Recently I wrote a post looking at how past success can play a part in present and future failures. Basically, if we focus too heavily on past successes, we run the risk of not working as hard on future projects; or we try too hard to top the last pinnacle and make a mess of things in the process.

Today, let’s look at it from a different angle.

Most of us want to succeed. As writers, we can all agree that it would be nice to publish our work and be able to support our families by doing what we love, rather than toil away at soul-sucking day jobs that keep us from our craft.

So what keeps us from success?

In some cases, it may be a lack of talent. Sorry, but that’s just the truth. Not everyone is cut out to write. The good news here is that you can learn and improve enough to become good at it – but it takes one critical ingredient, and it applies to gifted writer and novice hack alike:

Hard Work.

Too many people have the notion that making a living as an author or with an online business from home is easy; just set up a website and watch the cash roll in.

Sadly, it doesn’t work that way.

Alternately, too many really talented writers and potential business owners think they could never succeed online simply because the field requires a knowledge base and skill set they don’t have.

The solution to both of these problems is the application of hard, consistent work.

Just look at a few examples: Scott Dinsmore at Live Your Legend; Leo Babauta at Zen Habits; Pat Flynn at Smart Passive Income; Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn; the three C’s (Corbett Barr, Chase Reeves and Caleb Wojcik) from Fizzle; and my friend Nick Thacker from Live Hacked are all examples of people who are squeezing success out of hard work and determination. They’re also about the nicest, most open and helpful group of people you could hope to meet.

Every one of these people at one point made a decision that they wouldn’t listen to doubt, naysayers or fear. They decided that although they may fail while trying, they would not fail to try. Each of these people has been inspirational to me and helped me to change my outlook on my own success. They’ve all been hugely helpful to me (even though some of them are still blissfully unaware of the fact…) They are all living proof of the value of hard work, as well as the joy of sharing what you know with others.

Visit their websites. Drop them an email or a comment. Take their advice – because something they’re doing is working very well, and you can learn a lot from them.

As an author, you will fail to succeed if you are unwilling to do any and all of the following (all of which the good people above have done – repeatedly):

Step out of your comfort zone.


Learn a new skill and apply it toward your dream.


Hone your current talent and ability through continuous practice and education.


Decide what you’re willing to give up for your dream – then give it up.


Ask for help.


Refuse to stop trying.


Be open, honest and willing to help others – for free, if possible.


As an aspiring author, I convinced myself for years that the reason I didn’t succeed was that the industry was too difficult to break into, or that I didn’t have the time, or that it was out of my reach because I’m not a website wizard or a used car salesman in author’s clothing.

None of those are valid reasons, even though there is a grain of truth to each.

Success doesn’t come by talent alone, or by random chance. Success requires hard work and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to achieve a goal. If getting published means I have to learn how to run my own website, then I’m going to learn. If it means that I have to give up watching hours of unproductive TV – well, that’s really no great loss. If it means I have to get over my chronic shyness and introduce myself to some total strangers who are experts in my field, so be it.

If I decide that I’m unwilling to take action toward my goals, then I’ve failed already. By choosing inaction, we choose failure by default.

By taking positive steps forward, we may not guarantee success, but we will guarantee a fuller life – the rich experience of fighting the good fight and either winning, or going down swinging.

Failing to try is failing to succeed.

Success lies in the effort – because triumph is fleeting – and when it’s over, you’ll still have work to do.

On your next dream.