I’m going to make a crazy statement to start off today’s post.
Are you ready?
Here it is.
The most talented writers will not necessarily be the most successful.
There. I said it. You can lynch me now.
Are you shocked by my crazy pronouncement? I don’t take it back. In fact, I stand by it. You know why?
Because I meet talented writers all the time who . . . just . . . don’t care. They have other ambitions and their writing takes a backseat. Kind of a, ‘I’ll get to it when I have time’ mentality.
The problem with this is that no one gets to it when they have time because no one ever has time.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
~ Thomas A. Edison
The sad fact of writing is that, unless you make it a priority in your life, it will never get anywhere. Everyone wants to write a book, but very, very few people are willing to put in the kind of work that is required. They write a few chapters, hit a bump, and it sits on their desktop for the rest of eternity, plagued by added sentences and guilt.
So I’ll say it again. The most talented writers will not necessarily be the most successful.
But the writer who works the hardest? The one who makes time when there is no time? The one who cares when no one else does and keeps going after everyone else has left off? The one who catches at every opportunity and makes writing their job, not their hobby?
That’s the writer who will end up with books on the market and a career that sustains them.
Tips to Cultivate Work Ethic.
1. Be consistent. Have a rhythm to your writing and show up for it. Yes, we are creatives, we are the people who wake up in the middle of the night to work because we have a good idea. But we are also entrepreneurs and business owners, and we need to show up at the desk too. Until you take yourself seriously, you’re going to find it impossible to get anyone else to treat you seriously. Especially agents and editors, who can tell when you’re toying around with your ideas.
2. Write a little every day. My goals for my stories—even though I am working 40 hours a week—is 700 words a day. 200 in the morning, 500 at night. I don’t always hit that, but I do what I can. Writing something every day keeps your skills sharp and your mind on track. It also teaches you to have ideas on demand—which, believe it or not, is possible. I do it every day at my nine-to-five job. Not all the ideas are good ones, but there are always golden nuggets among the duds.
3. Be determined. Know your goals, know what kind of writer you want to be and the kind of books you want to produce, and go after it. You are the only one who can make it happen, and the only one who is brave enough and crazy enough to dream big. Be that one insane, ridiculous person who has goals like their story reaching the big screen, being interviewed on a talk show about their books, or having book signings that are booked in advance. Be that person that dreams big, and the one who works a little bit every day to reach your goals.
4. Know when to rest—and when to get back to work. I am a huge advocate for resting when you need to rest. I have burned out too many times to laugh it off and say push through, you’ll be fine. When you are worn out, rest. Please. But know when to start again. Know when resting becomes procrastination and procrastination becomes abandonment. Life goes on, dearest writer, but if you want a career in writing, you have to drag your writing along with it.
Good luck, dearest writer! May your tea be hot and your dreams wild.