Sep 5, 2011

"But, of course, it's still important to actually write."

The title of this post comes from Kris, who commented on my blog chain post. The post, which explored the changes in the publishing industry, namely self-publishing, received a lot of comments that made my day.

Kris's comment, however, put it all into perspective: no matter the journey you take or the one you think will be best for you, the very most important part is to write a damn good book. Whether or not you plan to get an agent, self-pub, or take over the world, those dreams are irrelevant if the work you put out sucks.

That doesn't sound very motivational, does it? Maybe it would help to know that I am writing this post to myself and that I find motivation is the strangest places. The same can be said about inspiration.

Here's the motivation: surround yourself with people who care and who know what the hell they are talking about. Use those people to the fullest and give back at every possible opportunity. I am already surrounded by writers who have raised me to levels I used to dream of. I could name the names, but it would take forever and in some cases, those connections are just between me and the author. I think that's how it should be. My journey.

At one point in time, not that long ago, I wanted to flaunt my journey. I wanted the most blog followers and the nicest looking blog. And hey, I kinda had both for about a month (circa March 2010), but it had nothing to do with my writing journey. I am pleasantly relieved to have gotten over that phase right away.

In the year and more since, I have grown leaps and bounds with my writing. I still cringe when other writers ask what I am working on or what I write (I usually respond honestly, "What don't I write"). I cringe even more when non-writers ask the same questions. I don't cringe on purpose, I do so because I have yet to try something else. I am a creature of habit.

Being habitually uncomfortable, I have yet to be comfortable with my writing. I have yet to accept that I have a large number of unfinished novels and picture books that are full of truly fantastic ideas, and that it's okay that they are incomplete. Here's the big one: I have yet to accept that fact that it is more than okay that I don't have perfect grammar and spelling skills, but that my writing is still phenomenal.

I can't straight out tell my crit partners that I think them liars. It's me, not them; I do not believe in my writing. But, again...that's okay because my writing believes in me.

But, of course, it's still important to actually write. To write for you, for me, and for those who I will one day meet.


  1. Great point. There's always the writing.

  2. Yes, it's important to write and to see how we're improving in our writing as we start new projects and revise the ones we have. And most of us doubt the worth of our own writing.

  3. Haha...I love your point about surrounding yourself with people who have a clue what you're talking about! In the writing world, that is a must! Great post, Jon.

  4. Matt - Easier said than done, my friend.

    Natalie - I don't doubt the worth of my writing so much as I doubt my worth as a writer. Thin line, I know. Thank you for your encouraging comment!

    Sheri - Thanks for being one of those people!

  5. Lots of good points here, but I want to go with the grammar comment. The mechanics of writing can be fixed easily. I've met a few writers who have awesome, unique voices, but they stress themselves about quotation marks. Anybody can put in quotation marks, but very few writers have a great voice with an interesting story to tell. Never get bogged down by mechanics. That's my 2 cents.

  6. Anita - I get your message, but for some reason my writing is crippled by my fear of grammar mistakes. I think part of this is because when I see the mistakes, corrected by someone else, I want to slap myself for missing things so obvious.

    I am posting more on this on Wed in a post called
    "And I forgot the straws. Story of my life."

  7. I was so touched by this, I tried to comment from my phone hours ago--we were on the coast of Maine today--but my non-texting thumbs messed it up.

    I am awestruck, Jon, that a comment I made inspired you to write a blog post. It's sometimes hard to NOT get caught up in the "platform" building, sharing, community, twittering...that comes with all of this. And I often struggle with the "just write the book" part too. It's fantastic when you can get the community to HELP you write the book (a la Heather's tour de writing challenge and Tina's Practice Room).

    I feel honored to know you, Jon!

  8. This is such a profound post. We do need to write, and we do need to find the stories that we're comfortable writing. I steadfastly believe that I write books I'd love to read, and if I love to read them, someone else will too.

  9. Kris - The community gives me so much...I really need to start channeling that in a more productive direction.

    Elana - I love that philosophy!

  10. I love all the comments above, especially Elana's. So much so that I think I forgot what I wanted to say. Oh, yes. How incredibly hard is it, still, to write fearlessly? To write big and throw caution to the wind. To stop second guessing, and just write. How hard is it? THIS HARD.


    We're with you.