Everyone's got tons of opinions and they're almost all happy to share them with other people. Some people are even official opinion-givers, appearing on television and writing books to help out those of us who haven't reached their special combination of insight and experience. Wherever I turn, there are dozens of people quite happy to tell me what it is that I'm doing wrong.
Most of it is kindly and earnestly meant, but I still find that it can lead to confidence erosion. Just strictly on the writing career side: traditionally published, indie or hybrid? Monthly promotions or only with new releases? Pricing? Distribution? What types of plots to explore, how often should I be releasing? And forget listing off the challenges of parenting, work-life balance, politics and social awareness.
So now it's my turn to share my $ 0.02 worth of opinion: Life is not a video game.
By that, I mean that there is no magic combination of action, preparation and opportunity which will automatically allow a person to "level up" in life. It's possible to follow all of the "rules" for a given goal and still come up short. Failure doesn't mean that someone hasn't done all that they could.
Instead I try to focus on the following tactics:
Be honest with myself about my limitations. I would love to do weekly or monthly giveaways, tons of guest posts and other promotion-building options. I'd love to be able to have a quality book ready for release every three months. I wish I could go to all the amazing conferences across North America and take research trips across the globe. But I only have limited time and money ready to invest. So I have to make hard choices rather than taking advantage of every opportunity or desire which comes my way. It means that my path to success will be slower and less direct than those with more resources and I have to adjust my expectations accordingly.
Commit, don't flip-flop. Chasing a trend can be tempting. But if someone constantly changes direction, then they also don't tend to gain any ground. I decided that I would self-publish my first series and I've stuck to that decision and the marketing plan that I created to go with it. I make adjustments as I see what works and what doesn't, but I'm sticking to my plan rather than racing off to pursue other options. The plan has always been to also pursue traditional publishing with other series and now that I have the foundations of my self-published series ready, I can start taking some time and mental energy to start on that path.
Pay attention. My life gets overwhelming with predictable regularity, but if I've set something in motion, then I also have to follow up and pay attention to what's happened. That's what lets me know if what I'm doing is effective, which helps me to avoid throwing away my time and money on dead ends. It also reminds me of my hard-earned wins, putting back some of the confidence.
And one last piece of advice: no one really has the answers. No matter how confident a person seems, there is no "right" solution for everyone. Everyone is simply doing what seems like the best choice in the moment, feeling their way into the future step by step.