Last March, I met Christopher Paolini in Lisbon. It was one of those points in my life for a bit of context when I hated what I was doing with my novel. I was re-writing it for the millionth time (that’s why planning is so important, so you don’t have to go through this). I had finished the draft, but I still wasn’t happy with it and definitely needed a break from writing. It’s what happens when you are in an intense toxic relationship with a hobby or work; you lose track of where duty ends and your well-being begins; you keep pushing yourself to the limit. It’s when you suddenly feel lightheaded that you realize you haven’t fed yourself for a week.
A few days earlier, I knew there was a book signing with Christopher Paolini (author of Eragon at the age of 15) for his new book, and I was curious about the writer. First, I must confess I hadn’t read any of his books. But my brother did. I remember him talking about it all the time. However, I wasn’t much into fantasy back then (except for Harry Potter, there is always room for Hogwarts even if you’re not a Fantasy enthusiast). I really wanted to go, but my memory isn’t the best when I’m overworked. I ended up doing something else, only realizing that I had forgotten when my friends posted photos on social media. Oh well, I thought, a bit disappointed, another opportunity may come. And it did.
The next morning, Facebook notified me about another event: An Open Class on Sci-Fi and Fantasy that would take place at my university…and I happened to be there already. So I went.
The amphitheater was packed with fans; everybody held their books on their lap while we waited. Christopher walked in, wearing a leather jacking, looking more like a rockstar than a writer.
He talked about his journey as a writer, how at first the story wasn’t, obviously, as good as it ended up being after editing. Also, Eragon’s former name was Kevin. It’s clear how a unique name will make a humongous difference. What wasn’t that good, what was the best part. In the end, there was time for Q&A. My heart was pounding, as I am not a fan of speaking in front of a crowd, and I raised my hand.
“Do you ever feel like you’re losing your passion?” I asked.
He paused for a moment, scratched his head, and gave us all a warm smile.
“All the time,” he said. “If you find yourself in one of those times, ask yourself why you’re writing the story in the first place. Discipline isn’t forcing yourself into doing something you hate. It’s about finding your pleasure.”
“Discipline isn’t forcing yourself into doing something you hate. It’s about finding your pleasure.” Christopher Paolini
It seems like something obvious, I’m sure, but I needed to hear that. When I’m caught up in the middle of anxiety and don’t know what to do next, it’s always good when someone snaps me out of that loop. It worked like a compass. I did think about it. I’m writing that story because I love stories, I love writing, I love, well, writing stories. I love those people that exist only in my mind, that help me build these worlds. Writing is the door, so they step out of my mind and become real. I want people to meet them, see where they come from, and be on that island, with their feet on the white thin sand, the fresh turquoise water. Smile with them and about themselves, laugh with and at them. I want to hold their hands and welcome them on this journey, just like my favorite writers did.
It was fun, inspiring, and, above all, enlightening.
Christopher was right. Asking myself what motivates me helped me get back on track. For this reason, I’ll leave you the following questions so that you can (re)assess your motivations. I suggest you write your answers on a sticky note (a large one, hopefully!) and leave it where you can see it.
Why do you want to write? Why telling a/that story? Write down a list.
What is stopping you?
How can you achieve your goal(s)?
Feel free to share your insights in the comments section.