Writing is truly an individual endeavor. In my career, which spans almost twenty years, I’ve never met two writers whose processes are the same. And while I have not interviewed every writer in the universe (hell, I barely have time to vacuum my own house!), it is becoming more apparent that writers are indeed like snowflakes in that I have not yet found two who are alike in their methods, rituals, and process. However, every year, many books are published that claim that you can be *shown* the road to publishing or writing success. And these books tend to be very popular.
Yesterday, I had a very long and interesting conversation with a coach/therapist who happened to occupy the chair next to mine in my neighborhood coffee shop. When she learned that I am a writer, she piped up – like many do – to say that she “always wanted to be a writer.” I’ve learned not to respond as I used to to such statements, because I know that writers write, and they don’t talk about it (much…yeah, right), but they put their butts in a chair and actively pursue their chosen craft.
In the course of our conversation, my friend revealed that recently she’s been unable to read anything someone else has written, stating that she grows bored with it long before she reaches the end. She also revealed that she once wanted to be a professional photographer, but abruptly quit when – after a showing of her work among long-term and highly paid professionals (her being a rank amateur…her words) – several people told her that her work was too close to various other photographers in the industry. She said that being compared to so many others who’d been in the business for so long was off-putting to her.
“If I can’t be unique and appreciated for me, and the abilities and talent I bring to the art, then what’s the point?”
With that statement, she clarified for me the reasons why I likewise walked away from all the writing organizations I was involved in. While I believe it’s important for new writers to learn their craft through whatever means works for them, I found that I was no longer learning anything new…and further, that I had grown completely bored with others claiming to have “the secret” to my success.
No one has the secret to my success but me. What would I say to other writers or wanna-be writers?
Trust your own intuition and instinct. You’ll know when a passage works, or when a character, story, or plot is intriguing and unique enough to survive the gauntlet that is the publishing industry. No one else can provide those answers to you. No one. Trying to listen to so many “others” who claim to know best only served to dilute my own skill and distract me from trusting myself.