Substitute the word ‘books’ and you’ve got it. Early in my career, which has now spanned three decades, while I was living in a one-room unheated apartment above a garage, I used to say I could make a lot more money doing other things, such as gun-slinging as a contractor. Besides the fact I wouldn’t do that, it just never occurred to me to stop writing.
Now that I’m older those options have dwindled to the only option I want: keep writing.
I often get asked what the key to success is, what the marketing secret is, and I always say: write a book. Then I get asked: What next? Write another book.
Being a writer makes no economic or practical sense. When you tell people you’re a writer, often they’ll ask “What do you do for a living, then?” Or they’ll ask what you’ve written and say they never heard of it.
The naysayers will far out number the supporters. In fact, the supporters will be few and far between.
I’m always amazed when I hear about people who get discouraged because some writing instructor said bad things about their writing. Some people even quit, which is incomprehensible to me– giving control of your passion to someone else means the passion wasn’t there. That doesn’t mean negative words don’t hurt, but use them as motivation.
There are times over my career when I fall in what I call the “black hole” where there is no positive news, things look dismal and you do start to think you have some of mental disorder trying to do this for a living. I think of the title to a book by one of my favorite authors, Kate Atkinson.
Nah, we’re just STUPID. But in a good way.
And then come good times when the news is positive and things are clicking. The same is true with the writing. There are days when it’s agony and my wife does not like me being around as I’m in a foul mood as my brain his churning with thoughts of “This is awful, this idea and story suck, it will never work”. And there are days where the writing flows and the characters are alive. Here’s a piece of advice I’ve learned: the actual writing on either of those days is the SAME. Some may disagree with that, but after seventy-five books, I’ve seen a lot of evidence to that.
So what we must do is simple: write.
Here’s to mule-like stupidity!
PS: another hard-earned lesson: almost no one will tutor you on what you need to be an author. How to run a business as a writer, which is critical to success. I took what I did in Special Forces and applied it to the writing world in Write It Forward.
Originally published at bobmayer.com on February 8, 2019.