How Badly Do You Want Success?


My next novel releases soon!

Whatever your personal goals, I’ll bet you’ve made sacrifices to achieve them. Life seldom tosses your dreams at your feet. You have to go for it. You have to be hungry. Whatever it is you really want, you have to want it bad, or chances are good you’ll quit before the prize is yours. That’s the kind of passion that will help you overcome the inevitable obstacles and challenges you’ll experience on the road to success.

I’m determined to become a successful self-published author. To make that happen, I’ve transitioned over this past year from a full-time corporate job to writing full-time and working with wonderful clients as a blog coach. Last June, I canceled the cable. In September, I swapped the $50 per month land line for a $10 Internet phone that only works when the Wi-Fi is on. I haven’t bought a stitch of new clothing since last summer, and now I’ve “hired” myself to paint the house so I won’t dip into my savings to get it done. And trust me, I’m fine with all of it. Why? Because I’ve decided that getting where I want to go is more important than anything else. And I’m not the only one! Meet three successful authors who feel the same way:

Holly Robinson
Holly-Robinson_OpHave I made any sacrifices as a writer? Let me count the ways! First of all, I was a biology major in college with the intention of becoming a doctor, but I gave up that idea the minute I took a creative writing course senior year. When I discovered writing, I never got around to going to medical school, having letters after my name, or making any significant salary. Consequently, everything has gone toward supporting my fiction habit. I’ve been driving used cars all my life, and I’ve had to scramble to make a living, cobbling together jobs as unlikely as putting insulation into houses as part of a construction crew and proofreading telephone books back in the days when they had them. These days I’m lucky enough to write for a living, but it was a long road to get here.

I have also spent many, many late nights at my laptop, giving up sleep to write because I had to wait until the kids were in bed to write fiction. As they got older, my children also had to suffer through their mother often editing manuscripts or scribbling in her journal on the sly when she was supposed to be cheering them on at athletics events. I probably missed some great moments.


Holly’s latest release!

Other sacrifices include giving up vacations to finish books that are on deadline. While everyone else is off hiking or swimming, I’m often writing, frantically revising or editing so a book can come out on time. Book deadlines do not respect family vacations.

Oh, and my marriage has suffered as well. Spouses never know what to say or do to cheer us up when we writers are suffering a crisis in confidence. One memorable novel rejection sent me into such a tailspin of despair that I drank half a bottle of Grand Marnier while watching the movie “Moulin Rouge” and weeping. From the hallway, I repeatedly heard my husband say, “Kids, don’t go in there. Your mother’s not herself.”

Bette Lee Crosby
Bette Lee CrosbyOften we see an author who seemingly has gained overnight success…but chances are that success was not nearly as overnight as you might think. Before “Spare Change” hit the USA Today Bestseller list, I spent almost fifteen years honing my craft, and I have five or more novels that will justifiably never see the light of day. They’re simply not good enough. They were part of my learning curve.


Bette Lee’s USA Today bestseller!

I love writing and I’ve always written; but during most of my career it was for business. When I switched to fiction the learning curve was huge. Bigger than huge, it was monumental. In business writing your goal is to cut through the small talk and get to the point, with fiction it’s the exact opposite. I had to unlearn everything I knew and start over. Instead of focusing on the destination, I had to focus on the details of the journey. It was time to stop and appreciate the beauty of prose.

Was it was worth it? Yes, a thousand times over. Okay, I’ve sacrificed sleep and a personal life to keep up with everything this past year, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m doing what I love to do. If you are an author who is still struggling to find your niche in today’s constantly changing marketplace, stay with it. Don’t focus on the goal; focus on the journey. Enjoy every minute you spend writing—because if you’re not writing for fun, the truth is you shouldn’t be writing.

Toby Neal
Toby-Neal_OptimizedI got into my career in writing by stages. There was the starry-eyed, “I’m going to be an empty nester so I can finally write that novel!” stage, where I wrote Blood Orchids in my “free time” between a full time job and the last few years of parenting. That took three years. Then, there was the “OMG I’m selling this book, I better write more!” stage where I wrote Torch Ginger and Black Jasmine for my agent to sell as a series (while working full time) and for that, I gave up not only “free time” but socializing in any form, and TV.


Toby’s latest release!

