Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Importance of Encouragement

When one normally things of a writer, they imagine someone sitting in a dimly lit room, staring blankly at the sickly glow of their laptop while reels of paper and emptied coffee cups lay strewn about the workstation and floor. To most people, the art of writing is a solitary task; done far away from the prying eyes of those who would critique and deconstruct the master's opus. In many instances, that is the case. From experience, I find it nearly impossible to work if other people are home, or if I'm out in public or otherwise unable to have a private moment. The very fact that people are around me puts me off the process, and makes me worry about interruptions and their little conversations.

On the other hand, I cannot live without sharing my project with people. There's an intoxicating sense of pride in one's work when you sit down with a friend and not only talk about your brilliant idea for the next great American Bestseller, especially when they seem to want to hear what you have to say. It's usually when they start to ask questions, throw suggestions about character relations or plots that most writers would probably become worried and clam up - I was guilty of this myself when I started. But now, as I've grown and become more involved with writing to the point that I wish to make it my profession, I can't help but feel validated and accomplished when my writing sparks the imaginations of my friends.

Whether we like it or not, eventually writers who wish to make money doing what they want to do more than anything else, will need to show people their ideas. After all, the whole point of writing professionally is to make a profit off your story, and in exchange for their money people will want to read something that grips them and makes them want to pick up your next work. While editors are always great sources for tips on how to improve your story, friends and family you trust can become an irreplaceable source of strength and confidence.

Why do we need a source of strength and confidence? Even the most powerful idea loses strength if we dwell on it for too long, or find ourselves intimidated by the mammoth task of putting it down on paper. What's worse is when we eventually fall victim to "Marty McFly Syndrome": where we ask ourselves what if we finish our novel, submit it to the publisher, and they tell us it's no good? What if they tell us "get out of here kid, you got no future"? I don't think I could take that kind of rejection!

Rejection is inevitable, but this is again where that network of support and encouragement comes into play. Whenever we feel depressed by rejection letters or feel the pressure of writing wearing us down, we know that those who truly care will back us up and cheer on. To know that there is someone is in your corner and wants to see you succeed is often just enough to remind us of why we write. Of why we fight.

Those who encourage us are our first - and perhaps most important - fans. As entertainers, we have a responsibility to not let our fans down, especially when they won't let us down.

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