You Have to Love the Hustle

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One of the absolute best articles I’ve ever read on building a platform by Carol Howard Merrit.

I know people who have fantastic ideas, great platforms, and even book deals in hand, but they don’t ever get the work done. I’ve heard of writers who go out in the woods and magically give birth to a tome after two weeks without human contact. I am not one of those writers.

I’m a mom who cooks food, does dishes, walks a dog, and cleans a house. I travel enough for speaking and teaching, so I’m not keen on leaving my family for any more than I have to. My daughter goes to school in the morning and my husband serves a ministry in the evenings, so I only have an hour or two of time alone. So I work in the morning or in the midst of chaos. I often have to stop mid-sentence to find my child a clean t-shirt, or to reply to our dog’s plaintive whine. But I work at least eight hours, six days a week. Before writing was my full-time job, I wrote from 4:30 to 7:30 am. Then I edited when I got the dishes done and the house clean. I usually got in five hours a day.

Everyone loves the idea of writing a best-selling novel (or insert your favorite idealized endeavor here.) However, in order to be a successful artist, you really have to love the hustle.

In my experience, what’s the hustle?

  1. Spending an hour writing a blog post that gets twenty views.
  2. Spending more time coordinating schedules with your podcast guests than you do interviewing them.
  3. Endless nitpicky audio editing through that podcast where the sound files just don’t stay synced up.
  4. Shameless self-promotion when you’re still not sure whether you know what you’re doing.
  5. Demi-desperate, almost-begging for people to please, for God’s sake, make a comment on my post, write a review for my podcast, *anything* to let me know that my efforts are not simply disappearing into the ether.

If your project aligns with your passion, then the hustle is tolerable, even fun. (Anyone who’s ever done nanowrimo, the ultimate in hustle-practice, knows exactly what I’m talking about.) If it’s not, then no matter how well-planned or noble your goal, it feels like a slog through creative hell.

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