ProAm Tips #19
Everyone’s got a gimmick to sell you about how to write. What to do. Where to put your apostrophe. When to run ads. How to frame your keywords. All the things you need to know to get your writing out there. But not everyone is going to explain to you WHY to write. I’m gonna do it right now, and believe me, if this isn’t why you’re doing it, you’re gonna have to take a good long look at yourself and your work and assess your whole life.
There’s only one reason WHY to write.
Here’s the deal, kids. There’s only one real reason to write: because you love it.
If you’re writing for money, that’s fine.
If you’re writing for fame, that’s fine.
If you’re writing for art, that’s fine.
But as the man said, that’s not writing: that’s typing.
Here’s the plain fact of writing: if you’re not doing it for love, it’s dead on arrival. You might as well be lifting boxes, or checking advertising accounts, or teaching school, or a million other jobs that aren’t writing. If you’re punching out a wordcount and that’s why you’re writing, you’re just marking time. If your goal is to sell so many copies, and make so much money, and get so many names on your newsletter, that’s fine. But that’s love of something else. The work has to be your first, last, and only love.
You’ve got to love every single word. You’ve got to love every single character. You’ve got to love every single story. If you don’t love it, it’s a fucking job, and what’s the point?
You’re not gonna get rich, although some do.
You’re not gonna get famous, although some do.
You’re not gonna be adored by millions, although some are.
The odds are against you. Deal with it. Like sucks, get a fucking helmet. But success isn’t about the numbers or the money or the copies you push.
You’ve got to write because you love the process. you’ve got to write because you love the creation. You’ve got to write because you love everything about it. If you write for these reasons, you’re fine. You may never make any money, you may never sell a million copies, you may never sustain yourself with your words. But you’ll feel a sense of satisfaction because you love what you do. You’ll have brought into the world something unique. Something that didn’t exist before. Something all your own. You better love it.
If you don’t love the idea of creation, if you don’t love the idea of building something, if you don’t love the idea of creating something fantastic that only you can create, I have to ask you again to take a good, long look at your whole body of work and ask yourself:
why am I doing this?
There’s a lot of talk about what makes an artist an artist. It isn’t the long hours, it isn’t the amount of practice, or effort, or even the innate talent within the creator. You’re doing what you do out of love for the thing itself. If you do what you do because you love doing it, it truly doesn’t matter if it’s published or not. it truly doesn’t matter if it’s read by anyone or not. It truly doesn’t matter if it’s ever seen by another soul or not. If you’re creating it because you love it, then you’re an artist.
If you write because you want to make a story live, you’re doing it out of love, and you’re an artist. You may not be a good artist, or a great artist, or even a mediocre artist, but you ARE an artist. Crafting a thing for love, because you CAN, is the single most pure thing you can do in this world. It’s why kids exist. It’s why art exists. When you do it for love, it doesn’t matter if you win, lose, or draw. You’re inherently a winner just because you dare to love something.
And here’s a hint for the cheap seats: if you suck at it, keep doing it. Learn from it. Move ahead. You’ll suck less the next time. And over time, if you keep sucking less, and learning more, you’ll discover that what you love becomes great. And great is what will get you noticed. But you do it for yourself. Because you love it. Do it for love. All else will follow. And if it doesn’t, you still succeeded.
Thus endeth the lesson.