Luck and the Writer

Four_Leaf_Clover_03[1]Back in February, I discussed the concept of success, after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Today, I want to focus on the concept of luck.

I read an interesting blog about a month ago by thriller writer Joe Konrath. He writes an excellent blog about the writing biz, and as a hybrid author with a substantial backlist, he has a lot to say about publishing, promoting, and marketing. You can find his blog HERE. He also has an interesting take on why most authors’ marketing plans won’t work. What it comes to, in his view, is luck. But the question then becomes, how does one become luckier?

Some people call luck a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. I don’t disagree. I remember reading an article about a Canadian woman who’d been incredibly lucky at winning contests. She had a room filled with prizes. When asked what made her so lucky, she said it was because she probably entered more contests than most people. In fact, she had turned contest-entering into a full time job.

Yesterday, I came across a similar article about folks who constantly win sweepstake prizes. In fact, there’s a whole group of them who take this so seriously that they’re referred to as sweepers. You can read more about them HERE. I was struck by the comment from one of the frequent contest winners, who stated that luck had nothing to do with her large haul. It was about effort and persistence.

Sometimes luck truly does seem to come out of the blue. Maybe a horrific car crash you managed to avoid by just one minute has nothing to do with persistence and effort. Maybe carrying a four-leaf clover or talisman does help some people, who knows?

Personally, I believe that luck often emerges from a series of decisions, opportunities, and right-time, right-place circumstances. But even that’s not the whole picture. Maybe there’s no rhyme nor reason why someone’s thriller gains fabulous attention and mega sales while an equally well-crafted thriller with a gorgeous cover and an amazing back cover blurb doesn’t. We could speculate that if the “unlucky” author had targeted his market differently or tried a different promotion strategy, then maybe it would have made a difference. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t have. We can drive ourselves crazy wondering over stuff like that.

Joe’s answer to making one’s luck is to keep writing books. He doesn’t discount using ads, blogs, social media, etc, for promotion, but he makes it clear that those efforts won’t guarantee any sales. Writing is the only thing you can really control, he says, and if you keep doing it and getting better at it, you just might get lucky enough to have a bestseller on your hands. For many of us, isn’t that the dream which lets our imaginations run wild, that gets us out of the bed every morning and open to all possibilities?

Author: debrapurdykong

I'm a British Columbia author who's been writing for over 30 years. My volunteer experiences, criminology diploma, and security work inspired me to write the Casey Holland transit security novels set in Metro Vancouver. I'm also a part-time facilitator in Creative Writing Workshops through Port Moody's Recreation program. Feel free to contact me at

16 thoughts on “Luck and the Writer”

  1. Interesting reflections on luck, Debra! Persistence and care seems to be a large part of it … including in one’s writing! The luck element might be for the ms to land on top of the slush pile with just the right agent! 😀

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  2. I agree about the creation of your own luck but also believe in it just popping up at times, hopefully when you most need it. Maybe that’s still preparation–that you earned it in a lifetime of good deeds. Who knows!

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  3. I read Konrath’s article. It appealed to me somehow; maybe it’s easier to believe in luck than to come to grips with marketing. I agree with you that our writing is the one thing we can control, and it’s the heart of the whole effort, isn’t it? If we don’t write, we don’t have anything to market.

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  4. That is the best advice. We can control our writing and output. And I think making a conscious effort to be an active member of your writing community–on and off-line–puts you “out there”when opportunities come calling!

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  5. I think writing is alot or work.. and lots of work to try and perfect your craft. I think luck does come into being in the right place at the right time. Not sure if the saying, it’s not what you know it’s who you know helps as well. As for karma I do conciousiy now try not to upset karma, I don’t need the bad luck. Great post.

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