What’s Luck Got to Do With it?

Happy Friday everyone! Casey here.

I recently had a thought-provoking conversation with my friend Susannah Hardy. We were discussing writing careers and the role of luck and it got me thinking about a blog IMG_0994post I wrote as part of my promotional tour for Mystic Ink.

So, how important to a writing career is luck  vs. hard work?  I’ll share my view in a moment.

See you at the end of the post.

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Lightning Never Strikes Twice . . .  or Does It? By Casey Wyatt

While perusing the news headlines looking for inspiration, I ran across the story of a Virginia woman who won the lottery twice. On the same day. Each ticket was worth $1 million dollars.

Wow, I thought, she is one lucky lady. How often does that ever happen? Who is ever fortunate enough to receive such a windfall in one fell swoop?

Then I realized I was that lucky too.

Sure, I’ve never won large sums of money, but I did manage to go from unpublished author to published author in the same year. Not once, but twice.

Unlike the lucky lottery lady, I won’t be rolling in dough anytime soon, but I did accomplish an important life goal. Like most writers, I started off with a dream of publication and no clue how to achieve it. After many years of dabbling and spinning my wheels, I took charge and learned how to finish a book.

Once I completed my first manuscript, I faced the daunting trio of critiques, contests, and submission, followed by praise, sometimes not so glowing feedback, and dreaded rejections. I took classes, participated in NaNoWrimo, joined RWA, started a blog, joined various social media, and pitched to editors in person.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

As I pondered my writing journey, I started thinking, because that’s what writers do – we’re professional thinkers – how much success is luck? And how much is hard work?

On the hard work front – I had to write the books, learn craft, create the queries, learn more craft, write synopses and actually submit the books.  I also had to research the right publishers and determine who would be interested in said books.

On luck’s side – the editor had to be someone who loved my story, had capacity for it on their schedule, and wanted to buy it.

It may seem like hard work outweighs luck, but I think they are complimentary rather than at odds. You need both on your side.

Of course publication is only one goal on my roadmap of life. I’ll never, ever finish learning. I will receive glowing reviews and some not so great ones. I will still get rejected. And I continue to get up each day, put my pants on one leg at time, work my NDJ (necessary day job), and take care of my family.

Who needs the lottery? All in all, my life is pretty sweet as it is.

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Hi. Me again.

Since I wrote this post, I’ve sold another manuscript (Mystic Storm) and I’ve also had plenty more agent and editor rejections :(.

Back to the original question I posed at the beginning of this post – how important is luck in a writing career vs. hard work?

My two cents: While luck can be an important factor in success (because timing is everything), if you don’t put in the hard work (finish the book, then submit it) then you can’t take advantage of Lady Luck when she comes calling.

Now it’s your turn – What role has hard work and/or luck played in your life?

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19 thoughts on “What’s Luck Got to Do With it?”

  1. Deepak Chopra once said that “Luck is opportunity meeting preparedness.” Timing and getting your work in front of the right person at the right time is a huge part of becoming published, but all that preparation you spoke of is the essential ingredient to making it happen. Honing your craft, believing in yourself and your work, persevering through the setbacks and rejections, and never giving up on your dreams is what makes them a reality.

    I firmly believe in the old adage “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” If the timing isn’t right for your book and you’ve done all the work to prepare and make it the best book you possibly can, you can create your own opportunity these days. As another wise man once said, “God helps those who help themselves.”

  2. I just did a blog post last week on the subject of luck in a career. I quoted Usher, who gave some sage advice to a young singer who wasn’t quite good enough to make the cut on The Voice. He said luck favors those who are prepared. I think that applies to any craft, be it singing, dancing or writing, don’t you?

  3. Good point, Casey. How many times have musicians been dubbed “over-night success” when they make it? No one talks about the years they played in smokey bars clawing their way up the ranks. It’s the same with writing. No one sees us sitting alone, hacking away at the computer or with a red pen in hand as we slash and trash some of what we wrote. I think someone once said luck was 98% perspiration and 2% luck. I tend to agree that it’s like perfect storm in that you need to have done all the work and you need to have a certain amount of luck on your side. But as PJ said, “where there’s a will, there’s a way,” and so we keep on keepin’ on.

  4. Agree 110%. You can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket. You can’t get published unless you lay the groundwork by learning your craft, finishing what you start (yup, working on that personally!), and learning the business (whichever path to publication you choose). Then the “luck” can find you!

  5. Congrats on the sale, Casey! As a yet-to-be-published author, I’m always interested to hear about other writers’ success stories. Thanks for sharing, and I agree with everyone’s comments. We have to work hard, be persistent, and enjoy a little good luck on our way to success. Have a terrific weekend! :)

  6. Sure, you need to put in the hard work (persistence and all that) but I believe luck plays a huge part. Look at people like EL James and JK Rowling. They tapped into a “want”. I’m searching for a word, here. That “want” that makes a book go viral. I don’t believe anyone can make that happen through work ethic or anything else. That (for me) is the luck element in writing.

    1. I agree. No doubt, timing plays a huge role in “overnight” success. And who knows why some authors/stories tap into that universal zeigeist. But in either case, success won’t happen if the story doesn’t get written and then submitted (or indie pubbed). Thanks for stopping by Greta!!

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