Okay, I admit it: I am writing this blog post for myself today, just as much as I am writing it for all of you, my lovely audience. Why? Because even though I have made a career out of writing, there are still plenty of days when I doubt my own abilities and talents, and I recognize the need to talk myself back into what I know, based on the hard lessons about writing and life that I need to learn and re-learn.
Recently, I was on vacation in New York City and discovered a book in the NYU bookstore that I was really excited about. It is Jonannah Negron’s How to Be an Artist. I saw the book and just knew I had to have it. Usually when I get a feeling about a book, it’s dead right. My intuition was right on this book, too, except for one thing: Negron says that all artists need day jobs.
That really bothered me because she is assuming that you can have EITHER your art OR your freedom. But what if you want both? Do you really need to choose?
One question that has plagued me throughout my adult life as a creative person is, should I follow my passion?
When I was in my twenties, the answer was a resounding YES. It was easy enough to make that decision in college when I was a student and didn’t have to worry about things like health insurance or saving for retirement. I felt free to follow whatever interested me and did.
Let’s face it: writing a novel is hard work. And, one of the things that often makes it harder is books on how to write novels. Yes, you read that correctly. I honestly believe the sometimes reading a book about how to write a novel actually gets in the way.
Perhaps you’ve read this elsewhere—and because I absolutely believe this to be true, I think it bears repeating—there are two kinds of novelists:
Writers who write by the seat of their pants (sometimes called “pantsers”) and write each day without planning their novels.
Writers who plan each part of their novels before they write it, complete with character sketches and an outline.