Why Your Writing Journey Matters

Carol Tice

Why Your Writing Journey Matters. Makealivingwriting.comThis 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.

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  1. Anne Wayman

    Wow… you're son is probably one of those enlightened beings we hear about. If online games are teaching this, well, it's priceless.

    Thanks for sharing this… still working on my Vision for 2011.

    • TiceWrites

      Yeah…when he's awake and emerges from the clutter snowdrifts in his room, Evan can be really amazing.

      • Angela Napier

        Listen Well

        By Angela Napier

        With the first breath taken
        As the voice begins to sound out with distinction
        Can you hear the words formed
        Expressing the certain tone spoken
        Or does it drop lifeless to your ears
        Why is it this factor of listening
        Has befallen to endless time
        Does it far erode that of simple speaking
        So much in this day and age
        It follows to the grandiose extreme
        Depression and mania that curses and binds with severity
        Behavior that has no imagination or vision
        Patterns that do not follow any set design
        Toxic handles that stab the soul with shame and guilt
        Destroying the beauty of any God given dream
        It is left to a dark gloomy drear so drastic
        Cynicism that forges the possible new world
        To the purging of failures that follow
        Then the tragedy of success
        Leaving life dismal, destroyed
        Nothingness so vast and stark in reality
        Ignored by the next breath taken
        All is the same, no change has been made
        Listen Well and change before your next breath you take

        This is but one of my poems and or Putting my thoughts on paper. I have so much and need to make sure I can do this. I just don’t have the money to buy my own domain and don’t know if the free sites will work out. I don’t even know if I am a good enough writer!

        • Carol Tice

          Angela, poetry is a niche where it’s very hard to earn much. But I would certainly think you could set up a free site if you want to self-publish it. Wix seems easy to use.

        • Carol Tice

          Angela — I want to caution you about publishing your poems in the comments of someone else’s blog. The material on a blog is the property of the blog owner. I’m not going to go put it an ebook or something without your permission…but there are a lot of unscrupulous people online.

  2. Katherine Swarts

    In regard to the "no arriving" concept, I like author Mark Buchanan's comment in *The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath*: "Taskmasters are masters of half-truth. The lie they want you to swallow is that you cannot rest until your work's all done. Rest is not a reward for finishing; it is a stop-work order in the midst of work that's never complete." Elsewhere in the book, Buchanan notes, "Wise people ask, 'If I keep heading this way, will I like where I arrive?' Fools keep making excuses for themselves, justifying and blaming, all the way to nowhere." The whole book, incidentally, is fascinating reading if, like me, one of the biggest resolutions you need to make is to keep working on getting your life in balance.
    My recent post Top 10 Articles for Writers — December 2010

    • TiceWrites

      My source material for sabbath inspiration is The Sabbath by Abraham Joshua Heschel…no doubt what Buchanan read to write his book.

      I don't have trouble taking time away…but struggle with the whole feeling of behinderness and never quite feeling like I've "made it." Who knows what would fill that hole…but I think it's better to realize that the journey is what matters. The destination for all of us is the same.

  3. pm27

    Congrats on the achievements you have made, Carol!
    Hope this year will build on some of the decisions of the past year. Small steps lead to progress on that journey of which you write.
    Best in 2011,

  4. e_g_walker

    My journey has just begun. I haven't even been on this trip for a month, and the experience is already exciting and frustrating – usually at the same time. I am finding out that I don't have all the supplies, but fortunately the people I am meeting along the way are helpful and friendly telling me where to find what I need. Others are showing me on a map how to get to some places I hear are worth visiting. A few have urged me to take time and make sure I have my shoes on the right feet – and to be patient with the process. The one truth about taking this journey is that I have made the first step out the door, which is the biggest one that anyone can take – and I haven't looked back.
    My recent post The Triple Bottom Line for True Sustainability

  5. TiceWrites

    Hi all — just left replies for each of you from DH\’s smartphone and system seems to have eaten them all! More later– out w/ kids today.

