In his 2000 craft book On Writing, Stephen King says,
It’s writing, damn it, not washing the car or putting on eyeliner. If you can take it seriously, we can do business. If you can’t or won’t, it’s time for you to close the book and do something else.
Writing is serious business. It’s not something to take on lightly, or to do once or twice a month when you feel inspired to put a thought down on paper.
If you want to be a writer, you can’t go half in. You can’t think about something you might possibly maybe someday write next year or the year after. You can’t start a novel and then abandon it three days later because it just got too hard.
Writing is hard. It’s really, really, really hard. Not just the first novel you write. But all of them.
I have written eighteen novels. I’m currently revising one of them, and I’m adding new chapters to another one. I’m starting to think about writing a new novel, which would be my 19th novel for those who are counting. You’d think by now I’d have the formula down. I’d know exactly what it takes to write not just a great book, but a great book that will sell and make me millions of dollars.
The truth is, after eighteen books and eight years actively writing fiction almost every single day, I still don’t really know what make a great book. I’m still not sure what I could write next that would make me a gazillionaire. I’ve tried to write a few books in the past that I thought might make me money. They all failed. They all made me learn that taking on a new novel needs to be about passion for the story, for the characters. It needs to come from somewhere deep inside me, a story I feel needs to be told from the only person who can tell it.
I’ve been writing fiction almost every day for nearly a decade, and I still am making almost zero money from my endeavors. I’d guess 99% of people in my position would have probably given up by now. I’ve had rejection like you wouldn’t believe. I’ve had failure after failure after failure. I’ve watched as friends and colleagues got agents and books published and writing success. I’ve struggled a whole hell of a lot.
And yet I’ve survived. And better yet, I’ve kept going.
I kept writing more books. I pursued higher education, first as a Masters in English, then as a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. I’ve gotten better. My writing has improved, and my stories are more unique and engaging. I signed with an agent last year. I have a book on submission to editors right now. I’m actively revising my MFA thesis novel, which my agent hopes to start pitching in the coming weeks. Things are finally happening, exciting news could be coming my way soon, and it all comes down to one thing: perseverance.
I’ll repeat what I said before: writing is serious. You have to go all in if you want to be a writer. It doesn’t matter how old you are, and what stories you want to tell. If you want to do this, you have to devote your life to it. You have to tune out the rest of the world for a few hours every single day and write. You have to be willing to fail, and fail often. You have to learn to take rejection, and keep going no matter what.
Writing is not for the weak. If you’re strong, and if you love storytelling, and you want to see your name on the spine of a book one day, get started, do your best, and don’t give up.