Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dedication Versus Compulsion

As anyone in the writing profession knows, it’s a lot of work, difficult, frustrating, lonely and disappointing. On the other hand, it can be the most rewarding and fulfilling avocation possible. As I continue on the writer’s journey, one of the aspects I struggle with is dedication versus compulsion. Here’s the dilemma. Writing requires constant diligence, focus and perseverance. I try to write every morning I don’t have meetings or am not traveling. Then there’s all the promotional aspects: Facebook, Twitter, my blog, my web site, the fourteen Yahoo email loops I belong to, speeches, book signings . . . the list can go on. I’ve been fortunate in being able to follow the advice of John Vorhaus’s character Vic Mirplo in the book Albuquerque Turkey to “procrastinate later.” My challenge is the voice in my head that says, “You need to do more.” This is the voice that says, “Write for another hour,” “Send five more query letters,” “Post more messages on Facebook,” “Call six more organizations to set up presentations.” This can be a never ending battle that consumes all day and night. So what’s the answer between sloth and hyperactivity? I feel it’s necessary to remain dedicated to my writing career, but I need to find a balance that avoids compulsiveness. I’m trying to ask myself what needs to be done? If I have a deadline, work on it to complete a commitment. Prioritize my to do list and focus on the “A” items. There is always more that can be done, but there is a time to stop, get some exercise, spend time with my wife, and read a good book. This also relates to perseverance. I sold my first short story on my 112th submission. What if I had quit at 111? Again the answer is balance. I need to keep going but pace myself. I’m currently seeking a new agent. I’ve been sending off query letters regularly. I’m not going to quit, but I’m not going to pull an all-nighter trying to send as many as I can either. The best answer I can come up with is to seek the golden mean—be dedicated without becoming compulsive.

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