I believe we writers far too often measure our self worth by that title of “published” or “not published”. I certainly have. I tend to think if I ever get published I’ll have “made it”, but while I’m unpublished I’m a nobody. Just a person holed up in her room thinking up silly stories. “I am nothing until I’m published,” I tell myself. Over and over again.
But you know what? I’ve been lying to myself. Almost every single day, I’ve fed myself these lies.
Being published is a wonderful thing, and something we should put effort into if that’s our goal. But not because we believe it’s the only way to “be somebody”. Publishing is not the end of it all. It's not the line of being a “worthy” writer or not. It's just yet another part of the writing life should we choose to pursue it.
But the writing life, the real purpose of it, is to WRITE. To love stories and our characters and our worlds and just write about them because we love it. Because we want to. Because it makes us happy. If we want to get published, then sure, strive for that. But we should never, ever let it get in the way for our love of writing. Or let it measure our worth.
It occurred to me the other day, the people I most want to read and enjoy my stories already are and already can. I'd LOVE to get published, of course. But what I really want is to share my stories with loved ones. And I'm already accomplishing that.
There are so, so many more aspects to the writing life besides having your book in print by that big publishing company. For example, blogging. That’s one of my favorite aspects to writing. In a sense, it’s like being published. It’s public, anyone can read it. I get to share my writing with so many wonderful people, and in turn get to read their delightful posts. It’s like I get to “publish” something every single week (but without the hassle of all those edits and marketing, heh).
But the point is, blogging is just another aspect of writing. It’s not for everyone. Just like publishing may not be for everyone. And that’s okay!
Publishing is one of the aspects of writing. It’s not “the one”. It’s just one of the ones.
Publishing does not have to be the end goal. I mean, even published authors still haven't “made it”. There is no making it. It's always a learning experience. But mostly, it's something fun and magical. Writing is unlike any other thing on this planet. What other job lets you sit around daydreaming about kingdoms being built and torn down? About dragons soaring through the air? About daring escapades and true heroes?
No matter who you are, no matter where you are in your writing, whether you’ve published 50 books or are just starting that first ever first draft, you should be writing for the sheer enjoyment of it. Not because someone told you to or because you want to be published to feel worthy. Don’t force yourself to write about a wizard boarding school or a high action dystopian even though you hate those genres because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling or Suzanne Collins.
Write the stories in your heart. Write the things you love. Write because creating stories puts a thrill through you heart and joy in your soul.
Write because you love it.
With that said, if it is your dream to be published, then pursue it with every fiber of your being. Don’t ever let harsh critiques or that 20th rejection letter stop you. Never let loose that dream.
But don’t ever forget WHY you want that dream. Yes, it's a wonderful feeling when people love your writing, but you should be the first to love it.
Writing is in our very being. Ink is in our blood. We don’t write for fame or fortune. We write because without words we’d cease to exist. We’d be empty shells lost in this chaotic world. Don’t ever let rejection or discouragement or rules or expectations clog your joy for creating stories. Write because it’s your passion.
And I believe that’s the end all goal. Not to land an enormous contract with that big dream publishing house. But to simply create stories because it’s our passion. Don't let this noisy, ever changing world dry up those creative juices, block you from your love of stories. Just write.
You are a writer. Publishing does not give you that title. The yearning you have in your heart to create beautiful words stamps “Writer” on your being. And you are completely worthy of that title.
So go out and paint those stories in your head with a swirl of words. Release your creativity from your mind to your fingers. Pursue your dreams. Pursue the aspects of writing you love. Because you want to. Because you need to. Because you have to in order to breathe. Not because it measures your worth.
Because you love it.