The Compound Effect in Your Writing Career Revisited

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“Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today.”

James Dean

I originally wrote this blog post in 2014 but now I’m tailoring it for 2017 and the lessons I’ve learnt in these many years.

It is easy to get overwhelmed. You hear of authors making a six-figure income while you struggle to make even a few sales. Growing a six-figure business seems impossible. It is no wonder many authors give up within just a few years of the start of their writing careers.

But is it really that hard?

Not if you understand the compound effect.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a very inspiring book that boosted immensely my self-confidence and belief in myself. The name of the book is The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy.

Darren asks you to think of the compound effect in the following way:

Smart, small choices + consistency + time= Massive Results

As per this book, a few years might be a very small amount of time to look at results.

In life, there is no such thing as a get-rich-quick scheme. An “overnight success” actually takes years to achieve. So just keep taking simple, small steps every day and with time you will achieve the intended results.

According to Darren Hardy, the Compound Effect is always at work.

You can either make it work for you or it will work against you.

He gives the example of three friends. One friend tries to improve himself every day. He spends time with his wife, walks for half an hour, cuts 125 calories less in his diet and reads motivational books. Every day.

The second friend does nothing and is a little bitter about life. He whines and complains all the while.

The third friend rarely exercises, spends enormous amount of hours watching TV, takes his wife for granted and has a cookie and beer to enjoy life. Every day.

After 2 and a half years the result was:

The third friend is obese, has terrible health problems and loses his job and wife.

The second friend remains the same but is now bitterer than before.

The first friend remains slim and trim, has a happy relationship with his wife and gets a job promotion.

Do you see the compound effect in action?

It is the small things we do in life that make the biggest of differences. You don’t become obese overnight nor do you lose your wealth instantly. It is all a compound effect of bad decisions taken almost every day over a considerable period.

On the converse, you don’t become rich or healthy overnight. That is also a result of smart, small choices made almost every day over a considerable period. So your biggest challenge is to remain consistent. It is also very important to adopt good habits and to get rid of bad ones.

I have already seen the compound effect in action in health, so I assume it shouldn’t be any different when it comes to your writing career.

Think of it this way:

1,000 words x 30 days= 30,000 words (one book) which translates to 12 books in a year.

I assume you won’t be writing all the time. Some of the days you would be stopped by life events and the other days because you are editing, publishing, marketing or learning. But still writing 6 books in a year this way may not be so difficult.

If you keep writing 6 books in a year for ten years, it would be 60 books. So in a decade, you would have written over 50 books. And think of those 50 books occupying shelf space on every retailer site like Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles, Google Play, iBooks, etc.

I won’t be discussing exclusivity here. But in a nutshell, I believe exclusivity is only good in the short run (at the most in your first year), and after that you should be building your career on every platform.

The more books you write, the better writer you become

The more you learn about your business, the better business person you become which increases your efficiency both in terms of costs and time.

Similarly, the more books you publish, more would be the chances of you being discovered.

There is even a compound effect on your fan base. One reader may like one of your books and may tell ten of her friends. Those ten may tell a few more and so on and so forth.

Sure a momentum based on just word-of-mouth would take time to build up. So it may be years before you see any noticeable traction. And even then you will never know whether someone bought your book because of word-of-mouth, or because he found you after a keyword search. So when you notice just one sale, say on Google Play in Burundi, there is no way to know whether it was on account of word of mouth or what.

I know it doesn’t sound logical that such trivial results can lead to huge payoffs with time. But that is the power of the compound effect. So for God’s sake, don’t get tripped by the simplicity of the compound effect.

So the most important thing is to be consistent which brings us back to the question why you want to do this and what do you love about your profession.

Your “why” will ensure that you remain consistent.

“Happiness is not having what you want. It is appreciating what you have.”


[This post is an excerpt from my latest book “How to Have a Happier Writer Mindset WITHOUT SPENDING A DIME which is available on all book retailers in both paperback and e-book format. Click here to find out more.]


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