I’ve watched the success of others as I’ve pursued a career that exemplifies longevity, and I have the privilege of shepherding my authors toward a sustainable career. The key is to keep walking, particularly after the sting of rejection, or the pushback we inevitably experience in the publishing world.
Confession: There have been times where an author’s first or second book take off like a firecracker, and I’ve secretly (okay, not so secretly) been frustrated. In those times, I remind myself afresh of God’s glorious sovereignty, that He lifts up some, takes away from others, and gives everyone a unique path.
I’ve found a common ground between folks who seem to strike it hot the first time out of the gate and those who toil for years without such breakthrough. It’s this: be faithful in little things. Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (Luke 16:10 NLT). Must of the writing life is forging ahead in little things.
Whether you find immediate success or face discouragement right now as you wonder why success hasn’t come your way, you still have to do unnoticed things if you want to experience the greater career success of longevity.
We’ve seen one-hit wonders in the music world. They’ve made their one popular song, then languish for twenty years, eventually playing that same song in county fairs across the nation. They live in the past. Reminds me of the film, About a Boy, where Hugh Grant’s character is haunted by his popular Christmas song so much so that he’s forgotten how to live.
God has a better plan. And I believe you can experience a new kind of longevity-related success (particularly if you’re discouraged) by asking 3 questions.
- Why am I writing? When you get at the central question of why, you uncover that pesky thing called motivation. When I see others’ success and wonder about my own, or I encounter obstacles, I have to ask why I’m doing this. My answer? God told me to write. And if God told me to write, then my job is simple obedience, plain, undecorated. Your why will keep you moving forward.
- What am I doing? Sometimes we need to re-evaluate what exactly we’re doing to achieve our goals. Chances are, in our quest for success, we grab at what some one-hit-wonders have done, believing in the formula rather than the process God has intended for us. Remember this: You are unique, and your pathway is unique. Someone else’s surefire formula may not garner the same success. Your “what” must fit you, and it must serve your overall mission statement. If it doesn’t, re-evaluate. This is particularly important as you build a platform. It won’t look like others. Your platform shouldn’t look like others. Instead, it should fit who you are.
- How am I doing it? Whether you’re a one-hit-wonder or you feel you’re slogging your way through your fifth unpublished book, the how question gets at what contributes to burnout. Some of us are performing tasks in an unsustainable way. Building a platform may be stealing our joy. We are of no use to our career, our families, and our friends if we work like crazy and never rest. Remember, you’re in this career for the long haul. Treat that path with respect, and be kind to yourself. You cannot do it all. Nor should you.
How about you? What has helped you when you’re discouraged in your work? How have you found lasting success? And how have you dealt with others who seem to succeed quicker?