Knowing the “why” of things

Some people write because they care about words. Others do it because there is a story that simply won’t leave them. Whatever motivates you, it’s crucial to have a good reason for writing.

Determining the right reasons for doing anything should be career step No. 1. because often it’s the “why” that determines whether you quit or keep on going. Sometimes the thing that holds you back has nothing to do with your prowess as a writer and everything to do with your attitude and the way you feel about yourself.

There will always be an endless number of challenges in your writing career. If you’re not fully committed then the mental grind will be enough to make you quit.

For me, writing is a necessity. I exhibit all the signs of severe depression from the feelings of worthlessness and guilt to symptoms of anhedonia or consistent lack of pleasure in many activities that should be enjoyable. There are some mornings when I wake up and question whether it’s worth it to even go through with the rest of my day.

My first instinct is to quit. It’s difficult to go through each day regretting everything that happened and feel like the future is a bad thing waiting to happen. Having such a bleak outlook on life is not something anyone really chooses to have nor is it simple as convincing yourself to be positive. No intellectual argument about fortunate my life is, no matter how convincing, really makes me feel better. If there is something to feel bad about then I will find it, but there’s a difference between feeling depressed and choosing to act on it.

I choose to write instead.

Writing is a respite from the often intense negative feelings I have about myself. Thinking through ideas, doing the research and crafting stories  is a break from the often bleak outlook that really accompanies every other activity. It’s different from escapism  because that implies running away and I never shy away from my inevitable dark moods.

I accept the dark places my mind goes to and often writing often brings out the worst kind of dread because of how much it means to me. I choose to keep typing because eventually all those feelings drop away and the only thing that remains is pure focus on the task at hand.

Writing in any form helps me deal with depression. It’s not just an activity, but a necessity and that is a huge reason why I want to make this a career.

Knowing the reasons “why” you’re writing doesn’t make the challenges go away, it provides the fuel to deal with them. Depression makes the business aspect of writing a challenge. Try marketing yourself when the first inclination is that you won’t just fail, but fail in the worst possible way imaginable. Try networking when you think the person across from you is probably  thinking the worst about you. Try writing a query letter  feeling like it’s going to get rejected the moment it leaves your inbox. Top all of that off with knowing that this is your livelihood and the pressure to succeed can be suffocating.

Despite all of those difficulties, I know why I’m doing this and that’s the most important part. I love to write and want to spend as much time as possible doing it. All conversations about quitting end there no matter how complicated the “how” or “what” is. Perhaps the challenges that you face are different. Your situation could be too complicated for anybody to imagine, but motivation and the willingness to push through lay in the “why.”

Figure that out and nothing will stop you.

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