Faith is the first principle of writing. The page is blank. Can you fill it up? Can you fill it up with something worthy of space and time? There is a reason to get religious.
When the page is blank, there are as many hopes and fears as you bring to the page. Are you a pessimist? Do you see negative outcomes waiting for you, like rejection and failure? You need to add some hope and light into your mind. Pessimistic and overly-cautious thinking will sabotage your work and will fill you with counterproductive doubt. This will steal fuel from any fire you have built. This may lead you to write too cautiously, take too many breaks, wait for the muse to pull you from Facebook or away from video games. And if you wait for the Muse to find you anywhere else than the writing desk, the odds are that you will never finish that writing project.
Are you an optimist? Do you see nothing but Bestseller lists, six-figure advances, sitting on the couch with Jimmy Fallon, and your books in the cannon? You need to add some reality to the equation. Writing is hard work. You may never see any money. Unless you are extremely lucky, you will most-likely have to work a full-time job, and help take care of other people (kids, aging parents, dog, iguana etc.) and still find time to write. You may even write ten books before any one of them becomes critically recognized. And I haven’t said anything about winning the lottery we call, Bestseller. Good luck with that. More than likely none your books will never become best sellers. Are you ok with that?
In the early 14th century, faith, came to mean, “assent of the mind to the truth of a statement for which there is incomplete evidence” (Online Etymology Dictionary). I can’t think of a better ingredient to a writer’s heart. If you are going to “make it” as a writer, I think you have to do it with the faith that there was something worth saying. And if there is, well, then you may have something. The best of us work on a book with hope that by the end of it we will have added value to “the conversation.” And of course, there is nothing wrong with the hope and faith that your book will reach a market; that the market will not only readily accept it, but embrace it with sales enough to allow you to enjoy some measure of success, even if that simply means a better bag of groceries, and an easier time making those car payments.
I’ve been writing for over twenty-years and I haven’t seen more than two-hundred dollars for my creative writing (technical writing doesn’t count here). Most would see this as an epic failure. But I don’t; far from it. I know writers with MFA degrees, from great schools, who have given up the faith and no longer write. And while I was rejected from the MFA program twice (Iowa, Notre Dame, Michener’s Center, Cornell, etc) I have never given up on my dreams. In fact, the more rejection I get the stronger I get. I have a goal that things will change in the near future, but I have no promise that they will. But I have a hope based on experience, research, talent, and a work ethic that is telling me that things are going to turn around. And If I’m wrong it won’t diminish my faith. No, my faith will only be that much stronger, because I’ll be that much closer to earning a living as a writer.
I will leave you with a proof.
1 book doesn’t always = Success.
1 book always = Knowledge that you can write a book.
1 book + a 2nd book will increase your odds of success.
What does it take to do all of this?