Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I Want to Be a Writer

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

My first writers conference was . . . well . . . intimating. I attended alone. It was the days prior to GPS and maneuvering my way through the one-way streets of downtown Asheville was a little disorienting. Those were the days before Google maps and you had to do your best to follow poorly devised instructions on Rand McNally.

At the hotel, the line of conferees, three lines thick, waited to check-in. Happy peers reunited and chatter about their writing news or publication filled the room. All I knew was, I wanted to be a writer. I felt like a fish out of water.

If this wasn’t enough, I was covered from fingers to elbow with oozing poison ivy. My hand, wrapped loosely in gauze, resembled a mummy, and I tried not to scratch at the muck. It wasn’t long before a young woman sat next to me. She eyed my menagerie of bandages before she leaned close and whispered, “I heard people were itching to get in here. I just didn’t think it was for real. You must really wanna be a writer!”

I stared as the edges of her lips turned up and she burst into laughter. She giggled, I laughed and I’d made my first writing buddy, the wonderful Gina Holmes. That was the better part of ten years ago.

The point is simple. Though I was out of place and uncomfortable, the one thing that kept me prodding through the discomfort, was the desire to be a writer.

Ten years later, that desire has not changed. I still want to be a writer – a better, stronger writer. Getting to the goal is not easy. There’s learning the craft, making time to write, and learning to overcome rejection.

If you want to be a writer your first decision is what type of writer do you want to be? A knuckle-down, determined to be published author or a piddler – a hobbyist. Only you can make that decision. As you weave your way down the writing pathway, it’s important to have a clear view of your passion. If writing for joy is all you want to do, that’s fine. Then learn to write to the best of your ability. But if your desire is to be published, accept the challenge that follows:

1. Publication is a slow process – Unfortunately, it’s one that can’t be rushed. I had to “wait” on publication. There was no self-publishing, but I was willing to earn my scars. I wanted to work my way through learning the craft and improving with each piece of work, knowing that when I finally did secure a contract, it was for a work well done. I still believe there is something to the skill of waiting.

2. Believing in myself – I had to learn to accept rejection as part of the process of learning. It wasn’t personal. My work wasn’t rejected because I wasn’t nice enough. It was rejected because it wasn’t ready, and I needed to keep honing until it worked. I had to believe in the desire that burned in my heart – to be a writer and make the strides to continually improve.

3. Resist the urge to quit - This evil 4-letter word wreaks havoc on every writer at some point. Frustration, the feelings of spinning our wheels – quitting seems to be the right thing to do. Learning to resist this urge is vital. Give yourself a 30-minute pity party and then get back to work.

4. Understanding “the moment” – My friend, who’d published three books ahead of me, asked, “Cin, where do you stand on this novel?” I smiled and replied, “Don’t have a clue. I’ve finished the project, handed it over to my agent, and now I’m on to something else.” No one was more stunned than me when she said, “Then you’ll publish soon. You’re in the moment.” I wasn’t sure what she meant until she explained the instant when you’ve done all you can do to the best of your ability, and you’re able to hand it over and move on. Then your writing has reached a new level. The quality will be excellent, but more so, you are able to look at it and smile with satisfaction, knowing you’ve done the best you can do. You let it go, and move ahead.

My friend was right. It was only three months before I received my first contract. Her words were some of the greatest wisdom I’ve ever had. Understanding the moment. It’s a place you must grow to reach, and once you’re there, you’ll know it.

5. Keeping the passion alive – I knew as a child, writing was something I wanted to continue to do. Telling stories meant something to me and my mind could always see plots and characters in my everyday childhood play. But that desire to be a writer . . . only grew as time passed. I was excited to keep it alive.

Writing is a tough business, but what keeps us clicking away at the keys, is the passion of forming words into sentences and painting an imaginary picture in the minds of those who read our work.

Focus on the goal. Learn the craft. Live the passion of writing and before you know it, you’ll no longer be saying, “I wanna be a writer.” You simply will be one.

TWEETABLE
Focus on the goal, learn the craft of #writing & you'll reach your goal - @CindyDevoted (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.us and www.inspireafire.com. She teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

12 comments:

  1. It's been a long time since I've commented on this blog, in fact though I receive it in my email I have a thousand entries waiting to be read.
    But today the subject in the email grabbed me.
    I am a writer, even though the story I have in my head is waiting for me to be ready to write it. I've been practising writing one way or another all my life. I am a translator, so though creative writing has been an elusive goal, writing in general is easy to me. I'm also a blogger, so I know I can develop a topic, essay-like style.
    But when it comes to my dream of "downloading" to the keyboard the plot that's already pretty well-developed in my brain, I find a "failed transfer" error. I guess it all boils down to your point #2. Believing this is God's purpose for me, believing He will make the "impossible" possible, and trusting that even if I do get rejection or indifference in the process as a "reward" for my writing effort, I can still find significance and make a difference in some people's lives.
    I'm at a very early stage in the process. To me, success would be not to get published, but to get the story on paper/pdf, and then find ONE person who got edified by my work. That would make it all worth it.

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    1. Oh, Carina, go for it!!! One word after the other, and (as I was already planning to comment ) don't disregard #1. We now live in an age when we can dash something off, pop it into a format for Kindle and CreateSpace, and click that prized publish button. But that does not equate to being a published author.
      I say if you've stories in your head, they're there for a reason. And whether you print out stories on you printer at home to share with family and friends, or you become a NYT bestselling author (remember me when you do) telling your stories and making them shine is something you'll never regret!

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    1. Thank you Jennifer. I hope all your writing dreams come true.

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  3. That is awesome and we'll stated. You have the skill. Let go of the fear...and write. We cannot read it or be edified until you step out and believe in yourself...then write the words. Believe and do. I once told my son, "I'm not sure I can write a second novel that holds up to the first hard earned one. He rolled his eyes, and a few minutes later came back with a printed photo of Master Yoda from Star Wars. The caption read, "Do or do not. There is no try." That photo hangs on my desk to this day. I wrote number two, it sold, and releases in June 2017. I read that note of wisdom daily and it pushes me to complete number 3. Do or do not...There is no try. I believe you can do this...in fact, I know you can. So do...my friend...DO.

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    1. Cindy, congrats on book two coming out next June. Can't wait to read it. I have Yoda's Do or do not. There is no try. in my office too. Great words of wisdom.

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  4. What a beautiful and reassuring blog post. Thank you.

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  5. I needed this post today. God's timing is always perfect and on time. Thank you, Cindy, for allowing God to work through you to reach others. Me especially.

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    1. Awe, thanks. I just want folks to believe in themselves and to learn patience. Glad it struck a chord.

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