This was followed by self-publishing, and realizing that the more titles I had out, the better I was going to be, which is when I really cranked things up – and by then I’d added my private practice to the mix. I maintained this brutal 55-hour workweek + writing schedule for 3 years while kids were in college and my husband had a bad health year and couldn’t work…and finally I was successful enough to quit the main job.

Now I just have private practice and full time author/publisher. TV, socializing and “free time” are still a distant memory. I also have no hobbies but writing, no friends that aren’t writers…well, you get the picture. Obsession and discipline are what it takes to succeed!

Readers, what kind of sacrifices have you made on your way to achieving your dreams? Leave a comment and share!

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24 Responses to How Badly Do You Want Success?

  1. Belinda Pollard April 7, 2014 at 4:27 pm #

    It’s a big sacrifice for me, but I regularly forgo HOUSEWORK in order to write. ;-D (kidding) (well, not kidding about not doing the housework)

    But seriously, thank you ladies for your stories. They are full of challenge to the rest of us, but also hope and inspiration. It’s good to know that hardship is not a sign we shouldn’t be doing it.

    • Molly Greene April 7, 2014 at 4:41 pm #

      What’s housework? 😉

  2. Toby Neal April 7, 2014 at 4:47 pm #

    I really enjoyed the encouragement reading others’ journeys provided! It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone in having to put the work before so many other worthy opportunities. Guarding my writing time is really challenging!

    • Molly Greene April 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm #

      Toby, I consider you my standard bearer for determination. Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  3. Lucy Lit April 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Great comments by all the authors. I’ve done without all kinds of “things” and don’t really miss them. The time to write is worth it. Fortunately, my husband is very supportive and good with housecleaning. 😉 And Bette Lee Crosby articulated the largest problem I’ve had – transitioning from business writer to fiction. Nice to see that I’m not alone.

    • Molly Greene April 7, 2014 at 4:57 pm #

      Thanks, Lucy! I don’t miss stuff, either. Well, maybe expensive wine. And it sounds like that man is a keeper …

  4. Stephanie Mason April 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm #

    Wow, this couldn’t have come at a better time. I just got a rejection letter last week after six months of waiting to hear about my second novel (and had a kidney stone attack five minutes later–I don’t think they were related, at least I hope not as I’m sure there are more rejections to come and I definitely don’t want any more kidney stones)! In my drug induced state I had lots of time to think about what to do. I went through all the levels of self-loathing, anger, humiliation, doubts–you know what I’m talking about. But I’m not giving up! This is something I really want, and even though many of my best writing moments lately are with my high school daughter and her history assignments, I am going to get where I want to be. Thanks for sharing the highs and lows!

    • Molly Greene April 7, 2014 at 5:55 pm #

      Oh, Stephanie! SO sorry to hear about your pain – both physical AND mental. As you can see, though, most dedicated writers have been through the mill and report similar feelings and experiences. Don’t give up!

  5. Kayla Dawn Thomas April 7, 2014 at 6:16 pm #

    Like Belinda, I’ve let the housework slide, living in the land of clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to get my writing done. I’m so grateful for my understanding husband. I’m also finding my daughter’s sport practices are great opportunities to write. Today, in fact, I holed up in the backseat of my car with my laptop during volleyball. I’m making a promise not to miss the games though. This summer will be interesting when Codi isn’t at school most of the day. There will be a whole new set of compromises.

    • Molly Greene April 7, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

      Thanks Kayla! I’m going to steal that phrase – it sums up my house perfectly: “clean enough to be healthy, but dirty enough to get my writing done.” We persistent types always seem to find a way – and you will, too!

  6. Patricia Sands April 7, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

    It’s so helpful and inspiring to hear the stories of other authors. Thanks for sharing these.

    • Molly Greene April 8, 2014 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks, Patricia! Writers are a supportive group, and these ladies are all generous and marvelously talented. So nice to see you here!

  7. Laura Zera April 7, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

    I think that once you declare a goal, it’s much more likely that you’ll make it happen (I like that you said “you’re determined,” Molly). It has always worked that way for me. People always ask me how I’ve managed to travel so much. Well, I just decide I’m going to go someplace, and then I figure out how to get there once the decision has been made (once it took working one or two shifts a day for 28 days in a row). And now, my past track record gives me additional confidence in my ability to sustain a writing career.

