A few weeks ago, my husband and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning and a commentator quoted the following:
Work like you don’t need the money, love like your heart has never been broken, and dance like no one is watching.
This quote is actually taken from Aurora Greenway, Shirley MacLaine’s nut-ball neurotic mother in Terms of Endearment, and while I don’t normally take advice from nut-ball neurotics, this one got me thinking, especially in terms of reading and writing romance.
Work like you don’t need the money:
You’ve heard the response of at least 30 authors on this one. We don’t—repeat, DON’T—write to make money. At least not initially. We can’t. Unpublished authors have zero monetary incentive to write—to slave away at their craft for years and years until they’re good /recognized enough to publish—while debut authors generally start out grateful for the mere pittance they’re offered.
So what is it that keeps us writing? What motivates us?
I can think of only one answer: We write because we have to.
That’s it. That’s the broad reason, though there are a thousand smaller reasons that fit under the “have to,” reasons such as:
- to feel some sense of controlling our world by controlling that of our characters
- to provide an escape for our readers
- to stop the voices in our heads by some other means than psychotropics, etc.
You get the point and you can add some more if you like, but I think we’d all agree that as writers, we have to write. It’s an instinct (or an infectious disease depending on how difficult the writing went that day).
So as writers, we all start from a place of working like we don’t need the money. See? Already we’re ahead of the game.
Love like your heart has never been broken:
As romance readers and writers in particular, I think we are all implicitly aware of the curative love is to all that is wrong with the world. Don’t believe me? Watch.
Solution to war, famine, poverty? Love the side experiencing it. If everyone did so, the calamity wouldn’t exist.
Solution to personal unhappiness? Stop thinking about yourself and focus on loving someone else. Sure fire solution for happiness.
Solution to the economic downturn? Yes, love. Love someone else and stop obsessing over what you want, what you think you deserve and what you should be getting.
It’s basic, but something everyone tends to forget, particularly when the news channels keep pounding financial doom and gloom into our ears. But we, as romance enthusiasts especially, tend to be enlightened. We go to grocery stores and in addition to picking up milk, we pick up a novel about love. The escape we’re looking for (or trying to write) is an effort to turn our thoughts away from ourselves and focus outward and isn’t that far more pleasurable than focusing on dwindling retirements?
And by the way, isn’t that what romance writers are getting at in the first place with all those happily ever afters?
Dance like no one is watching:
When you start any creative endeavor, go at it as though no one is watching. In our case, write the first draft like no one is watching. I see no other way to maintain one’s integrity as a creative being other than letting go of how we’ll be received. This goes for any kind of artist but in the case of writers specifically, I think there would be a lot less cases of writer's block if we all took this approach. And of course, there’s time in later revisions to tailor a manuscript to our audience (love others, after all), but as a writer, we’ve all experienced those moments in the fledgling stages where the words we chose were tainted by the awareness of how they would be read. And wasn’t it true that when we read that section later, it reeked? Wasn’t it a tedious thing to write in the first place?
So, write like no one is watching. Explore the far limits of your creativity and venture into new grounds.
Work without thought for result. Love without limits and dance to your heart’s content.
So how about you? What’s the best advice you can give for the coming year? We need all the positivity we can get.