Lots of people start writing believing that they will never want to stop. They will die with a pen in hand or their fingers on the keys of a laptop.
As the years go on, they see their friends fail and sort of fall to the wayside...Still, THEY persist. They are sure, in their guts, that they have what it takes to write forever.
Then suddenly they begin to realize that authors they loved are dropping off the grid. Worse, they notice that some of their favorite bestsellers falter. Or disappear.
And they wonder, as I once wondered, does anybody survive long term?
Well, yeah. But they aren't always the people that you think.
First off, if you're in this for money, two things will happen. Either #1, you will realize you're not going to be one of the ones who gets rich and you'll reevaluate -- Read: you'll realize you made more money clerking at Walmart and go get your old job back. [I borrowed from Peter to pay Paul to be able to keep writing. Some days it's like a drug to me. (LOL!) That kind of passion will keep you going.] Until your royalties and advances (and readership) grow and you can afford to quit your day job and still eat. :)
Unless, #2, you make a lot of money really quickly and, if money was your goal, you're done. LOL!!! You buy a beach house, realize you'd rather spend your time learning to cook and golf, and suddenly you're not writing anymore.
But some people fall for a different reason. A sadder reason. They fall the day they realize writing is hard. Getting published is even harder, unless you self-publish...then you learn that marketing sucks. Or is hard. Or is impossible. Or you feel like you're always saying, "Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book..." and that's not your passion...and disappointment sets in...and we all know what happens when disappointment sets in. You ease off. Until one day you realize you're not writing anymore.
Those are the faltering reasons you "sort of" have control over. What about the ones you don't? Like...
Some people are blessed with good, solid success early on. They couldn't sell to category but ye gawds they exploded in single title. Or no traditional publisher wanted them, but they self-published and sold 100,000 copies of their first book...or even 300,000. They write another book and another book and another book and suddenly readers drop off. Why? Because they're actually rewriting the same darned book over and over and over again. They think it's their formula, and it might be, but after ten books even the not-so-bright reader among their followers will see the pattern and move on to the next pretty, shiny author. And then they falter. They either have to reinvent themselves [which isn't easy] or they say, "I had a good run," and move on.
Or some authors get sloppy after their first book. After the success of selling to a publisher or having success with their first self-published book, they think they've "made it" and they write fast and furious and put out things that aren't as good as their first book. Readers forgive a bad book or two, but once you form a pattern of writing poorly [which can be construed as talking down to them] they eventually flee. And it's hard to come back after that kind of desertion...unless you take a new name. LOL
The only people who really succeed for the long haul are those who realize you're starting over with every book. That readers always want a good story. That readers always want a well written story. And that if your goals revolve around money, you might as well hang it up now because the money is inconsistent. LOL Now, you can use money for a motivator. But it can't be your only reason to write.
You must acknowledge and respect the fact that writing is hard. And want to do it anyway.
You must love telling a good story. (Which by default means you must know what a good story is! LOL)
You must be willing to put in long hours, not because you "have to" but because you love your stories so much (and your readers so much) that long hours are worth it...almost fun...because that's what it takes.
You must have an idea of what readers want from you (so you can please them) but never shortchange them by writing the same book over and over and over ... even though you change the characters' names or the town they live in or their profession...You must know there's a difference between writing within the conventions of a genre or subgenre and writing the same story over and over and over.
You really have to learn what a good story is, what brings readers to your work and how you can manipulate that so that readers always feel your story is fresh and new.
At some point, you have to realize this isn't a job; it's a calling. You have to love/hate being called, respect your readers and do your best. Always.
And you will survive for the long haul.