Tag Archives: Research

Great Expectations

This starts as a story of a writer who put out a tonne of stuff in several genres in a short period of time and didn’t achieve immediate success, so, she decided to pack it in and give up on her dream.

Here are the highlights:

  • 7 books released in 2 years
    • 3 self-published, 4 with a “publisher” of some kind, and 1 book owing
  • After 2-3 years she figured she would be successful. 
    • She is not so she is quitting. Not just quitting, but pulling her stuff off Amazon and buying back the rights to the books she no longer owns
  • Meanwhile, her spectacularly thrown hissy fit Facebook post was just littered with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. 

Returning to her page several days after she thew in the towel I see that some of her friends have talked her out of it and she’s going to plow through. Good for her(?) Honestly, I’m not sure what to think. It seems like I’ve done more research for this blog post than she did in deciding to become a writer.

Image courtesy thaikrit at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

I took a look at her website and as far as I can tell this is a simple case of mismanaged expectations. Like the kids on American Idol who have been told by their parents that they’re the next Kelly Clarkson, this author had J.K. Rowling expectations when five out of six books in her portfolio are: two children’s picture books, two cook books, and a book of poems.

Now, I’m not sure what her definition of “success” is, but from what I’ve seen on her Facebook wall, it looks like recognition is pretty high up on the list. If that’s the case, then I might suggest that poetry, children’s picture books, and cookbooks might not be the quickest road to success. Certainly it’s possible, but: poetry world is a niche market at best, and finicky as hell; children’s picture books are the most saturated genre on the planet; and unless you’re actually a trained in the culinary arts or are Susanne Somers it’s going to be a long, slow road to success.

How a writer defines success is entirely up to them. How anyone defines success is entirely up to them. Personally, I’ve set modest goals with the intent of making them bigger and better as I move ahead with achieving each one. My expectations are set modestly and I have a good grasp on the reality of the situation. I understand that my goals may be just a little bit out of reach, but that’s okay. I can’t think of a single successful person (by any measure) that didn’t push themselves a little further. I understand that if I keep doing what I’m doing then I’m going to keep getting what I get.

Most importantly, I understand it’s going to take a bit of luck.

Image courtesy Michal Marcol at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

Just to be clear, when I speak of luck this is the equation I have in mind:

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity 1


  • You only get out what you put in
  • You  reap what you sow
  • You get what you deserve
  • Karma’s a bitch

Okay, maybe that last one’s a bit off topic but you get the idea (plus I love that particular expression). Someone mentioned to me the other day that they found me “inspiring”. Even though I was truly flattered, I had to laugh because it just so happens that I’m the laziest person in the world. I’m an excellent example of how one can achieve success but only if you allow it to take four times longer than it should.

That being said, I have more than a few successes to speak of (a couple in writing even!), and I know exactly how much time and effort I’ve put into achieving each one. You want to know something? If you do the research, constantly keep your eyes scanning for opportunity, and make your way to Carnegie Hall (practice, practice, practice) you’ll be successful. It’s that simple.

Image created and owned by David Samuel

But wait! You say you scribbled a few things down and didn’t achieve J.K. Rowling level success on the first try? Well then, you’ve got two choices: pack it in or keep trying, and if you choose the latter you had better not do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result. Not only will you continue to get what you get but you’ll start to look a little crazy in the process.

~ Andrew

One Third

Thirty days has September; April, June, and November…

That would mean that on the tenth day (or rather at the end of it), if one were participating in say… a novel writing competition or a moustache growing charity event, that one would be one third of the way through. As it turns out I am doing both of those things, and a good many of you out there are doing so as well.

Based on my last post on NaNoWriMovember many of the dudes out there have opted not to grow the ‘stache for various reasons; choosing to donate cash money to the cause instead. Hey, whatever tickles your fancy, it’s your chiselled visage not mine.

Before we get to the writers portion of this post, feel free to click the badass snake moustache if you want to donate something in support of the wonderful Movember funding programs:

Now, on to the writing! You are all writing, right? I mean, you can’t crank out 1,667 words a day every day for thirty days and not do a little writing. In actual fact it’s more than a little writing, as many of you with additional jobs beyond penmonkey can attest. This is my third year attempting NaNoWriMo and for the second time in a row I’ve passed what I consider to be the hardest part of the journey: the 10,000 to 15,000 word slog-fest.

This is the fabulous time where you’ve been going at it for several days straight and even though you’re well into the foothills you take a look up, and you keep looking, up, up, up and you realize that at 10,000 words you’re only one fifth of the way there – and you’re already exhausted. Cue the self-doubt, anxiety, and depression.

But don’t fire the Sherpa just yet. You can do this. How do I know? I just know. Now stop asking questions, you should be writing. And therein lies the key: stop asking questions, stop thinking, stop researching, stop wondering about this, and thinking about that. Just stop.

If you’re one of those fancy plotters who has an outline then just follow the outline and write. If you’re a pantser and letting your characters lead the way, then let them lead. It’s not your job to question what they’re doing, or if that phrase in Latin actually means what you want it to mean. Your characters are like that hard assed teacher you had in middle school. The one who was adamant, and wrong, about just about everything. Your job now, just as it was then, is to smile and politely write down 1 + 1 = 3.

Image courtesy Ohmmy3d at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Finally, find yourself a friend or two. If you’re on a roll then they’ll help you roll faster. If you’re stuck and ready to pack it in they’ll pull you out of the mud. Whether it’s on Twitter using the #NaNoWriMo hashtag or on Facebook with one of the many NaNo groups out there, find a support group and use it (join my NaNoWriMo 2013 group if you want).

There is nothing quite like screaming into the wind when there are a bunch of random people there with some fabulous WIND BUFFING MECHANISMS that will allow your screams to be heard (see what I did there?)

~ Andrew