Some Worthwhile Advice


I just came across some useful advice on writing from the author, Joe Konrath, and thought it was worth sharing. Seven quick reminders that are worth bearing in mind while you work away at your keyboard.

While the entire list rang true to me (I especially liked number three), it was number two was that stuck out the most,

‘Success is mostly due to luck.’

As I’m writing my first novel, I expected self-doubt to be a given and it turns out I wasn’t let down. I keep asking myself questions like, is this interesting enough? Does the plot make sense? Are the characters believable? Will anyone actually want to read it? Am I kidding myself thinking I can actually write?

And at that point I usually drown out my inner voice with some of the greatest whisky in the history of the world.

However, keeping in mind that I could write a world-class novel and it could then go on to gain zero recognition helps me feel better about that ever-present doubt. No matter how good or bad I am as a writer, success will always ultimately come down to luck. In the end, people’s actions really have very little bearing on the grand scheme of things. We are all utterly insignificant. A comforting thought, no?

To me it’s all very reminiscent of a Douglas Adams quote,

‘The chances of finding out what’s really going on in the universe are so remote, the only thing to do is hang the sense of it and keep yourself occupied.’

© 2015, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Photo by GotCredit licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.

4 thoughts on “Some Worthwhile Advice”

  1. All we can control is doing the work and trying our best. The way it’s received in the world is not in our control. And when we need some ego boost, we can go look at the millions of shitty, boring published books in the library and bookstores!

    1. Completely agree. I write for myself, not for anyone else – that way I can enjoy the process for what it is without cripppling myself with worry about what other people think. As a bonus, with no expectations I can never be disappointed. Hooray!

  2. While luck is definitely a factor, I’m not actually with you in finding that comforting. To me, the comfort is in knowing that just like anything else, if I keep at it, I will get better. From that, I find comfort in the inevitability of some degree of success.

    It just seems a little dangerous to trust in luck. I think if I put all my trust in chance, I would not work as hard to find success. But we all are motivated by different things!

    1. Ah but no matter how much you improve, there’s no inevitability of success. I put no trust in luck, I just accept that I have very little influence on the outcome of things and write because it’s what I want to do. To me that’s comforting because it means my motivation for writing is intrinisic and not based on success in the future that may not happen.

      You’re completely right though – everyone is motivated differently. And as long as you keep writing then I think that’s all that matters in the end.

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