Failure is easy. All you have to do is nothing. Procrastination, silence, inaction all will have the same result the relationships dependent upon your interaction will die. While this post is about writing careers, the principles given here apply to any profession or endeavor. I’ve seen this happen to friends, and I know the truth from experience.
Success (regardless of how you measure it) is hard work. Enjoying the fruits of your labors (fame, fortune, peer respect, whatever) isn’t difficult, but gaining and maintaining those fruits requires involvement. Successful folks do not procrastinate. They carefully analyze their goals and situation, decide on a course then act.
Before I published, I decided on a course of action—write as much as I could as fast as I could then revise and edit the dickens out of what I wrote before submitting my work to agents and editors. Once I submitted manuscripts I would continue that pattern of work.
Then of course, life got in the way. The first time life seriously intersected my self-determined path to success, I did not recognize what happened until years afterward. My mother passed away, and I promised myself I would write soon. Six years later I was still making promises. A small delay in writing to allow myself to grieve would be reasonable. But to shut down almost all social interactions; to not even bother to start manuscripts, research or brainstorming; to lose touch with all my professional contacts; all were far from reasonable or even rational conduct leading to career success. My mother had not been supportive of my choice to pursue a career in writing, and that got tangle up with my grief. I had a lot to resolve, but sought no help, no grief counseling or other assistance because I wasn’t even aware I had a problem. As a result, my infant writing career died from lack of attention brought on by procrastination, silence and inaction.
I ran in to an old author friend who asked me what happened to my writing. The question shocked me. I hadn’t realized anything had happened. Awake now to the problem, I set about re-establishing my writing career. I used a pseudonym but followed pretty much the same work pattern that had previously proven successful. I achieved greater success, partly because I didn’t want to go back to that sad, lonely, procrastinator ever again.
Despite my best efforts life got in the way and threw me another curve (this one much more painful than losing my mother). The hidden blessing in my first experience is that I only needed a few months to realize I was back on the road to failure, procrastinating, not communicating, failing to act. Overcoming this situation has been and continues to be difficult. I must force myself to write, to communicate socially, to act when the easy thing to do would be to let it all slide. However, failure is only an option if I allow it, and I am determined not to. On this I will act.
Check up on me occasionally and see how I’m doing. Meanwhile leave a comment. Let me know if you’ve ever struggled to keep your dreams alive. Or if you allowed one or two to die what will you do to resurrect it.