You Don’t Make It by Giving Up
It was a shining moment in my life. My story had just been published in a national publication. A local newspaper had interviewed me, and my friends and family were sending congratulations. I was on top of the world.
Then a guy I know asked to see the book I was published in.
“This is awesome,” I thought. “He wants to read my story.”
I brought a copy of the book to him, with a huge smile on my face. He stared at the cover, a bit confused. I told him the page my story was on.
“You just have one story in a book?” He shook his head. “I thought you wrote the whole book.”
I was furious. After all my hard work, I finally had something to be proud of, and he acted like it was nothing.
Another friend asked me how much money I made for the story I sold. When I told her, she said, “Better keep your day job.”
Thanks for the encouragement people.
It’s hard to stay hopeful when you are a writer. Especially when people make comments like that. Like a nationally published story isn’t a good thing. Like being paid to write isn’t a good thing.
You know you love it, and you still would do it, even when it doesn’t pay. Yet it’s great to be valued too. And to pay your mortgage every month. And when you stop to think of all those hours you spend working a day job when you could be writing? They are lost forever; the time you will never get back. After all, you have to live. You have to pay the bills.
The news is discouraging. According to a survey by The Author’s Guild in 2018, American authors made a median annual income of $6,080 in 2017. Definitely not an income you can support yourself on.
Yet we write. We write because we love it. We yearn to express all the thoughts in our minds and share them with others. We write because it’s like breathing to us, and writing is life.
The Joy of Creativity
For me, it’s not all about the money. It’s about the joy of creativity. On the days where things aren’t going well, writing down my thoughts is probably the only thing that keeps me sane. Many times I’ve been in despair about something difficult going on in my life, and writing about it saved me, and lifted me out of my depressed state. For I’ve dreamed of being a writer from early childhood — the only thing I ever wanted.
I know you have your writer's dreams too. In an ideal world. we wouldn’t care what anyone says. They may say we’ll never make a living at it, they may say we’re not the best writer, they may say we’re too young, or too old. They can say a lot of things, but what they think does not matter, because it’s our life, and our passion.
I have a friend who loves to write, but she’s afraid to say she’s an author because she doesn’t have a book out. She’s had stories published, and been paid to write, and writes very well, but she’s still afraid to own it. It’s all because her name isn’t on the cover of a book. How easily she forgets all the accomplishments she’s made in writing. She has earned the right to claim her author name.
Remember this: It doesn’t matter if you’ve been published or not. If you are writing, you are a writer. It doesn’t matter if you’ve ever been published. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t the best at it. Many of us suffer from imposter syndrome. We secretly wonder what in the world made us think we could write anything. But yes, we are authors. Own it.
Writing is a real career
The struggle is real, people. We watch our neighbors working in medicine, finance or the legal world, being well paid for their work. We wonder why our profession isn’t as well compensated. Yet still, many of us get excited when we get an article published, for free. Writing is our passion.
We live for the day when we can inspire a reader, or touch someone’s heart. We delight in spinning tales that people will never forget. And we all hope to write that cherished book, that someone will call their favorite. We aspire to something greater than ourselves.
Meanwhile, we deal with skepticism from others, who laugh at our dreams and insist we need a real career to be of value. There are even well-meaning people who insist you should go back to college for a medical career or apply for that secretary or sales job. They can’t possibly imagine you spending so much effort and time in something you are not going to be well compensated for. They will never see you as a success until you show them.
All writers have had times they’ve wanted to throw in the towel.
Author Stephen King was struggling financially when he wrote “Carrie.” His wife fished it out of the trash, and the rest is history. His bestselling novel went on to become a movie. His success would have never happened if it wasn’t for a supportive partner who recognized talent when she read it.
Maybe you don’t have any supportive people in your life. Maybe no one has told you how talented you are. In that case, it’s imperative that you believe in yourself. Keep on writing, even when publications reject you, and no one curates your articles.
- Polish your skills
- Read books about writing
- Take a college writing course
- Seek out mentors
- Join a writer’s group
- Surround yourself with positive, creative people you can learn from.
If this is the dream that keeps you going every day, you must not give up. If writing were easy, everyone would be writing New York Times bestsellers. Yet most people who start a book never finish it. Don’t be one of those people.
You Can Overcome the Obstacles
Writing can be hard and tedious. After the joy of delving into your imagination and writing the first draft, the difficult work of editing a manuscript begins. You write numerous drafts. You spend hours cutting out parts and perfecting sentences. It’s a long and lonely process. With great dreams, comes great effort.
Eventually, your novel is going to be ready to put on the market. Even then, there is no guarantee that an agent will sign you or a publisher will pick up your book. And you must be strong enough to face rejection. Because every writer has collected rejection slips at one time or another. The weak ones quit, and the successful ones just stomp on those rejections on their road to success. Obstacles are part of the journey. Perseverance counts.
Writing is like playing a slot machine. You get no payouts, maybe a small one, and some give up and go home. Yet others put a little more money in, and hit the jackpot.
Writing is a lot like that. You never know what will happen. You can write a blog, that only your Mama will read, and the next thing you know, one of your fans is offering you a book contract. Amazing opportunities do happen if you don’t give up.
And the joy of seeing one of your stories published, or a book published is exhilarating. There’s nothing like it. It’s worth all the obstacles that you overcame to get there.
There’s Hope for You
There’s hope for you. You are in great company. J.K. Rowling was a struggling single Mom, and now her books are read all over the world, and she’s helping other people.
That’s the beauty of being a writer. There are no limitations. You can strive to be anything you want to be. You can use your creativity to change the world, and change your own life while doing it.
So when you are feeling discouraged and writer’s block overwhelms you, remember this:
- There is hope for you.
- You are in great company.
- You are worthy.
- Persistence brings results.
Pick up the pen, and begin again.