“The seeker embarks on a journey to find what he wants and discovers, along the way, what he needs.” —Wally Lamb, The Hour I First Believed
“Not all who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
How to Stay on the Writing Path by Jordan E. Rosenfeld
I believe that most writers are also seekers. While we may have a larger-reaching goal to find an audience and be published, ultimately, the writers who stick out the hard times do so because there is gold to be found along the journey. Sometimes it’s the kind of gold that requires mining and panning and sweat and agony. Other times it comes silently, a gift in the night from a willing muse. But one thing is for sure: writing gives as much as it takes—and it takes a lot.
So how do you stay on the path of writing without falling off? How do you overcome the critical voices (internal and external) without giving up? Every writer soothes themselves differently, but sometimes soothing is in short supply, and it’s then you have to turn to other resources beyond yourself to find that boosting. And if you’re letting despair or discouragement drag you down, remember you don’t have to. You’re not alone! There are as many allies on the path as there are villains. It’s my goal to be one of your allies.
For this month, remind yourself that a writer’s life is a worthy endeavor, a high calling, an important purpose. For this month I ask you to put in place one new support for yourself, be it a quote of kind words over your desk, or a buddy who will hold you accountable.
Starting in the New Year I will be blogging the topics of my book in the works: A Writer’s Guide to Surrender. I chose the word surrender not to imply giving up, but instead, a settling in to what matters most. It’s also a concept I find immensely helpful when things are not going as we hope; when rejections roll in, when the writing isn’t flowing, when criticism stings. Surrender is, at root, a state of accepting your vulnerability and not letting anything harden you.
Let’s stay flexible and gentle with ourselves. But don’t get off the path. It’s your right to walk it!
Jordan E. Rosenfeld is author of the novel Forged in Grace, the writing guides Make a Scene: Crafting a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time, Write Free: Attracting the Creative Life (with Rebecca Lawton) and the forthcoming: A Writer’s Guide to Surrender: A Tool-kit to Build and Bolster a Lasting Writing Practice. Jordan’s essays and articles have appeared in such publications as AlterNet.org, Marin Magazine, Publisher’s Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, The St. Petersburg Times, Whole Life Times, The Writer and Writer’s Digest magazine. Her book commentaries have appeared on The California Report, a news-magazine produced by NPR-affiliate KQED radio.
Learn more about Jordan and her writing wisdom at: www.jordanrosenfeld.net