Why We Must Believe.

It is always a lonely practice, this writing life. In more ways than just needing to concentrate in a room alone. We question our characters: Are they two-dimensional? We question our plots and subplots: Do they keep the pace going? Are our themes recognizable but not too obvious? (We never want to get “caught writing”.) The list goes on and on in an unbroken chain. And then there are our insecurities about our writing. Who can we show this to? Who can we trust to tell the truth and will they be laughing at us on the inside? Seeing us as incapable but not wanting to tell us. Who, what, how, when, WHY?

Why? Why do we write? Because we HAVE to. There is no way around it. Sometimes we wish there were. It is almost like a curse we were borne with. Sometimes-in those beautiful moments-it is a blessing.

There is a school of thought in psychology called behaviorism. The Behaviorists believe that through various stages of reward, certain behaviors are further entrenched into our psyche; variant rewards being stronger than expected rewards. The more unpredictable the reward, the more the behavior is strengthened. This has also been shown in gambling and certain other behaviors.

It may sound like I’m comparing writing to an addiction. I didn’t set out to do that, but in a way-isn’t it? Do we think about it every second of the day and night? Do we wonder when our next session will be? Do we hold onto the beautiful moments as we get through the tough times? Do we get shaky when we don’t write? Yes. Yes, yes and yes!

There is a great piece the author Jamie Grove wrote at How Not To Write which ties together writing on writing from the great Joseph Conrad called “A Writer Must Believe.”

Writing is a lonely business, but we must believe in our abilities as writers. We must believe, when all seems disjointed and out of reach, that we alone can reclaim the broken chains, link by link, and piece them back together. And we must believe that in the end, those chains will loop through our subplots, our characters, arc over our main plots and turn the wheels of our themes into a beautiful narrative that we have dreamed of creating since before we can remember.

We may at times feel lonely, but we are not alone. We all work together for something greater than ourselves; and that act is the unwritten symphony of a million keys working together to make the great symphony of our craft that will reach to and touch that one soul, sitting alone, reading our words and connecting to each one who has read it before and then after and through a great arc-back to us.

Keep Calm and Type On!

This article Why We Must Believe first appeared on The Point of the Quill.

24 thoughts on “Why We Must Believe.

    1. Hi Ciara! So good to see your smiling face. That is exactly what this community is for, feedback and interaction; when in doubt, needing some motivation, or just happy to share a victory. What project are you working on currently? Is it your site (on ongoing project) or something else (NaNoWriMo) that you have a vision for? Please feel free to look through my ongoing Toolkit page, share here or email me through the contact page.

  1. I feel blessed to really enjoy the time I spend alone writing music (which is my own writing craft). The process is actually more exciting for me than the sharing of the work, even though I enjoy that as well. And I’m also grateful to have people I can instant message and share excerpts from songs with, which they will either actually, or pretend to, listen to. :)

    1. Thanks for stopping by Chris! I am friends with many musician and I know that composing is quite lonely as it comes from similar depths of the brain and soul that word crafting does. That you have people to share your gifts with is a gift in itself and you surely recognize this. Many of my musical friends are more timid than I about sharing work and that’s saying something. Do you have audio clips on your website or would you like to share them here? If not, completely understand but I’m a music lover (grew up going to CASA for piano and lived with quartets in my living room) and this would be a supportive atmosphere. Either way, I am happy that you stopped by and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. You and Jim Bessy were on the same page this week. I just read his blog about finding the time to write and it hit a lot of the same questions. As a visual artist these the questions we ask ourselves all the time. Part of the experience of painting is in the creating of the art itself. The other part is putting it out there – which can scary. There is a good book on the topic called the “Fear of Art”. The bottom line is 1) I must create 2) I must not be concerned with outside acceptance 3) for those who appreciate my style – great!

    Keep on, keeping on Sista!

    1. He said the same thing and I noticed similarities when I went and read it. He had quite a conversation going over there. He was so sweet and offered to help me in joining a writing competition that his site hosts. I’ve just been knocked down by chemo so between the intensive, the masterclass and rewriting my point of view, it will be interesting. Art is never fully finished is it dear. Your creed is very much like Jamie Grove’s comment (see first comment) whom I linked to in this article. We are all connected by art whether written visual or tonal.

  3. Hahahaha!

    ” Do we think about it every second of the day and night? Do we wonder when our next session will be? Do we hold onto the beautiful moments as we get through the tough times? Do we get shaky when we don’t write?”

    Nope, nope, nope, and nope. I guess I’m not addicted, then?

    But that’s not really true either – I think about it a lot, I start getting nervous when I haven’t done it in a while, it brings me highs as well as lows. So perhaps I am addicted, but with different symptoms than you :)

    You are right – the rewards are so uncertain that we must believe. If we don’t, nothing will get done. I forget that sometimes. Believe, I must. Thank you!

  4. Writing IS an addition! It just happens to be one that has positive “side effects” rather then that which is normally associated with the negative addictions. In order to be great at anything you do I think it is important to love what you do so much that it becomes you obsession. That is what makes us great right Lee?

    1. Absolutely right. And writing is my obsession. Always dancing with the muse. Hope you both are okay Thanks for stopping by. Have some back-page work and also in masterclass and an intensive so time, as for all, is very precious. I will head over to your site asap. Can’t wait to see what you are up to. Sending my best.

  5. You and I were certainly walking the same path this week, weren’t we, Lee?
    I agree that writing can be lonely and addictive, but love your point about variable or unexpected rewards. Whenever I’ve contacted an author to let him or her know how much I enjoyed a novel, the response has always been “this is what writers live for!”
    The connections we make, both writer-to-writer and writer-to-reader, are what drive us to carry on. Otherwise, we’re only muttering in the dark, aren’t we?
    Well done!

    1. We certainly seem to be doing so, Jim! Take a look at Jamie Grove’s comment; I’m going to put that on my writing wall. “Muttering in the dark”; there’s that humor of yours! Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Great post, and not just because I’m mentioned in it. :)

    The most important reason for believing in your writing is that no one else will. Even if you are a successful writer with millions of fans, that next book might just turn then off (ask J.K. Rowling). A writer must believe because the work they are doing is in service to the story and the characters within.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to come by, Jamie. I am truly honored. So many second books, or passionless pieces (as you mentioned) are coming from an outside obligation and thus they fail. Our mission, our yearning is as a vehicle for the characters and stories within. We must allow them passage through to speak the truth. Otherwise, the symphonic composition is tone deaf. Again, I appreciate your wise comment. That is a quote for my writing board. ;)

  7. What a great read. I really identify with that image of the broken chain, trying to connect it back up, link by link. So often when writing I wonder if I’m ever going to pull everything together again, and sometimes I don’t, but I’m always called back for another attempt.

    1. Thank you, Dave. I really appreciate that. I didn’t even finish, or start the article I linked to, I just saw the first quote by Joseph Conrad and typed it out; fini. I seem to do better that way. Either that or I was overcome by the ghost of Conrad. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

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