Write to Survive: 5 Millennial Tips to Staying Alive
I have always been drawn to success stories of people who make a living doing the things they love. Like most millennials my age, I’ve dreamt a lot of dreams. The most common ones being a rock star or a surfer but if there’s one thing that I’ve always dreamt about turning into a reality it’s being a writer.
It wasn’t always like this. I never imagined that I would actually end up leaving my solid corporate career to pursue writing as a profession but I did. How I decided to leave everything behind was an accumulation of various events that lead me to realize how passionate I was about writing.
After graduating, I started working for the corporate communication department of a power generation company. It was fun and I got to explore so many aspects of communication. I was able to travel extensively and meet new people but after four years, I noticed there was something missing.
I felt something lacking and somehow, in hindsight, I realized I needed a creative outlet. I went lengths to try to discover what could fill in this creative void that I felt. This search led me far from home and into the world of surfing as a lifestyle, which greatly changed my perspective of life.
The experiences I had with the ocean had taught me so much that I couldn’t just let them be intangible memories. I wanted to relive the memories and the feelings that came along with it. Photos were not enough because I didn’t always bring a camera with me in the water. That was when I started writing again.
Fearfully, I wrote about my experiences of chasing after waves. I knew I was still afraid of others reading my work so I kept my writing to myself. Whenever I wrote, I always felt the indescribable satisfaction that I felt back then and never felt inside the previous career I had.
The feeling is comparable to a surfer’s stoke from riding a wave. I get that kind of euphoric high whenever I finished writing something, whatever the subject may be. Then it hit me. I’ve always been writing ever since I could remember and I realized that the answer was right under my nose all along.
I’ve always longed to be a writer. To bring to life words that pulls strings of emotions in souls. I’ve always kept this dream so buried within my fears that I had to fight out fear itself to realize that if I never risked this, I would regret this forever.
To bring tidings of encouragement, here are a few tips, wisdom and nuggets of truth that I’ve relied on and have helped me to continue on this journey.
You know the answer to the question: Why do you need to write?
There’s always something that makes my heart stir whenever I hear people relate to what I write or if I read something so powerful that it stirs the emotions inside me. Wishing that I could have written what I just read moves me to write better. If photographers capture moments with light, I would like to believe that as a writer, we either capture memories or create reality through words.
One of my favorite authors, Austrian poet and novelist Ranier Maria Rilke from his book “Letters to a Young Poet” captures this perfectly:
Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.
You write every day just because.
Writers write. Whether we’re aware of that or not but writers do write and find time to. Most especially if your livelihood depends on your writing, I’ve learned that life does get busy (a lot) and sometimes it’s so important to schedule a writing period in my day. If I don’t, I most often don’t get much done.
You can’t say you love something if you don’t have time for it. It’s like saying that you love to be in shape but you don’t work out at all. Try googling tips on writing and I haven’t found one that says not to write every day.
I used to skip my daily writing goals just because I didn’t feel like writing at all. I tolerated this mindset until I came across Stephen King’s book “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft” and he said to “Write with the door closed and rewrite with the door open”.
Some of us (I’m guilty of this too) wait for that magical wave of inspiration that would get us hammering off the keyboard with all the right words. Most often, this magical wave never comes. Let’s not use this as a reason not to write. Sometimes, the best stories come out when we least expect it.
You’re afraid but you write anyway.
Fear is good but don’t let it stop you. I find myself weird. I have this fear of running out of words to say. That if I write too much, I’ll run out of words and creativity and I’ll never be able to finish the story I started.
There’s also this fear of not being good enough. I bet we never really get to the point of being perfectly good enough. If you read enough biographies of great novelists, they always say that they themselves would admit to still not being good enough for them.
You are ready to fail.
This is the most important question I was ever asked before I left the corporate world behind. Are you ready to fail? If you do fail, what are you going to do? If you can live with your answers to those questions then I think that you’re on the right track. It’s the what ifs in our lives that cause us the most regret. I couldn’t live with myself if I gave up the chance to make my dream a reality.
You don’t mind starting again.
If you’ve established that you write because you want to and because you need to, you would not mind starting again if the initial journey seems bumpy.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Cliché but I always go back to this when I find myself in a rut along the journey. Finally, these three words to remind me when the going gets tough:
Explore and take the risks. Don’t be afraid to try different genres and writing processes. I started writing short poems and fictional short stories about my favorite online games when I was in high school.
Sadly, I never finished any because before I could, I would always stop because I’d give in to self-doubt and insecurities that I would never be good enough. I probably am still not good enough but looking back at my 16-year-old scribbles, I would have loved to force myself to finish. How I’d give anything to know how my stories would have ended.
Dream. Never stop dreaming. Personally, dreams give me hope. Hope to keep pursuing even when nothing seems to go as planned. As long as I still have stories to tell and the capacity to write, I will continue writing. If writing is something you’ll never get tired of, no matter what the outcome of the journey is, then keep on writing.
Discover. Throughout the process of exploring and dreaming, I’m certain that discoveries will emerge. We have to be patient, nothing great happens overnight. As Ranier Marie Rilke (again) greatly puts into words:
“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”