There’s a line in the book Silverlock by John Myers Myers. I’m paraphrasing here, but it goes roughly: “She gave every sign of being a quitter except for one – she didn’t quit.”
Not quitting is, I think, the last thing I can tell you about the warrior writer. I’ve had a lot of practice at not quitting, and sometimes I’ve really wanted to quit. It’s discouraging to keep plugging when it seems like you’re getting nowhere. It’s hard to keep submitting work in the face of rejections, and it’s harder when you don’t hear anything, either yea or nay.
There are some who will tell you that a good attitude is as important as not quitting. Okay, maybe it would be nice if we could all not quit, and also do our not-quitting with grace, poise and self-control. But sometimes you have to cry, or swear, or throw something and say, “That’s it, I’ve had it, I’m never submitting (or writing, or pitching) another story ever again!” And you steam for a while – fifteen minutes, or three days, or a month and a half – and then, and this is the trick to not quitting, you come back and do the thing you swore you were quitting doing.
It’s not always easy not to quit, but it’s usually easier than quitting. Did that make sense? Good.
So here’s everything I know about being the warrior writer. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a blockbuster talent or a beginner wondering if you have a story, or more than this one story. It doesn’t matter if you’re a cheerful person or a moody one. It doesn’t matter whether you dedicate twenty-three hours a day to writing, or fifteen minutes. These are the things that matter:
1 – Know what you want. Commit to it.
2 – Know what you need. Get rid of the rest.
3 – Plant your banner. Claim your ground. Do it like you mean it.
4 – Face what you fear – don’t let it run you over.
5 – Break it down. Do the task in front of you.
6 – Don’t quit.
Don’t worry about whether or not you write at the same time every day, or even every day – although there’s a big difference between “not writing every day” and “not-writing every day”. Forget the newage (rhymes with “sewage”) stuff about getting your head together or carving out space for yourself or being in the right frame of mind. Dump the “artistic temperament” myth, because that serves nobody but people who are more concerned with temperament than with art. Being an artist is not about throwing a hissy fit if you don’t have the right pen, the right light, aren’t in the mood. It’s about making art.
Maybe being a warrior writer doesn’t work for you. That’s okay. It works for me, and all I’ve done here is pass on what makes it work for me. Use it or not, as you see fit.