Does overnight success really happen?

I was scrolling through my Twitter feed the other day when I stumbled upon this piece of advice:

The most valuable thing I’ve learned as a writer: working your ass off actually pays off. Overnight success is rare. 20-year success? Real.

And later:

There’s such mythology around the idea that This Book Is The One That Makes You. Untrue. Every day at your desk is the one that makes you.

Both these tweets come from a writer named Maria Dahvana Headley. I eventually found my way to a Storify collection of her tweets on this subject, and I highly recommend that you check them out (link here).

I know that hard work and persistence and essential to achieving success in many areas of life, and writing is no exception. The thing is, I have a hard time putting the time into my writing that I need to if I want to accomplish anything. I have ideas, but I don’t have the patience to see them through, or the faith that they will amount to anything even if I do.

I guess I’m going through a bit of a dry spell when it comes to my writing, if I’m being honest. Part of me wants to feel guilty about this, and part of me wants to take more of a big-picture view of things.

That part of me says that life is long, that I’m still young, and that I have time to figure things out. After all, many writers and authors came to their success later in life, the voice inside me says.

But (as Maria Dahvana Headley has reminded me) I don’t know how long those writers were working and writing before they achieved their success. It’s true that some people do change careers later in life and go on to be very successful authors, but how much writing were they doing on their own, quietly, before they took that jump?

I can’t expect to coast though my life and then magically find success the moment I decide to get serious about writing. However, feeling guilty about all this doesn’t seem to be a terribly helpful strategy either.

Maybe someday I will figure out how to manage my creative energy and find a balance between all the various methods of creative expression I want to engage in. After all, life is long, and success (in any area) doesn’t happen overnight.



One thought on “Does overnight success really happen?

  1. So True! Too often, people want to quit after a year because they’re not seeing the results they want. These people think success comes quickly, they don’t know that success takes years of patience and hard work. Bill Gates started when he was 18. he didn’t become a billionaire until he was 32. For 20 years, Gates worked extremely hard. “I never took a day off in my twenties. Not one day,” Gates said. Cool post:)

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