Everybody says do this or do that and you’ll have a road map to your writing. The truth is the journey’s different for every writer. You can’t take any two writers out there and compare their path and find them the same. It just doesn’t happen that way. We can read about someone’s success and repeat what they did but the odds of it working are just off the charts. Now, don’t get me wrong, you can learn from those that have gone before you. And that’s the great thing about reading or listening to a successful author. Yes, their steps CAN help you but there’s no guarantee their journey will duplicate yours.
No matter what you do, you’re going to learn the ropes on your own. Not because successful authors won’t share their “secrets,” but because that’s how it was meant to be for you. I’m not trying to discourage you. Stephen King is Stephen King because he put in the hard work. Just like any author before or after him. There are no shortcuts. It’s like life. No one takes the same turn and twists. Hits the same wall. Even twins have their different paths. It’s just the way it is. Again, that’s not meant to discourage you.
What it’s meant to do is to let you know not to compare your writer’s ups and downs to another’s. You’ll each have different forks in the roads. Each has elevated areas from the other. It’s like winning awards. Not everybody does that but those that do appreciate the uniqueness, how far they’ve come. There’s always something to tackle, something to reach for. That’s what keeps the journey interesting: always having a goal. If we didn’t, there’d be no point. Now, my goals might be different from yours. Not everyone wants medals. Some writing goals will be simply to be published in a certain genre or category.
It’s all about progress. Not letting go. You keep on stomping those words out no matter how many or few they become. Because, in going forward, you’re continuing down that road map. It may take you years to teach yourself to type. To practice your sentences so they’re not jumbled or jarled. Everything is a learning experience. A jump off point. If you imagine that road map much like the maps we used to be taught in school or more like graphs with their points to reach here and there. They build on what you’ve learned and show you where you still have a ways to go. The learning is never done.
Hopefully, that’s true in life for you. When you stop learning, I think the end starts to rear its head. I don’t ever want that. I want to still be working at a story on my last day on earth. That would make me the happiest person alive. To go out like you started. Hitting the punches, hoping for the best. Showing others the roadmap. Share it with others starting out. You might not be where you want to be in life but you’re chipping away at such. That’s what counts. What gives us all hope, inspiration. Quitting is easy. Lord knows I’ve walked away from this more times than I should have. Through not believing in myself or questioning the point. Whatever the reasoning, it was wrong.
When I put my fingers to the keys, I feel a sense of belonging. Of being where I’m meant to be. All those other times in life, working at whatever job, nothing ever felt as at home as writing does. It brings me hope. It brings me challenges. I get to figure things out with the stories I write. It’s hopefully not just me as a character working on the solution but my characters taking over to solve the puzzle themselves. I don’t always know what I’m going to write when I sit down. In fact, I’d say there’s a 99.1 percent chance at any time I know. Oh, I have a goal. An intention to write about a certain subject.
Getting there, however, is all up to the muse. The muse being the magic, the gift inside for whatever pours down onto the page. People ask where your ideas come from. It’s from that well inside. It’s never ending if you’re lucky. You just reach down inside there when you need inspiration/thought on what to write and it hauls a bucket up to work with on it. And when you need more, you dip the bucket in again. It’s what most people don’t understand that try their hand at writing. It’s not nuts and bolts. It’s not do this, and everything will turn out just so. It either comes or it doesn’t. Sometimes, it saves the words for another day. You could wait longer to ladle the sentences but, in the end, the story just does the work.
I know it sounds simple. Believe me, it isn’t. It’s a bit like laying the foundation for a building with no construction plans. You can outline. Sure. But there are always surprises. Twists and turns you weren’t expecting. Don’t try and fight them. Get them down on the document and then see. Re-work the story till it shines. You chip away at it bit by bit till you reveal the glory. Or at least, hopefully, the story is gold. Sometimes it’s just a sticky, hot mess. It can still be tinkered with but there comes a point where you might just have to let go for whatever reason. The characters don’t work out. The plot falls flat. It’s just not interesting.
But let me tell you. When it works, it’s the best. It’s like discovering friends who have been gone for so long in your life. A joyful reunion. You want the best for them. You work to make it happen. Eventually, you let go and send it off to a publisher. And then, you get started on a new story. Stories never dry up. They just go on and on. Again, if you’re lucky. Some writers only write a book or two. I want a career though that continues to prosper over the years. I want to be writing even till the end, as I said. It’s an important roadmap to me. A journey with endless possibilities and delights. That alone makes me smile.