Love Your Work and … It’s Still Work

“Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

Lovely sentiment. But it’s a lie.

If you love what you do for work, it sure makes it more meaningful and enjoyable … but it doesn’t change that it is still work.

This is as true in art as it is in any field.

I am so overwhelmed with gratitude that I get to write, and that I even get paid to do it. And I know some people will negate what I say next by claiming writing is privileged work. Maybe it is. I don’t know. Maybe it is just for some people and not for others. I certainly don’t mean to whine or complain.

I merely want to say that art is hard work. So hard. Harder than any job I’ve ever had, scarier than any job I’ve ever had, emotionally draining unlike any other relationship in my life. Sometimes it feels impossible. Sometimes it feels like it might kill me. Art has sent me into therapy, required medication. Nothing in my world has thrown more resistance at me than art, my own art.

I’ve just needed to toss these thoughts out into the universe for a little while, and so now, tonight, I am. Thanks for listening. Thanks for trying to understand, even if it sounds silly to you. Now, tell me about you. What part of your life throws the most resistance at you, friend?




From Hit-or-Miss to Hard Work

In undergrad, my best writing mostly came about by accident.  I stumbled into the right story or else caught myself on a “good” writing day or else was incited to revise in order to better my grade.  Even then I knew that you couldn’t wait for inspiration to strike, but it was hard to imagine that anything could get done if inspiration never arrived.

These days, though, my best writing is produced by hard work.  It comes about because I show up and sit down and force myself to produce words.  I know that even an “uninspired” night– after night after night after night– can still be productive.  I have learned that showing up produces a bad first draft.  After which, showing up then produces a better second draft.  Rinse and repeat.

Showing up matters.  In some ways, it’s what matters the most.

work hard

Related posts:
Writing is Hard
I Repeat: Writing is Hard
Trusting the Creative Process

I repeat: writing a book is hard.

I know I just recently blogged about this, but I just wanted to emphasize it again.  Not to toot my own horn (ummm, I don’t even have a book deal yet!), but to wave some sort of banner over those who are DOING IT.

Writing a book means this: days that turn into months that turn into years of writing and revising, hours upon hours invested into researching minute details, the sacrifice (and also joy) of building a platform from the ground up, giving up evenings with friends to stay home and research literary agents, headaches, crafting the perfect query or proposal, taking a permanent seat on an emotional rollercoaster.

Kristin Cashore is a YA author I admire.  She wrote GracelingFire, and Bitterblue.  Click here to read about the journey it was to get Bitterblue to where it needed to be (hint: after three years on a first draft, her editor suggested she start over from scratch).  There are even pictures.  Read this, and you’ll better understand the agony of writing.



Writing: Counting the Cost

A few months ago, I attended a local writing conference for authors in the children’s and YA genres.  One of the classes I attended was centered around the road to publication, and I was actually quite pleased to see just how much I already knew about this (long) journey, of which I’m still so far from the finish line.

The thing that stuck with me the most from the class was the way that the instructor would pause after each step (which essentially amounted to rejection after rejection after rejection!) and say, “And now you need to decide: am I really in this for the long haul?  Am I going to stick with this?”  At one of the later stages of rejection, she said, “You have to accept the fact that you might never get published.  Do you still want to keep going?”

From time to time, friends and acquaintances will tell me that they’d like to write a book.  And since I’m a writer, they’d like to hear what advice I might have.

So here it is:

If you want to write a book because you want to write, then do it.

If you want to write a book because you want to be published, then probably don’t.  

Know this: writing a book is hard– especially writing a good book.  A lot of people pursue not only an undergraduate education in how to write but also a master’s degree.  Are you willing to spend several years (and this might also cost you some relationships, as you’ll need to spend a lot of time on your craft … time that will take you away from friends and family), tons of time researching (even if you’re not writing, for example, an historical novel, you will still need to do research for your book– and you’ll need to put in lots of time researching agents as well), and massive amounts of your energy (and your wallet might even take a hit– classes, workshops, and editing assistance all cost money) on a book that might never get published?

It’s a lot to consider.

Writing is a joy– one of the truest joys I’ve known in my life– and that is why my answer to the above question is YES.  

What’s yours?



Here are some related posts I’ve enjoyed on other sites:
7 Reasons Writing a Book Makes You a Badass by Brian Klems
Telling Your Personal Story by Rachelle Gardner