It’s January 25th, 2016, which means that we’re almost 1/12 of the way through a brand new year. To a lot of people it may seem like the year has just gotten started, but to me it already feels like it’s flying by. The reason it’s flying by is because when you have long term goals and work towards them every day, every day that passes is another day closer to what you’ve always wanted, but also another day gone by that you could have worked a little harder, progressed a little more.
I started this blog a little over two and a half years ago on June 8th, 2013, and since then I’ve written 72 posts that have been viewed 18,739 times. I’ve picked up 2,747 new and amazing followers, quite a few of whom I’ve spoken with to exchange ideas and advice, and many of whom have amazing blogs of their own that I now get to follow. Since June 8th, 2013, I’ve written 3 books, 11 short stories, and grown a lot as a person and as a writer. When I started this blog I was just finishing my junior year at Vanderbilt, and when I look back at who I was then, personally and professionally, I feel a little nostalgic and can see just how far I’ve come.
In these past two and a half years I’ve worked hard. Very hard. But did I work as hard as I possibly could? Did I outwork every other aspiring writer out there?
And that’s the point.
Writing is hard work, just like everything else worth doing. While it may be easier to become a writer now, to publish your work, to reach an audience, it also means that aspiring writers are up against a lot more competition than ever before. There is a lot we can control, but there is also a lot that no matter how hard we try is unchangeable. I like being in good shape, but no matter how hard I’ve tried, I can’t eat Mac & Cheese three times a day and stay in shape. That’s unchangeable. But I can control what I eat, and whether or not I choose to eat Mac & Cheese at all is totally up to me.
When it comes to writing it’s hard to control popular opinion, the whims of editors, the feedback and rejections of agents, how book distribution and author payout works, etc. A lot of those things are unchangeable (or at least impossible for a single person to change alone). But what we can control is the most important piece of writing: how hard we work. We can control how many hours a day we put into our work. We can control how much extraneous time we spend reading articles on book marketing, agent opinions, or previous book sales vs. time spent actually improving our skills and working on our next book. We can control how late we stay awake after putting the kids to bed to make sure we get our words in. We can control the amount of TV we watch and the amount of web surfing we do.
We can control a damn lot, and it all comes back to controlling how hard we want to work. Because if you outwork everyone else, if you put in more time and effort than every other aspiring writer out there, I can guarantee that you can make it as a writer.
I’ve already promised myself that this year is the year I’m going to work the hardest that I ever have. I’ll put in the time and effort, cut out the distractions, stay up late, and do whatever it is I have to do to outwork every other person out there. I told myself that at the end of this year I’ll have two completed books – more than I’ve ever written in a year before – and that they wouldn’t just be any two books, but two books that are better than anything I’ve ever written before.
Because I want this to be my year.
And I hope it ends up being your year too. It’s totally up to us, because all we have to do is work a little harder than anyone else.