Wednesday, June 15, 2011

#WW - The 4 D's Post 4 - Dedication

Well, here we are at the final "D" for #WriterWednesday.  Dedication.

The 4 D's really all blend together in so many ways. Dedication is commitment, and so is discipline. Determination and Desire go hand in hand - the want and the...well...commitment to go after it. It does all come down to commitment in the end, doesn't it!

But dedication means more than just being dedicated to writing a book, or selling a book. It's more than being dedicated to the end result. It's the willingness to put in the work to get there. When I talked about Determination, I talked about what you do after rejections and how you handle setbacks by moving forward. For me, Determination is going a little bit deeper. It is everything put into practice.

You want this so badly you can taste it (Desire). You set a routine for putting words on the page (Discipline). You submit your work and get rejected, but you're not done yet - you'll show them! (Determination). But how do you do it?

By dedication. Dedication to the dream, dedication to story, dedication to craft.

It is how you improve, learn, succeed. Dedication involves opening your mind and seeing your flaws as well as your strengths and learning how to improve the first and capitalize on the second. Dedication to the craft means that it's all about THIS story, not the one before that it sitting on an editor's desk. With each manuscript you improve. With each manuscript you are closer to finding your voice or honing your voice because voices are what stand out. Dedication to improving and learning means finding ways of improving characterization, plotting, pace...all the story elements. Dedication means it's not just about landing a publishing contract, but fulfilling the promise you have made to the reader every single time - and exceeding their expectations.

It's a tall order, isn't it? And that's why "making it" is so special. This process - this life - isn't for everyone. It is flipping hard. It's hard to pour your heart and soul into a book only to have it rejected, or have it reduced to a simple star rating. It's hard to face that rejection or bad review and face the flaws and the things you could have done better. And yet...we do it. Because we love it. Because writing is like breathing.

RITA Nominee Paula Graves always says that when times get tough, if you can quit, do it. There is a vast difference in writing because you love it and writing for publication. You can do both but you don't have to. You can write for pleasure. In the end - I write for pleasure. But I have to deal with the business end of things too and it is not always easy. I know in my heart that if I hadn't sold, I'd still be writing. I'd also probably be working another job, though... :-)

Writing for publication is a bit like standing naked in the square. If you've poured your emotions into your story, it can be like a window into a part of yourself and frequently a part you wouldn't necessarily show others. It is a lot of looking in the mirror and accepting flaws instead of deluding yourself into thinking you have a perfect reflection.

I'll go back to Donald Maass, though, to really bring it all back to one and wrap this up: you need that fire in the belly. The fire in the belly means you will do what it takes to succeed - or as Gladwell puts it in Outliers - put in your 10,000 hours.

Desire, Determination, Discipline, Dedication. As my CP Michelle Styles is fond of saying, You are capable of more than you think.

Happy writing,



  1. Thanks for a great series of articles.

    I think I can check off all 4Ds. Plus add D#5: Dream. It starts with a dream, then the application of the 4Ds make the dream a reality. And the dream is the fuel that sustains the 4Ds.

  2. Inspiring post. Thank you, Donna.