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What does it take to be a writer? I think one of our speakers summed it up best last weekend: “You have to want to do it more than you want to do anything else.”

Writers are like artists of any sort: They go into it knowing that the odds of becoming rich or famous are long indeed. But they do it anyway, not because they imagine themselves immune to those odds, but because they feel compelled to express themselves.

Many of the attendees at the conference were unpublished or barely published. Yet they chose to spend time and money learning from experts and professionals, an admirable commitment to their craft. Some of them may never get published. Some of them may have found the spark, or the bit of advice, that will trigger success. But all of them made the effort.

In one conversation, some attendees chatted about the most annoying thing they heard about their efforts. Heads nodded all around when someone said, “It’s when somebody at a party says, ‘Oh, I’ve been meaning to write a book, too,'” as if the task is equivalent to cooking a nice meal or sorting one’s snapshots. It’s annoying but also motivating. Go ahead, flippant party-attender. Give it a try, and see if you don’t come out with greater respect for that unpublished author who has at least taken the time and expense to devote to the goal.