Probably the best way to learn how to write better is by listening to writers, or reading stories they wrote. So I’ve decided to start a new weekly post with writing advice from other writers who have things mostly figured out. At any rate, a lot of people read their work.
Here is the first:
It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. And although it is sometimes easy to forget, wanting to be a writer is not about reviews or advances or how many copies are printed or sold. It is much simpler than that, and much more passionate. If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.
It can be really easy to get caught up with what I would call “lesser lovers,” when it comes to writing. Those desires to be published or to hit the New York Times bestseller list or get rave reviews, they are not bad desires in any respect and can spur us to be better writers. But ultimately, I agree with Alice Hoffman. Even more deeply, the reason we pour our souls into these words and keep taking rejection and risking the despair that the work may be for nothing, is this: we hope to write something great, something people will love to read, something that will last for years and years and impact readers for generations.
Don’t settle for the lesser love as you set out to write. Don’t forget the other reasons entirely, but always remember why you are writing, deep down. The reason you are even afraid to admit. Write with regards to the lesser desires. But let that deepest desire guide your writing more than anything else. And someday, maybe next year, maybe in twenty years, you will write that magnum opus, that lasting work.
Write to that end.