By Sacha Black
Mindset is one of the hardest elements of your business to get right. When I reached the end of my first year of self-employment and reviewed the lessons I’d learned, I was shocked to find that half of them were mindset related.
Thinking about it, it makes sense. You have to get your mindset right in order to work through the grueling “day job,” bit of your journey. But once you’ve quit, the work on your mindset doesn’t stop because you’ve achieved full-time status. If anything, the opposite is true. Working on your mindset becomes even more important. Vital even.
When you’re going solo, it’s so easy to let the insidious doubt-devil creep into the corners of your mind. It’s a parasite, a persistent virus that will eat you up from the inside out. The only way to combat it is to constantly work on your mindset. A career author knows this.
Carol Dweck is famed for her work on fixed and growth mindset. She explains that a person will have one mindset or the other: fixed or growth. Those with a fixed mindset view intelligence as static. They tend to avoid challenges, give up easily, see putting in the effort as pointless and ignore useful, but critical feedback. The result of this mindset is that many people plateau or fail to achieve their full potential. Another result is that they will often see the world from a deterministic bent.
For an author with a fixed mindset, reading a bad review first thing in the morning could ruin their day and knock them off course. Having a bad sales day could result in them not bothering to write for the rest of the week because, “What’s the point if I can’t sell books anyway?”
A growth mindset then, is the exact opposite. They see intelligence as flexible, something to be grown. They embrace challenges and persist despite the setbacks. They see effort as a mechanism to aid them in their goals, they learn from criticism, and I’m sure you can see where this is going. The result is that they achieve or even overachieve their goals, and they also have a greater sense of free will.
For an author with a growth mindset, reading that same bad review might spur them on to prove the reviewer wrong, or to write a better book next time, or they may just view the reviewer as one person with one opinion. That bad sales day? No bother, they choose to work harder on their ads. They research a new type of ad and examine the ads they have running to see if they can make them more effective.
Having read both of those, I’m sure you recognize which mindset a career author has.
The successful leaders in the world all have growth mindsets, they embrace the challenges life throws at them and happily put in the effort to grow and learn and get better.
No one’s saying this is easy, no one is expecting you to crack this mindset from day one. And I’m certainly not expecting you to have your mindset mastered day in, day out. We all have bad days, it’s okay to have them. And just because you do have it mastered most of the time, that doesn’t mean that a bad review won’t punch you in the feels and knock you off course for a few days. It will, and you’ll have to pull yourself back up again.
Career authors aren’t cyborgs. It’s okay to feel like poop on occasion, and hey, if you need a day to wallow, fill your boots.
What matters is how you pick yourself back up and soldier on. What matters are the choices you make following those setbacks. That’s the difference between having a fixed mindset and a growth mindset; it’s the difference between career authors and amateurs. Career authors might allow themselves a bad day or two, but they don’t let bad reviews take over their lives or stop them from writing. They rebel against the wallowing, they stand up to their fixed mindset, and they fight on.
It’s easy to look at the successful indie authors and think their success came overnight. It didn’t.
Okay, everyone can name the odd lightning flash who wrote a book in a month and earned six figures. But 99% of indies didn’t.
For the rest of the world, they wrote crappy books and edited them, edited them again, and published, published, published. They had bad days, bad reviews, bad launches, and bad series, and they carried on anyway. They faced plot problems, financial difficulties, and a lack of support from loved ones, and guess what? They carried on anyway.
Career authors look at their weaknesses and embrace them, choosing not to be crushed by problems but to seek help, learn more, and improve. Career authors don’t seek approval from others, they prioritize growth and learning instead. They also focus on the process and not the end result. Yes, we want to hold the physical book in our hands, but once you’ve got it, that’s it, the project is over and finishing one book doesn’t create an author career.
The process is your foundation. A solid process that you can repeat enables you to write book after book, and that creates an author career.
This mindset stuff is hard. None of us get it right 100% of the time. Even industry giants like Stephen King and Judy Blume, who are decades into their writing careers, still talk about doubt and the fear of editorial criticism. It’s natural.
But as you face these obstacles, you have a choice. Career authors choose to embrace the criticism, embrace the hard slog of editing, and use it to improve their craft and business. That’s what builds sustainability in your writing business.
Being a career author isn’t easy, and as much as I hate to say it, it will continue to be challenging. But that’s why having a growth mindset is so essential, because when you have one, you carry on despite the obstacles.
The only person in the way of your goals is you.
A career author knows this and gets out of their own way. They choose to have a growth mindset because as much as they know the hard days will come, they also know they’ll fight through them. They see the obstacles, setbacks, and mistakes as lessons learned and opportunities for growth.
Which mindset are you going to choose?
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