In my study of the publishing industry and writing world, I've come across a few awesome success stories.
Take Andy Weir, author of the widely acclaimed book The Martian--which has been turned into an AMAZING movie. Despite being self-published, The Martian has become one of the most popular science-fiction books of the last few years. Michael J. Sullivan self-published his six Riyira novels, and they became a massive success in no time. Pretty inspiring, right? Shows that there is hope for new writers like me…
But the truth is that these stories are few and far between. More often than not, writers have to slog through years of writing, self-publishing, sending out queries to agents and publishers, and struggling to make ends meet. The average "successful" writer today has been in the business for upwards of 10 years, and has a number of books under their belt.
I believe this quote by artist Chuck Close says it all: "Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work."
Don't get me wrong, inspiration does have its place in writing and creating ANYTHING. I know if I wasn't inspired by a story, an idea, or a character, it would be so much harder to put in the hard work.
And yet, it's that hard work that actually turns the initial inspiration into something tangible. I have hundreds of (I think) brilliant ideas for stories and books, but how many of them will actually see the light in my lifetime? Dozens, perhaps? Inspiration can only get me (and you) so far. In the end, it's going to come down to hard work.
It's awesome to come up with a story idea that is clever, engaging, and potentially a best-seller. I'm willing to bet 95% of authors come up with them. But how many of those ideas are actually turned into something marketable, a highly-polished finished product worth reading and selling? That is a far smaller number.
No matter how inspired you are, that inspiration is GUARANTEED to fade in the face of hard work. But, if you can keep pushing yourself and "showing up and getting to work", you can turn that initial inspiration into a finished product. That spark of inspiration will be the starting point, but it will take hours, days, weeks, and months of the hard work to produce something worth showing. In the end, it's the hard work that matters most!