Hard work has indeed been the primary ingredient in helping me climb forward in my writing career. There are no shortcuts. No easy paths. And anyone who thinks so is terribly deluded.
I think most writers - brilliant ones too - give up because they get to a point and realise that it will take a ludicrous level of work if they are to get anywhere.
Writing is hard work. It takes incredible stamina and persistence. It also requires a great dollop of sacrifice.
In fact, I'd argue that all hard work takes some sort of sacrifice. If you're working your arse off on something over a sustained period of time, there will typically be some other thing that you would like to do, but inevitably can't. Such as socialising. Other hobbies. Family.
Writing takes talent, of course. But it also requires a certain mindset that says, I want this so much that, for now, I'm prepared to put those other things to one side. I'm going to give this everything I have and see where it takes me.