Reads, likes, hits, follows, comments, reviews, downloads and ultimately, sales, the holy grail for all writers and bloggers. I have to admit, four weeks into my blogging and five weeks since I self published my first novella, I have been watching these stats a tad too zealously.
If I go by these stats alone, my left brain will tell my right brain that I should just give up. I don’t need this to feed the family so why agonize over it? But what keeps me going is the encouragement from family especially my twin sister who throughout our lives has been the voice of reason and the steadfast cheerleader. But also thanks to the countless inspiring posts and blogs I come across each and every day; that I am not alone in this chase and it is okay to try, flounder and fall; and then get up and try again until you finally reach your dream.
Over the past few weeks I have immersed myself in a tremendous amount of reading and learning. I stumbled onto Jody Hedlund’s post Reaching for our Dreams and it made me want to “stretch tall” and “reach high” for the stars. And most importantly it also taught me a thing or two about parenting.
Today, another post from Writer Unboxed crossed my radar. Jo Eberhardt’s Chasing the Moon opening message for the Flash Fiction Contest struck a chord with me; that she, a proven veteran writer had also contemplated “giving this whole thing up.”
What I learned from my fellow writers, and bloggers can be inspirational but also intimidating at the same time. To be successful is tough and requires hard work. As Jody Hedlund said in her Getting Published posts “to have Olympic-size dream one needs to give it Olympic-size effort.”
I have also diligently read many helpful articles by Kimberley Grabas of The Writer Platform. I am grateful for the wealth of information contained therein but I am also overwhelmed by the seemingly hundreds of steps one need to implement to build a platform.
Sometimes this journey feels like I tried to jump before I had learned how to walk. But, I kept asking myself, would I be here if I hadn’t made that leap? Probably not. My writing adventure is a classic one of learning from one’s mistakes, perhaps like Alice in Wonderland, a journey through the looking glass; one bumpy ride but definitely worthwhile. Hard as it is, discouraging as it can be (if I look at nothing but the stats), the bottom line is writing continues to give me joy.
To those of you, newbie writers and bloggers like me, here are a few lessons I have learned along the way.
- learn from the masters but don’t attempt to follow everything to a tee; it is but a guidepost, and certainly not a script; as Nigel Watts puts it in his book, Writing a Novel, “there are no rules”
- take baby steps at your own pace; listen to your own heartbeat and follow your own instincts
- it is okay to take two steps forward, and one step backward as long as we learn from our mistakes and move forward
- use the tools and resources wisely; what makes sense for others may not work for you
- dream your dream, not someone else’s; your dream can be big or small, it does not matter; it is after all yours and yours alone
Dream the dream but don’t let greed drive your happiness. As my very talented but very grounded twin always says “I don’t need anything more than where I am and who I am.” She is contented and does not require fame or fortune to complete her happy existence.