Lots of people try to do what I do. Not simply ‘write a book’, but other things as well. Art, freelance work, exercise, eating healthy … even fun stuff like recreational gaming. All of these things take a certain level of commitment in order to notice any sort of results.
For instance … art. You may practically give away paintings and other creations in the pursuit if supporting the creation of even more paintings, one of which might be that one piece that resonates with people in just the right way, sells for a bajillion dollars (speaking of, I’m liking that new Van Gogh they found) and cements your name in the annals of history. Sure, spending a lot of hard work on something that you’re practically giving away isn’t fun, but that’s how you make progress. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again – you don’t just suddenly decide to pick up a paintbrush one day and create a painting that belongs in the Louvre. That’s like picking up a 3-wood and expecting to hit a hole-in-one on your very first round of golf. Any disappointment you feel for not achieving either of those is ridiculous. Same thing goes for anything you’re just starting out in.
So, we all know that success is a gradual thing … and yet the lack of instant success appears to be one of the primary reasons why people give up on things like this. Or worse yet, it’s why some people don’t even start in the first place.
Not everything I’ve done has turned out the way I hoped. Heck, I did a mini-experiment with podcasting that led to nothing more than some interesting lessons about understanding your target market. What people want to listen to is sometimes much different that what you *wish* they’d want to listen to. So, lesson learned … I tried, and if I was ever thinking of doing something similar in the future, at least now I know what *doesn’t* work.
Now, if I didn’t have a metric buttload of other stuff going on, there’s a good chance I’d still be doing experiments in podcasting, or recording for web, or one of many variants of that sort of thing. You want success with something, you stick at it, figure it out (very important step, do not skip), and sooner or later, in some form or another, something happens. Plain and simple.
Sure, with this sort of model the gratification isn’t immediate, and I’m beginning to honestly think that is part of the problem most people have with it. I’ve seen a slew of budding authors who start writing a story, post chapters on a site like Wattpad, and then give up after 3-5 posts because it isn’t getting the immediate reaction they want. Sometimes they’re hoping for hundreds of people to read what they’ve written and tell all their friends. Other times, they want someone to leave a comment to the effect of “That was genius! You are a genius! GENIUS I TELLS YOU!” When they don’t get those things, they just stop, because to them it suddenly feels like a waste of time. And it so isn’t.
See, the thing about gratification is that it *has* to have a lot of time and effort behind it in order to mean anything at all to you. Which do you think is more gratifying – to win the lotto one morning, or to start a business that eventually makes its first million dollars? How about spending years of your life training to become a gold medallist at the Olympics, or buying an authentic Beijing 2008 Olympic gold medal on Ebay for $2000?
When you’re beginning something brand new, it should always move with agonizing slowness, *because* you’re just starting. You need time to learn, grow, and figure everything out. (Again, important step – do not skip) Budding authors who want JK Rowling levels of success the instant they finish putting together the first book they’ve ever written, well, that’s probably not going to happen. That’s not to say they can’t get there eventually with their eighth book, or their ninth.
If they stop writing halfway through their first attempt, however, they’re not even giving books 8 and 9 a chance.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 at 6:49 pm and is filed under Randomness, Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.