“Just write everyday of your life. Then see what happens.” So said Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man and over 25 other novels and 600 short stories.
Largely known for his impact on the science fiction genre, he was unquestionably one of the most productive writers of the twentieth century. One of the keys to his success, no doubt, was his intense dedication, or as he put is, “being a dedicated madman.”
In this post, we’ll examine his work habits and practices which enabled Bradbury to be so productive. We’ll also look at other writers and entrepreneurs and the results of their dedication to their work.
You Don’t Need Formal Training
A common issue among successful entrepreneurs and other online workers is Impostor syndrome. What’s impostor syndrome? In short, it is a state of mind in which we don’t think that we’ve earned or are worthy of our achievements. We may be extremely successful bloggers, writers, or businesspeople, but deep down, we feel like we don’t know what we’re doing.
Impostor syndrome is especially common among entrepreneurs and writers, as we don’t have much in the way of official credentials. Unlike medicine, law, or other traditional professions, we don’t need a university degree or certificate to do our work. While this is usually a good thing, it can also instill self-doubt. The path less traveled is also the less clear one, and it can be difficult to stay on the path when we don’t know where it leads.
I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’
The good news is that virtually every successful writer and entrepreneur once felt the same way. Everyone from Franz Kafka to Mark Zuckerberg had an educational background in something unrelated to their work. Ray Bradbury himself was “educated” at his public library, as he grew up during the Great Depression and couldn’t afford to attend college:
When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years.
If you ever feel like you aren’t good enough or knowledgable enough, don’t sweat it. No one is born successful.
Pick Something You Can’t Resist
It’s pretty hard to force yourself to do high-quality work. Almost impossible, actually. You may be able to trudge through it and do the absolute minimum necessary for the job. But it won’t be world-class work and you certainly won’t be dedicated.
If you want to be truly great, as Steve Jobs often said, you must be deeply passionate about your work. If you’re a blogger running your own newsletter, blog about your absolute favorite topics, the subjects that you are incredibly passionate about. If you’re an entrepreneur, your single most invested customer should be you. Working on your project should be a joy, a treat, something that you can’t get enough of.
If you can’t resist, if the typewriter is like candy to you, you train yourself for a lifetime. Every single day of your life, some wild new thing to be done. You write to please yourself. You write for the joy of writing.
That’s not to say that every moment will be enjoyable. After all, one can eat too much candy. Ultimately, you want to pick something that you can’t stop thinking, writing, and talking about. Your friends and family should be annoyed by how much you are obsessed with it.
Find Other Crazy People
Speaking of friends and family: the road to success can be a lonely one. Just ask Steve Mehr, a serial entrepreneur and multi-millionaire. Rather than go to college, he jumped straight into starting a business. His family wasn’t happy about it, to say the least.
When I graduated high school and I told my family I was going to start a business, my grandparents, my uncles, they all came in one at a time and told me ‘you’re going to be a loser, you’re going to end up on the street, you’re insane, you can never make it without an education.’
Ray Bradbury, born a few generations earlier but with a similar background, has similar advice. Unfortunately, most people will be pessimistic about the chances of your success. The trick, Bradbury says, is to find other crazy people like you.
You learn to live with your crazy enthusiasms which nobody else shares, and then you find a few other nuts like yourself, and they’re your friends for a lifetime. That’s what friends are, the people who share your crazy outlook and protect you from the world, because nobody else is going to give a damn what you’re doing, so you need a few other people like yourself.
At the end of the day, no one can force you to be dedicated. Dedication needs to come from within. That said, by surrounding yourself with encouraging people, you’ll increase the likelihood of staying on the path.
If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you’re certainly dedicated! Now keep it up and get back to work! Interested in more advice from Ray Bradbury? Check out this animated video of an interview with Bradbury, created by Blank on Blank.
Looking for a Bradbury book to read? I personally recommend The Illustrated Man, a collection of his short stories.