Hey there, creative soul.
This may hit close to home, but you need to hear it. Truly understanding and applying what I’m about to say will set you apart from other authors in a career-changing way.
Before I start, let me give you some background. I’m a tough-love cheerleader. I say what needs to be said, stuff that’s not always easy to hear, but I’ve had incredible honor of more than one author telling me that I’m the reason they didn’t give up, that my encouragement and support got into the tough times, through the moments where they were going to throw in the towel on this writing thing.
I published in 2011 but I’ve been writing far longer. I even set my scholarship to get a dual degree in creative writing and marketing. I’ve been called a pioneer in the world, and while I’m not so sure about that, I work hard to constantly improve my writing business—because that’s what we are, entrepreneurs.
So what do you do when the muse fails you? When you hate everything you write, or the sales aren’t coming in?
What do you do when you want to quit?
You get clear.
Expectations vs. The Why
Get clear on your why and how that differs from your expectations.
- Expectations – what you plan to get out of a situation, like this class or your writing career. It’s an outcome. It’s external.
- The Why – your reason for doing something. Your motivation. It’s what drives you forward even when everything is falling apart. It’s internal.
When we got into writing, even the best of us had expectations. Expectations for how much we would sell, how many hours a day we’d write, how many books we would publish in a year.
The Why, however, is important because it will carry you through self-doubt, failure, fear, rejection, and all the less-than-glamorous parts of our career that often kick people to the curb. Knowing your why will motivate you when expectations aren’t met.
Let’s face it: expectations don’t hold under scrutiny. When times get tough and expectations go unmet, you’re less likely to pick yourself up and carry on if your WHY isn’t strong enough to propel you forward.
My challenge for you: drop your expectations for your writing career.
(cue collective gasps and fainting)
Hear me out. Instead of establishing expectations—which I’d like for you to reframe as goals—focus on your why when the going gets tough.
Why do you write?
I practice what I preach, honey. I’ve faced incredible failure and had plenty of opportunities to quit. Every successful person has. It’s the way of this life.
If you rely on only your expectations (external factors you can’t control) and don’t know your why (internal factor you CAN control), you won’t have the strength to pull through these times because it won’t seem worth it.
The most common example I see: If you’re like me when I first started (and thousands of other authors), you probably want to become an overnight success. You may expect it, even.
The first step to cleaning house and understanding your own personal WHY is to get real with the truth behind every “overnight success.” The concept of overnight success is a myth 99% of the time, anyway. Why, you ask? Because we as the admiring public only see the tip of the iceberg.
If you’re feeling depressed, hold up. Success is absolutely achievable! More on that in a second. First, I want to talk about overnight successes.
Forbes ran a fantastic article about how overnight success is a myth. Here’s the formula to success, according to author George Bradt:
- Find an unsolved problem and solve it
- Continue improving on your solution to stay ahead of competition
- Nail your positioning
- Find the right resources
- Work harder over time
Statistics are rampant, but on average (from 6 to 15) it takes about 10 years to create an “overnight success.” It’s all about perception: we see the achievement, not the years of self-doubt and backbreaking work it took to get noticed and embraced on a large scale.
So have patience, grasshopper. Patience, tenacity, and motivation.
Not convinced? Let’s take a look at some “overnight successes”:
- Apple’s iPod took 3 years to reach success status. The 1st edition wasn’t efficient. It wasn’t until the 4th version that sales took off.
- Gmail was considered a doomed project and took 2.5 years to create
- Amazon wasn’t profitable for the first 7 years
- Pandora wasn’t profitable for the first 10 years
- Rovio, creators of Angry Birds, went through 50 apps before creating their hit
- Fedex made a loss of $26 million in its first 26 months of operations in 1973 and didn’t become a success until the late 10s
Success takes talent, patience, luck, and tenacity. So keep on truckin’.
Some final thoughts
If you walk away with only one tidbit from this article, remember that success is relative. You and you alone decide what it means for you to be a success. For some, it’s making enough money to write full time. For others, it’s selling one book. For others still, it’s making a million dollars.
Focus on YOU. Only you. What does success mean for you, personally? This will help you manage and understand both your expectations and your Why.
Ha! Didn’t think you’d get homework from a blog post, huh? That’s how I roll.
- Write down your expectations (of yourself, this course, and your writing career).
- Drag a big ole line through ALL of those.
- What’s your why? (What drives you, this course, and your writing career).
- What’s your concept of success?
Share in the Facebook group or email us privately (this one is completely optional, but the rest aren’t!)
About S. M. Boyce
When S. M. Boyce graduated with a degree in creative writing, she realized that made her well-qualified for serving French fries. It would take years of writing hundreds of thousands of words of all kinds before she became the fantasy and horror novelist she is today.
Boyce specializes in action-packed stories that weave in fantasy, mystery, and heroines with a knack for mischief. All romantic leads are based loosely on her husband, who proves that soulmates are real.
She has a deep love for ghosts, magic, and spooky things. If you’ve already finished her books, check out her blog or twitter feed for a dash of adventure.
Find her online: