"No, I want to be a writer."
Wasn't that why I studied literature and grammar and collected my favorite poets like baseball cards and wrote essays every waking hour of my life?
In a way, I guess all writers are teachers, but I didn't want to be the kind that stood behind a podium at the front of a classroom.
Yes, I wanted to write for a living, and I do...now. But it didn't come quickly and some parts of my writing life still don't come quickly. Like writing a novel, for instance.
When the good folks at The Ladders asked me to share my advice with aspiring writers, I could only think of this...
enjoy the journey
Indeed, there is a lot more writing advice I could give...
do it because you love it
not for money
but because it is all you know
and want to know
But if there's one thing I'm learning about the writing life and want to share, it's that we must enjoy the journey.
You might get fired from your first big writing job (I was 17 and working at the local newspaper); you might have to search for day jobs that have nothing to do with writing (various office jobs for years); you might not ever see a way to make money from your writing.
Enjoy it anyway.
It's all part of the path as long as you keep writing. Through the day jobs and the disappointments and the setbacks, keep writing.
There's no time limit on this writing life and you must not rush it. You don't have to publish a book by age 30. You don't have to work for a big magazine. You must only write and practice and read and write some more.
Dive deep into the writing process. Savor the actual journey. Because yes, seeing your name on a book jacket or within the pages of a magazine is phenomenal, but the learning, the deep soul stuff, the joy is in the journey. It's walking the winding path with your pen and notebook and exploring this wide world.
So that is my best piece of advice for inspiring writers, young and old.
Be here now with your words. Let them guide you.
P.S. Want some other writing/career tips? Check out:
So You Want to Quit Your Day Job: 4 Pieces of Advice
12 Writing Prompts to Find Your Story
5 "Productive" Excuses Keeping You From Writing