The myths surrounding six-figure writers

What if our assumptions about successful writers are wrong? And what if those beliefs are keeping us stuck?

Gumroad recently release an article curating the best tips from 102 creators, all of whom earn over $100,000 per year from the platform.

It's a useful, albeit generic read. I've found that these mega-lists end up being less helpful than intended because of information overload and abstraction.

Specificity is helpful because it's actionable.

With that being said, let's build our own list.

Why we make the wrong assumptions

We assume the highest earners in any field know something we don't. They've discovered a secret, a hidden passageway to success.

But additional knowledge is almost never the answer. I say this as someone who's read 50-100 books annually for close to 15 years now.

The differences come down to the smallest of factors.

  • A slightly different belief system.
  • A unique combination of experiences and desires.
  • A bit more action aimed in the right direction.

Part of the reason we assume these people are so different is because we need them to be. It's mentally jarring to think that they are just as confused as we are, they face just as much doubt, and their level of success isn't out of reach for us.

Personally, I'd rather be jarred than stuck.

The myths we believe about successful creators

I've had the opportunity to work with or meet a handful of writers who earned over six figures with their words. Each one encouraged my belief a bit more because I saw, over and over again, more similarities between me and them than differences.

Myth #1: They know more than you.

They may know different things than you, but that does not mean your pool of knowledge is any less valuable or needed.  

Myth #2: They work harder than you.

If you have the discipline to write daily, even just a few words, then you are on the same playing field as the absolute greats. It only takes a small amount of work to change your course in life; the difficulty is applying the work regularly.

Myth #3: They have access to opportunities you don't.

Later on, of course they do. But in the beginning, they worked to build their audience from 0-10, and then 10-100, and so on. As I've written before, "Growth is linear long before its exponential."

Myth #4: You will never be as good a writer as them.

Writing is a skill, not a divine gift. If you want to get better at it, practice (see: myth #2). I guarantee you'd shutter at your favorite writer's first pieces.

Myth #5: I have to be more like them to succeed.

I love both chocolate chip cookies and apple pie. But I love cookies because they are good in a way pie is not. Be good in your own way.

Myth #6: I must do X.

Aside from stringing words together (if you want to be a writer), there are absolutely, unconditionally, precisely zero rules. If anything, learning the rules will help you break them well.

Myth #7: Once I accomplish X, I'll be/feel Y.

Nope, sorry. You won't. Your books sales or subscriber numbers or bank deposits will not fundamentally change who you are. Writing must become the ends, not only the means.


This post is as much a reminder to myself as it is an encouragement to anyone reading.

I have books with my name on the covers. I've got articles strewn across the internet that I've penned. My title is Staff Writer. And yet, the words are never just there.

I sit and think and struggle and try and erase and eventually, something appears. And all of that is writing.

I’ve learned that the struggle is where the work is, the struggle is the work. — Sally Field
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