I laughed out loud today when reading a post by one of my favorite bloggers, Derek Sivers, where he describes the single most common request he receives from people.
It's EXACTLY what we experience every day at Writer's Digest—and he offers the absolute right response!
… the single most common request … “Take a listen to my music and let me know what I should do.” …
Most of the time, the music is good. Not the best or worst thing you’ve ever heard, but good. … The music itself usually doesn’t make it clear what someone should do.
What if I was in a different industry and people said:
“I’m trying to find a spouse. Look at my photo and tell me what I should do.”
“I want to be a millionaire. Look at my bank account and tell me what I should do.”
The real answer is “it depends … ”
- What are your goals? Why are you making music?
- What have you done so far? What’s worked? What hasn’t?
- What is your reaction to criticism or setbacks?
- Are you future-focused or present-focused?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What are your habits? Are you growing or coasting?
- How do you measure success? Fame? Money? Emotional response?
- What’s your timeline? 1 year? 3 years? 30 years?
- … and 50 other questions that would make this article too long.
It’d take many hours of conversation to get enough information to
responsibly tell someone what to do.
I receive a lot of phone calls from writers who ask, "Can you please take a look at my writing and tell me what to do?" Or they simply want to be told if they should continue in their efforts to get published.
Without having a deep understanding of the person, it's tough to offer useful information. I usually ask a couple of the questions above, but end up delivering a few of the key business facts: You have to offer something unique and be passionate enough that you don't stop in the face of (years of) rejection.
Do you wonder if you have what it takes? Really only you can answer that question.
But if you're looking for more advice, here are a few places to start:
- My previous post on this topic, Leading Indicator of Success
- Page After Page by Heather Sellers
- Do I Have What It Takes to Be a Writer? (excerpt from my book, Beginning Writer's Answer Book)