So, for the past number of months – maybe 14 or so – I’ve been laying low. I wanted to rediscover my passion for writing, but not as dictated by countless others who clamored that they knew “the best” way to manage my writing career. I thought – perhaps foolishly – that I would succeed if I simply followed so-and-so’s plan because, hey, it worked for them! That is the folly of attending writing conferences and allowing others to have too much power over your work. I found myself time and again frustrated that, even having followed Joe Schmoe’s prescription to writing success to the letter, I was no closer to my goals than I had been before.
This growing frustration was affecting my ability to maintain any semblance of politeness in the several critique groups I belonged to…and even when I started my own, it became increasingly overwhelming for me when I found other writers spouting the same, trite crap that any self-help book, writerly lecture, or writing conference provided. At the time, I was on the board of directors of a major writers conference and looking into starting my own closer to home.
All of that…scrapped.
When something’s not working, I’m the type of guy who needs to strip the process down to its bare essentials and begin again. I’m that way with my life, my writing, pretty much everything. If it’s not helping, get rid of it.
So I left the board of directors, left the critique groups, and hunkered down in the quiet creative space I’d created for myself, and deeply examined what my next game plan would be. It took several months to determine what that next step would look like, and in that time, I found that my own creative process had begun to flourish once more.
Perhaps, I thought, I’m too much in the world in terms of my writing. Maybe I need to withdraw and rely solely on my intuition and talent.
Basically, get back to square one, but with everything I’d learned from when I began as a writer.
Yesterday, for the first time, I looked at several writer conferences. Just checking things out. I had no urge whatsoever to get involved, but I did want to see what was out there. The one drawback (and the only one that I can determine) to writing in such a reclusive manner is that there is no feedback to be found. And sometimes, I don’t have the appropriate amount of emotional distance from my own writing to determine if it’s working. Now that I’m working steadily (with income flowing), I can afford to submit my work to various competitions to see if my progress is what I’m aiming it to be.
Oddly, very few writing conferences have competitions.
However, I did find one that interested me enough to do some research and, finally, calendar it as a deadline to work toward.
The journey to becoming a writer is entirely unique for every person who sets out along that path.
There are very few one-size-fits-all formulas, and none that I’ve ever encountered that actually boast writing success with every. single. writer. There are far too many variables involved in the process, and each process is as different and individual as snowflakes. Anyone who tries to sell you the secret to success is a modern-day snake oil salesman. It always – always – involves patience, dedication, passion, and lots and lots of hard work. Once you’ve done the work and learned what your specific process is, then you reap the rewards. It seems that everyone is looking for the shortcut, the door at the back of the wardrobe that will lead them to their personal Narnia.
In that way, so many potential writers will be led astray, perhaps never to find their way back.
Those who are self-aware enough will realize what it truly takes, and those will be the successful writers.