  6. Anita Cooper

    Loved this post, Carol. A reminder of our mortality is always good for the soul. I've also been reminded of the writing dreams that are gathering dust…time to "reboot" as it were for the coming year. Here's to a new year that profits our souls as well as our families!

  7. susannahnoel

    Hi Carol – thanks for this reflective post. Like e_g_walker, I just started my journey – and I already feel like I've traveled a million miles.

    Every day there's something new to learn, to absorb, and to play with – just like when you're traveling in an unfamiliar place.

    I'm a nervous traveler in "real life" – and I feel this way, too, about my freelance journey. Worried. Scared. Pushed out of my comfort zone.

    As for where I want to literally travel to? California. Anywhere in California, but San Francisco and Santa Barbara are the two places I yearn to see.

    Good luck to everyone traveling down the freelance road…

  8. TiceWrites

    I went to school in SB…nice place. My real travel dreams are jerusalem and Prague.

  9. pricewrite

    Inspiring post, and a departure from what I've been reading on other blogs. The world seems to be focused on success and arriving. It's a shame we need the ringing-in of a new year to remind us to pause and reflect.

    Lately I've been trying to find a few moments every day to stop and ask myself why I'm doing what I'm doing, and I find that my answer changes for the better each time I ask. I like thinking about where I'm heading, but I like doing my work, too. I like getting to know people who are inspired by their business and are on a journey of their own. I like writing for and about them. I like agonizing over the language. I even like doing the revisions. And I like getting it right, sometimes.

    I've enjoyed getting to know you through your blog and your writing and look forward to more great and helpful things from you in 2011.

    Happy New Year,

    My recent post Can We Really Trust Wonder Woman

  10. TiceWrites

    Special note to all who have been victims of IntenseDebate's annoying moderation problems. Hopefully this is my last post on the system…supposed to go back to the WordPress default over the weekend. Let's hope for better chatting by Monday!

    IntenseDebate has many features I like, including an awesome spam filter, but the inability to let people I've previously approved comment further without moderation has made it unworkable for me. Want to set your comments free…we'll see how it works next week.

  11. Abhinav Kaiser

    Hi Carol,

    I have started reading your blog lately, and I like the content. I think it is helpful for budding writers.

    I have been writing on the web since 2005, and when I go back now to read those archaic articles, I can see the difference in writing I have today. As you mention, writing is a journey that writers take, although they may not realize the subtle changes taking place in their style.

    I have a question for you. If a writer intends to write a book, a full fledged one, let’s say a novel. To get the flair of writing a novel, should he/she read novels by good authors or concentrate on how their thoughts unveil and go with the flow?

    Abhinav Kaiser

    • TiceWrites

      Hi Abhinav —

      Thanks for visiting my blog!

      I'm not a novelist…but I'd say I've never met a novelist who doesn't read like mad. Guess my answer would be "both" — I think everyone studies great writers, whether consciously or not. But ultimately, when you sit down to write, it's about creating something unique, that only you could have written.

      • Frank Phillips

        I think it’s like our friends. The people we choose to spend time with become our role models intentionally or unintentionally.
        Many times in writing we imitate the authors whose works we read.

  12. Nic Oliver

    "There is no winning the game, mom,” he said. “It’s about the experience. It’s all about the journey.”

    So true and it can be a real challenge, balancing the journey and the desire for personal growth with the need to pay the rent!

    Light, Love and Peace,


  13. David Smith

    Early in the new year, my writing journey is going to get tougher. I've had a wordpress blog for over a year. It has been a good start to see if I could keep blogging with writing as my subject. In January, I'm starting a new blog about motivation, personal development and how we create our reality. I can write a motivation or personal development article every day, no problem. The challenge will be writing about how we change our world through our interpretations of it and our actions based on those interpretations. The foundations of change come from philosophy but I will need to write for real people, not academics. Various forms of entrepreneurship will need to tie into my work. As if that won't be enough of a challenge, I will be writing all of my own code.

