I tend to call my progress toward a writing career a “journey.” I am realizing how apt is that word choice.
Trying to go from a newbie writing her first few lines of a story to a multi-published author is like taking a journey cross-country. With no GPS and an out-of-date road atlas shoved under the seat.
In both cases, I think we all start out in a haze of optimism. “It will be fine,” we tell ourselves. “It won’t take long at all.” We buckle in and start forward. About the time we finish the first chapter of our story or cross the first state line, we realize this journey might be a tad longer than we thought. “But that’s OK,” we reassure ourselves. “I’ll still have plenty of time after I arrive.”
Then we hit our first detour. It might not be too bad. Maybe a quick little jog on side streets in our car, or a pause in our writing to figure out a plot twist. “It’s still a piece of cake, though” we think. We’ve got this.
But then the detours and delays start cropping up faster than orange barrels in construction season. Or, when writing, we reach that slump around the halfway point of our first draft when it feels like we will never finish the story.
If we let these delays and slumps define our journey, then it can become an unbearable slog. Reaching the other coast or getting that first book sale almost doesn’t matter because we are too exhausted from the trip.
Unless we choose to look at our journey differently.
If we take the time to explore local features, visit little museums, discover out-of-the way diners to eat in, then the road trip takes on a whole new meaning. As we stop to admire beautiful vistas along the way, we realize we aren’t really in such a rush for the journey to end. It's become an adventure.
Likewise with our writing. If we take the time to celebrate milestones along the way, then it suddenly becomes a pleasant walk instead of a forced march. Each time we celebrate finishing a first draft or do well in a contest or cheer for a friend’s first sale it reminds us of why we started down this path. After all, we aren’t here solely because our writing muse lured us into it. We write because once started on this journey, we can’t imagine doing anything else . And we know that if we keep moving forward, then one day we will reach that wide ocean of writing success at the end of our journey. What an adventure!
I write historical fiction, and I invite you to share the journey to published author with me.