Nothing To Do With Luck

I’ve been blogging about booze and four-leaf clovers over at Modern Materialist today, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. And all those clover images have got me thinking about luck. And how freelance success has nothing to do with it.

Hear me out.

I have a friend who expresses jealousy over every writing assignment I get, and laments the fact that she’s not working from home, too. “You’re so lucky,” she tells me, as if I haven’t worked hard to get here.

Meanwhile, after pumping me for tips and contacts, she gives up her writing dreams after one rejected pitch.

While I acknowledge that I have been lucky in many respects, I’ve also made a lot of my own luck, using determination, preparation, and perseverence.

Today, on this day of leprechauns and four-leaf clovers, remind yourself of at least one way in which you’ve made your own luck. It’s a great confidence booster, not to mention a source of motivation for future success. Here. Let me start you off:

Show Some Humility:

There’s been a lot of smack talk in the media about how entitled the most recent generations feel when it comes to success and career satisfaction. And it’s true. Don’t turn your nose up at a post-college internship if you’re thinking of making a career change. And being paid peanuts at a publication you love can (sometimes) lead to bigger and better things.

My internship at the Feminist Press led to a full-time job at Routledge, while my subsequent internship at Material Media led to my work with the Modern Materialist (and writing assignments for both Nerve and Babble).

Network as If Your Life Depended Upon It:

When it seems as if you have to know someone in order to get anywhere, make sure you know the right people. Attend networking events. Seek out informational interviews. Make use of social networking sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

And don’t stop there. Make sure you’re talking about your career goals to everyone you come into contact with (friends…family…your hairdresser…). I got my first post-college job through my exercise class, and landed a regular blogging gig at a MeetUp! My work for The Frisky, YourTango, and AOL’s Lemondrop came about in much the same way.

Be Prepared:

Before leaving Routledge to try out freelancing full-time, I read a ton of how-to books, took some software and writing courses, and landed myself a freelance copy editing gig for the New York Sun (incidentally, through a contact made at a continuing education class) so that I could feel financially secure enough to jump.

Perhaps the way in which I live and breathe publishing is a bit extreme, but the books I’ve read, the experiences I’ve had, and the people I’ve spoken to about the industry have all helped me to feel more confident in my abilities.

Be Persistent:

Susan Johnston of The Urban Muse tweeted the other day that writers should always follow up. “In the past few weeks,” she said, “I’ve landed several assignments as the result of a follow-up email.”

This is so true. And, beyond this, if you do receive a rejection e-mail, you can’t take it personally. It has nothing to do with your worth as a writer or other service provider. You simply weren’t the right person for the job at that time, or your idea wasn’t the right fit at that particular moment. Send along some new ideas, and repitch the old one to someone else. If you get into this rhythm, the positive responses will quickly begin outnumbering the negative ones.

So no, I don’t think my accomplishments have anything to do with luck.

Well, maybe just a little.


  1. margiewrites says:

    Persistence really is the key. People like your friend who easily get discouraged don’t realize that for every great gig you get, there were dozens of rejections or no-responses that came before it.

  2. @margie: Exactly! It’s so frustrating to try helping someone who won’t help themselves. Though I suppose I should be happy that easily discouraged people mean less competition for us! 🙂

  3. margiewrites says:

    Ha, for sure!


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