    It really is a journey with no end in site. I have a 33,000 word manuscript in progress which may become an ebook and I can already see that expanding on the ideas in that work will lead to many articles and more work to be done. The more I write, the more I see needs to be written. It's an adventure all right.
    My recent post Fourteen Ways to Create Multiple Articles on a Topic

    • TiceWrites

      If you've got 33,000 words, I say put that ebook out already! If I had it to do over again I would have kept my first one shorter and put it out as 3 separate ebooks instead of one big one. More launches to get people excited about, and more ways to package and promote them that way.

      Writing my own code…ain't gonna happen. I am barely functional in the usability and design side…as those who've wrestled with my comment system can tell you! But I just keep looking for affordable help, and learning to do things myself as I can, and keep on swimming…

      Best of luck with your '11 journey —


  14. Elmar Sandyck

    Hi Carol,

    You have an amazing son! Ahh, the things children learn these days…

    But yes, we are always on a journey towards something and for 2011, may this journey of mine as well as yours and the rest of the bloggers who made comments in this post of yours, arrive in its destination of success.

    Cheers in the New Year!

  15. Sharon Korkes

    Great message for the new year! My writing goals include the simple words "Just Do It." If I just plug along at my first novel, at my daily blog posts, and at my articles, at the end of 2011 I'll have a collection of work that will be a reflection of my growth. Here's to writing success!
    My recent post Happy New Year!

  16. Sue Dyson

    This was a really inspiring post, Carol. I’ve only recently discovered your blog and am looking forward to reading more. I sometimes feel frustrated and discouraged with the humility of being a beginner yet the urge to write is so strong I can no longer not write. 2011 is my year of fearlessness. My blog posts won’t be the best to begin with, yet thanks to your encouraging words, I know they’ll get better and better.

    • Carol Tice

      Just remember that round about 2 years ago, I was just having the dim thought, “Maybe I should have a blog.” You can come a long way pretty fast in our wonderful new media world!


    The journey is a buzz word for any body who would like to achieve,even those in the grave yard,probably are on unending journey!. True writing is a journey but only what I fear is the obstacles,including rejections.Thank you Tice.

  18. Carmen Myrtis-Garcia

    My husband passed away in 2015 and the path of my life has changed in ways I never expected. After over a year away from writing while devoting my every waking and sleeping moment to being his caregiver…as difficult as it was in many ways, I am so grateful for every minute I was with him during his remaining time on earth. I am now gingerly stepping onto the new path before me. I don’t know where this path is leading. It’s rocky and painful, but I am moving forward moment-by-moment.

    Returning to my writing with greater passion and purpose than before is something my husband encouraged and urged me to do. So, here I am, taking a breath, fingers on the keyboard and pen to paper writing daily. Michael lived with purpose and passion through his art, leaving a legacy in which his spirit lives on. He is my inspiration to do the same.

    Carol’s article is one of those messages that appears at just the right time.

    • Carol Tice

      Thanks for sharing your story, Carmen — may your year be full of writing adventures! And joy.

  19. Samita Sarkar

    I’m 27 and this is a sobering reminder that we are only given so much time! I feel like I have so much to do and I feel myself falling behind. I have yet to release a book, even though I have so many stories welling up inside of me!

    • Carol Tice

      Just press “Publish,” Samita! Start putting it out there, I say.

      Don’t feel ‘behind’ though — I never wrote a word of prose until I was older than you are now…and look what happened. πŸ˜‰

  20. Bill DeQuill

    Bullfeathers! Your son’s game may have to end, but most games do. Publishing some writing work is a stopping point on the journey. I didn’t stop writing when I published any more than I stopped traveling when I returned home from an extended visit in Russia. To say, “In writing, there is no arriving” is simply not true.

    • Carol Tice

      Perhaps more accurate to say — there is no DONE.

