NYT Best Selling Author
After I quit my salary job as a restaurant manager, I expected to become a New York Times Best Selling Author in less than a year. I was confident that I was going to be the next Sarah J. Maas until Mr. Reality decided to pay me a visit and slapped me in the face.
Below is the raw truth of how I didn't become a New York Times Best Selling Author.
In my last post, you read about why I decided to quit my salary job to pursue a career in writing. This post is all about what happened after I made that decision, and how it impacted my mental health, and how I
viewed writing after failing to make a living off it in that first year.
Let's Get Into It.
After quitting my nightmare job, I honestly thought becoming a published author would be a breeze. I already had a finished book, which I previously published on a website dedicated to aspiring writers. I wrote that story on a whim, and it won several awards and got a lot of positive recognition, so I decided to give the book a real shot.
I took it down from the platform, intending to give the plot a major facelift before sending it out to publishers. I calculated that I had three month's worth of savings to sit around the house and finish this project without having to get a "real job." That meant I had three months to polish my story, to send out query letters, and to find a literary agent. This all seemed like a reachable goal to me. After all, the hard part was already over; my book was finished.
I as about to discover how wrong I was.
I printed out a couple of manuscripts and gave the copies to people I trusted who would give me honest, constructive criticism.
Everyone who had a copy of my book had one month to give me their notes, while I decided to take a month off to go to Sweden and decompress from all the stress from my previous job.
When I came back, I was refreshed, confident, and excited. I made myself a giant pot of coffee, grabbed a red pen, and sat down with a copy of my manuscript, and began to edit. By the first page, my excitement quickly turned to disappointment as I realized my book was a steaming pile of incoherent crap.
What I had in my hands was a first draft, a brain dump of information that desperately needed to be re-worked, and the notes I got back echoed those same thoughts. I needed to re-write the entire story, and I hadn’t even tackled the grammatical errors yet.
All of my plans were going up in flames, and I had so much left to do. I wasn’t prepared for any of it, and I felt the stress of meeting my three-month deadline ( now only two ) crushing me deeper into panic mode.
Did I just make a huge mistake?
Whether I'd been overconfident and sealed my doom was irrelevant at that point. There was no going back for me. I could do this. I had no other choice but to push forward.
So I got to editing.
As the months passed, I often fell into typical writing traps that I couldn't get out of. I was so worried that people would hate whatever I wrote that I sabotaged myself and wasted weeks of downtime. I kept comparing my work to other successful authors, and when I didn’t measure up, I’d crumble into puddles of self-loathing.
I was stuck in this never-ending loop where progress and perfection were unreachable goals, and then the inevitable happened...
I missed my deadline.
My three months were up, my savings were spent, and I wasn’t any closer to reaching my goals than when I first started.
Not only had I taken several steps back, but I'd lost my confidence, and my work halted entirely in its tracks. I fell into depression, which only amplified whenever someone asked me how my book was coming along.
I wanted to tell them that I was ahead of schedule and that they could buy my book on Amazon real soon, but instead, I was forced to admit that I couldn’t move past my crippling writer’s block and I had to get a part-time job at minimum wage to help supplement income.
I felt ashamed and embarrassed.
I was in a dark place for a long time after that, and I eventually made the decision to shelf the book. That feeling sucked, but it was the right choice because I was able to move on from my depression and start working on something new. I've learned so much during that experience, and I had to ask myself if I really wanted to become a writer, or if I only loved the idea of being one. When I was a kid, that idea didn't include having to deal with Imposter Syndrome or worrying about the trial and errors you needed to go through to become a successful author. I never thought of writing as being hard work or even lonely work, but its both those things and so much more.
Being a writer meant being vulnerable, and that truly scared me.
I had to consider if that was something I was willing to put myself through in order to reach my dream, and for me, the answer was yes. Learning to accept criticism and understanding that I won't be able to please everyone has been a huge struggle for me to overcome, but it is necessary when your intention is to write books for a living.
My Advice To Young Writers:
Writing is hard, so don't quit your day job until you've sold your book. I had this huge fantasy that I was never going to need another day job again, but writing doesn't pay the bills until you actually sell something, and then you have to write and sell another one.
As an aspiring writer, I had to accept the fact that until I become a repeated New York Times Best Selling Author, I will always need an extra source of income in order to survive.
So remember to use your days off wisely! When you're at home, work on your book. When you have a day off, work on your book. Want to play candy crush? NOPE. Delete that app right now and try writing a chapter of your book instead.
I believe in you.
The world needs our stories in it, so let's give it to them.