This post originally ran in late 2010, but I find myself thinking about my own writing journey this year, as I’ve spent the past week attending memorial services and comforting mourners. After a year full of so much tragedy, I think it’s worth another read as we move into this New Year. I hope you’ll agree.
Recently, my teenage son gave me a great insight into my freelance writing career. He plays the online multiplayer game Minecraft, in which players build vast structures while battling the occasional zombie at night.
“How do you win the game?” I asked him.
He rolled his eyes, the way only teens can.
“There is no winning the game, mom,” he said. “It’s about the experience. It’s all about the journey.”
Time is short
Well said, Evan. I so often forget this truth. Our careers, our lives, are all about the journey.
In writing, there is no arriving. There’s always the drive to write a better article, blog post, poem, or novel, next time. There is no “done.”
Not to get all heavy, but as the Kabbalists say, we never kill time here on Earth. It’s the other way around: Time kills us.
And we never know when that’ll happen. The turning of the year brings this unavoidable fact to the front of my mind.
So, knowing that your time is limited, what sights do you want to see on your journey? Where do you want to be sure to go? These are the questions I’m asking myself as I contemplate my plans for next year.
Set your course
To answer my title question, your writing journey matters because really, the journey is all we have. There is no arrival, except at the grave.
Not a word of what we’ve written will help us then.
But if we’ve written well, what we leave behind will be part of our legacy, hopefully helping others long after we’re gone. I find that thought comforting.
Write your way there
What I find amazing and powerful about being a writer is if you have a goal, you can write your way there. Work hard, polish your writing up, keep sending it out there, and it will take you places.
You could pitch your way to new bylines in magazines, or even to new places on the map. I have a friend who was flown to Denmark to meet with Lego because they liked his writing. I recently read about a woman whose writing got her an assignment in Singapore from Coca-Cola.
Your words can carve a path for you through the desert, the jungle, across oceans, over mountains, and bring you amazing opportunities in as-yet unimagined places.
So here’s to a writing journey for all of us that’s full of breathtaking sights, unexpected turns, wonderful friends, and opportunities to grow and improve our craft.
As we enter the new year, I’m going to strive to remember my writing-career priorities — the places I want to be sure to visit on my way. Most of all, I’m going to work on letting go of my feelings of “falling behind” or not being “there” yet, and try to enjoy every moment of my wonderful freelance writer’s life.
Where will your writing journey take you this year? Leave a comment and tell us about your travel plans.