Every time I hear the saying "little drops of water make a mighty ocean," I get a little unnerved. I picture a mighty ocean stretching as far as the eye can see, and what it must take to get there, and I get discouraged. I'm sure you do too. And that's why so many of us quit before the ocean has become wide and mighty.
Back in Ghana, I attended a boarding school for secondary school. It was the norm during those formative secondary school years that our parents would transport us miles away from home to a school of our choice (that they sometimes heavily influenced). And during the three years it took to graduate, it was up to us girls to fend for ourselves. Of course, we were provided with the basics; food, shelter, clothing and water. Wait! Did I say water? Well sometimes we were provided with water. But most often than not, we had to carry our pails down the steep hill in search of water. Those were trying times, especially when the taps decided to flow at 2am. We would awake from our sleep, carry our buckets to the tap, stand in line for an eternity, and then carry our water back up the steep hill to the dormitory, where one would then have to keep watch over the pail of water with one eye open - in case someone decided to help themselves to your water.
I can remember standing out there on many a dawn, eyes heavy with sleep, watching the tap drop drips of water into the bucket, each clang as loud as the one before. I can also remember the many times I almost said "forget this," like so many others did, and took my empty bucket back to the dormitory, climbed into bed and went back to sleep only to go through the day without taking a bath. For those who took that risk, sometimes it paid off because we would wake up to the rising bell to find that the taps right behind the dormitories were flowing freely. But too often, that was not the case, and those of us who suffered through the slowly dripping pipes and long lines got to bath while those who gave up, didn't. Those are days that are long behind me, but the lessons I learned are still relevant today. And even though now, whenever I turn on a tap, I expect water to come gushing out, I recognize what a privilege it is to take certain things for granted.
My point is this: success does not happen overnight! In fact, you might be putting in the work and wondering when people will begin to notice you, when you will begin to make some real money, or when those 100 words a day will become a full 70,000 worded, polished manuscript to be picked up by a publisher willing to pay you a fat advance. You may be wondering when those tiny drops of water will fill your metal pail and whether the sleep you have given up to climb down the hill, stand in line and wait is even worth the trouble. Don't give up yet. Success is truly the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Success is a journey and not a destination. By the time you get the feedback or recognition you've been dying for, the real work would have already been done. For now, however, you are the only one who knows how much it hurts and how discouraging it can be, but keep filling that bucket because EVENTUALLY, the bucket will fill up as long as the drops keep dripping.