As a writer writing for other writers, I have written a couple of articles on how writers can come up with ideas. As a writer who is also an internet marketer who has achieved some success online, I have written articles on, you guessed it…achieving success. In many of these articles, I tell the writers that ideas for their articles, short stories, novels, and poems are everywhere if they will only look and be prepared to see that ANYTHING might be the next bright idea. In other articles, I tell the internet marketers and network marketers that there is one major key to success. A little episode this morning brought the two together and prompted THIS article.
I love to work puzzles of all kinds, but I love crosswords and logic puzzles the best. This morning, I was starting a logic puzzle called “A Novel Approach” by Sue M. Angel. In it, the five characters, all authors of novels, each talk about five different subjects, relating them to the writing of novels. Just for interest, the subjects are: Characters, Continuity, Credibility, Plot, and Setting. After reading the setup for the puzzle, I laid the magazine down because simply reading that had triggered a thought.
All of those items are important to success in terms of writing a novel. I have no doubt about this. If one is more important than the others…well, I believe you could generate a lot of discussion on that, and you would probably get a lot of differing opinions…even from successful novelists.
If you were to read some very successful novels, you might find that one had strong characters, but the plot was weaker than that of another one which might have good continuity and so on. In other words, while all these factors are important, it is more the blend of them rather than a single one which may contribute to the success of an individual work, or an individual’s work. However, the question arises, is there one factor which is more likely to contribute to such success, and is it a factor which might be more universal than plot and characters; factors specific to the writing of novels and short stories?
I have already indicated that, while individual factors can indeed be of incredible importance in the creation of a final, successful entity, the blend of those factors may be even more critical. I also believe, based on a combination of personal observation over half a century, discussions with successful individuals, much reading and study on the subject of success as it relates to many different industries and occupations, and my own personal experiences that there is one additional factor which pulls it all together.
Individual factors have their importance, of course. Let’s look at sales. All things equal, a clean, smiling, likeable person is likely to have a better sales record than an unkempt, surly individual. Someone who knows the features and benefits of the product is more likely to succeed than someone who hems and haws or tosses you a brochure and tells you that all you need to know is in there. The sales person who knows the approach, how to handle objections, the closing, and other steps of selling is more likely to be successful than someone who simply says, “You folks wouldn’t want to buy this, would ya?” However, there is still one key element that, overall, seems to outweigh such particular matters.
Several years ago, a major financial institution commissioned a survey to determine why its top sales professionals became the elite of their profession. The hope was that, if the elusive factors could be identified, they could be taught to other, less successful, sales people. The results, while surprising to those who requested the survey, might not be quite so surprising when we think about it.
The best sales people were, overall, the ones who worked the hardest at it. They contacted the most people, made the most calls, answered the most questions. Other studies in other areas have upheld this conclusion.
A major key to success is simply numbers. The person who talks to ten thousand people will probably be more successful than the person who talks to one thousand. The person who hands out a thousand brochures will more likely be successful than the person who hands out a hundred. The person who writes a hundred thousand words will have a better chance than the one who writes a thousand words.
It works in other ways as well. The author who submits one work to one publisher is less likely to achieve success than the author who has several projects circulating among several publishers. The batter who practices his swing more is more likely to hit more times than if he were to only practice occasionally or during actual games. The finest golfers, like Tiger Woods, have not only learned their craft, but continually honed it. The game winning putt is not the only putt. It is just the latest in a succession of putts that began years ago when he was just a boy.
While many different factors are important to success in all types of endeavors, the willingness to keep at it has to be of paramount importance.
Or, as Woody Allen puts it so succinctly, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”