My two Scotties, playing in this week's snow ... they fight over toys, but just let a mouse come by and it's teamwork all the way.

In today’s fiction market with the big splashy brand-name authors making headlines, chatting with Oprah or appearing on morning talk shows to promote their latest books, it’s easy to think writing success is just random luck.

Are you still sitting around, waiting for inspiration to strike you the way it did J.K. Rowling?

Did you ever think you have to prepare yourself to receive luck?

Writers are a combination of two important qualities:  talent and craftsmanship.

The first one you’re born with.  You may be born with quite a lot.  You may be born with a tiny drop.

The second one you gain through hard work and practice.  You write a short story a day, like Ray Bradbury did when he was starting out.  You write a novel manuscript of, say, 100,000 words — not by wishing but by planting your backside in a chair every day and writing until you type “The End.”  Then you toss that draft except perhaps for a couple of good scenes and you start over.  Learning as you go, improving the story as you go.  You practice by facing the myriad challenges of plot and character and rewriting until you’re good at it.

You make luck by honing your craft, by listening to your innate story sense, and by letting your talent and craft work together as a team.  That way, when the right opportunity comes along, you’re ready to receive it.

Photo by Deborah Chester

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