Sunday, April 6, 2008

Passion, Patience, and Persistence... The life of a writer.

"Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart; confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write." ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Passion, Patience, and Persistence. These are three of the essential qualities needed to be a successful writer.

First… Passion.

The need to write, the fervent desire to create worlds and watch the stories unfold on paper is prerequisite. If you don't feel as if your life would be desolate without the act of writing, flee while you can!

Still here? *smile* Good!

Nurture that flame within your heart every day, every hour. Trust me, you'll need plenty of fuel to keep that passion burning. No matter how tempting it can be to wallow in despair, kick any such tendency to the curb. You're a writer, damn it! Your heart beats a little faster when the words fly by, right? You quiver with excitement when a new idea hits and you can't wait to trap that elusive inspiration on a fresh page. Am I close?

When the writing sucks (and we've all been there) you'll be tempted to toss your story out along with your dreams.


This is a relationship and the honeymoon phase comes and goes. Okay, that came out a little more risqué than I intended but I do love a good romance. *smile* Nevertheless, the sentiment holds true. You must cling to the passion that first drove you to pound those keys in a fever of excitement. Keep that passion alive. Remind yourself daily: I am a writer. Look in the mirror and pour your heart and soul into those four little words. Hear them for what they are. An exclamation of undying passion to the career you've embraced.

We Are Writers! Yeah, baby!

Next up… Patience.

"The work never matches the dream of perfection the artist has to start with."
-- William Faulkner

Dang it! *shakes fist at muse*

The inspiration dangling before our mind's eye never seems to coalesce quickly enough.

"Having imagination, it takes you an hour to write a paragraph that, if you were unimaginative, would take you only a minute. Or you might not write the paragraph at all." ~Franklin P. Adams, Half a Loaf, 1927

Patience is essential because you never really know where the muse will take you. The process of writing is a mixture of applied focus and blind faith. A good metaphor might be of trying to start a fire by rubbing sticks together. Others have done it. The process looks easy enough. Yet the length of time required before that first spark of flame may feel like an eternity. And to our dismay, the first spark doesn't burst into a raging fire.

Be patient. Each word leads to another. Each sentence becomes a paragraph. Each page gets you closer to a finished draft. In our world of instant gratification, it's difficult to remember how much time is required to write a book. Thank goddess for our passion, eh?

Time to remind ourselves of the heart of our own life story: We Are Writers! We CAN and WILL make this happen. One word, one page, one chapter at a time.

Which takes us to the crux of our quest: Persistence.

"Never give up! Never Surrender!" – from the movie Galaxy Quest.

No matter how many times I use this quote, it always rings true. These words need to be inscribed on our foreheads. Backwards, of course, so that when we're staring at the mirror shouting, "I am a Writer!" we can read them clearly. *grin*

Writers write. And it doesn't matter if you're published, pre-published or don't give a damn about ever being published (I've heard of this elusive creature, though I have yet to meet one).

Writers write. Remember that. Persist even when you hit the inevitable slump. Persist even if rejections pile up. Persist when your heart is into it and when it's not.

Hold that vision in your mind like an Olympic torch. You want to go for the gold? Visualize your finish line. See yourself clutching your published novel in hand. Or signing The Contract. Or answering the phone and screaming like a maniac because you just got The Call.

Got the vision? Great, now get to work!

"If you haven't got an idea, start a story anyway. You can always throw it away, and maybe by the time you get to the fourth page you will have an idea, and you'll only have to throw away the first three pages." --William Campbell Gault

And consider this…

Every writer goes through dark moments. Every writer wonders about his or her talent. Every writer worries about the dark moment or the climax, the character arc or the pacing, the beginning, the middle AND the ending.

"Cherish your visions; cherish your ideals; cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts, for out of them will grow delightful conditions, all heavenly environment; of these if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built." --James Allen

You can do it. Why? Because You, my friend, are a writer.


Anonymous said...

Chiron, you sure have hit the truth of a writer.

Debbie Wallace said...

Great post Chiron! And so very true.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Thanks, Sandy and Debbie!

I really appreciate you both stopping by...

Smiles to you!

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered writing a writer's inspiration book? I truly believe you should. I come here and find myself nodding at everything you say. Your posts are mini pep rallys and while I'd like to keep the inspiration all to myself, I realize there's a world of writers out there like me who need to hear what you have to say. We forget sometimes why we write and what it takes to do so. Thanks for the great reminder.

Chiron O'Keefe said...

What a lovely thing to hear, Debbie!

Thanks so very much!

I have to admit, I've entertained the idea a time or two myself. It's my favorite thing--motivating writers to write!

You really brought a smile to my face, Debbie... Thanks again!


Sandy said...

Writing definitely takes patience and persistence. You're so right, I'm a writer. lol