The Simple But Scary Secret To Writing Success

    writing success - woman

    Do you want to win a 5 bedroom mansion? Do you want writing success  to be your ticket to a life of affluence – not just for yourself, but with enough to spare to help your friends? If so, read on…

    But, stop!

    There is one thing you must do.

    You must learn to blow your own trumpet!

    Lorna Page‘s life story tell us why: Lorna wrote passionately for more than 70 years without sharing her writing with others. Then, in her late eighties, she decided to write a raunchy novel called A Dangerous Weakness. But did she show it to anybody? No, she put it into a suitcase and forgot about it. Until her daughter-in-law happened to find the manuscript and made Lorna send it to a publisher.

    What happened next was any writer’s dream: A publisher immediately signed her up. The advance rolled in, and Lorna suddenly went from poverty to affluence at age 93. She bought a 5-room mansion in southwest England. Then she started hauling her friends out of retirement homes, and installed them comfortably in her house.

    Now Lorna is writing a selection of short stories. Watch her talking on this clip

    Lorna’s story teaches us some important lessons:

    • Trust your passion

    Passion and talent are intimately related. If you are passionate, your latent talent will develop.

    What is the relationship between passion and talent? It seems to me that if you are passionate about an art form, you are touched by the harmony hidden beneath the surface. Being able to perceive that harmony implies that you have innate talent. Here’s an example. In an interview with superblogger Liz Strauss, I asked her why she writes. She answered:

    I write because I hear the music of language playing.

    In other words, Liz can hear the harmony hidden within language. So, you can be sure she has talent. (And what amazing talent she has! I’ll publish the inspiring conversation with Liz very soon on WTD. Watch out for it!)

    • Keep on writing no matter what it takes.

    Are you willing to keep on writing? Even without recognition? Year after year – decade after decade?

    Many bloggers initially say ‘yes’ to the long haul, but soon give up. I’ve observed even talented bloggers stutter, sputter, and finally fall silent. Why? Because writing is hard work. Because it doesn’t pay for a long time. Because it’s hard to keep going. Because it’s difficult to keep believing in oneself.

    That’s the acid test for talent: that we just keep on going – no matter what.

    • Have the courage to show your writing to others

    Do you? If not, you might want to think about starting a blog. Why? Because a blog forces you to publish your writing week after week. That’s great training! As Lorna’s story shows, sharing your writing with others can have amazing consequences!

    • Let go of both humility and arrogance

    Humility and arrogance are closely related. They are both mindsets based on comparison with others. The humble person rates themselves ‘below’ others, whereas the arrogant person sets themselves ‘above’ his peers. When we compare ourselves with others, we take the eye off the ball. The ball being our own personal creative process.

    • Cultivate modest confidence

    Modesty means that we are aware that we are on a learning path and still have a lot to learn. Confidence is the quiet knowledge that we are complete at every stage. When we write, this is our full expression of who we are at this moment.

    • Believe that it’s never too late.

    Lorna’s story is a wonderful  example of how a writer can be discovered at any age.

    Since writing this post, some more facts have come to light, thanks to reader Mo. It turns out that some of the aspects of Lorna’s story aren’t strictly true. She didn’t actually buy a mansion with the advance. In fact, she had to pay money to get the book self-published. Here is what she says in a comment:

    Hi everyone. Glad to know some people understand what reporters can do to a perfectly average story about a grandmother who writes novels. Here are the facts; I wrote A Dangerous Weakness on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper, and put them away in a suitcase which my daughter-in-law found about 8 months ago, and encouraged me to publish a book. It would all still be on scraps of paper if she hadn’t found it. That’s it. But, through it all, I think it is a good book. In fact, now I’m working on my second. The really wonderful part of my story is my son who left his home in America to come back to England to take care of me when I needed a little help. Lorna Page

    In light of the new facts, I’ve added another important point for success:

    • Write a brilliant press release.

    We not only have to write something worthwhile reading AND blow our own trumpet (or have a decent daughter-in-law with entrepreneurial spirit play the reveille), we also have to create a press release that tells a great story!

    Lorna’s book is doing really well on Amazon and I wish her luck with her dream to rescue some of her friends from poverty with the proceeds. The main point is that a talented writer kept on writing for nearly 90 years and was finally discovered!


    There are two wonderful films that spell out a similar message. One is the Buena Vista Social Club. It is one of the most inspiring documentaries ever made. If you don’t know it, here’s a brief run-down: A group of  talented Cuban musicians who were in their eighties – and had given up playing music because they couldn’t find employment any more – were discovered by Ray Couder. Their late career blossomed and finally led to a spectacular and emotional performance in the Carnegie Hall. Tip: keep a box of tissues handy!

    The other is Frank Lloyd Wright: A Film By Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Frank Lloyd Wright was arguably the best American architect ever. What impresses me about his life was the fact that at sixty he was written off as a ‘has-been’. The only one who believed in him was – himself. He was passionate about architecture, and believed that he could create something extraordinary. But it was only in his seventies and eighties that recognition finally came.

    The Cuban musicians, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Lorna Page have something in common: they kept on pursuing their art, and finally won through.

    What lesson do you take from Lorna’s Writing Success?

    Do you want to wait until you’re 93 until you start blowing your own trumpet? That’s a long, long time! Alternatively, you might want to start to share your best stuff with others now. Yes, now.

