May 17, 2009

Living Your Writer's Dream

By: Dorinda Ohnstad

Dreams are nothing but dreams, unless you are willing to do the hard work to see them through to fruition. That means putting the time in to write, avoiding the distractions that get in the way, learning the craft, and persevering with or without a support network at home. I can’t emphasize learning the craft enough. Although, I’ve been a highly paid and skilled business and legal writer for years, I have had to learn the craft of writing. Being a good writer doesn’t mean that we can write a novel with ease. Writing this narrative for me is much simpler than learning the craft of writing a novel, external and internal conflict, dialog, tension, pacing, point of view, scene construction, plot development, etc.

Bottom line, writing a novel is a lonely, difficult path to walk. To be able to persist in this endeavor you need to be passionate about the writing, not about the possibility of success and fame as defined by being on the shelves of Borders or Barnes & Noble. That doesn’t mean that you can’t want those things, they just can’t be what drives you to write. If fame and money are your only motivation, you are likely to be easily side-tracked from the work of writing; for there is no way around the fact that writing a novel is damn hard work. More difficult yet is the fact that you don’t get paid for that hard work until it is all done, if you get paid at all, even though it may take you years to accomplish.

That is why the incentive to plow down that road has to be something different than the money and fame. You need to let those stories in you that are screaming to be written be what drives you. Stop daydreaming about fame and success, feeling envious of others living your dream, and decide that you are going to commit to the hard work and focus on telling your stories to the best of your ability.

Keep in mind that even when you do this, it won’t be easy and there will be days, weeks, months even, when you will doubt whether it is worth all the work. It is in those darkest moments that we as writers have to dig deep within ourselves to discover whether this is the life for us. It’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve had to confront these feelings myself.

If you decide that you need to write those stories, and are willing to put in the work regardless of whether or not money and fame are at the other end, then pick one novel and work on it. At the same time read about craft, attend conferences, participate in critique groups (who can also be the support network you need and don’t get elsewhere) and avoid those distractions. Commit to the work and see it through one page at a time.

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At May 23, 2009 at 10:06 AM , Blogger Dori said...

Excellent advice Dori. Thank you for all your help, encouragement and direction to help me learn the craft to make my story come to life :)


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