If I were to follow the “examples” of many successful creators, my life would have to drastically change.
I’d have to start waking up at four. Getting minimal amounts of sleep.
I’d have to work for at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week.
I’d have to make myself miserable.
There’s a reason I don’t do any of these things. (Well … sometimes my body wakes me up stupidly early, but I’m not doing it on purpose.)
Yes, I do endure some 12-hour days here and there if I’ve procrastinated too hard and need to meet multiple deadlines as quickly as possible. But that’s my own fault.
I used to live following many of the statements above. And I almost quit writing completely because of it.
These days, we are expected to do more if we want to be more. I can understand why so many desperate creators fall into that trap. I’m sorry it still happens. But only you can make it stop happening for yourself — or prevent it from happening altogether.
The internet — both its complex algorithms and the people who spend time using it — favors creators who sprint without stopping to breathe. More content isn’t just better; it’s essential. And it has to be good. All the time. And you’re not allowed to make mistakes. Ever. At least it feels that way.
Being perfect, always “on,” always moving, has become the norm. And that makes it next to impossible for newcomers to catch up.
It’s also difficult for already established creators to KEEP up. There’s a lot going around right now about YouTuber burnout. It happens to writers, too.
I personally believe that the rewards you will receive from slow growth and taking your time, maintaining your physical and mental health while building an audience and creating good content, are worth much more than what you might get quickly from going too hard too fast.
I know you want that sweet, juicy instant gratification. We all do — because from our perspective, it often seems like successful writers and creators come out of nowhere and make it big. But that’s not how it happens. It takes hard work over many months — sometimes even years.
Working hard does not mean you push yourself to the point of breaking.
No. It means you keep coming back. Even when you take breaks. Even when it doesn’t feel worth it. It’s “hard” work because it’s hard to keep doing something over and over again when it feels like no one notices or cares.
There’s pressure. And then there’s trying to meet unrealistic expectations.
Be realistic. Pursue your dream. But don’t make yourself miserable. Nothing is worth that.
Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.