I have been at this writing thing for quite a while now, and I have learned a lot in that time. There is also a lot still to be learned. I know that a lot of people say that writing is something that you can never truly master, and I agree with it, but would also take it another step and say that it is a career path / creative outlet that you will never want to master.
There will always be some other way to change or improve your work. To tweak your writing style or your story construction.
This is why I liken the writing process or a writing career, to working out. Both are pursuits that offer as much reward as they do potential set backs, and cannot ever truly be completed. Goals can be met, but will then be moved again.
When you first start working out, the goals are simple, and the gains are clear. They come thick and fast. Yet, once you start to get a little more advanced, when the gains start to slow, that is when you start to question things. To tinker with the goal posts.
Writing is exactly the same. We start off and our writing improves so much so fast that we cannot contain our excitement. But there comes a time when things slow down. When the work gets tougher; goal posts are adjusted and the gains in many ways become smaller, but more complicated to achieve.
A beginner will start with basic lifts, building strength; Bench Press, Dead Lifts, Squats. These are the cornerstones upon which a workout is built, and these techniques must be developed properly before moving on to the next level.
In writing, the cornerstone is (good) fiction. It is having words written on the page. Stories, novellas, novels, these are the things a writing career is built upon.
Once these basic lifts have been mastered, variety is added. New exercises are found and used, new routines and training cycles. You start to factor in supplements and other start to change other aspects of your life to help keep the gains from working out coming through. You adjust the goal posts once again.
In writing, once you have your pieces published, whether it is self-published, indie press published, or through one of the larger more traditional publishing houses, it makes no difference. The new goal is the same; to sell books.
Writing will remain the cornerstone, because to sell books you need to write books. The same way the three core lifts remain in your workout schedule.
What you can add are promotions, events, launches and swag, conventions and signings, anthologies and cross promotions with other authors in your genre.
Slowly, you incorporate more and more things into your routine, and change them up regularly to keep from getting ‘bored’.
You will hit plateaus, you will have periods where it feels as if you are going backwards, but as long as you keep going, as long as you keep true to the core movements and stay positive, you will break through.
You will achieve your goals.
The harder you have to work for it, the more satisfying it is to move those posts a little further away once more.