You Can’t Copy Your Way to Success in the Writing World

Gillian Sisley

Each path is as unique as the different lives we all live. Don’t try to copy your way to dreams — build your own path to get there.

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Last week, I decided to leave half of the online writing groups I was involved with, and also reduce my activity in the remaining groups.

One of the biggest reasons for this was because I was growing increasingly frustrated with the negative dialogue from new, entitled bloggers.

When I’m part of a writing community, I’m looking to be part of a positive and encouraging group of people who challenge one another to be better writers and continue doing what we love despite all the setbacks which come along with the writing industry.

When things get too negative, or people begin to complain about their results or lack thereof, I start to disengage from the community.

This was particularly taking place where newer writers were expressing their complaints over not receiving similar success as other online writers, despite trying to copy the successful writer’s style, topics, genres, you name it.

These complaints bother me for one very specific reason:

The reality is you can’t copy your way to success.

There are a lot of different factors that go into creating a breakthrough for someone in the writing industry.

It’s not black and white — there is no guaranteed equation.

Here are some of the more significant complexities to consider:


Those writers that are being copied? They didn’t find their success because they copied someone else.

They found success because they did something different, that was outside of the everyday mould.

What they had to offer spoke to a gap in the market that there was a need for, and their work fulfilled that need.

Once that need in the market gets filled, and people know that they have a direct source to go to, the space gets far more competitive. It also requires a hell of a lot more credibility and notoriety to be recognized as a leading voice in that space.

This is what we all know as oversaturation in the market.

It is one’s innate uniqueness, the thing that makes them different from everyone else, that plays a massive role in seeing someone succeed.

You can’t fully reinvent the wheel in writing. It’s been done a million different ways before, and existed for thousands upon thousands of years.

And because it has existed for so long, there is even more of a requirement to present something that is fresh, different, and intriguing from the norm to readers.


As is like anything else, there are trends and flows in every market which dictate whether or not the world is ready to receive what someone has to offer.

The reason there are artists who were not appreciated until many decades later, after their death, is because the creative work they were offering was not something that the market they existed in was ready for.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’d really love to see my work appreciated in my own time, while I’m still alive to enjoy the benefits of it.

That means that if you want to find success in writing or work as a professional writer, you have to be intentional about recognizing the current trends and needs of the market you exist in.

Thankfully, that market is not just the entire world as a whole. There are plenty of niche markets, which are interested in radically different things, but are still well-received.

Everyone’s timing is different. And it’s a guarantee that our specific timing is not as soon or early as we would like for it to be.

But that doesn’t mean that our timing is something entirely out of our control. Far from, we have the power to create the circumstances to best inspire that timing to take place.

But it takes work and intention on our part, as well as a hell of a lot of patience.

There’s a lot of power in believing that your time will come. But there’s even more power in recognizing that the timeline of when your time will come is not going to align exactly, or even close, with what you’d like it to be.

The best we can do is play an active part in the things that are within our control, and and pay our dues until we’ve created our own success with the perfect combination of ingredients, of our own making.

Speaking of, the final complexity to consider:

Paying One’s Dues

One of the things that really grinds my gears the most is when a new writer puts a lot of time and energy into complaining about the fact that they have not achieved the same success as someone else.

Someone else who, comparatively, has been writing for many more years and has collected so much credibility and so many wins along the way, that their time finally came.

Paying our dues is something I believe very strongly in.

For those who don’t know exactly what this means, essentially paying your dues is putting in the work, the time, and the effort to fine-tune your skills, improve your abilities, and have the patience necessary to see your work recognized to the point where you can move up another rung on the ladder of success.

Paying one’s dues is not putting in exhaustive effort for 3 to 6 months, not seeing full-blown success where one can retire early, and then complaining about not getting the success that one ‘deserves’, or was ‘owed’, based on the amount of effort they put in.

Paying one’s dues is not just about exhaustive effort — it also means actively working to improve and enhance your capabilities and skillset, to the point where you reach a professional proficiency.

If a writer is just doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting to achieve immediate success, they’re going to end up bitterly disappointed.

As creatives, we have to be intentional and dedicated to improving ourselves, learning, and fine-tuning our skillset with every single day.

Our goal should always be to be a better writer today than we were yesterday. And be a better writer tomorrow than we were today.

Improving our writing, and building our own success for ourselves as writers, often means we have to experiment with new topics, go outside of our comfort zone and try new things that we wouldn’t have thought of before.

If you’re not willing to change the way you do things, experiment and actively work on increasing the proficiency of your craft, then it’s not reasonable or realistic for you to assume that you will achieve the success you want.

Life doesn’t owe us sh*t. No matter how much effort we put into something, no matter how much time we invest, hard work does not equate to receiving rewards.

If you believe that exhaustive effort and putting time into something means you deserve success, then you have an entitlement problem.

Because that is simply just not how the world works.

Final word.

Just because someone found success down a certain path, does not mean you are entitled to that same success simply because you followed the same path.

It should go without saying that the person who carved out that path is the one who deserves the benefits at the end of it.

If you have just walked that path after it was created, and the only effort you had to put in was walking, then you do not deserve the same benefits as the person who actually carved that path out.

There’s a really good reason why success is not easy to come by — it takes a hell of a lot of work and effort and many, many years to come to fruition.

The simple truth is that most people are not willing to put in the immense effort, time commitment, and hard work necessary to make tangible success a reality.

Everyone else’s journey to success is none of your damn business. If your plan to seeing your dreams come true is simply to try and carbon-copy someone else’s path, you’re in for a hell of a shock.

The best shot you have at making your dreams a reality is to harness and hone your own uniqueness and your own skillset, and create something for yourself. Something that didn’t exist before.

Don’t get me wrong, those who have already achieved success are absolutely valuable role models to pay attention to. I’m not saying ignore the people who have been successful — they have lessons to teach us that we could employ in our own way to also be successful. Instead, while we can look at successful writers as mentors, it’s not effective to try and copy exactly everything they do to recreate their success for ourselves.

That said, embrace your uniqueness and embrace your particular skillset. Commit to making yourself a better writer every single day.

Stop complaining, and start writing.

Comments / 0

Published by

Online solopreneur. Tea drinker. Committed optimist. I write about trending news, viral Reddit content, and anything else that tickles my fancy.


More from Gillian Sisley

Comments / 0