There’s a thing about being an indie author, or indie artist of any kind really, that requires you to be made of thicker stuff than most people. The reason is not only because you’re out there alone in the great big bad world, but also because what seem like fantastic milestones and life achievements for you do little more to excite the world than toast getting burnt. Perhaps the most apt example would be the completion of your first great project, whether it’s a book or a song or whatnot, and feeling this enormous rush. All the hours and hours of slaving away to create your masterpiece has finally resulted in the completed project, and you just can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s euphoria at its finest. Only thing is, your bubble gets cruelly popped as you finally get around to telling the world, and no one cares.
Yep, that’s right. Cruel isn’t it? The world keeps spinning, people keep going about their business and life itself doesn’t halt to witness what you’ve created make its appearance. It’s hard to imagine how any indie artist could not feel completely downhearted after something like that happens, and begin to even question why all that effort was ‘wasted’ in the first place. Only, that’s a dark path you shouldn’t go towards. That’s what every independent artist or person has gone through, or at some point will go through again, in their journey. On this blog I’ve written quite a few motivational-themed posts, and that’s because I truly do enjoy helping people find their way, or even just helping in general. But more than that, because I’ve been through that first enormous hurdle of publishing my book and then facing the reality that comes afterward, I feel I can offer something by means of assistance regarding how you should prepare for it. It can be brutal if you’re seeing stars in the clouds, and this is where I want to be the realist.
The thing is, I’m by no means a success yet. I have great ambition, but there’s plenty to achieve. The important thing is how you measure success. Success isn’t one vital point. It’s not X amount of sales or X amount of good review scores. It’s a constant journey in which you’ll always be needing to adjust your expectations or move onto the next objective. And I want to provide two fundamental techniques to keep in mind if you wish to either avoid or deal with the lows you’ll most definitely feel on your journey as an indie artist. In fact, these two skills could apply in any venture you find yourself in, and the first has already been mentioned.
That would be to adjust your expectations accordingly. Never allow yourself to see stars in the clouds. At best, you’d want to have no expectations. Expectations cloud reality. They inevitably end in disappointment, because fantasy is almost always better than reality. It’s easy, as a human, to imagine yourself as more relevant or able to make more of a mark on the world. But one of the cruelest lessons to learn is that the world doesn’t care. It keeps spinning. A few people will, and maybe in a long time more will come on board. But by virtue of the fact that your expectations will make the inevitable fall a lot worse, it’s best to adjust them now. If you’re already feeling low, this technique can work right away. Rather than expect one hundred sales, try to aim for five or ten. That may seem low, but everyone starts somewhere. No one starts with world recognition and fame. You start small, and you build from there knowing that it will always be a work in progress.
What goes hand in hand, absolutely, with adjusting your expectations is to make little milestones for yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself or try to do too much to the point that it is unrealistic. I speak wholeheartedly from experience here. Little milestones will do far more to progress you overall than massive objectives in unrealistic time spans. If your objectives or aspirations are too big, you’ll either end up doing nothing because you get overwhelmed and turn to escapism instead, or you’ll just get disheartened. Set small objectives. For example tell yourself that you want to write four A4 pages today, or finish one chapter, or make three sales, or achieve one good review, or get one person to provide feedback on your work. Whatever the case may be, make it small. That way you can actually realistically achieve your goals, and you’ll make daily progress.
It’s far better to progress in baby steps than to constantly fail to hit your mark and inevitably land yourself in disappointment. These two techniques are imperative, in my opinion, if you wish to avoid self-disappointment and the lows, which would be that frustrating, demotivated state that makes you question why you set out on your little adventure in the first place. But the mistake would be to think you have sole ownership of that feeling. The mistake would be to think that no one else has been there, or that you just can’t do it. If you’re after further advice on that matter, you can feel free to read my thoughts on achieving through commitment rather than motivation.
Alternatively, to close off, it’s vital to have social support systems in place. If you struggle to motivate yourself, you can always find it by talking to your friends and loved ones, or by listening to the words of some crazy potato on the internet. Hope you took the hint there. But really I don’t mind anyone approaching me. I frequently, as I mentioned earlier in this post, enjoy helping others, especially when it comes to issues of motivation.