I read a dropkick-to-the-chest statistic the other day. Less than .6% of people who write a book ever get published. Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle! With information out like that, it’s easy for a writer to lose hope. How does one continue with the madness of writing with the odds not in their favor? Quite simply, you have to believe in yourself. Yeah, I know. It sounds cliché. But it’s a cliché for a reason. Whether or not you succeed is entirely up to you. It all starts with your mindset.
When I was a kid, almost every morning before we climbed onto the school bus, my mom used to read to us (my two brothers and two sisters), loads and loads of books. One of my favorites was THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD. For those of you who haven’t read this book, you should. I know, I know. It’s a children’s book. Nonetheless, it teaches a valuable lesson about being optimistic and having a positive attitude that even an adult can benefit from. The engine that prevails keeps telling himself, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” It’s a mantra I’ve carried with me all the way from childhood to adulthood, and it’s helped me get through some pretty dark times.
Is it easy staying positive and believing in yourself? Not in the slightest. Some days, I feel like that little engine, trying to power up some tracks that scale the side of Mt. Everest. I read a brilliant book and immediately wish my writing was better. I see all of these authors ten years younger than me, getting massive book deals. Don’t get me wrong. I’m ecstatic for their success. But it’s hard not to compare. Even today, right before writing this post, I received a lackluster beta reader review. They didn’t hate my book but they sure as hell didn’t love it either. I poured my heart and soul into this manuscript and downright sobbed during some heartbreaking scenes, yet they didn’t manage to shed a tear.
I know the only way for me to power up and overcome this mountain of doubt is lessening the load. I have to toss off the baggage that’s holding me back. Forget about the negative reviews, the naysayers who proclaim I’ll never make it, and the vast accomplishments of other writers. What separated these successful authors from the 99.4% who didn’t make it? They never gave up. And neither will I.
Whether you’re a writer trying to break into the publishing industry or you’re following another Herculean dream, just remember—if you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, well, you can’t and you won’t.
As for me? I know I can.