Moving Forward

Roxane Gay

Lesson time 05:35 min

Roxane encourages you to get your work on the page and put your dreams out into the world.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Career Goals · Dreaming Out Loud


[MUSIC PLAYING] - I set goals for myself. I have a lot of things that I would like to achieve in my career, and I work toward them every single day. I don't put time constraints on those things anymore because the older you get, the more you realize that you can't rush certain things, and you can't force them. All you can do is work hard. But trying to impose artificial timelines doesn't really work, especially for writing. So many writers think, if I don't have something-- I met a young writer. She was either 19 or 23, and she's like, and I just feel like a failure because, you know, I haven't written my book yet. I was just like, first of all, get out. Just get away. How dare you? It's so terrible that we have this cult of youth in this world where people think that if you don't publish something in your 20s, you're a failure as a writer. No. That's not how any of this works, especially where writing is concerned. Lots of people get published in their 20s, but lots of people will also acknowledge that even though they may have published good writing in their 20s, they did not publish their best writing in their 20s. A healthier way to set goals is based on the growth that you would like to see in yourself. It's OK to want accolades. It's OK to want specific things, like a book deal or a movie deal or whatever. But I try to set my goals in terms of skill so that it feels achievable because so much of the tangible thing is elusive. And it depends not only on your hard work, but also on luck and being in the right place at the right time. But there's nothing I can do to manifest a fancy movie deal. Like, that's just-- if it happens, it happens. But I will be in a better position for it to happen if I have the goal of just improving my skills and maybe being better at dialogue or being better at plot. None of this is accidental. I am where I am today because I have worked incredibly hard. I have also been lucky, but I was lucky because I had put in the work, and I do recognize that. And there were times when I almost gave up, where I just thought, you know, this isn't going to happen for me. No one's really going to ever be interested in my writing. And I just accepted that, and I just decided, well, I'm just going to write for myself then, and I did. And fortunately, that's when people started to take notice. One of the key ways you can push through that doubt is to surround yourself with people who will believe in you when you stop believing in yourself. My best friend was integral to just telling me to get over myself and get back to writing and to shut up because, of course, I'm eventually going to make it as a writer. And not a month goes by when she doesn't say, I was right. And I'm just like, yes, you were right. Throughout my career I have sometimes stated my wishes publicly. And I never ever imagined that anyone who can do something about those wishes will respond. I just think that if you want so...

About the Instructor

Bestselling author, professor, and New York Times columnist Roxane Gay has connected to readers around the world with her unyielding truth-telling and highly personal feminism. In her MasterClass, she teaches you how to own your identity, hone your voice, write about trauma with care and courage, and navigate the publishing industry. Learn how to document and narrate the world as you see it—and then demand change.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Roxane Gay

Bestselling author and cultural critic Roxane Gay teaches writing for social change and arms you with the skills needed to make an impact.

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