Secret of a Successful Writer: Show Up

This morning, as I sat in front of my desktop computer waiting for an update to load, I browsed through several blogs on my iPad, checked my email on my phone and suddenly realized something: I have become so connected that I am now disconnected.

I have been so “connected” with social networking and websites and email over the past four years that I have actually become “disconnected” with actual humans. This is a real problem for me. As a writer, it’s my job to bridge the gap – not be the gap.

Stacy Mantle in Carefree

Stacy Mantle in Carefree

In my teens, I used to be an adventurer. I was the person out there hiking through the Superstition Mountains searching for lost gold mines and finding tarantulas in their backpack. I was the person who took off for a year and lived in my car with two wolf hybrids just so I could see the country. It was then that I was truly an artist.

In my twenties, I calmed down (or at least made a concerted effort to calm down) and became a “businessperson.” I bought a house, worked, vacationed every summer, and did the 9-5 thing. I hated my life.

In my thirties, I took it a step further and finally got married. Which actually was (and still is) the best thing that ever happened to me. The kid thing has never held any appeal for me – besides the fact that I can have them anyway, babies scare the crap out of me; I would hate to screw up another living creature. So, I substituted animals for kids – mostly because I like animals better (and personally, I think they are better adjusted than most people).

twitter-bookThe one consistency in my life has been writing. I’ve kept a journal since I was old enough to hold a pen, and I’ve written about everything… From poetry to articles, blogs to novels – for the last twenty years, I’ve been able to make a living (however meager) by putting pen to paper. Or fingers to keyboard.

And I learned, most importantly (and mostly the hard way), that the most successful writers are not successful because they’re talented and amazing – they are successful because they are consistent and engaged.

The minute you miss a column delivery date, you lose a client. The day you neglect to finish an article because its too hard to find that elusive closing statement, you lose a gig. The week you miss an email delivery of a newsletter, you lose a reader. The year you miss putting out that novel, you lose the potential to be a bestseller. But, most importantly, the second you fall prey to reviews, listen to critics, or forget to be true to your voice that playful inner being that scripts out the scenes in your head; you lose your ability to write.

Here’s a secret: Writing is not about being the best; it’s about being the most consistent. And I suppose the same can be said for life.

Half the battle is just showing up.

Its dragging yourself out of bed each morning to face the day, to participate in life with coworkers and friends, to drag yourself to happy hour because you don’t want to lose the opportunity to connect.

This is a lot easier to do when you are single. It’s easy to stay involved. But once you get married and have that security of someone being there for you all the time, it’s easy to slip into obscurity.

So today I’m making a conscious effort to be a participant in life one more. It’s not going to be easy because I don’t really want to do it. I would be perfectly content living in a cave that was completely isolated from every human on the planet if I had internet access and my pets.

I don’t have to become a social butterfly, flitting from event to event. But I do need to attend a function once in awhile and blog about “real things”. I need to let others see me as I am, not as I would have them see me. And really, I need to regain a focus on writing. Whether its blogging or finishing another book or writing a magazine article – it needs to be done for joy, not from obligation.

Those half-finished blog posts that I was too afraid to post because I knew they would be controversial are going to be dusted off and posted. That novel I’ve been working on for the last two years is going live. The website that I’m most well known for is going to be around, but we are taking it the next level – a better level.

So, look for a new me – coming your way soon – sans auto correct.