Yesterday, I wrote about defeat, that feeling that nothing will come of the work that we do or the things we try to create. Today, I feel a bit better. After feeling defeated all day, I finally had a moment in which I felt as though I could accomplish something with my book. So I finished a scene. I wrote only about 1,300 words, but it was something, and I was proud of the accomplishment if not necessarily the words themselves. It felt good to finish that scene. It felt good to write anything after a week of being unable to put anything from that work into words.
I’m reminded of what an effort writing is. It takes a little bit of talent but primarily takes determination, hard work, and persistence. If we take the time to sit down and put something, anything, on paper, and if we don’t give up on our crappy first drafts, we have the chance to create something of value. But if we do not work at it, if we just give up and give in, then nothing will come of the work we have put in other than further discouragement.
I keep thinking that I’ll fall back into another bout of depression if I can’t write a certain number of words per day or get a scene perfectly written on the first try, but that’s not true. What truly bothers me is the thought that I won’t finish the novel at all – and the only way I won’t finish is if I stop making the effort to work at it.
So how do we keep up the effort? I think remembering the ultimate goal is an important part. The goal is the “why” – why you do what you do. My husband, who is in advertising, always has his interns read Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. The “why” that Simon Sinek talks about is why a person does what he or she does. For us writers, the “why” is why you write, why you go through the painful, messy process of creating a written work, not what you do or how you do it. This concept plays a huge role in how my husband runs his business. His business has a firm “why” established for how it operates, and the business helps its clients determine and promote their “why’s” as well. In order to effectively complete a goal, we must remember why we are doing it in the first place. Are you writing for therapy, as I am? Are you writing to leave something behind for your kids or grandkids? Are you writing to make a difference in the world?
Since I am primarily writing for therapy, using writing as a form to better understand myself and how I relate to the world around me, I need to remember not to focus so much on what I am writing and how I am writing but why I am writng. Remembering the why will help me accomplish the what and how and will keep me going when I want give up.
So, why do you write, and what tips do you have for reminding yourself of why you do what you do?