes from a writer who’s been published sharing how close they came to giving up. Sometimes it’s someone who hasn’t been published yet and wonders how much longer they should keep trying.
With that in mind, I have something to confess: Not once in my ten-year quest for publication did I ever consider giving up. And not once did I doubt that I would be published someday.
My secret? Ironically, I got very comfortable with the idea that I might never be published. Because of that, I found other reasons to write. And once I found other reasons to write, I knew I would be writing for the rest of my life whether anyone ever published me or not. And once I decided I would be writing for the rest of my life, publication start to feel inevitable–whether it happened in my twenties or in my sixties.
Publishing can validate you, but I don’t think a lack of a publishing credit should invalidate you. Publishers, editors, and agents may stand between you and your publishing dreams, but they don’t stand between you and your writing. That experience is solely and completely yours. You get to own that, whether anyone likes what your writing or not.
The more you write the better you will get. That’s how writing works. So, the key to reaching your writing goals, whatever they may be, is to keep writing. And it’s a lot easier to keep writing if you’re writing for the right reasons. Here are a few to consider:
Because it makes you happy
This, I believe, is the best reason. Admittedly, I’m biased, because it’s also my biggest reason, but I think if you can write for yourself and your own happiness first and foremost, it makes it a lot easier to persevere until you reach your writing goals. If you write because it makes you happy, “good” doesn’t matter. Publishing doesn’t matter. And yet, the more the more write and the more you learn, the better you will get. You will get closer to good and get closer to being published, simply by focusing on telling a story that makes you happy the best that you possibly can.
Because it connects you to people like you
Writers often see the world differently than other people. As cool as it can be to have a unique perspective, it can also be a little isolating. Connecting with other writers can help you find people who see the world more like you do–who see a mess of stories and perspectives and outlooks. Connecting with the writing world through classes and social media can help you feel more supported and less isolated.
Because it helps you interpret and make sense of the world
Typically, writers are people who search for clarity and understanding. Writing can help us find that. It forces us to slow down and lock in on our own thoughts and beliefs. This brings a greater understanding to both our world and ourselves, which I believe makes us happier and more productive people.
Because maybe you can express an idea another person has been searching for
Have you ever read a book or watched a show/movie/play and had a character express an exact emotion you have felt but have never been able to put into words? I know I have. There’s a power in speaking for your audience like that–in being able to be their voice. That power doesn’t come from publication. It comes from writing. This is true regardless of if your audience is global or just your close friends and family.
Because no one else is going to have your perspective
No one will ever see the world exactly as you do. No one is going to put words together like you will. Writing is a way to record what you think, feel, and believe. Publishing may help you share your work, but you don’t need it to record your perspective. This is how you can use your voice.
Because you only get one chance to leave your mark on this world
If you have a story inside you, write it! Life may be full of second chances, but you only get one chance at life. Your work will almost certainly matter to someone whether it’s published or not. If you want to write, you should write. Leave your mark on the world and your readers while you still can.
Because connecting with readers is a true gift
We are lucky to live in the age of the internet where there are so many options to share our work. Between sites like Wattpad, and the ability to create a blog like I have, there are plenty of ways to get your work to readers on your own terms. There are few joys of writing that exceeded connecting with someone who has read and appreciated your work. That connection is real regardless of if you’re published or not.
Because being about to say you do something you love is worth more than any job can ever pay you
It is a privilege to get paid to do what you love, but I don’t show up every day to write for money. I show up every day because I am my best self when I do. Writing matters so much more to me than anyone can put a price tag on. I loved the act of writing so much that if I didn’t get published, I was fully prepared to a boring job that paid enough and wasn’t in any way mentally taxing. Because nothing was more important to me than doing what I loved, whether anyone paid me for it or not. I found that writing out of love takes the pressure of publication off and brings more joy to both my life and my writing.
Because if you don’t give up, someone might just pay you someday
Publishing shouldn’t be the reason to write, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be a reason to write. And I think you’ll find if it’s not your main motivator, it’ll get easier to keep writing no matter the criticism or odds. Additionally, if you’re not writing for publishing and bestseller fame, it puts you in a position to be happy with any publishing situation you find yourself in. Whether it’s a small press or major publisher, whether your book does incredibly well or incredibly poorly. It will be enough to have made it that far, regardless of the outcome. Write for reasons other than publishing, and publishing will never disappoint you.
As always, I hope this helps!
Don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter. You’ll get a bi-weekly email with posts like this one (plus a handful of email exclusives) delivered directly to your inbox!
Now it’s your turn: Why do you write? Tell me about it in the comments!