It is so easy to get distracted by the shiny things.
Some of us are born wired with the unique blend of creativity and discipline needed to become successful professional writers. Others of us frolic in the irresponsible Fields of Creativity, only turfing words over the fence when we can be bothered*. It’s essential to learn to focus, and if you don’t have a work ethic you will fall by the wayside.
Since I’ve been writing, I’ve had about a thousand false starts. I’ve largely based my career on instinct and opportunity, with little long-term planning apart from “I’m a gonna write this and send it here and then write the other thing and SUCCESS.”
While you get a lucky break from time to time, bouncing around like a happy puppy is a really shitty way to plan a creative career. While my brain has coughed out some fun stuff and I’ve achieved a few things, gunning for that sugar-high success is the falsest of all metrics. And boy, how I have learnt this the hard way.
Most anyone who is successful does one thing, and does it very well. Dilettantes tend to frolic around in that fun meadow doing leapfrogs and blowing bubbles. Bless their cotton socks, but they will end up doing fuck all of anything beyond the ephemeral and shiny.
In short, pick a horse and ride it. In some ways I’ve won this battle – moving away from short stories, my new default is longer form work. I find it exceedingly difficult to write anything under 8000 words, which tells me that my writing brain’s new default setting is chapter sized chunks.
Now, instead of shiny-hopping stories across the lilypond of short fiction markets, I’m planning 2, 3 novels into the future at any given time. Long term projects are the norm. Genres have been selected, and a market plan is in effect. Age and bitter experience will beat this long-term thinking into any wide-eyed newb, it’s just taken a few years in my instance.
Still, it’s been fun. I’ll be over here saddling up.
* For some reason, this makes me thing of Napoleon Dynamite feeding Tina the Alpaca. “TINA, EAT YOUR STUPID HAM.”