I wrote for 17 years before I earned my first penny (a $3500 option on a screenplay that was never produced).
I wrote for 27 years before I got my first novel published (The Legend of Bagger Vance).
During that time I worked 21 different jobs in eleven states.
I taught school, I drove tractor-trailers, I worked in advertising and as a screenwriter in Hollywood, I worked on offshore oil rigs, I picked fruit as a migrant worker ...
Can you find me in this photo?
For one season I lived in this house. It had no power, no water, no doors, no windows. Rent was $15 a month ...
All during this time I was writing.
Why do I tell you this?
Because this site is about you learning from my mistakes
It’s about you avoiding the dead ends I drove myself into before I found myself as a writer.
WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS?
Because the “war of art” is not about genius, it’s about work.
We can’t control the level of talent we’ve been given. We have no control over the nature of our gift. What we can control is our self-motivation, our self-discipline, our self-validation, and our self-reinforcement.
We can control how hard and how smart we work.
Gates of Fire: 1M copies sold worldwide. Legend of Bagger Vance: 450K copies. Tides of War: 125K. The War of Art: 500K.
TWO MANTRAS FOR YOUNG WRITERS
From my (fictional) 96-year-old literary agent, Marty Fabrikant, as quoted in The Knowledge:
1. Talent is bullsh*t
"I’ve seen a million writers with talent. It means nothing. You need guts, you need stick-to-it-iveness. It's work, you gotta work, do the freakin' work. That's why you're gonna make it, son. You work. No one can take that away from you."
2. The work is everything
"And I'll tell you something else. Appreciate these days. These days when you're broke and struggling, they're the best days of your life. You're gonna break through, my boy, and when you do, you'll look back on this time and think this is when I was really an artist, when everything was pure and I had nothing but the dream and the work. Enjoy it now. Pay attention. These are the good days. Be grateful for them."
Start with this War of Art [27-minute] mini-course.
The course's five audio lessons will ground you in the principles and characteristics of the artist's inner battle.
Continue each week (also free) with our "Writing Wednesdays" and "What It Takes" posts, each one like a new chapter in The War of Art. Plus continual videos, freebies, specials and new material throughout the year.