One of my very wise writer friends stated that when a book comes close to the finished product, opposition arises. She wasn’t kidding. As I’ve neared the end of the road with Loose Ends, my next novel, I’ve found it to be more of a trial than normal. I’ve had opposition beyond my control such as a health scare. Other small details have popped up that would make it easy for me to say, “I’m done.” What’s kept me going?
According to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, one of dedication's definitions is a self-sacrificing devotion. To do anything well requires it no matter what the goal, be it success in sports, medicine, graduate studies, or writing, especially writing while working full time.
Having dedication provides the driver for me to push through the lonely times when I feel like the world passes me by. It sees me through obstacles that stand in my way when I know what awaits me on the other end. It keeps me going even when I think no one is listening.
How can writers stay dedicated to their work?
- Maintain a life balance. This can be hard for anyone dedicated to their passion. It’s especially hard for writers who know they have deadlines. It’s easy to give everything else up in pursuit of that novel. But to do so may damage our spiritual walk, our relationships, and maybe even our health. I’ve become especially aware of this over the years.
- Gather encouragers. I can’t emphasize this point enough and have written on this very topic. Writing is a lonely, sometimes harsh business. Doubts may come from a critique given the wrong way. Or from a lack of sales. Or simply from getting mired in a bad case of writer's block. During those times, I turn to my encouragers: my husband, my fellow writers, and my friends. They help me refocus.
- Step back a little but not too much. Sometimes, writing plain runs us into the ground. That life balance gets upended, and burnout lurks in the shadows. Take a break, but don’t stay away for too long. I’ve learned that the hard way. Some nights, the muse just isn’t with me. I wind up having no creative energy, and I take the night off. On longer vacations, I don’t take my computer. Then, when I return, I find new energy.
- Keep focused on the end result. When a novel approaches the end stages of production, be it through traditional means or indie means, little things pop up. Maybe an interior formatting issue creeps in. Or a publisher’s deadline gets pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances. That dedication to see a novel in print acts as the driving force to push through those obstacles.
- Know your work is good and makes an impact. Even successful writers can question the value of their work or even if anyone is reading it. When that occurs, dedication remains the one thing that keeps a writer going. When I attended a writers conference many years ago, I sat down with an agent who I truly admire. Though he ultimate turned down my work due to its subject matter, he left a note at the bottom stating that I had the craft. It was the best turndown I’d ever received. Now, when I doubt that my work is good enough, I take a look at that note, scribbled on a sheet of typing paper, that sits on my bulletin board.
As writers, if we maintain that dedication, we will have the strength and mettle to make it through. With Loose Ends, I’m 95 percent there. I have just that much left to go. And what will see me through? I’m dedicated to this novel. And that will be enough.
I have not received any compensation for writing this post. The work mentioned in this post is of my own writing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255:
Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”