      • Bill DeQuill

        Everyone told me I would experience a thrill of satisfaction when I held a copy of my published book in my hands. Instead I had a vague feeling of regret that I could have done better, but now the book was done, finished, published. That experience did not end my writing journey, but it did complete one phase of the journey. I think you are trying to remind us that the process of writing is valuable and important. But I think you weakened your case by exaggeration. This comment is now done.

  21. Kabria

    Hi Carol,
    I love that you wrote this. Often I feel such a sense of urgency. The urgency to make money. The urgency to build presence. The urgency to join a tribe. The urgency to be an expert. It’s nice to actually read that it all happens in time one word one moment at a time. I appreciate the article.

    • Carol Tice

      I suffer from the feeling of “behinderness” — and I try to remember what one hypnotherapist used to say to me: “The universe is perfect in all moments.”

      We’re probably where we’re supposed to be, and we’ll achieve what we’re meant to, if we just keep writing…and don’t worry so much about what others think, or what they’re doing.

      • Rozee Hector

        love this ……”The Universe is perfect in all moments”. I do believe that we I am exactly where I am meant to be right at this moment. Over the years I have become very good at writing motivational letters for individuals applying for a job or admission to college. Note to myself: start a blog and just send it out there ….. . I believe that living in a third world country we have so many daily experiences to share with the world. Happy and sad moments, failures and success too. Love your blog.

        • Carol Tice

          Thanks, Rozee! And yes…just send it out there. πŸ˜‰

  22. Avi

    Hi Carol,
    Have discovered your blog lately and am impressed by the examples you put in your posts. It’s unexpectedly-realistic.

    I am a six-month-old writer, willing to make living out of it. But I am still at zero. Do you have any advice for helping me pick pace on writing?

    • Carol Tice

      I think you mean you’ve been writing for six months…from your Avatar, I’d say you’re older than six months. πŸ˜‰

      There’s no substitute for writing a lot, Avi — and keep working on your English. I can recommend the book How to Not Write Bad by Ben Yagoda for some great tips. There’s also this:


  23. Aziz

    Thanks Carol for such a lovely post.
    I am making sure that I read every post from MakeALivingWriting because it has so much to offer.
    I don’t think I need to go anywhere else. Any problem I have as a writer, be it insecurities, procrastination, wilderness etc. everything is covered somewhere on this website.
    It’s true! People follow you only if you genuinely help them. No wonder Carol has such a humongous following! Keep growing strength to strength.
    We hope same for ourselves as well.

    • Carol Tice

      Wow, if you have read ALL 800+ of my blog posts, you should get some sort of special achievement award!

      I recommend following the tags for topics — makes it more cohesive. My 2016 goal is to get a couple-three useful cornerstone content pages together to make it easier.

      • Angela Napier

        I have been writing since I was 10 years old and have continued in doing so. I am now 49 and have boxes of stuff. I have not pursued it because of fear of rejection. From what I am reading, I have to create a website to put my stuff on and I am also disabled and limited on money. Is doing a free website to start a good point to begin?
        I have mass poems, so much that I have lost count and also a 29 chapter book that am on 4th rewrite because dialogue is failing and it has ended up being a epic poem.
        I would like some insight from you please as to where to go from here. I don’t know if building a free website will benefit?

  24. Darryl

    This post is a great reminder. I have this quote on my wall by Stephen King, and it goes:

    “Writing isn’t about making money, getting friends, getting dated, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy.”

    Writing is taking me to happiness, and once my freelance career really gets going, financial freedom.

    I know it’s getting me to happiness because I can go for hours working on something related to writing, or completely get in the zone for an hour and whip out a 1200 word blog post. Yet when I sit down to do my schoolwork, I’m looking for all sorts of distractions.


  25. Dan Neamtu

    Hey Carol,
    I found very emotional and reflective post. It’s all about the journey. We are like books, and we can make the summary. Thank you!

  26. Matthew Little

    I have started in 2016 by getting my site up an running by updating skills this year.


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