Intelligence v. Luck

In this week’s episode of Akimbo (S3E5), Seth Godin talks about games. It’s a brilliant episode. As is usually the case, although he isn’t speaking specifically to authors, what he says is directly applicable to us. Here’s an excerpt:

What our culture has done is taught people two things at the same time. One, that you’re super special and really smart, and probably smarter than everyone else. And two, that you’re a fraud; that when it comes right down to it, lots of people are smarter than you.

So given the choice of investing in a game where you have to show you’re the smartest or investing in a game where you can rely on luck or hustle, most people want…the thrill of imagining that they’re going to win without the reality of discovering that someone is better than them.

This is exactly what’s going on with authors who have not yet turned pro. Investing in craft and developing a career slowly and methodically takes intelligence. While we’re all capable of that approach, most writers spend an awful lot of time feeling like a fraud; feeling that other writers are better than them. As a result, they rely on luck and hustle. They try to game the system by focusing on Amazon’s algorithm rather than their ability to write a book that works.

Well yes, others are better than you. Others are better than me. That’s not the point.

Professionals are never in competition with others. They only ever compete with themselves. Pros make sure that the job they do today is better than the job they did yesterday, and that has absolutely nothing to do with luck.


About the author 

Valerie Francis

Valerie Francis is a bestselling author, literary editor, and podcaster with a passion for stories by, for and about women.

Each month, Valerie recommends books from literature’s best female authors. Selections come from every genre because women write, and read, in every genre. The Women’s Fiction category offers up some terrific novels, but these days there’s a strong female presence in thriller, horror, crime, and other genres traditionally dominated by male writers. No matter what the publishing companies may think, in the 21st Century, Women’s Fiction is whatever we want it to be.

stories for women, by women, and about women

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