So you’ve been at it a while, haven’t you? This writing thing is something you know you are supposed to do. You feel whole and alive when the words are flowing through you. You’re pursuing your life dream and it just feels right.
Yet success has thus far eluded you. Oh, there have been triumphs. You’ve finished writing your first novel, maybe, or had an article published online. But you’re not where you want to be. Success, as you define it, has not yet manifested.
And there’s been heartbreak along the way. You’ve been rejected by agents and publishers. Someone who you love, admire, and respect has read your stuff and wasn’t impressed. Or worse, maybe they didn’t bother reading it at all.
You continue to write, of course, because you know this is what you are supposed to do. But it feels like this should be… easier. You don’t know exactly what the next step is, but you feel like it should have happened by now. You understand that this thing you are doing is supposed to work out, it just hasn’t yet.
Here are a couple of things to consider. First, you get to define success. All you have to do is acknowledge that you are successful right now, at this moment, and you are successful. Make success something in your control: “I am successful if I write a little everyday.” Whatever success is for you, put it within reach and allow yourself to take it.
Stop measuring yourself by the yardstick of others’ biographies. The success stories you hear where writers get their Big Break and become big time authors often don’t mention the years those authors spent right where you are now, practicing the craft and experiencing heartbreak.
Be patient. Allow things to unfold in their own time. Often seasoned authors are grateful they didn’t get published any sooner than they did, because they wouldn’t want their earlier writing on display. Or even worse, some of them were published too earlier and are utterly embarrassed by their initial efforts. You are learning things now and growing in ways that you cannot perceive until you have a little distance on it. There are people you are supposed to meet, circumstances to get involved in, that are on the horizon, they just haven’t happened yet. Trust that they’re coming and throw away your personal timeline.
And finally (this is the big one, trite though it might sound), don’t give up! Because, you’re right. This is what you’re supposed to be doing. This feeds your soul. In the end, that’s the best nourishment you can provide.
Brian Mercer is the author of the supernatural YA novel, Aftersight (Astraea Press, 2013). He is also co-author with Robert Bruce of Mastering Astral Projection: 90-Day Guide to Out-of-body (Llewellyn, 2004) and The Mastering Astral Projection CD Companion (Llewellyn, 2007). A board member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association and senior editor at Author Magazine, he lives in Seattle with his wife, Sara, and their three cats.