John Green would tell you it is to find emotional truth ...
Even if we’re not the same as the characters we read, they are all dealing with things:
issues of who they are, who they should be, what they should and shouldn’t do
that we all deal with, in their own ways.
Authors from John Steinbeck to Nicholas Sparks would say it is Perseverance.
Authors from Stephen King to Alyssa Rosenberg explaining that to be a successful writer
you to need to read everything and everyone on your subject.
If you’re a day late on an old idea, you’re not of any use.
If you want to get further depressed, listen to the poet, Ranier Maria Rilke tell you:
“Nobody can advise you and help you, nobody.”
But that's poets for you.
Work ethic, knowledge, skill, perseverance --
none of them is as important as the one, single most important thing:
You don’t want to be told that, to some fairly consequential degree, your success, or lack thereof, is beyond your control.
But it’s good to keep in mind that if there were a sure formula for success, everyone would be successful —
and that if talent and hard work were the key to fame and fortune,
there wouldn’t be so many talented hacks with bestsellers.
So do you give up?
Of course not.
You just accept reality for what it is: mostly out of your control.
Since you cannot control luck --
You work on what you can control:
Work ethic, knowledge, skill, perseverance
There comes a point where no one is going to tell what you should read,
what you should write,
and moreover, no one is going to point this out for you.
Making time to write is not easy, but until we all win the Powerball,
we all need to carve out a few hours each week to focus on our writing.
Protect this time with your life.
One last thing:
Pick an Idol & Act “As If”.
You may not know what to do, but your professional idol does.
When I’m working on a novel, and I’m stuck, I often think
“What would Roger Zelazny do here?”
Sometimes, Roger would have the exact right approach …
other times, it’s obvious that he’s no help.
Maybe it’s Fitzgerald. Maybe it’s O’Connor. Maybe it's Raymond Chandler.
Maybe it’s none of them.
But thinking about the writing as if I were (fill in the blank)
helps to make me see that there are multiple ways to approach a story,
multiple ways to make decisions, organize the manuscript.
I hope this helps in some small way.