How To Have The Courage To Keep On Writing

    keep on writing - pen and paper

    The secret is to keep on writing!

    I always wanted to be a writer.

    From my earliest days, I felt the inexplicable pull to tell a story, craft a scene, leave a reader wanting to know what would happen next.

    With a family to support, I put my life as an author on hold. However, I knew that nothing would block the path to my dream: to be a full-time writer in control of my career and destiny.

    I had a late start, becoming a published writer at the age of forty six. Since then, I’ve published 50+ works, including The War of the Roses, which became the nomenclature of divorce worldwide. The film was a box-office hit.

    Having been in the creative field for nearly half a century, I have seen the various incarnations of the publishing industry. Self-publishing was my way of taking back control of my own destiny.

    Folks often tell me that I’m the oldest working writer they know. The truth is: I don’t know how to stop. I work on novels, articles, blog posts, and maintain contact with fans from around the world every single day. I hope my insights and optimism inspire you to persevere through your struggle, and continue your writer’s journey.

    Here are 10 rules I’ve lived by in the over 50 years that I have been a published writer:

    1. Do not overanalyze

    You can plan something to death without ever getting anything done. Keep moving and don’t look back too often. It is boring to constantly look back. The future is much more exciting.

    2. Never take rejection of your work to heart

    Rejection is an inevitable part of any dream you pursue. I’ve been told ‘no’ many times, but never took the reply seriously. It may be impractical, unwise, foolish, or even pure madness, but if you truly believe in yourself, your talent, your ideas, your calling, your personal mission, why not, as Lewis Carroll wrote, “go on until the end, and then stop?”

    My first novel wasn’t published until I was 46 years old.

    Ignore insults and negative, unproductive feedback. In today’s age, where everything is gone with the flicker of a screen, be happy that your work is garnering attention. Make sure your name is spelled right.

    3. Mind your morning rituals

    I wake up at 5 am every day and write until 10 am, after which I read the news from various sources. It’s important to stay informed about the news and what’s happening in the world around you.

    Inspiration and enlightenment come from current events. Gaining a new perspective never hurt anyone. The truth is, most times, stranger than fiction.

    4. Write at least 100 pages before you decide to scrap a novel

    Don’t be so quick to toss your work onto the trash heap. Get to know your characters and story, but also know when to start anew.

    5. Don’t be afraid of change

    Embrace change while staying true to yourself. When digital publishing was in its infancy, few people believed in its power to revolutionize the way people read. My disagreement was considered crazy, but I was determined to achieve independence as an author, and I made it happen for myself.

    6. Seize every opportunity you can

    I could never have predicted that my first novel would be published the way it was. I was running a PR agency at the time, when a client walked through my door, asking if I could promote his book. I decided to take a risk and said that I would promote his book for free if he published my manuscript. To my utter delight, he agreed and the rest, as they say, is history.

    7. Think of yourself as an entrepreneur as well

    People who join the self-publishing fray as individual authors have to learn to think of themselves as being in business for themselves, and pursue promotion and growth strategies, as with any other business venture.

    8. Never let anyone else control your destiny

    Keeping my authorial name alive involves some pretty heavy lifting, investment and optimism, but it’s 100% worth it.

    9. Stand up for your beliefs and take action

    Don’t be afraid to be the first one. I fought to keep open a library in Wyoming that I knew would benefit generations to come. I was also a pioneer of a short story contest, launching the Jackson Hole Writers’ Conference.

    10. Write what you want and never repeat yourself

    Typically, some plots and genres will be easier for you to write than others. Write what you want, but avoid falling into the trap of writing the same book over and over. It would bore you, and probably your readers as well.

    Each of my novels belongs to a different genre, and tells a different story in a different tone. Don’t be afraid to color outside the lines.

    I hope my insights inspire and reinvigorate your zest for this strange path we’ve chosen, or, more accurately, the path that has chosen us. What are some of the rules that you live by? Share below your thoughts and your personal story about why you write.

    If you’d like to learn more about my books , click here.

    About the author

      Warren Adler

      Warren Adler's novel, Torture Man, was released in late November. He has numerous film/TV projects currently in development include the Hollywood sequel to The War of the Roses - The War of the Roses: The Children. Warren Adler has just launched Writers of the World, an online community for writers to share their stories about why they began writing.

    • Lisbeth Mizula says:

      Thanks for this post. Inspirational!

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    • KG says:

      Thanks so much for sharing these great tips on how to develop and keep the writing habit!!

    • Laszlo A. Voros says:

      Dear Warren:
      I was just like you. My head was always full of stories or ideas for a story. I thought some days my head would explode. Or I’d be watching a Horror movie and say, that wasn’t scary. I could write a scarier movie than that . So one summer night I was lying on top of my bed, it was 11: 00 and it was still light outside and I was thinking about my story and my character. I developed the main story in one night. Of course I made some changes since then but that was the way it happened. When I got my first typewriter for my Birthday or Christmas I thought now I can write great neat reports. But after I got into a little show called “The Waltons” and I followed the trials and tribulations of John Boy Walton and his trying to become a writer and get published, his writing and rewriting, and then one night losing his novel to a fire in the upstairs of his house. “To write the first page, the first paragraph, even the first sentence is impossible. Telling his mother that he had to write stuff down because it got all bottled up in his head and he felt like he would explode. I knew I could be a writer of stories. And so I keep trying. I Write On!

    • Wow! Thanks for the tremendous inspiration!

    • Tina Grant says:

      Wonderful article and true to every word. scheduling my writing time is a must for me. Evenings work for me with no distractions of household chores and interruptions throughout the day. thank you for such great advice. Tweeted.

    • Great piece. I definitely agree with #6. In many cases, when I’ve went for an opportunity that seemed improbable but thought “why not?”, it ended up landing me work! By the same token, I’ve had countless situations where I thought an opportunity was a sure thing but it ended up falling through. So I’ve learned to keep trying every angle and eventually something will stick!

    • Laszlo A. Voros says:

      Dear sir:
      I could kiss you! Having just read a rejection letter from the New Yorker I clicked on this email and watched your video. Man I tell you this was just the shot in the arm I needed. Of course you tell yourself “It’s OK even the greats were rejected. Stephen King, (His wife helps him with “Carrie” success, and the rest as we know is history), JK Rowling (12 editors say no to Harry Potter. Who’s laughing now eh?) John Grisham and now you find out Warren Adler. ” But of course there is always that little voice that whispers in your ear, “Rejected again eh! Maybe you just have to resign yourself to the fact that you are not a writer.” But like you said about staring at a mirror when you were a little boy, I was lying on my bed one summer night when I was 17 and my suddenly I thought popped into my head and began creating my character.
      A light came on in my head; about a thousand watts and spent the night until I fell asleep putting it all together. I have made several major changes over the year and I have grown. So you feel sad of course “What again? What was wrong this time? What didn’t you like about it?” enough times to make you go nuts. But my sister who teaches English Literature in college and is a published poet tells me that “Editors never explain anything they just say Yes or NO. So dwelling on it is not going to help you.” Now I of course write spy novels, detective fiction and occasionally poetry (none of them in her class, but I try) and try to remember the Four Golden Rules of Writing. 1. Write it. 2. Send it. 3. Forget it. 4. Go onto the next. I applaud your success (The War of the Roses was brilliant and hilarious) and thank I you for your words. So now I still feel a little bad but then say to myself (Reject me will you. You’ll regret this! You will be saying, “We turned him down?” Thanks again for your brilliant video.

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