Sometimes we convince ourselves of what we want to do. Other times we convince ourselves that we need to do this or that for success. But that pressure can be overwhelming, right? There are two major factors to this.
First, we are afraid that we will fail. If we decide that we want to become the next Great American Novelist, then we start by writing. But if we put too much pressure on ourselves to become this great ideal, then we feel as if once we let up at all, we have failed.
Second, it’s hard to imagine the daily commitment required by success, where a day lost seems like an eternity erased. But people tell us that success is the result of a series of small decisions, and it’s hard to even fathom what that looks like.
In essence, we want success, dammit. That’s the long and short of it.
The key lies in the long and short of it.
Over the course of most of April and all of May, I set out to post to my website twice a week. I know three times is optimal, but I was in school when I started and even two a week was difficult. Plus, Tuesday and Thursday were my lightest days, making it easier to catch up the day of if I fell behind.
It’s the end of May now, and I’ve done exactly what I set out to do. I wouldn’t say it was easy—there were definitely some rough patches—but a couple of things kept me going.
I decided that I would start updating my blog with monthly themes. I started by writing about some productivity things I’ve learned firsthand and sharing some life lessons I’ve learned from others.
This idea worked wonders. Not only did I effectively write out a bunch of ideas that I could use each month, I was also able to come up with a list of other topics and blog posts which fit within those topics.
But all of my other topics were about writing. I realized that I shouldn’t narrow my focus so tightly. It alienates all but a niche audience, and writing about writing is a particularly weird niche. It results in a bunch of writers writing about writing talking to each other about writing while reading each other’s posts about writing.
So who the hell are we selling our books to? Other writers? That’s great if our books are also about writing, but mine are not.
So, this has been a learning experience. First off, I now know that I can keep up a weekly blog schedule. More importantly, I know that I can write about things other than writing.
Sometimes this just means I have to change the focus of a post. Some of my posts over the past two months would be difficult to tailor to anything but writing, but I was able to generalize some of them to apply to more than just writing.
I have learned that I can keep up with a consistent blog schedule, which was a big fear of mine. If I wasn’t able to do that with a topic that I already had a lot to talk about, then it wasn’t ever going to happen, and I was going to let my blog die. It would remain a receptacle for my contact info, my Resources for Writers page, and my book links.
But I did it, and those fears have been assuaged. I had a goal, and I had a path to it, and I made it.
So the major lesson is one of perseverance. I once asked my friend Alan if he had advice for aspiring YouTubers (which I once was) and his advice was universal: Never give up. If it’s something you really want to do, then keep doing it. Keep making videos and uploading them, no matter how many views you get.
The same goes for blogging. Your first post isn’t going to go viral unless lightning strikes thrice on a slots machine that’s still ringing from the chimes of a triple-seven jackpot. You have to keep making content and keep posting it. The only way people are going to even find you is if you post consistently.
Not every post is going to be gold. Some of them are going to suck, and you’re not going to realize that they suck until way after the fact. Sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck on a post that you were really excited about, and you have to decide whether to post something sub-par or start over with something new. I’ve found that this is mostly dependent on what kind of time crunch you’re dealing with.
And even if you keep all of that in mind, there’s still no guarantee you’ll ever gain a following. Some of it’s luck, and some of it’s skill. Some of it (most of it?) is how many people resonate with your content.
None of that matters, though, as long as you never give up. Persevere, even through the rough patches and the mud. It’s all you can do for your success, and it’s all anyone can ask of you.