Please welcome today’s guest, Miriam Joy, and be HER FAN!
Don’t you love Miriam’s name? Just the sound of it makes me joyful. I’ve nicknamed her Motivator Miriam because of her awesome post below. Whenever I have doubts about my writing, or feel unmotivated to write, I’ll think of Miriam and this post. She’s doing what she loves and doing it well. If I were an agent I’d keep my eyes on this girl. She’s got a strong work ethic and a competitive spirit. I love that!
I met Miriam at Teens Can Write, Too! (a great blog for teens) and I instantly loved her voice, so I asked her to share something about writing that could benefit other teen and adult writers on their journey. I hope you’ll be as inspired as I am.
Here’s what she said:
It’s November 2009 and I’ve just told my parents that I’m taking part in National Novel Writing Month.
Look at it from their perspective – I’m at school, I’ve recently taken up Irish dancing, I’ve never written a novel before… it’s bizarre. Oh, and did I mention that it’s November seventh already, and I’m only just starting? They’re pretty sure I’m not going to complete the challenge and I’m agreeing with them, nodding and saying I’m just doing it for fun, so it doesn’t matter if I win or not. Thing is, they don’t get that. They think if it’s pointless, why even bother trying? Why write anything at all that month?
I completed my first 50k novel in 15 days. To prove them wrong. Because they said I couldn’t do it and I didn’t bother to argue with them until I had proof that perhaps I could – and there was only one thing that would prove it.
And then, as time has passed, they’ve realized that yeah, I can write pretty fast. And they know I prioritize my writing and dedicate my spare time to it – when I’m not playing music, dancing, or doing archery. But, my mum’s a career advisor. So, when I tell her I want to be a writer, she thinks of the potential money I’d earn and she says, “I think you need a back-up plan.”
And again, that’s fair enough.
But I don’t see it like that. I see that as a challenge. Yes, I’ll have a back-up plan (archery coordinator on movie sets? Sign me up!), but I will do whatever I can to make Plan A work out for me. If you tell me it won’t work or that I need to be practical, I will go out of my way to prove to you that ‘practical’ doesn’t necessarily mean giving up on your dreams.
There’s a song I love by Frank Turner, and it has some brilliant lyrics. It says:
Oh maturity’s a wrapped up package deal so it seems
And ditching teenage fantasy means ditching all your dreams
All your friends and peers and family solemnly tell you you will
Have to grow up be an adult yeah be bored and unfulfilled
Oh when no one’s yet explained to me exactly what’s so great
About slaving 50 years away on something that you hate,
about meekly shuffling down the path of mediocrity
Well if that’s your road then take it but it’s not the road for me
I feel like that song gets me. That’s exactly what I think. WHY should I get a job just for the money, to survive, because that’s how the system works? Why shouldn’t I be able to enjoy myself and do something I really love?
“So what do you want to be when you grow up?” “A writer.” “The key word there was grow up.”
You know what? If I can’t be a writer when I grow up, then I’m not going to grow up. It’s as simple as that. Telling me not to write is like telling me to cut off a limb or something. It’s not going to happen.
And from what I’ve read and what I’ve been told, that’s basically the mindset you need to have. Writing is about perseverance. You can have all the talent in the world but if you don’t push away the little voice inside your head that tells you you’re useless and the louder voice belonging to family members and careers advisors at school (sometimes the same thing) who point out that your likelihood of making a living like this is tiny, you’ll fail. If you sit there umming and ahhing and wondering whether or not you should do it, you’ll fail. If you don’t believe you can hit your target, finish your novel, edit that thing to perfection, you’ll fail.
Writers write. And before they write, they believe they can write.
I don’t get up in the morning and think, “I wonder if I can stand up today.” I just get up. I don’t contemplate every little action. “I wonder if I can learn to play this piece.” Sure I can. It just might take me a while. So why do we have this fear of starting to write? Why do we feel like we have to know what we’re doing before we do it? Face it: none of us have a clue. We just throw words at pages and see what sticks, and later we cut out what doesn’t.
I write because there are people who motivate me, yeah. Sometimes, those are my beta readers, who want a fresh draft or a sequel or the ending to something they’ve read. Sometimes it’s my characters, because I’m so in love with the story and I can’t stop. And sometimes, it’s my enemies. Fear. Failure. Disbelief.
I’m afraid of getting old and never doing any of the things I want to do. I’m afraid that the books I think up will come to nothing, and I’ll end up ditching everything I ever loved to be stuck in an office doing a boring job for not enough pay.
The idea of failing to reach my targets scares me. If I say I’ll hit 200k, I’ll be so ashamed if I don’t. So I’ll do it. Whatever it takes. If I say I’ll race someone’s wordcount, I will. And I’ll win. Otherwise, I’ll always wonder what I could have done.
And then there’s my other enemy. Disbelief, in the form of peers or family members. “You can’t be a writer, you’re too young.” “That’s not a real job.” “You’ll never make enough to live from writing books.” “You’ll change your mind when you’re older.” “In five years you’ll hate everything you’ve written.” “Wait, you write books?”
I think that’s what motivates me the most. I’m stubborn, and if there’s one thing I like doing, it’s proving people wrong. The more you tell me I can’t, the more I will be determined to make sure that I do.
And I will do whatever it takes.
Meet Miriam at her U-Tube Video
Visit Miriam Joy Writes blog HERE.
Follow her on Twitter HERE @MiriamJoyWrites