    • Molly Greene April 8, 2014 at 9:10 am #

      Thanks, Laura, and I agree that “declaring” does help speed things along. You are the queen of making things happen! I hope to follow in your footsteps. (Not literally, though – I’ll not backpack through Africa alone!)

  8. Geraldine Evans April 8, 2014 at 4:48 am #

    I love learning how other authors manage to find time to write. Thanks all for sharing.

    I’m another author who’s fitted writing around the day job; often working into the wee small hours and then having to get up for work the next day. Gruesome.

    Fortunately, since turning indie in 2010 and getting the rights to my backlist, Ive been able to turn writing into my full-time job. It still seems to involve working all hours, but at least I can have a bit of a lie-in the following morning (though I keep a pad and pen by the bed and can often be found scribbling away first thing).

    But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m hoping, once I’ve prepared the last of my backlist for digital, that I’ll have a little more time and will be able to organise my day more efficiently. That’s the theory, anyway!

    • Molly Greene April 8, 2014 at 9:11 am #

      Thanks Geraldine, and how exciting for you! It’s good to hear that others on the same path have sacrificed and gained what they wanted. Best to you in all you do!

  9. Debbie A. McClure April 8, 2014 at 7:26 am #

    Thanks so much for this timely article, ladies. If they say misery loves company, so too does support. When reading this, I was reminded of all the many ways I, and others with a dream, make choices to “sacrifice” whatever we need to in order to make the dream a reality. For me, that’s meant returning to work part-time rather than full-time to keep some necessary writing time, while still helping with finances. It’s also meant choosing, daily, which tasks to do and not do, so I can get as much writing/editng/promotion time in as I can. I’m also very fortunate to have a supportive husband who helps with some of the cooking, etc. Because I worked for 10+ yrs in commissioned real estate and mortgage sales, I’m used to the feast/famine reality of working, which is a good thing in this writing gig.

    • Molly Greene April 8, 2014 at 9:14 am #

      Hi Debbie! My background is also mortgage and real estate, and I think the rollercoaster (for me, all the companies that merged and left me without a job until I found another) has actually helped me, as I’m used to the famine times just as you are. My past experiences have demonstrated that it always works out!

  10. Mary Tod April 8, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Thanks for the inspiration in today’s post. Writing is such a demanding mistress and it’s good to take stock of the progress one has made while at the same time giving oneself a ‘kick in the pants’. Each of the authors offer comments I can relate to, and the possibilities I can aspire to. Onward, ever onward!

    • Molly Greene April 8, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Thanks Mary, and so well said! Writers are a supportive bunch, and we’re lucky we can gain strength from the experiences that they share with us – both good and bad! Best to you.

  11. Dannie Hill April 9, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    What a great post filled with successful writers. I’m still struggling and fighting the confidence issues that most writers suffer, but it’s always inspiring to read your blog, Molly. I’ve recently moved to Florida and found out I live in the same town as Bette Lee Crosby. I look forward to meeting her at one of her events.

    • Molly Greene April 9, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      Thanks, Dannie, and how exciting! Bette Lee is lovely and generous and talented and also in touch with a great writers’ group. I hope you have the opportunity to meet her soon!

  12. scott moore May 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm #

    I have a huge respect for what I have read from all the ladies in here. You went after what you wanted with a vengeance, and stuck with it even though you were probably the only one in your household with your passion. That isn’t easy at all.

    I have a little different direction with my goals but the principle is the same. I am working toward financial freedom and time freedom so I don’t spend so much time working. I have found a vehicle that may be get me there now, and I am putting the investment together.

    I will also be blogging along the way. I have had several blogs but I am going to try to stay with the one I have just begun. If anything, I will make adjustments to this one after what I learned with the other ones.

    I am on Molly Greene’s list and the title “How bad do you want success?” got my attention. It is a fact that if the desire isn’t strong enough, it won’t take much to trip you up.

    My family is depending on me to get there, and they don’t even know it. That is all the motivation I need.

    Have a good day ladies. I wish everyone of you all the success in the world with your books.

    Scott Moore

    • Molly Greene May 5, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

      Wow, Scott, thank you so much for the lovely comment. It’s so true – desire first, then commitment, then long-term perseverance. We need them all to get where we want to go. And we wish YOU all the best with your goals and dreams!!