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Hard work or luck?

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Woollybear

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We have this discussion periodically as it pertains to success in publishing. We all generally agree that hard work is necessary and luck is part of the picture as well.

My husband sent this link to me this morning. The gentleman in the video has lots (and lots and lots) of great examples to describe how important luck is to our success, regardless of our aspirations. He then highlights how success messes with our own psychology to lead us to think it's our hard work that mattered.

Hard work is necessary, but luck is likewise essential.

I particularly like the astronaut simulation.

 

CMBright

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Writing a good book is mostly skill and learning.

I haven't gotten to the publishing part yet because I am still climbing the learning curve to get my first full novel written first.

I would think that would be mostly hard work with a bit of luck thrown in the mix. Another learning curve to learn how to market to agents, editors or publishers, luck clicking with one along with persistence until that happens.

But the novel itself has to be good to great or that mix of work and luck won't matter. Unless one self publishes. Some of the free ebooks are so painful to read from formatting or typos or grammar errors or any combo of those I can't get to the point of knowing whether it is good stories or not.
 
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lizmonster

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That's a good video. I've heard some of it before, but it's worth hearing it again. Most of what I have in my life now is due to luck, from the jobs I've had to the times I've moved to being born to parents who were raised by the people who raised them. Yeah, I've tried to work hard with what I have, but the point is I have it to work with.

After the book/story is written, trade publishing is 99% luck, if you're dealing with a decent product. So for those of us wanting to trade publish, we have to focus on the product and then cross all our fingers. :)
 

Woollybear

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It's true that the first part of the process (learning to write) is more under our control than the last part of the process, but even having the opportunity to learn to write can be down to luck, as you say, Liz.

I'm lucky to live in a country where medical imaging and surgery was able to identify and resect my spinal meningioma (2014). I wouldn't be able to have much of the life I currently have otherwise, including prioritizing writing. Being 'sick' would occupy too much of my mental space.

Lots of luck, lots of work.
 

SAWeiner

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I've been lucky beyond imagination. Based on my skill level then (and now), I shouldn't have gotten the contract offered.
Being sincere and not arrogant likely helped you.

As to myself, never published, I clearly don't have luck and the jury is out as to my skill level in writing my book.
 
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lizmonster

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As to myself, never published, I clearly don't have luck and the jury is out as to my skill level in writing my book.

Luck isn't something you have or not. Luck is a projectile thrown into a crowd, and whether you get hit or not has nothing to do with you. Even if you do get hit, that next projectile might be nowhere near you at all.

Skill level can be improved. I believe this is true for every single one of us.
 

LJD

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I think if you work hard and don't give up, there are more chances for you to be lucky, but that's still no guarantee it'll happen.
 

lizmonster

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I think if you work hard and don't give up, there are more chances for you to be lucky, but that's still no guarantee it'll happen.
For sure, you have to be in the crowd to have a chance of getting zapped by luck, and that does take both persistence and work.
 

LisaH46

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That is an amazing video. I love the paradox at the end - your success comes 100% from your hard work, but remember, there was luck involved too!
There are luck factors we don't have control over, such as where and to whom we were born, but even for those, I think the term luck can be debated. If one person is born to a less affluent family or a more chaotic home, that seems like bad luck. But what if those adversities inspire him to work harder and overcome his circumstances, and then he is more successful than someone from seemingly more desirable circumstances who took those for granted and didn't work very hard?
Also, when talking about luck in situation such as getting your book published, I believe your mindset creates your luck. If you are in positive emotion (hopeful, content, enthusiastic, etc), then you will make different decisions and say/do different things than if you are in negative emotion (discouraged, down on yourself, pessimistic, etc). The book The Happiness Advantage explains this in details and gives incredible examples.
 
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P.K. Torrens

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That
We have this discussion periodically as it pertains to success in publishing. We all generally agree that hard work is necessary and luck is part of the picture as well.

My husband sent this link to me this morning. The gentleman in the video has lots (and lots and lots) of great examples to describe how important luck is to our success, regardless of our aspirations. He then highlights how success messes with our own psychology to lead us to think it's our hard work that mattered.

Hard work is necessary, but luck is likewise essential.

I particularly like the astronaut simulation.

this is awesome

Thank you for sharing
 
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litdawg

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This is a great video that covers ground I frequently cover when addressing the effects of racial bias in the nineteenth century. I don't think the dilemma he poses at the end is quite as stark as he makes it out to be. I work hard and describe my good fortune as a combination of luck, persistence, and awareness. I don't attribute my bias toward hard work to self-reliance. Rather, I work hard because of the intrinsic benefits of work for my self-esteem. I sleep better because a) I'm tired, and b) I did what I could to succeed, whether or not I did. I really like his point about gratitude and generosity though. I've engaged in enough nation-building abroad to know how deep and how wide the reservoir of luck stored in our citizenship is--our individual starting points for success have hundreds, thousands of contributing elements created and stored over generations of investment by others. The phrase "grab luck by the forelock" suggests that hard work is necessary to get the most benefit from a lucky break, and opportunistically looking for a lucky break while working hard is a powerful combination.

With regards to writing and publishing, I was very taken with the visual illustration of the politicians running toward the winners podium in the final section of the video. And yet every semester I see circumstances that take out one set of runners (in my case, students) have fewer effects on others. This model would be even more compelling if it accounted for that too. Like, catching COVID wipes out some of my students and they take incomplete or withdraw from the course. Others catch COVID, lose two weeks, and roar back with a vengeance.
 
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Carrie

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I believe your mindset creates your luck. If you are in positive emotion (hopeful, content, enthusiastic, etc), then you will make different decisions and say/do different things than if you are in negative emotion (discouraged, down on yourself, pessimistic, etc).
I completely agree with this and would add that, unlike the astronauts or the NHL or a participant in a race, writers and artists have many channels to success and many different definitions of what success looks like.

My experience is that people who do not expect success often do not recognize a break when it comes to them. I've personally seen two people pass by terrific opportunities, chances that you would absolutely say were "lucky breaks," because the good fortune didn't look the way they expected it to. I was incredulous in both cases and I suspect it happens a lot.
 
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Woollybear

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I caught a lucky break today and it will require work to make it happen.

The Ventura Library on Main Street in downtown Ventura has agreed to a 2-day writers fair December 11 and 12. One of my local writing groups (who arranged this event with the library) had asked me if I wanted a spot at an author table. I said sure, yeah, naturally I do.

It'll be great and I'm lucky to live in an artsy community but the work I'll need to do to prepare is not trivial. Forms to fill out, swag to design and purchase, author copies of both (I hope by then) books, etc etc, practicing readings, etc etc, getting Telomeric up for purchase, and more. Figuring out how to make a QR code passersby can scan. Recalling the login details of my paypal device. Details. Broadcasting the event.

Luck, gratitude, and saying yes are great AND they mean signing up for some of the work.

I'm there, baby!

If you're in Ventura on December 11th or 12th, stop by the library on Main Street and say hi!
 

Harlequin

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Hard work puts you in a more likely position to benefit from luck.

Privilege affects both your capacity to work and luck itself.

I work hard but have had some extraordinary luck, mostly in timing among other things, and I've benefitted from some privileges like free healthcare and good education.
 

Elizabeth George's book Write Away