When teaching the Armadillocon Writer’s Workshop I tell students to follow their dreams. It’s important. Frankly, I feel the world would be a much better, happier, more beautiful place if more people didn’t give up on their dreams — whether those dreams are writing or not. Dreams have a practical side, you know. People who follow their dreams are happy. Happy people handle stress better. The less stressed out you are, the less sick you are. (That’s been my experience.) Not that life is perfect for people who pursue their dreams. It isn’t. Understand that there’s a certain process to it. In the beginning, others are going to doubt you. They’ll tell you that you can’t make it. It’s impossible. They may even plant obstacles in your path to prevent you from succeeding. That’s just part of the process. I like to think of it as the Universe making dead certain that’s what you really, really want. Second, if people are doing this to you, ditch them. You don’t need them. That’s another part of the process.
Another thing to understand is that being a writer is about writing. It isn’t about being famous or rich. 99% of traditionally published authors with great agents are neither. Writing is hard work. You’ll never know all there is to know about it. (If that only frustrates you, if you don’t want to work hard, just get out now.) Also, most authors I know (including myself) struggle with the inner critic. One day, everything you write is golden. The next, everything sucks. Trust me, this never goes away. It doesn’t matter how many books you publish. The inner critic merely changes the script a bit. Instead of “You’ll never make it.” it says things like “You’ll never write that well again. That was a fluke.” or “New writers are better, sharper. You’re old hat.” It goes on and on. The challenge is to continue writing, regardless. You have to really love to write to do this. You’re heart has to be truly in it — otherwise, again, don’t bother. You’ll be miserable. That’s why being a successful writer is one part bloodymindedness and one part talent. And you know what? I suspect the bloodymindedness might just be the bigger aspect of it.
Lastly, don’t take short cuts. Just don’t. Short cuts are for suckers. Anyone who tells you any different is selling something. You see, life is about the journey not the destination. Skipping the journey means skipping important lessons. It means missing out on things that will make you a better writer. If you really, truly love writing, you don’t want to do that. Good writing results from experience. Experience is the foundation for your imagination. Ever wonder why a vast majority of great writers are older? This is why. I don’t mean to sound discouraging. It’s very possible to become an author, but understand that not every author is Stephen King. (And you know what? That isn’t a bad thing.) Becoming an author — like achieving any worthwhile goal or dream — isn’t easy or fast. But it is worth it. Seriously worth it.