Those of us in the book writing business are constantly looking for success, searching for ways to sell more books and earn a little recognition for what we do. It occurred to me this past weekend that the elements to achieve success are the same, no matter what it is you want to do. Many of you know my older daughter has always been a runner. I'm going to use Tara as an example of what it takes to succeed, and how we can apply the same strategy to our writing (or any other) pursuits.
Element #1: Talent
I don't care what people say, if you don't have a certain natural talent for whatever it is you're doing, you aren't going to succeed at it. You can always fix problem areas and improve your craft, but if you're a writer, you'd better be able to string together words in a coherent manner and tell an interesting story. For Tara, she was always naturally good at running and biking. She inherited her talent from my husband who is extremely athletic and good at every sport he's ever done. She blames me for passing along inferior athletic genes, but I tell her she got her brains from me, so she shouldn't complain. LOL
Element #2: Hard Work
This is what you have to do to improve on the natural talent you were given. You have to work your butt off. I don't care how good you are, if you don't put in the time, you aren't going to reach your goal. If you're a writer, that means actually writing. Book after book after book. Chances are you aren't going to produce the Great American Novel on your first try. With every book I write, I get better. I learn what works and what doesn't to improve my craft. You aren't going to produce a better book if you don't work hard at honing your skills, and that takes practice. Butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboards, people! For Tara, it meant running and biking and swimming ALL THE TIME. Training is a lifestyle for her. Her cross country coach in high school gave her the "Hardest Working Athlete of All Time" award. Now in college on the Cal Triathlon team, she never lets up. She works to improve all the time.
Element #3: Persistence
Sometimes it's hard to keep trying when we face failures. In writing it can be rejections, no sales, no notice. We ask ourselves why we bother. Well, the simple truth is you won't succeed if you give up. Tara went from being a powerhouse at a small school to not being good enough to make a varsity running team at a top school. She put education over sports when she chose to go to Berkeley because she knew she wasn't good enough to run for them. After a miserable freshman year, she discovered the Triathlon team. But just being on the team wasn't enough, and the Cal team was large and strong. She wanted to be one of their top girls. She had to learn to swim properly since she had zero experience, and she honed her biking skills and went back to her passion for running. She persisted, and she worked her way up to getting noticed by the coach and kept at it until she was included in the elite group training. That's what we have to do if we want to succeed--persist until we get noticed.
Element #4: Luck
Yes, luck. I swear no matter how talented and hard working and persistent we are, we can all benefit from an element of luck. That publisher who finally notices you. The Bookbub ad that bumps up your sales. BUT, if you haven't put in the other 3 elements when luck finally happens, you won't be ready to take advantage of it. Make luck work for you instead of having it pass you by with little or no benefit. For Tara, luck had a hand in her recent success at the Collegiate Club National Championships in Tuscaloosa, Alabama over the weekend. She'd worked her butt off to hone her talent and be ready to go, and she expected to do well. Then rain happened, lots of rain that required opening flood gates on the river the kids were to swim in for the first leg of the triathlon. For safety, they had to change the format to run/bike/run. Tara took full advantage and finished 10th out of 482 girls. By the way, 4 of the Cal girls finished in the top 10, and they won the National championship, so I wasn't kidding when I said their team was strong. I'd call that a success story for both my daughter and the team!
So, for those of you who lack motivation to sit down and write, keep the faith. Use your talent and boost your skill with a lot of hard work. Persist, and maybe luck will happen to you. It certainly won't do you any good if you quit trying and don't have that book ready to go! That's my pep talk for the day. If you haven't read BURIED TRUTH yet, now's the time. LOST INNOCENCE will be out before you know it!