Sometimes we get into our cars knowing exactly where we should be heading to get to our destination but decide to head in an entirely different direction. Usually it's because we think another route will get us there faster or we'll avoid heavy traffic. What we often find though is that our traveling time wasn't shortened at all, and that heavy traffic was unavoidable. If we had just kept heading in the direction we'd traveled so many times before, and knew like the back of our hand, we would have gotten there exactly when we needed to or wanted to.
Often, I've changed the course of my tried and true direction, looking for a faster, shorter route as a writer. I thought there was an easier path I could cruise along on, one less bumpy and winding, with only smooth terrain, to reach my writing goals. I frequently asked myself if I really needed to immerse myself so deeply as I wrote that I lost track of time not realizing that I started in the early PM and now it was three AM in the morning. Couldn't a writer get it done in less time with less blood, sweat and yes, sometimes tears?
I asked myself did I really need to revise as much as it was suggested by the experts, or whether I had to write so many queries to get one acceptance, or read a stack of books; fiction, nonfiction, and craft, to be a better writer. Wasn't there things I could take off of my list instead of adding to become one? Wasn't there a Shangri-La for writers, a secret place off the beaten path where with the wave of a wand, our ideas or half written novel turned into a finished manuscript that was perfect and a publisher accepted it on the spot?
If only that was true. That would be what every writer's sweetest dreams were made of. But I also know that is neither what I, and in all probability you, needed during our writing journey. We had to be diligent, committed, and put in the laborious work, knowing we were headed to where we needed and wanted to be, if we just kept heading in the right direction without veering off.
Even though getting to our destination has taken some of us longer than we wished or ever imagined as writers, if we had taken a shorter route, we would have missed key lessons along the way. This lengthy trip was mapped out for us from the very beginning. It helped us find and strengthen our voices. It cemented our passion for writing, and it fortified a resolve in us to never give up on our dreams or ourselves.
It may not have felt like this long ride was worth it when we were dealing with all of those least favorite aspects of writing coupled with life, but it was. Look how far you've come already and what you've accomplished; manuscripts published, books published, confidence in your writing ability that surpasses most people's understanding, and a growing fanbase who are excited about being a part of your journey.
So today I want to remind you that you are headed in the right direction. It doesn't mean you can't change course during those times you're feeling unmotivated and need a creativity boost or to try something new. No, it just means to keep faith in your front and rear view mirrors and keep going. You are no longer at a crossroad. You're more than halfway to your destination, and that is because you didn't look for an easier, less challenging, shorter route.