I learned a lot about being a writer in 2014, and over these ten days, I’m sharing some of my tips. Here is Tip #6.
There is no big break – just hard work
I used to think every successful writer I knew of had gotten some big break. I fantasized about how he or she had probably once been exactly as I was, laboring over small, trivial articles for little pay before – bingo! – he or she met the right person, slept with the right person, unknowingly did a favor for the right person, and was instantly propelled to a higher plane of existence; one I could not fathom, but just had to believe existed. This could also work, I reasoned, if a Very Important Editor of a Very Important Magazine™ just happened to be slumming it in the primordial ooze of popular websites and low-brow inflight magazines, saw your article, thought for some reason you were brilliant, and invited you to write for Very Important Magazine™. Suddenly everyone recognized your great talent, and you were inundated with invitations to write for: The New York Times! The New Yorker! Vanity Fair! Vogue!
Now, mostly thanks to the aforementioned online writing groups I am privileged to be a part of, I’ve realized that even the most successful writers still have to do the grunt work of finding new clients, going out into the world and making connections, pitching stories, worrying about deadlines and payment. Big breaks do come for the lucky few, but the rest of us, regardless of how talented, driven, and connected we are, have to learn to slog on through as well.
Realizing that success and my perceived lack of it had less to do with luck and much more to do with hard work was somehow liberating. Now I no longer had to sit there, stewing in my own resentment of the things that Other Writers were getting that I was not. There was a reason for it, and it was entirely under my control: the more pitches I sent out, the more networking I did, the more actual writing I did, the more likely I would be to get another kind of big break—one based entirely on my own goals and entirely of my own making.