They are simply unwilling to do what it takes
Anyone can tell a story. The power of a story lies in how personal it is. And isn’t that the beauty of it? That your story is unique only to you. Then why is it that so many people end up failing? Below, I list some reasons —
Now I’m not saying that this is all you need to do to see success. But these are the most basic steps to seeing any modicum of success.
They don’t show up
Showing up to write every day is half the battle won. When you write every day, you’re getting incrementally better. Incremental progress is highly underrated.
As an experiment, I started writing daily on Medium in May 2016. Note, this is back in the day when there was no Medium Partner Program or algorithm promoting locked posts.
I was part of just two publications and I garnered fans consistently over that year. One of my posts was featured on the home page of Medium and got over 10,000 views.
That post took me just over half an hour to write.
If I hadn’t been writing daily, I would never have been able to churn out posts faster or better. When I look back at my first or second post on Medium versus that one, I know which one is better.
Writing daily is a slow upgrade. It’s the slow tortoise’s way to win the race, but it is a surefire way to win!
Yes, it is exhausting at first; you will find reasons to talk yourself out of it and it will feel easier to not show up — that’s your crocodile brain trying to resist the change.
But, if you give yourself no choice and manage to put pen to paper (or in our world, fingers to keyboard), you’ll find your writing getting better over time.
They look for excuses
There are always enough excuses for not doing things. There’s only one reason why you should do something — because it matters. If it matters, you’ll do it.
It often comes down to priorities. Are you willing to make more time/wake up an hour earlier/de-prioritize other tasks in order to get that piece of writing out?
There will never be a right time or place to write — that’s the beauty and the truth about writing.
You can write on the back of a bus ticket, that’s how it works if you really want to write.
They’re “lacking inspiration”
You have the perfect looking desk. The perfect notebook. The perfect cup of coffee and coaster sitting next to you. But you don’t have the “inspiration” to write.
Guess what? Inspiration isn’t lightning. It won’t hit you out of the blue. That only happens in the movies.
You have to start by writing something. Anything!
Give yourself twenty minutes to write something. It could be something you see in front of you — a book, a cupboard, a sofa, a toy. Describe it. Then think about what kind of person would use it. What would they do to the object? What are their thoughts about it? Does the object have a voice of its own? If it were to speak what would it say? You’ll end up building a tiny story at the end of your twenty minutes.
You have to look for inspiration everywhere.
Look around you. You’ll find it everywhere.
Is your father using a magnifying glass to scan stock prices of the previous day (as opposed to just seeing them live online) a story worth telling?
Is the story of how your mother fell in a puddle of gravy a story worth telling?
Both of the stories above are true, by the way.
Inspiration is always around you. Observe someone you meet on your daily commute to find inspiration. You don’t even need to talk, just observe. There’ll always be a quirk, a catch, a habit, a nervous tick — anything that’s enough fodder for you to have a starting point. Start from there.
They write about everything under the sun
The reason there are bestselling writers in specific genres is that they’re masters of that genre.
If John le Carré wrote about humour, his books would probably still fly off the shelves. But that’s because he’s John le Carré. You’re not!
I’ve made this mistake myself and Medium being as awesome as it is, gives you a great testing ground in the form of stats to figure out what works for you and what doesn’t.
You have got to focus on one niche that you can write reams about. If you don’t know what that is, think about it.
What’s the one thing you can talk about endlessly, all day long?
Look at your writing. What are the most common emerging themes? For instance, do you always come up with ways to save money by doing something better? How you made a little side income by hustling for a couple of days? Good. Maybe you can write about that.
Take a deeper look at your writing.
They don’t read enough
For better output, you need better input. In a world where too many things (especially technology) are clamouring for attention, the relevance of reading in honing your craft is often overlooked.
Read stuff that teaches you something. Read books that talk about the resilience of humanity. Read books that are relatable. Read books that aren’t. Read about what makes people tick. Read stuff that teaches you something.
More importantly, read stuff in the niche you write about.
Books are the spark that floods your brain with inspiration.
Finish a good book and you will always wonder how the writer ever came up with material so compelling.
Chances are, they showed up to write every day instead of every other day.
Chances are, they didn’t look for excuses and just got it done.
Chances are, they never ran out of inspiration and kept going.
Chances are, they know what they’re good at and keep the churn going.
Chances are, they read for enrichment rather than out of compulsion.