The Three Year Itch

Kristine Kathryn Rusch had an interesting post up this week on the Business Rusch: Reality Check.

It’s worth a read for anyone who wants to do this writing thing for the long-haul.

I found this quote interesting:

“It usually takes about three years for the writers who aren’t going to work hard enough to make it to give up.  It was that way thirty years ago, and it’s that way now.”

I can see that.  I’m two years and three months in. And, even with  some positive feedback here or there, I still struggle to keep going with my writing some days.  Especially knowing that the amount of money I can earn from writing isn’t going to approach what I could make from a traditional career for many, many years.  If ever.

That’s a tough pill to swallow.  That you’re sacrificing something that could reward you for something that may never reward you.

Fortunately, I’m insanely arrogant, so I continue to believe that it won’t take me ten years to gain traction.  (I’m thinking five.)

(And by the time I get to the five-year mark I’ll be so invested at that point that I’ll keep on plugging away until the ten-year mark because damn it, I’ll want to get something out of all that effort.)

Personally, I also agree with KKR’s rant about Nano.

I don’t participate.  Great for everyone who does, but to me participating in Nano makes writing less of a professional activity and more of a social activity.

No one shows up to your day job and tells you congrats for working eight hours today.  So, why should they do that with your writing?

It reminds me of a psychology experiment my mom did once for one of her classes.

As I may have mentioned, I’m addicted to Coca-Cola.  Have been since I was about sixteen.  At some point during college my mom offered to pay me $1 for every day that I didn’t drink any Cokes and said she’d pay me $50 if I made it a whole month without a Coke.

What did I do?

I quit drinking Coke for a month and earned myself $50.  (That was a lot of money!)

What happened the first of the next month?  I went back to drinking about eight Cokes a day.  (I was actually worse than before the experiment started.  Try denying yourself something you want and then getting it back and you’ll see what I mean.)

Relying on outside rewards (even just support or encouragement) to keep yourself going can lead to failure.

The motivation to write day after day has to come from inside.  No one will be there in March cheering these people on and most won’t be writing in March because of that.  That’s where I think Nano fails people.

If you read the post by KKR she makes some good points about Nano and being a writer.

Read it.  Seriously.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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