For many people, writing is a long, exhausting struggle. Some writers never get past the ‘write like everyone is listening even though only two and a half people are reading’ phase of writing professionally.
Often, that has nothing to do with talent, and everything to do with the amount of effort a person channels into a very draining task.
This is the part where I would normally spend a few paragraphs using inspiring language to remind you that no matter how hard it may seem, you should keep going, even if success seems very far away.
And while that is all valid, and you SHOULD keep writing even if it seems pointless right now, I’m going to spend the rest of my time with you today talking about what happens when things, writing-wise, start going right.
Because it does happen. Contracts are signed, books get published, articles go viral, blogs erupt in more daily pageviews than their founders can believe.
And the one thing you don’t want to do, when you find yourself surrounded by success, is let yourself relax.
Now, I’m not saying you’re not allowed to celebrate your success – by all means, make that a top priority, because hard work is worth raising a glass to.
What I mean is, you can’t let your guard down just because you’ve surpassed the battlefield that is Trying to Write for a Living. Now, more than ever, it’s very important that you focus on working even harder to give your success a solid foundation so it doesn’t suddenly crumble beneath you. Asha Dornfest, founder of Parent Hacks, explains it like this:
“The thing about quick success is that it can’t last, at least not in its initial form. Making a real go of it takes persistence. And therein lies the secret of my hustle, the quieter, less glamorous months and years that followed the early salad days of my blog. The part where I kept going after the initial flash bulbs faded.” (The Hustle Economy, p. 76)
When success hits, it usually hits hard. It’s exciting, it gives you an irresistible adrenaline rush – nothing can ruin these good feelings! Except one thing actually can, and that’s deciding that you’ve made it, you’ve put in all the hard work you needed to, you don’t have to work hard anymore.
The truth is, virtually anyone can get a publishing contract, publish a book, write a viral article or attract a wave of new subscribers to their blog. Anyone can catch the interest of an audience. The key to success that lasts is putting in the work that keeps people around, even after the buzz dies down.
Because the internet and its ever-connected users move so fast, what interests someone today might not catch their attention tomorrow. So success in writing in its many forms is a constant game of aligning what people want to read about with what you’re prompted to write about. Always. Every day.
It takes a lot of time and effort to consistently create content that resonates with people. So while it might feel now as though you’ve created something so good people will never ignore you again, keep in mind that if you really want to succeed, you can’t just do that once. You’re going to have to do it again. And again. And again.
It feels very warm and fuzzy to realize you’ve succeeded, in one way or another. Cherish that feeling. Really take a moment to recognize how good it makes you feel. Because this is one of the things you have to hold onto when the pressure to perform starts to feel a lot more like stress (it happens to everyone at some point – it’s normal).
Success feels really good. If you want that feeling to last, it’s not going to come free.
You put in at least some amount of work to get here. If you’ve earned your success, that’s proof that you are going to be able to achieve really great things at some point. Don’t give up now. Your journey isn’t over yet. It’s more than likely just beginning.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and a nine-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.