A few years back I was getting a check-up at the doctor’s office. Weight-wise, I was not where I wanted to be at that particular moment, and she spoke the truth to me: “You have to do the hard work.” In other words, you aren’t going to lose weight without making the right choices, without being disciplined, without making sacrifices. No-one can do it for you!
Boy, we hate to think that the things we want require hard work. Let me win the lottery! Surely an agent will discover my talent! World, please. Notice how awesome I am. Make it easy for me!
You want to get into a top-flight college? Hard work.
You want to write a novel? Hard work.
You want to be a movie star? Hard work.
You want to lose weight? Hard work.
But here’s the difference between something being a fad and being a lifestyle. We all put hard work into particular things at certain times in our lives. I remember a particular diet I was on in 2005. I put in the hard work. I achieved the success I wanted. Then I stopped putting in the hard work. You can imagine the results. My fad faded. And my waistline, well, … yeah.
Same with writing. How many people are enthusiastic to write their first novel? They work and work and possibly even get it done, but when instant world-wide fame isn’t bestowed on them, they move on and never write again.
Hard work is needed. But sustained hard work, over years, without giving up, even in the face of little success or many unpleasant bumps in the road — in other words GRIT – is the only way that your hard work season becomes your hard work lifestyle.
I wasn’t ready to listen to that doctor about a decade ago. But more recently, her words are sinking in.
In 2002, when I started my first great novel, I wasn’t ready to make a lifestyle change and become a writer. I put in a minimal amount of hard work and abandoned it. It took another ten years before I was ready to put in the hard work of being an author for the long haul.
You aren’t going to reach your goals overnight. Or in a month. Or maybe not in a year. But much is achievable with a steady hand on the plow, ignoring the criticism, pushing back the doubts, and keeping your eyes straight ahead on what’s important to you.
Only you can do the hard work.
Are you ready for it?