Do You Want to Write or Just Publish?
Do you want to write or just publish?
I once looked up the difference between a writer and an author and found several differing statements. I finally came across one I liked and have used since.
You know how you have 5 versions of something and pick the one that fits the thing the way you want? Yeah, that’s what I did.
This statement said writers write and authors publish. I’m not saying I believe it to be true but for the purposes of this post, this definition works nicely. Some people write for the joy of it (writers). Others enjoy writing but also write for the purpose to make money (authors).
This thought poses the question (to me anyway) what is more important? The writing or the selling of the writing?
Such deep questions today on the blog, right?
I received the book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott as a gift several years ago and I’ve read it many times since then. It’s one of those books that every time you read it you get another great nugget of information from it.
The short version is the book talks about how she fell in love with writing and how she finally made it as a writer. Then it dives into the ins and outs of writing and being an author. I’ve always felt her personal story inspiring. I love to hear how other people faced struggles and prevailed.
A few weeks ago when I read it for the millionth time one sentence she said really stuck out to me. I remember reading this sentence before, but this time it had a bigger impact. Maybe since in the last couple years, I’ve shifted to more of a role hoping other writers that it resonated more with me this time. I actually stopped and thought about it for a while before resuming my reading.
“The problem that comes up over and over again is that these people want to be published. They kind of want to write, but they really want to be published.”
Why is this a problem? Because writing is hard work. If you’re writing for the sole purpose of getting published and making tons of money you will get unmotivated quick. Because it’s usually not a fast process.
I think that’s why they call writing an art. You have to be able to enjoy it for the sheer beauty of the writing and the process. The sense of accomplishment you have when you’re finished. You have to be motivated to write because you LOVE it. That’s what will sustain you when the writing gets tough.
It’s like that with anything. You have to at least somewhat enjoy the journey or when you do get to the destination you still won’t be happy. Life is too short to do something simply for financial gain.
If you’re reading this thinking but I really, really want to get published and make my millions as an author I get it. That’s how I feel. That’s how a lot of us authors feel. But I also love to write. It’s what started me down this path in the first place. When I start to let the process of publishing overshadow the process of writing (and it happens) I know I have to take a step back. Think about the big picture. What’s really important.
And that’s the writing itself.
So what is it you really want? To write or publish?