5,000 Pages. 5 Years.
That’s how long it took before I made my first commercial sale as a writer. Five years of working hard with no results to show for it.
That’s five years, spent trying to squeeze by on as little income as possible, trying desperately to make more time for writing. Five years of worry and self doubt, and mediocre work everywhere else.
The Magical 5,000 Pages
From nowhere, after 5,000 pages things started clicking.
I make my first commercial sale; I started a new blog and grow from zero to 10,000 uniques in a month; I have momentum, I have begun to break the hump of the learning curve. Five years later, almost exactly.
I’m not saying this to brag, I just wish I’d known from the beginning that my success was inevitable. I wish somebody had let me know:
“As soon as you finish 5,000 pages, you will have paid your dues. After 5,000 pages, you will be approaching competency, but you will always be sharpening your sword.”
I would have written twenty pages a day, and stopped sucking a lot earlier.
You Can’t Afford to Wait to Follow Your Dreams
I always thought it was a bit of a bullshit line, when people said “follow your dreams”. But the truth of the matter is, you’d damn well better get started on them today.
When I was working doing freelance web development, I kept being haunted by the idea that I’d be stuck doing what I really didn’t want to be doing at all. And it made me an ineffective freelancer. The quote kept going on in my head, over and over:
“If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will destroy you.”
So I’d stay up late, and I’d write every night for at least an hour. Just to keep myself from being haunted. To let myself know that I was putting in the effort, and that was as much as I could do, until writing began to pay my bills.
Five years later, the trickle started.
You Must Be Willing to Wait and Work
Becoming adept at your dream field, and experiencing Flow should be your top priorities. We know from research that by becoming an expert at something you love is practically a formula for a happy life.
The problem is, those miserable five years you’ve got to put in work before you can see any results outside of yourself. This is why passion is necessary.
Nothing motivates me more than helping people become more successful. I love to see my friends and family become better and more powerful people in the world. I love the power of stories to change lives, and I love modeling worlds.
Discover Your Passion
Passions that last inevitably involve service to other people. Our immediate realities are direct feedback loops to the quality of life we put out to other people. So the only way to experience a better reality is to give a better reality to someone else.
Realistically, what makes you happiest? How can you infect that happiness into people?
A lot of people have no clue what drives them. No idea where to begin. For them, I suggest time off. Save some money and travel. Figure out what is unique about the way you experience and react to the world. Then get to work, ASAP.
And Ignore the Gatekeepers
In any field, especially the glamorous ones, there will be gatekeepers. The people who seem to have the ability to let “the chosen ones” become relevant in their fields. For writers, these are the Editors, the Professors, the Critics.
These people are all irrelevant. They have literally, zero power over your results. Your results will be determined by the quality of your work alone. No matter what, if you focus on the having the best work, you will have a place at the top.
So don’t pay buckets of money for their approval. Don’t pay for gurus to bless you with their knowledge and strategy. Don’t pay for technology that promises to solve your problems. There is only ever one person who can do the work.
And that is you.