A Post About Dedication

May 7th, 2009 • Kate

dedicationI couldn’t get to sleep last night thinking of all the things I was going to do to feel better about myself — eat better, exercise more, get up earlier, recommit to walking the doggies, etc. And I got to thinking — it’s all a matter of dedication. Of sitting yourself down and saying, “Look. You want MORE than this, and you can get it. But you have to work for it. Nothing comes easy.”

And as true as that is for self-improvement, it’s also true about writing, and your search for publication.

Nothing comes easy. Your novel didn’t spring fully-formed like Athena from the head of Zeus. Even if the idea might have, you still had to sit yourself down and write it out. And when the writing was hard, when the words didn’t flow, you still had to sit down and hammer away at it.

I’m following a number of writers on Twitter, and I love seeing their updates on their writing: “revising chapter 3 of 19” “cut 2,000 words!”, “brainstorming”, etc. It’s WORK.

So you sit yourself down and you make it happen — not in one fell swoop, not like magic, but a little every day until it’s done. And then you share it with other people. Think this part only applies to writing? Pshaw! How often do you tell someone something you’re going to do, because the act of saying so makes it happen? We write it in public — “I need to lose x pounds,” “I need to revise my novel,” “I’m going to run a triathlon,” “I’m going to submit to agents” — and the saying of it makes it real. Makes YOU accountable.

Blogs are brilliant for this, as is Twitter and Facebook, because it makes it real. But it doesn’t even need to be that public, if that makes you uncomfortable. Commit to yourself by putting your deadlines in a calendar. Set up a daily/weekly/monthly event. Monday, 10am: 500 words. Tuesday, 11:15am: Nia class. Wednesday, 5pm: Book club.

Dedicate yourself to the task, whatever it is.

Look, New Year’s Resolutions only happen in January, NaNoWriMo happens in November, and even BEDA is only in April (or possibly August). Make your OWN commitments, and you can do it any time of the year. They don’t have to be big. Don’t think you can write a 50,000 word novel in a month? Promise yourself you’re going to write 4,000 words a week — 200 words a day — lose four pounds in two weeks. Make it small to start, and watch as those numbers add up.

Find your own support group, whether it’s other writers, your husband, your friends, a group of people you met at a bookstore, your online community. Check in with each other regularly, and do something REAL.

If you can do that, you can do just about anything.

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7 Responses to “A Post About Dedication”

  1. Sandra Wickham Says:

    GREAT post!

    I managed to finish the first draft of my novel (just two days ago, whehew!) and I credit going to Cons where I hear other authors and learn SO much, belonging to a writer's message board (Absolute Write) as well as following authors, editors, agents and publishers on Twitter.

    It works!

  2. Eva Ulian Says:

    I like your advice- even though some professionals are wary in making such things public-(I wonder why)-that's why I like you best.

  3. Tiffany Schmidt Says:

    This is so true! Whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed, I know it's because I'm too focused on the end result, not on all the babysteps it will take me to get there. Breaking things into bite-sized increments and rewarding myself for progress works great for me! Thanks for a positive post 🙂

  4. Jamie Says:

    Oh! I use the heck out of twitter for this!

    It helps me sit down and write. I set a word goal for myself and when I reach about I twitter–then everyone congratulates me!

    What can I say? I love the positive reinforcement and it's helped me to make new writing friends as well.

  5. Becky Says:

    So true! I use Twitter all the time to update how many words I've done, and how many I'm planning to do/how many chapters I want to get edited. If I tell people about it – even people who don't know me other than online – I feel like I need to achieve it! It's like creating an online boss. lol Great post!

  6. Julia Says:

    Great post! When I set about writing my first novel-in-thirty-days, one of the suggestions from the ladies (who facilitated the workshop that got me going) was to tell my friends (using the term loosely) that I was writing a novel in 30 days – more specifically – telling people I knew would gloat if I didn't make it happen. 19 days later – I had my first finished first draft!

    It really does help to figure out what is going to help you stick to your goals. I like the idea of twittering a daily quota met. I might have to start doing that myself!

  7. Karen Says:

    Love this post! I was just bloging about how I'm not the type of person who can just say I'm going to write 1000 words a day, mainly because I am just too tired when I get home from work. But then, on the weekend I can sit and write 3000 words or more. I feel the difference now in my level of commitment to my writing, and to my life. I've always loved writing but now I know that I have a lot of stories to tell and that it is more than a hobby, it's a passion and a lifestyle. And like you said, it started small and grew into something that made me say, I WILL do this!