Making a living from your creative abilities and or talent is hard. If you can do anything else for a living, you probably should. For example, it’s hard to make a living as a freelance writer. A reason it’s hard is because quality publications like Gawker.com or Slate.com stick to their own staff writers and avoid hiring many freelance writers. Other publishers want the services of freelance writers, but don’t want to pay for the services. You may recall the incident where award winning investigative journalist Nate Thayer revealed an e-mail correspondence he had with Olga Khazan, an editor at the Atlantic.
Khazan had seen Thayer’s 4,300-word article about “basketball diplomacy” on North Korea News and decided it would be nice to have a shorter version of the story published at The Atlantic. After a bit of back-and-forth, Khazan proposed that Thayer write the piece: “Maybe by the end of the week? 1,200 words? We unfortunately can’t pay you for it, but we do reach 13 million readers a month. I understand if that’s not a workable arrangement for you, I just wanted to see if you were interested," she said.
The main problem here is not a lack of passion, but that you are going to be paid peanuts or nothing for your creative and entrepreneurial efforts, at least when you are starting out. Look around. There are more freelance writers and journalists writing for free today than ever before. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that many of us who depend on writing and publishing web content for a living want to give up. But, should you give up?
“When you most feel like giving up," says Robin Sharma, "is when you most need to be keeping on.” Just because you’re not where you want to be today doesn’t mean you won’t be there someday. Even literary giants like J.K Rowling and George Orwell suffered decades of failure and abject poverty before they got their big break. If your heart is in the right place, don’t give up. Here is what you can do instead:
You don’t need to give up on your dream; you just need to give yourself a break. Take a vacation, travel up-country or just change scenery. Writers and entrepreneurs are known to spend too much time on their computers that they forget to let go and have some fun. This causes stress and heightens feelings of despair. Get out there and do something else fun other than work for a change. It will take your mind away from work and you will come back refreshed and re-energized to keep going. Besides, sitting all day won't just make you fatter, it can also kill you in the next three years.
Maybe the reason you feel like giving up is because your goal is overly ambitious. Your circumstances may also have changed and you are struggling to stick to your original plan, such as due to illness or injury. These things do not mean you have to abandon your goal altogether. Re-evaluate the goal and make necessary adjustments. Align it with your abilities and resources to make sure your objective is not only realistic, but also achievable.
Sometimes we want to give up on our goals because we are overwhelmed by hectic schedules and To-do lists. Decide if your goal is important enough and create more time for it. Eliminate activities that are not a priority and make time for working on the goal, such as skipping those Friday night-outs with the girls to work on your projects. You might disappoint a few people in the process, but don’t be afraid to lose the good in order to achieve the best.
Big dreams can be intimidating. Many people are tempted to give up on their dreams before they even start because they think the dream is too big. However, the journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. Instead of giving up, start small towards your dream. Break the goal into small manageable tasks, tackle each task at a time then move to the next one. Before you know it, you will have formed the winning habit and momentum of champions. Do this consistently and the results will follow. Each step you make is a step closer to your ultimate goal.
Sometimes it is necessary to extend the time you expect to achieve something in order to avoid putting yourself under too much pressure and prompting thoughts of giving up. For example, if your goal was to complete writing that e-Book in a year and you find the book's research is taking more time than you thought, extend the time you expect to complete the e-Book instead of abandoning it after the year. There is no harm in adjusting the time you expect to finish something, as long as it is done for legitimate reasons and you are not simply making excuses and procrastinating.
Set your eyes on the prize and see yourself succeeding. Think about the joy you will feel when you finally cross the finish line and achieve your goal. This will motivate you to keep going on when you most feel like giving up. Just don’t let pessimism rob you of your dream. Stay positive and keep moving forward no matter what. More is often achieved during the process of reaching the goal than the actual act of reaching the goal. So, change your mindset. Start to enjoy the ride and the challenge to where you want to be.
You are unlikely to abandon and prematurely walk away from something you have invested heavily in. Social psychologists call this behavioral tendency “the sunk cost principle.” Remind yourself all that you have invested in your dream whenever you feel like giving up. Do you really want all that money and time you have devoted to go down the drain? Successful people don’t quit when things get tough—they get tough when things get rough.
The little victories you get in the pursuit of a goal are like sips of water from a bottle when crossing a desert. You can’t possibly cross the entire desert only on the promise of a lake at the other end, can you? Occasionally, you will need to stop and sip from your bottle to quench your thirst and ease your parched throat. Similarly, stop and savor all the little victories you’ve had on your way to your goal. Doing this when you're feeling down will not only energize and keep you on track, but also feed your hunger for success.
It helps to talk to someone you trust who was in your shoes and succeeded. This can be a veteran writer if you are just starting out in writing or a serial entrepreneur in a niche similar to yours. You might just learn a few tips and tricks of the trade that can push your forward and help you succeed.
Keep your head up and press on. Don’t give up on your dream. Success is not easy, or for the fainthearted. However, those who persevere ultimately find out it is worth it.
Photo via Flickr
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by Hugh MacLeod
Ever wonder what it really takes to make a living as a creative person in today's complicated world?
MacLeod presents some witty keys for creative success, including "ignore everybody. Why should you "ignore everybody"?
Because, he writes, nobody else can tell you whether your idea is worthwhile. People can give you advice, but at the end of the day, it's your decision. The more original an idea, the less helpful the advice is going to be.
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