Why you need to focus on delayed gratification as a writer

Why you need to focus on delayed gratification as a writer

Writing is about nothing more than process. Sure, there’s an outcome involved in writing, we all want to be published somewhere. But good writing isn’t about striving for publication, it’s about going through a journey to see a little less mud in the water, not necessarily crystal clear water.

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

The words of George Orwell. He has a point. We write because we believe that something is fundamentally flawed or needs to be challenged. We write because we want to understand something further and the only way to do so is to explore it.

Today’s digital workplace is about self-gain, and writing has become a great marketing tool to help position ourselves as trusted thought leaders (it’s exactly what I’m doing writing this piece).

But we shouldn’t be writing for self-gain, especially when creative writing. When I work on a short story, it’s not because I want it to get published or be seen (this is a bonus), it’s because I have something inside that wants out. It’s the same for journaling. In truth, I don’t set out to write a short story with the intention of having it published, I set out to write a short story so I can go to sleep at night with a clear head.

I’m a millennial

My generation is known for short attention spans, self-gain and instant gratification. We want everything to happen now.

I hate this mind set. My friends want to be at the peak of their careers at 22 years old, and others want to ‘understand’ everything about themselves, six months out of graduating from university.

But process is progress.

This mindset is a poison. It’s about constantly searching for the quickest way to water when in fact, a longer and more arduous path would leader to a bigger watering hole, to a more fruitful result.

But putting in the work is challenging. And millennial writers have it the worst. In the finance industry, you can make a lot of money overnight with the right investment and ‘make a name for yourself’. In the writing sphere, the only way you’ll make a name for yourself is to put in the work where it counts.

Delayed gratification

James Dean once said

I really don’t know who I am, but it really doesn’t matter

Most people are striving to understand. In fact, everything the human race does is done to better our understanding. We want to work ourselves out and be confident, but the truth is there’s no such thing.

For the impressionable millennial, this is difficult to hear. It’s uncomfortable and unnerving because every one around them seems to ‘have it figured out’.

As a writer, I’m trying to strive for the opposite. I want to be misunderstood and confused about what I’m doing. I want to go on a journey of self-exploration only to find that there’s no destination.

This mindset is conducive to great writing. Playing the long game is more rewarding, and offers a richer sense of achievement. Playing the short game leads to no more understanding than not playing the game at all.

I guess the only thing that matters is finding that thing you want to do forever. Because as soon as you realise this is what you’ll be doing forever, you’ll realise just how much time is in front of you.