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Instant Success–Is It Possible?

by Sheila Hollinghead

Many people today are afraid of hard work. I have an aversion to some types myself—like scrubbing toilets. However, I get to scrub the toilet because I have a toilet. In many areas of the world, people are not so lucky. With a slight attitude change, I may not enjoy scrubbing the toilet, but at least I understand it’s all part and parcel of having a clean bathroom!

Many writers today have the same aversion to hard work as I do to scrubbing toilets. Some writers, believe it or not, do not even like to read. I think these people just want to throw a bunch of words onto their computers and pray for instant success. Kind of like the instant soup I have in my pantry. Throw it in a bowl, add water, and you have soup. 

Yes, you have soup. But do you know what instant soup tastes like? The soup would be much tastier if I weren’t so doggone lazy. I could cut up tomatoes, potatoes, and carrots.

Or, better yet, I could grow fresh vegetables and harvest them to make the soup. And, I could search for the very best soup recipes.

Making a truly gourmet soup takes time and effort and sweat.

When you are not a reader, when you have not read the very best books, when you have not learned your craft, you really have no idea what gourmet soup a good book tastes like. Perhaps you are satisfied with instant book because that is all you have ever tasted, but will your readers be?

On my personal website, my most popular post to date has been What’s J.K. Rowling’s Secret to Success? I believe its popularity is due to writers searching for the easy way to success. That’s not what they find when they read the article. To quote myself: J.K. Rowling worked hard to learn story, theme, and character development and implemented what she learned. We forget that she studied French and Classics at the “Ivy League” University of Exeter and was a Hemione-like student, according to her own words.

Yet, Rowling is not the only one some people believe achieved instant success. Many point to successful self-published authors and believe it can be achieved sans work.

One blogger had this to say about that notion:

We live in a world of instant gratification, where you can upload a video to Youtube on a Monday and be on the Today show discussing it by Friday. We don’t want to work for things anymore. We are not interested in staying the course, building character or perfecting our craft. We are just interested in money and a fan base. Even people, who do work hard and struggle for years end up being called an overnight success. Take two very successful self-published authors, J. A Konrath and Amanda Hocking as examples. Both have been ridiculed for writing a crappy book, slapping it up on Amazon and just “Getting Lucky”. What people don’t know is that J. A Konrath has been submitting his work to publishers since the early eighties. That’s longer than a lot of his naysayers have been alive, but we never hear about that. People put down Amanda Hocking for being a young girl in her early twenties who “Got Lucky” writing a book while working a fulltime job as a caretaker. No one ever mentions that she has written books her whole life and completed 17 novels before she ever started self-publishing. How many people can say that? Plus, everyone likes to breeze over the fact that while most of us sit on the couch channel surfing after work, she was up all hours of the night writing books and going after her dreams. Never mind that the so-called “Crap” they write has been loved around the world by millions of adoring fans. Let’s just put them and their work down to stroke our own egos, while we stare longingly at J.K. Rowling’s picture on our wall. ~ Why Are We So Afraid of Hard Work?

There is no easy way to make a great soup write a great book. There is no secret to success—except that of hard work.

Are we willing to settle for instant book that readers may spit out when they get a taste? Or, are we willing to work hard so that readers will savor our books?

The choice is ours. We still may not like scrubbing toilets the hard work of learning our craft, reading, reading, reading, and buckling down to write, but we can learn to be thankful for the opportunities we have.

Writing is hard work, but I still prefer it to scrubbing toilets.

# # #


Sheila Hollinghead is an eclectic OCD, ADD, and LOL (lots of letters) author. She has started her series “In the Shadow of the Cedar” with Thundersnow. Follow her blogging adventures at Rise, Write, Shine!

12 comments on “Instant Success–Is It Possible?

  1. Carol Peterson
    April 20, 2012

    Perfect advice for toilets and writing!

    • sheilahollinghead
      April 20, 2012

      Thanks, Carol!

  2. Boyewa T'Oritshe-Nunu
    April 20, 2012

    Thanks so much for this subject about work and success…as sister Carol Peterson prayed, may God “help us Christian writers celebrate and rejoice in the process–not just in the end result’.

    Nothing in life is easy, but the world we live has effectively made many unfocused, disattracted, and utltimately lazy.

    As Nelson Mandela said, “many of us will have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we get to the mountain top of our desires”; Life is all about dieing before living, suffering before success, pain before pleasure. Christ is an epitome of all this.

    My prayers is that God grant us the grace, dtermination and fortitude to shun the end results and focus on this truths…but more so be caught up in the process IJN…Amen.

    Thanks so much for your article on this subject…it further sunk in what work and succes is all about

    • sheilahollinghead
      April 20, 2012

      Yes, it does take a great deal of determination and fortitude. I was just reading an article that said “A Wrinkle in Time” was rejected at least twenty-six times! I think if we look at the most successful authors, we will find that they are all hard workers.

  3. Carol Peterson
    April 20, 2012

    P.S. — Sheila, did you not know that there were SIX (that’s 6) Star Wars movies; not three…heh-heh. We won’t make you choose.

    • sheilahollinghead
      April 20, 2012

      Yes, Carol, I did know that. I try to forget the last three which were actually the first three. LOL 🙂

  4. pennyzeller
    April 20, 2012

    I enjoyed your article, Sheila! And I do have to admit…I don’t like scrubbing toilets either! But you are right, we are fortunate to have a toilet. I try to remember that with all chores – we are fortunate to have dishes, clothes, etc. Thank you for tying it all together with our writing.

    • sheilahollinghead
      April 20, 2012

      Hi, Penny! I used to have a little mantra–instead of “I have to,” I would say “I get to . . .” But it never worked with cleaning toilets or doing laundry. 🙂

  5. Traci B
    April 20, 2012

    Excellent post, Sheila. I’m right there with you on the toil-scrubbing aversion, but since no one else is going to do it (at least not often enough), I guess it’s up to me.

    Same with Chantal’s Call – if I hadn’t written it, who would? And if I hadn’t put in the time on research and editing (like with making a good soup), the folks who have bought it so far wouldn’t be asking me not to wait a year to release the sequel.

    And isn’t that the mark of a good soup – er, book? When people want seconds… 😉

    • sheilahollinghead
      April 20, 2012

      Hey, Traci! When they ask for seconds, you know you did something right!

  6. Mavis Duke Hinton
    April 28, 2012

    Thank you so much for this article! I’m going to print it out, laminate it, and trot it out the very next time someone says to me, “You write books? Wow. How do you fill your days?” GRRR. Writing can be fun at times, but it’s no walk in the park, either. If they only knew how many times we write and rewrite . . .

    • Sheila Odom Hollinghead
      April 28, 2012

      You are very welcome, Mavis. Hope it comes in handy! LOL

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This entry was posted on April 20, 2012 by in Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , .

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