In the vein of Advice to Young Writers, this is advice for everyone, for anyone, really, who has a goal set high and is being told by others that the goal is too high, that success, especially writing success, is impossible.
I met someone at the mall training to be a motivational speaker, and he has become a pretty good friend of mine. He pumps me up just talking to him, but he’s about making the impossible possible. Just talking to this kid puts life into a withering dream because then you start spouting off what you’re going to do to make your dream come true.
Of course, good motivational speakers will do that. Self-motivating is hard. It’s hard for me to keep myself motivated at work when traffic is dead and I can’t get even a trickle of people to sign up for the Fiat. But I still do it. I still work toward the goal of making killer sales. I haven’t given up because I know it’s possible.
Writing is freaking hard. You hear that all the time. Even worse, you hear from people that you need to manage your expectations, that you shouldn’t expect much out of your writing career. To dream big is to dream yourself into failure, they say.
But we are only told this because the tendency is to become bitter when our expectations aren’t being met. We become those very people who talk down to writers and tell them to stop dreaming big, and so we’ve talked ourselves into believing that the only people who have achieved success are those who are lucky.
So why do we let ourselves fall into bitterness? Because nobody ever motivated us to believe otherwise. We all could use our own motivational speakers, mainly creating ones that always exist in our minds. It’s easy to become jaded when you’re working your butt off, but nothing is as it should be.
Let yourself dream big. You should. You’ll only work that much harder toward achieving it, and there will always be some kind of rewarding payoff for hard work. Success is different for everyone anyway.
I don’t think anyone needs to be telling anyone else to manage expectations because it’s clipping your wings. We’re told the arts is a fickle business, so people tend to try to throw their passions elsewhere while barely developing the passion they already have. Yes, you have to make money so you can eat and survive and all that, but keep pressing forth toward that ultimate dream of becoming a full-time writer or creating a painting that sells for thousands, or that album, or that whatever artful endeavor.
The key to all of this, really, is managing adversity. You naturally want to become bitter when things are taking too long. But anything worthwhile isn’t going to be easy. You also shouldn’t compare your successes to other successes. So what if Amanda Hopkins had publishing stardom fairly fast? Things are tougher now than when Amanda first wrote. You used to be able to buy an ad on Kindle Nation and get noticed pretty fast, but now Kindle Nation is flooded, thus ads aren’t as effective as they once were. You just now have to find your own way to get noticed.
Don’t ever loosen the hold on your dream because then you’ll start working less to make that dream come true. Instead let adversity strengthen you and adjust your dream as needed, but never let adversity overwhelm you. Control your response to adversity, and you won’t feel like you’ve failed, even if you think you have.
So what are your dreams? How will you go about achieving them in the face of adversity?