Saturday, July 2, 2022

Packing for the Writer’s Journey


by Tim Suddeth @TimSuddeth

As I’m writing this, I’m preparing to travel to another writers’ conference. I’m really looking forward to going. I’ve been there before, and I know I’ll enjoy meeting old friends again and making new ones. I’m also excited about the opportunities I might encounter.

Then, when I get out the map and look at the route I have to take, and how long I’ll have to drive, it’s going to demand a lot. And it’s going to be hot. And did I mention that I have to pay for it?

Like most things in life, going to a conference or a retreat demands a lot of things. And when I focus on the demands, I quickly get discouraged and wonder, is it worth it?

But when I consider the destination—the classes I’ll attend, the writing professionals and friends I’ll meet—that’s when I truly can determine whether it’s worth it or not.

When I leave to go on my journey, I’ll need to make sure I have a few things: a map, enough time to drive, and enough money.

Writing works the same way. There are some things you need to be sure you have as you travel on your writing journey. 

What to Pack for the Writing Journey

1. Commitment. To have a successful journey, however you want to define it, you have to believe. In yourself, and in your actions.

I know that’s hard. When you first start out as a writer, you don’t know what you’re doing. (How’s that for encouragement?) There is too much to know about the craft and the business for any new writer to make knowledgeable decisions. And so many options for the writer to consider.

In every writer’s journey, you are going to face rejection and disappointment. It’s normal to get discouraged. In fact, I haven’t read of any writer, including Hemingway and Fitzgerald, who hasn’t faced discouragement in their writing.

The key to continuing is to keep learning and to keep trying. Commit to the goal and realize that even falling could get you closer to your goal.

2. Patience. A struggle that I’ll face on my trip is watching the clock as I get closer to the conference center. I have to be there at two. I know that as the clock ticks, I’m going to worry about being in the class on time.

In writing, I don’t look at the watch, but I am tempted to look at the calendar. And the pages seem to turn way too often. Whether it’s a deadline, finding an agent, or getting published, it’s hard not to wish it would come in my time.

And when it doesn’t, and my friend gets published, again. Discouragement pops up in the seat next to me, whispering in my ear. I have to remind myself that I haven’t reached MY destination yet.

Getting published may be my desire, but if I’m trusting and following God’s will for my life, how and when is up to Him. There must be more that I need to learn, or God has something else planned for me.

3. Diligence. Telling a story is hard work. Anybody can put words on a page, but finding the right words, the right theme, and the right tone takes the ‘write’ mind. (I can already hear the groans.)

Writing is hard. Then putting it out into the world and hearing other’s criticisms can be heartbreaking. Why can’t they see the beautiful story I had in my head instead of the mush of words that now lie on the paper?

But keep at it. We often make the same mistakes that other writers make. And by studying them, and writing more stories, we will see our tendencies and learn how to correct them or not commit them.

4. Vigilance. Many of us have a goal in mind when we start: to write an American best-selling novel, or a groundbreaking movie, or an article for Guidepost that changes lives. I hope you never lose that dream. But while you’re learning the lessons, you need to reach those goals, don’t miss out on other opportunities that may pop up.

When I became a writer, one of the first things I did was to attend a local writers’ group. (Shout out to Word Weavers.) I knew I enjoyed writing, but I didn’t have a clue what that really meant. Don’t all writers smoke pipes, have bad hair, and live in New York City?

After the greetings, the group went around the group and mentioned any successes they’d had that month. And it was eye-opening. Someone started a blog, someone had an article published in a magazine, someone else had a book coming out, another person had a rejection but sent the article to another magazine. There were so many opportunities I had never considered.

5. Joy. The journey can be long and hard. Enjoy it. Some great people will pass through your life. Get to know them.

You will have a lot of minor victories. Relish them. And celebrate the victories of others.

It scares me to think how easy it would be to miss the joys and blessings God has scattered in our lives because we are so concerned about reaching the destination.

These are some things I’ll pack, not just for my trip, but also for my journey. I think James L. Rubart said it well. “It’s not about the writing. It’s about the person you’re being shaped and molded into through the writing and the writing world. So do your best. Then breathe deep and let it go.” 

TWEETABLE

Tim Suddeth is a stay-at-home dad and butler for his wonderful, adult son with autism. He has written numerous blogs posts, short stories, and three novels waiting for publication. He is a frequent attendee at writers’ conferences, including the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and a member of Word Weavers and ACFW. He lives near Greenville, SC where he shares a house with a bossy Shorky and three too-curious Persians. You can find him on Facebook and Twitter, as well as at www.timingreenville.com and www.openingamystery.com.

Featured Image: Photo by LinkedIn Sales Solutions on Unsplash

5 comments:

  1. Excellent post, Tim. Very insightful into this writing journey.

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Sandy.

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  3. Your message is just what we needed when we feel that encroaching case of the "writer's blues" about to overtake us--again. Thanks, Tim!

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    1. You’re welcome. Thank you for reading.
      Tim Suddeth

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  4. Pawesley59@gmail.comJuly 29, 2022 at 9:27 PM

    Thanks Tim. Your article spoke to me in several ways. Great words of encouragement. I will reread and spend time reflecting on your words. I face similar struggles. Thanks for sharing.

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