It is almost painful to see the sheer amount of stories that pop up in my feed on a daily basis about achieving success in writing for online platforms.
I am just like anyone else, after starting my side-hustle putting words on a screen it was easy to be convinced that untold riches are just one viral post away.
At the time of writing this, I don’t have stacks of cash lying around from my burgeoning writing career.
Yet after a little more than six months into putting myself and my writing out there, I feel successful as a writer.
The problem is, the classic American Dream has shifted from a mentality of working hard and achieving the benefits and rewards of that hard work over time to a viral mentality that has zero collective memory and requires immediate influxes of cash to define success.
Yes there are lots and lots of high profile writers on any platform that will talk about writing that one viral article and making thousands upon thousands of dollars.
Sure — and as a kid I begged my parents to enter the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes so that we could have a giant check with dozens of balloons attached delivered to our door.
Yet after suffering the childhood disappointment of never receiving that big check and also after not having any of my writing go truly viral… I am ok with that because I now understand the secret to success in writing.
Life, accomplishments, riches, success all take time and all take a massive amount of hard work.
That is it. The secret is out. Done. Dusted.
Yet I am sure that hundreds if not thousands of new writers sign up every day looking to hit it big with their succession of viral articles and countless riches pouring in.
So what tips and suggestions should you follow to actually build something successful in your writing?
Success in anything takes time. Period. You must have some patience to let things grow. This is no different than trying to lose weight or plating a seed. You can starve yourself for 24 hours or water the crap out of that seed — yet 24 hours later you will not see any changes in either scenario.
One story that I wrote took almost two weeks after curation to start to receive views. 7 Things I want Any New Engineer On My Team To Know now has almost 14 thousand views and over 280 hours of reading time when I check out the stats.
Another story, Forget 10X — What about a 1,000X Engineer? was posted and curated in December of 2019. Over the next 5 months it garnered maybe a total of 50 views. Then in May 2020 it started getting some attention and took off, receiving over 800 views in the next month.
The message here is simple. You aren’t going to win the lottery the first time playing, so have some patience and keep at it.
This one is pretty simple. Keep going. Keep writing. Keep posting. Persevere.
People don’t respond to a single standalone entry very often. They respond to a body of work.
Have you ever read a single book by an author and immediately rushed out to get more from them because it was just so good, only to be disappointed that that is the only pushed work from that author in existence?
The average rejection rate for book publishers is 99% of all submissions.
That author may only have one published book, but it is a near certainty that they struggled and submitted stories and manuscripts over and over and over again to get to that point. They kept at it.
It doesn’t matter how good your writing is now, just the act of continuing to write will make you better. You just have to keep writing.
Write, re-write, post. Then do it all over again.
Your skills and your voice will get better. Seeking to maintain a high quality for all output is necessary to get through the roller-coaster of other people’s opinions.
If you know that your work is solid and consistent, you can weather this storm.
Some of what I would consider as my highest quality content with my best ideas has not been curated or widely read. That is ok. It is consistent with the level of quality that I want to put out there for others to read.
After spending hours researching and writing The First Software Engineer: Margaret Hamilton I have been rewarded by less than 10 views over the 6 months that the article has been posted.
Yet this is one of the pieces that I am most proud of. There are dozens of my other stories that fit this mold. Even ones that were curated don’t really pick up any steam.
It is easy to get discouraged. It is easier to not write.
Yet the people who are successful keep writing and they keep meeting their own internal measure of high quality, consistent output.
The truth is, anyone can be successful in any medium. Whether it be writing, teaching, Engineering, philosophy, politics, whatever. Anyone can achieve success.
You just have to work hard, grind it out, and practice patience, perseverance, and consistency and eventually, you will build a following and your words will win out.
Don’t believe me? I have 266 followers and over 29,900 views over 6 months. My words aren’t anything special, other than that many people have bothered to stop by and read a few of them.
There is no secret talent or hidden meaning behind any of this. Hard work wins the day. Whether that is in writing or in life. Go out and put the effort in and sieze what is in front of you.