day one: knowing your why

I did it for myself alone, not for anyone else, and that was the difference. It didn't matter if I found the words, and more than that, I knew it would be impossible to find the right ones. And because I accepted that what I'd once believed was possible was in fact possible, and because I knew I would never show a word of it to anyone, I wrote a sentence.
- Nicole Krauss, History of Love
You must be sure that your imagination and love are behind it, that you are not working just from grim resolution, i.e., to make money or impress people.
- Brenna Ueland, If You Want to Write

I have a confession to make. 

Before any of this started for me, I would watch other writers push out their work on Amazon or their own website and think, well that's not hard. I can do that — I can write just as good as they can. 

(Pause for the dramatic irony over the horrific grammar)

It's true, though. I saw the finished product, all nice and neat and fitting perfectly on my kindle or computer screen, and something would settle on my chest. Something that felt an awful lot like jealousy. Something that looked an awful lot like comparison.

Hear me: this is so dangerous. It's not cute or helpful or worth any moment of your time to compare someone else's words with what you believe you can or can't accomplish. For a hot minute, my reasons for getting into this whole indie scene weren't founded in telling stories well and writing what I know I'm meant to write. 

It was about competition. 
It was about making as much money as possible. 
It was about fame. 
It was about writing what I thought others wanted to hear.

And maybe a tiny sliver, just one breath of a moment, did I think this is the story I'm meant to tell. 

I think I sold about 100 copies, with a majority of those downloaded within a KDP promotion where my book was absolutely free. Most of those I competed against? Multi-book publishing deals. Bestsellers. Household names. 

But they weren't writing against me. They probably didn't even know I held this deeply rooted jealousy where I just wanted to beat them. 

They were too busy writing from their why.

Before you research, before you jump into the narrative bouncing around those bones of yours, before you begin to tell others that you're writing a book and you plan on publishing it, you gotta know your why. 

I know what you're thinking. You're seeing all of these people publish their own work and you're feeling the dissonance growing because you know you can do it. You know you have book(s) inside and you're tired of waiting for others to choose you. You know it's time to choose yourself.

I'm with you. 

But first. 

Close your eyes. Let the breath fill your lungs. 

What is your why?

Answer this question and your words will show depth and purpose. When we work from our core, we turn magnetic. People gravitate toward what we're doing not because we're hollering for attention but because our work speaks for itself in the intention and soul seen within the pages. 

Find your why, and then write fire

Don't settle for anything less. 


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Posted on October 1, 2014 and filed under indie publishing, writing.