Monday, April 15, 2019

Dreaming the Next Thing

Q: How often do you step back and take stock of where you are in your writing life and where you want to go? Is this a New Year’s only thing, or do you do it more often? 

-from Susan

Good question. I do it fairly often, usually because I’ve just submitted a manuscript and I’m in a bit of a fallow stage, or because I realize I need to go in a new direction to keep editors interested, or because I realize that time is passing and there’s more I want to say through my writing. 

Comparing myself to other authors who are more successful isn’t much of a motivator. If I like their work, I admire them and keep moving along my path. If I don’t care for their work, I shrug and mind my own business. Authors find their own way to their own success. The biggest spur to me is my own ambition to see my passion for storytelling translated into books and audio because it validates my efforts. 

When I was working in the non-profit world (not that publishing books isn’t a not-for-profit business in its own way!), I did the taking stock thing more formally. About very four years, I would consciously set aside time to dream and inhabit a new potential type of job as specifically as possible: not just what I’d be doing, but where, for whom, for what financial return, and with what resulting lifestyle. Since I was an external officer at these jobs, the lifestyle issue was important – lots of black tie events? Cultural activities? Being on call for crisis communication moments? Weekend work? It was uncanny. I found that if I could see my goal clearly and viscerally, it tended to come to fruition. No woo woo, but I think having that take hold in my head made me more open to opportunities. 

The same can happen with writing to some extent. After all, I have five books in print right now and I think more to come – more than I dreamed of when I started writing seriously a decade ago. I have author friends who are far more energetic and entrepreneurial than I am and whose dreams include awards and major financial success. For some reason, that dream hasn’t grabbed me with as much fervor as it has them.  Maybe I need a week on the beach with no distractions to let my next ‘taking stock’ bloom!
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Paul D. Marks said...

Good points, Susan. I think sometimes it’s hard not to compare ourselves with more successful authors. Bu as you say, it isn’t much of a motivator. And, also as you say, we have to find our own way to success…because we have a passion for storytelling. I think that’s really the key. We do it because we have to. That said, it doesn’t hurt to take stock sometimes, but mostly we just have to follow our own path and find what works for us. I feel like I’m being wordy and off track, but I think ultimately I’m just saying I agree with you.

Dietrich Kalteis said...

Good post, Susan. I agree, goals are great to have, but it's really about the joy of the writing.

Susan C Shea said...

Paul and Dietrich, I think we do have goals and that they can - if they're a good fit with us personally - ree us to do the writing we want to do!