You enter the writing world as a fresh-faced newbie with bags of enthusiasm, a head full of stories and the belief that it won’t take you long to achieve literary success! It will be a matter of months before your work starts a publishing bidding war.
Sadly this belief starts to fade the more you write. Ugh!
You come to realise that books go through a never-ending circle of drafting, rewriting and editing. They never seem to match the story in your head either.
This cycle can go on for years with just ONE book! *Eye roll*
Things may not run smoothly. You have to prepare for:
- Drafts which never meet your expectations
- Drafts which require extra mental stewing,
- Drafts which are sabotaged by painful periods of writer’s block
- Draft which are put to one side during unexpected curve ball life events.
- Drafts which remain ugly ducklings and never turn into swans.
- Drafts which don’t survive rounds of brutal criticism and end up being filed under the folder called ‘bin’.
Each type of draft listed above takes time to work through.
Once you’re finally stood clutching your final polished draft it dawns on you that the literary fun doesn’t stop there either. You have to get the thing published or self published. All this takes more TIME.
The journey to a published or self published book is a long one.
At this year’s London Book Fair the same message coming through all the author talks was one book is no longer enough for literary success. You have to write several books to establish yourself and grow a reader base. Even then success could still be years away.
According to a study, conducted by John Hayes, a cognitive psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, which looked at the role of effort, practice and knowledge in top performers, not a single person produced incredible work without putting in a decade of practice first. *Blonde writer quickly checks her 10 year calendar to see when her decade of writing practice will be over.*
Have you put in a decade of practice?
Here’s how to accept the troubling news that literally success might take YEARS to achieve and even then it’s not guaranteed:
- Avoid having a creative breakdown about this. Doing stuff like telling a loved one you are going to quit writing, crying yourself to sleep (whilst hugging the latest edition of ‘Writers & Artists Yearbook’) and chucking out all your tweed based writer outfits will only make you feel worse. Plus you are wasting valuable writing time.
- Grow with each story. I am now a firm believer that every story teaches you something different. View each new story idea as a gift. It’s the gift of learning. Yay!
- Enjoy the journey. I now understand why I keep seeing this important message in blogs, tweets and books. With the chances of literary success stacked against us we have to enjoy the journey. Enjoy your writing, your stories and your characters. Connect with other writers, enter writing competitions, tweet about your not so perfect writing life, turn to Snapchat selfies when you are feeling glum, start a blog, offer to beta read for other writers, use your writing as an excuse to get out of doing the housework, wear a lot of tweed, work on your writing weaknesses, read as many books as you can and embrace your creative life.
- Change your definition of literary success. Start small. If you are a newbie writer try working towards finishing a book. Writing a book is an accomplishment in itself. If you have one book under your belt, try working towards finishing a second book or improve your book sales or marketing.
- Stop torturing yourself by daydreaming about being a bestselling author! I have stopped doing this and I am much happier.
- Read book acknowledgements. I love reading these as they show you the author’s journey and they can give you a good indication about the amount of pain, suffering and TIME that went into writing the book.
- Read as many interviews with successful authors as you can. These will show you that literary success for them came after years of practice and a few books under their belt.
Yes it might take years for us to become an overnight literary success but we are all going to enjoy ourselves until then!
Have a great day!