Do you remember when you first decided to become a writer? Ok, not the first time, not the time you got a Good Work sticker in your English book at school. I mean the other time, the time when you thought about actually making a living with your writing and doing this wonderful writing thing full time.
Can you remember that feeling of hope and excitement? The satisfaction you got from hitting your daily word count, or figuring out how to format your manuscript, or pushing publish on Amazon?
What happened to that? Do you have days now when you wonder if you will ever be able to make your writing pay? Do you question what the point of it all is? Do you wonder if you’re really good enough, or have the commitment, or if you even want it enough?
Perhaps those days are every day. Or maybe you haven’t experienced them yet; but I can pretty much guarantee that you will.
You see, when you set out to make a crazy dream a reality, the road is never straight and smooth. But there are things you can do to help you through the tough times when you feel like giving up.
Remember why you started
“Remember where you came from, where you’re going, and why you created this mess you got yourself into in the first place.”
— Richard Bach
When you start to feel overwhelmed and question what you are doing, think back to why you started in the first place. What was it you set out to achieve? What motivated you to get started in the first place? Take some time to reconnect with your big ‘why’ to give yourself a renewed sense of purpose.
Don’t suffer alone
“I love the idea that it doesn't take one person only to achieve your potential. It takes a village, it takes a community, a street, a teacher, a mother.”
— Mira Nair
You’re not the first to feel like like giving up and you certainly won’t be the last. Everyone who has set out to do something that matters has come up against feelings of self doubt and fear. Know that you are not alone and make a plan to connect with others who understand what you are trying to achieve. Do not underestimate the power of community. You could join a local writers circle or an online group. There are plenty of writing communities on Facebook, or you could search for others who share your interests on Twitter or Instagram using hashtags.
Determination is more useful than confidence
“Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don't let these feelings stop them.”
— T. Harv Eker
Ah, confidence, that wonderfully elusive feeling. In my experience, if you wait to feel confident before attempting something new or challenging, you will never do it. What is far more useful is sheer determination. Be stubborn, be headstrong and just go for it. Confidence will come later when you have done whatever it is a few times, but even then I wouldn’t count on it. How many performers admit to still experiencing stage fright after many years of stepping out in front of an audience? Confidence cannot be relied on, be determined instead.
Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable
“The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.”
— Conor McGregor
If you’re starting to doubt yourself because things are beginning to feel uncomfortable, then celebrate. Feeling uncomfortable means you are daring to step beyond that comfort zone, which is what you need to do if you are ever going to achieve things you have never achieved before. If writing and building an author business was easy, everyone would be doing it, or you would have got there already. If you want to reach your goals you will have to embrace feelings of discomfort to continue moving forward. Nothing worth doing is ever easy, but you can do it!
Seek out and accept help
“I’m courageous enough to know I can accomplish great things. I’m humble enough to know when to ask for help.”
— Katrina Mayer
You do not need to follow your path to being a successful author alone. Self-publishing is a misnomer, as rarely does anyone publish a book entirely by themselves. It’s why I prefer the term independent author, or indie. You can and should seek help with all sorts of things, from beta reading to editing to cover design to marketing. Some tasks you will outsource to third parties, such as your cover design, some you will ask friends and loved ones to help with - formatting, for example - and sometimes you may invest in support in the form of a course or coach.
If you are struggling to do it all, even if you just need to talk through your next steps with another writer, ask for help. Getting another person’s perspective will do you the world of good and help you to see where you need to focus.
Embrace challenges and learn from them
“Welcome the challenges. Look for the opportunities in every situation to learn and grow in wisdom.”
— Brian Tracy
When you set out on the road to being an author, it’s unlikely you had any idea of all the new things you would need to learn and do. The first time round it feels like such an intimidating mountain to climb. Unfortunately, you don’t realise that until you are far enough in to not really want to turn back.
But every hurdle you clamber over this time will be easier next time. There will be so many firsts and questions around those firsts. For example, should I go wide or Amazon exclusive? Do I want to publish in print, digital or audio, or all three… or just two? But who will record the audio? And how do I upload audio… and how do I promote audio? With every question answered come a bunch more questions.
These are all opportunities to learn! Once you have figured these things out, you will know them for next time. Even if the landscape changes slightly and you have to modify what you did before, it won’t be as painfully hard as starting from zero.
Celebrate every small win
“Success is a series of small wins”
— Jaime Tardy
What does success look like to you? We all have a vision of what we’d like to achieve, but no one truly experiences overnight success. Overnight success is a myth. What success really takes is hard work, usually over a number of years and often with a number of false starts, failures and mistakes along the way. Sometimes people get lucky, but you cannot plan for luck.
So keep the end goal in mind, but also celebrate the small wins along the way. Recognise that you are doing more than many wannabe writers simply by showing up at your desk every day. Did you get your first subscriber? Celebrate that win. Did you hit your daily word goal? Celebrate that win. Did you sell your first copy? Celebrate.
If you never celebrate your wins, success will always feel a very long way off and impossible to reach. Instead, recognise your achievements and allow yourself to feel good about them, and then set the next goal. As you hit each small checkpoint, you are moving ever closer to that vision of ultimate success.
Give back and support others
“I believe that we all have a responsibility to give back. No one becomes successful without lots of hard work, support from others, and a little luck. Giving back creates a virtuous cycle that makes everyone more successful.”
— Ron Conway
As you celebrate your wins and learn from your challenges, you will start to see how far you have come. This can help get you moving forward all by itself, but I also suggest you find ways to give back to the community that has supported you and pay it forward by helping others who are not as far along the road as you are.
Be generous with your knowledge and you will find you are rewarded in ways you can’t yet imagine. Give without the expectation of anything in return and I promise you will find that the gratitude of others will motivate you to keep moving forward on your own journey.
“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
— Thomas A. Edison
I want to end this post with one of my favourite quotes for times when I’m experiencing self-doubt. So often we feel at our lowest and in the darkest place right before a breakthrough. Sometimes it can be hard to believe that we are on the verge of something wonderful, but that sliver of hope, that chance that a breakthrough is just around the corner is what keeps me pushing through.
What if you are on the cusp of success, do you really want to give up now?
Have you ever felt like giving up on your writing? What did you do to overcome it? Let me know in the comments!