The Formula For Success

Did you know there’s actually a mathematical formula for how to succeed?

This is great news for writers, because all too often we can get discouraged and the temptation to just end it all rears its ugly head. Oh, not the temptation to stop writing or posting, but rather the temptation to stop trying to get our writing into the public arena. It’s hard trying to get our work noticed on a large scale level (or even a medium level) and on the small-scale there’s always that thought lurking that I’m just small fry in the big pond.

For those of you who are like me and sometimes get those dark failure thoughts in the back of your head because you haven’t made it to the top in the few months, or the year, you’ve been writing, take heart! In order to succeed all you need is…


This can be read as Focused Intensity, over Time, multiplied by Intelligence yields Success.

FocusedYou have to know what you really want and then go after just those few things, don’t pay attention to the rest of the noise the world throws at us. If you want to write novels, write novels with a single minded focus. Structure your personal life, talk to your spouse, give something up that’s keeping you back, take up something that will move you forward. Don’t try to write while listening to the radio, while watching television, and while talking on the phone! Those who move their art into the public’s eye know what they want and go for it.

Intensity – If you focus only on writing poems, but only write five minutes a day you’re not going to get anywhere fast. Everyone has different levels of intensity, and some people can be much too intense when it comes to writing and hurt those who love them. I’m not talking about workaholics. But putting in the effort is necessary to get people to notice what you’re writing. No one reads your blog if you only publish every other month. It’s an odd fact that usually those who work hardest seem to get all the attention and praise.

Over Time – Settle in for the long haul. Practice makes perfect, and you don’t become world class without putting in some years, or decades, of work.

Dave Ramsey said “Show me someone working with focused intensity for a year, and they’ll be pretty good. Show me someone working with focused intensity for five years, and they’ll be excellent. Show me someone who’s worked with focused intensity for a decade or more, and you’ve probably got yourself someone who’s world-class in their chosen profession!” Time spent pays off.

Multiplied by Intelligence – Beating your head against a metaphorical brick wall will only give you headaches, not success. Those who write well, and have built up an audience, have done so because they learned from their mistakes, corrected themselves over and over, read extensively, and talked to others in their field who succeeded. You build an audience by writing well, and being smart about selling yourself. The dumb luck strategy is like trying to win the lottery – the odds are highly, highly against you. You have to use your intelligence and make strategic, purposeful decisions. We aren’t all going to be discovered and raved about like J.K. Rowling, but we can all use our brains to multiply the effects of our writing as much as humanly possible.

Equals Success – Everyone’s view of success is different. Someone might just want to be published in the local fiction magazine. Someone might want to become an internationally known poet. Someone might want to win the Pulitzer Prize for biography, or make money from their blog, or write for their business. The point isn’t what your definition of success is, but that you achieve it – while still being an excellent human being.

No matter what you want to do, when you combine focus, intensity, time, and intelligence you’ll accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish through your writing. Just like our math teachers said in high school about the formulas they gave us…”Just plug and chug, baby!” That’s all we have to do with our writing too. It’s time-tested, it’s proven, and it works!



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