Hemingway is known for his advice to kill your darlings. In other words, some things you’re really attached to and think are brilliant may be holding back the story.
Lately, I wonder if he went far enough. Maybe we writers need to kill our egos, too. We are not our work. Our work is just that…work. It’s not a reflection on us. It’s not an easy lesson to learn…but it makes life much more pleasant when we do.
I was speaking with a few writer friends. I admitted that someone didn’t like a piece. They couldn’t believe I didn’t argue. That I actually asked about what the critic did not like. To me, this was valuable intelligence.
And that’s when I realized I’d made a leap. I am not my work. Writing is not a hobby anymore. Writing is not a pastime, but a product. I am now seeing writing as a career. That’s a major paradigm shift.
But careers are work. Putting in regular time. Reading about craft. Attending meetings and learning. Helping out others. Abandoning ideas that don’t work. Figuring out new ones. It’s not sitting around in your pajamas.
Once work is done, the stuff no one wants to acknowledge. Marketing. Tweeting, writing queries, getting rejection slips. Taking a deep breath, starting again. Kill your darlings. Kill your ego. But never, ever, ever stop dreaming.