I know an aspiring author with hopes and dreams of becoming the next James Patterson. Every day he prays that someone will see his work, fall in love with it and offer him a contract. I’ve read some of his work and it’s good…really good…and I would love to see him get that contract, too. There’s just one problem. All he does is hope, dream and pray. He doesn’t write.
He has several manuscripts in the works (like most writers, I think), but he can’t seem to finish even one of them. He says he’s afraid that no one will like his work. He’s afraid of failure but he’s even more afraid of succeeding. After all, if he becomes successful, his life will change. He’s not a change kind of guy. He likes his life on a smooth, even keel. He also has admitted he lacks confidence in his writing and he’s always over-working his story to make it better. (I’m guilty of the last one).
He also gets frustrated, unsure of how he wants to finish his novels. He tosses ideas out at the writers’ group. He is a member of some online critique groups, but it takes him forever to heed the advice and write and revise. Instead…he plays video and computer games and thinks about his manuscript.
Sorry, my dear boy, your novel isn’t going to be seen by anyone that way, I don’t care how much you hope, dream and pray.
Writing is a solitary art. It requires dedication, perseverance, time and focus, if you want to be published. Otherwise, writing becomes a hobby. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with it being a hobby, but if you dream of being published, you can’t play video games and expect the book to write itself because you hope, dream or pray for it to happen.
As writers, we have to decide in our minds if we’re going to be hobbyists or authors. Is it for fun or do you really want to be published? Once you decide what kind of author you are, then you must take the proper steps to become what you want to become. If you know you are a procrastinator like my friend, try setting reminders and alarms on your phone. Set aside some time every day to just write. It could be 30 minutes, 2 hours, or all day, but don’t stray from the schedule you’re comfortable with. Eliminate all other distractions. If you write on your computer like I do, get all of your Facebooking and Tweeting and game playing out of the way before your writing time, or do it afterwards. Retrain your mind to focus and remain dedicated during that time to your writing only. The first few times you do this, you may stare at the screen and your fingers and brain may lock up. Stick with it. Don’t give up. Keep trying. Before long, your fingers will fly across the keyboard with fervor, and thoughts and dialogue will come pouring out of the recesses of your mind like ants out of a kicked-up ant hill.
Above all, never lose your enthusiasm and belief in yourself. If you’ve decided you want to be published more than anything in the world, don’t look at writing as a laborious job you go to every day. This is your passion. It is your hope, your dream, but no amount of praying without doing the work will make your dream come true. You just have to believe in yourself. I do.
Are you a procrastinating author? What keeps you motivated to write?
8 thoughts on “When hopes, dreams and prayers are not enough”
I’m guilty of over-working my writing as well, especially my query letters. I send some out and get some requests and then I think I can make them better. I re-write them and re-write them, and suddenly, I’m not getting any more requests… My husband stopped me today from doing the same thing on my new query. I know I’m doing it, and yet I can’t quite stop myself…
Good post, Jenny. I’ve suffered from procrastination too. I’ve justified spending writing time on building a social network platform and ended up with Compulsive Communication Syndrome. I wrote a very successful blogpost on the topic, at least I thought it was successful until I found most viewers were arriving there looking for pics of elephants!
Your friend needs a firm hand. He needs to make a commitment to deliver. That’s how we’ve done it in our Kilkenny group. If he can’t do that then he has to remain a dreamer, which is okay too. Different strokes.
This is a great post. I think we are all guilty of this to some extent. I, myself just added 300 words to my “finished” manuscript. Eventually, I need to let my baby go. I will, I promise, after this last round of betas, unless they hate it ***GACK***
I am guilty of that insecure overediting thing. But this is my year. You are absolutely correct. You have to put yourself out there or there’s no way you’ll get anyway. I’m taking your advice! Hold me to it!
I’ve got your back, dear! We’re all in this boat together. 2012 is going to be a fantastic year!
Good cause Kristen Lamb’s Writer Warrior Camp is going to kick my butt.
LOVE this post, Jen. 🙂
Thanks, Julie. Now if I could just stop being a dang perfectionist…:-)