Maybe it’s just that winter is fading into spring, or maybe it’s that I’ve finished my first series and am moving on to new projects. Whatever the cause, I find myself peering ahead, searching for a clear path, while all the world around me seems to be changing rather quickly.
This writing life is a tricky thing. Full of hairpin turns and dead ends, and really, very little security. It’s difficult to hold the uncertainties at bay some days.
Even as I keep up with the changes in the industry and try my best to listen to what other writers are experiencing–how they are navigating the shifts in the industry and their careers–I sometimes find myself feeling a little unmoored.
I begin to wonder where I stand in it all. I look out across the huge landscape that is “writing” and “publishing” and sometimes wonder where my road is leading. Am I traveling it at the speed limit, barely creeping along, or careening ahead so quickly I’m in danger of sailing off a cliff?
Change is a constant in this industry. And while a writer might be on a road headed somewhere, it often turns out that the horizon they’ve been aiming for when they first started out probably isn’t the same thing as it was two years ago, or five, or twenty. Things change.
At the beginning of my writing career, a piece of advice I received was: “Always write from the heart. Don’t try to be someone else or do what someone else is doing. Be yourself and let that shine through your writing.” It’s good advice. Advice which has led me to success and failure. Advice I still live by.
But being a writer also means deciding how to pull yourself through the gears of perpetual change in the industry. Writers must reinvent, map new paths, backtrack, let stuff go, or hold on tight as they journey toward whatever the horizon may bring…all without losing their heart, their “self”, that thing that makes their writing sing.
If I were to give someone writing advice today, I would pass on the advice I was given, but maybe revise it a little:
Write from the heart. Don’t try to be someone else or do what someone else is doing. Be yourself and let that shine through your writing. Be willing to reinvent, risk, and change. And also, it doesn’t hurt to get comfortable with uncertainty.