    About the author

      Mary Jaksch

      Mary Jaksch is best known for her exceptional training for writers at WritetoDone.com. Grab a copy of her free report, How to Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet in Less Than 5 Hours. In her “spare” time, Mary’s also the brains behind AlistBlogging.net. and GoodlifeZEN.com, a Zen Master, a mother, and a 5th Degree Black Belt.

    • Do what you want to do!

    • geld lenen says:

      Just follow your passion and you will do great.

    • Nice post. I think you will always end up doing what you feel like suits you best.

    • Hypotheek says:

      I agree with krediet. But sometimes people take their talents for granted. Theyd rather make money than do something they are passionate about. That makes sense in a way because not everything a person is good in can be a contribution to the society.

    • Krediet says:

      This is a great article. I think when you’re really passionate about something, you’ll never give up!

    • Twente says:

      I do agree with your statement that […If you are passionate, your latent talent will develop.]. But what you are passionate about, should make economic sense. Lorna Page made a fortune with her writings after all. But most people would prefer to make money at an earlier age.

    • I really like this post. Thanks for this article, I am now your blog’ s rss follower. you are now in my bookmarks.

    • Hypotheek says:

      Very nice post.

      Thanx….

      Angela

    • vastgoed says:

      Very inspired story, thanks for posting! greetz, V

    • hypotheek says:

      Hello Harriet,

      I think you have an awesome story, very inspirational. Like others on this website, I am currently writing a book. I hope it will be great. Im sure of it 😉

      Regards,

      Aislin

    • Hi Harriet,
      The Writing Workshop will be a chance for each of us to show our writing and ask for feedback. We’ll use the comment section for this. I’ll give instruction nex Thursday. I’d be delighted if we could help you to get going again with your blog.

      As to the writing course with Nancy Aronie – could you please let us kow how it was?

    • Hi Ullla,
      Some people recommend humility and pan arrogance without realizing that they are talking of two sides of the same coin.

    • Am interested in the writing workshop. Tell more about it please. I’ve started a blog months ago and seem to be stuck. I don’t know where to go with it. Can’t seem to find the right focus.
      Am taking a writing course this coming week at Martha’s Vineyard on writing from the heart with Nancy Aronie. Something different.

    • “Let go of both humility and arrogance” – that was the sentence which impressed me most!

    • Excellent! I love Lorna’s story, I wasn’t aware of her, it’s quite amazing what she is doing at such an age

      Thanks for the great post again guys

    • Hi Scott!
      Ah – I actually read your article at the time and liked it. I didn’t realise it was you! Liz has obviously got an eye for talent…

    • Hi Kimberlee!
      Great that you want to join the Writing Workshop.

    • Hi Sara!
      You say: “Being unwilling to share your writing because you don’t want anything but accolades is just as unproductive as hiding your writing because you don’t think it’s good enough.”

      Agreed. Something strange happens to me, though.

      I’m willing to read any criticism of my work. Yes, but…when someone actually says something critical, I feel a stab of pain. It’s like when someone says something negative about one’s kid.

      This happened to me today when Mo pulled me up (see his earlier comments). But I quickly got over it 🙂

      In fact, I thought what a wonderful theme this whole story would be for a novel. It would have to have some twists. In my novel she wouldn’t remember where she’s put the notebook with the crucial chapter 3 and would search for it from attic to cellar. And her lovely idea of living with elderly friends would turn to custard when she finds that she JUST CAN’T STAND THEM.

    • Scott McIntyre says:

      Thank you for the kind opportunity to share my writing on Liz’s blog here, Mary.

      The latest article below is the 6th in the series I’ve written:

      http://www.successful-blog.com/1/welcoming-the-offline-customer-does-your-blog-create-a-good-impression/

    • Great story! It takes a lot of courage to get published, no matter what the circumstances. I am also curious how the writing workshop would go. I’d be interested in joining!

    • You make a fantastic point about humility and arrogance. They really are two sides of the same coin. At some point, we need to be ready to take critiques and work on them. Being unwilling to share your writing because you don’t want anything but accolades is just as unproductive as hiding your writing because you don’t think it’s good enough.

      Pieces like these are vital to publish every so often–we all need the motivation to remain persistent!

    • Hi Scott!
      Why don’t you link to your post on Liz Strauss’ blog? I’d love to read what you said!

      As to the Writing Workshop: my ideas it to give some guidelines in a post and then ask readers to offer links or snippets of writing in the comments. I’ll suggest that we each say what aspect of our writing we are currently working on. For example, I’m trying to cure a preachy tone that tends to creep into my work (which no doubt stems from my work as a Zen master).

      This is going to be a collaborative venture, so if any of you have some suggestions on how to run the Writing Workshop, please email me at writetodone [at] gmail [dot] com

    • Hi Everyone!
      You’ll see that I’ve added to the original post in light of the information that Mo kindly gave us.

      My apologies for not getting the story straight. I thought I could trust those stalwarts of British journalism, The Guardian and the BBC…alas, no.

      In Jonathan’s words: My bad!

    • Hi Mo!
      thanks for the heads-up about some of the fairy-tale quality of the story.
      Here is a comment from Lorna:

      Hi everyone. Glad to know some people understand what reporters can do to a perfectly average story about a grandmother who writes novels. Here are the facts; I wrote A Dangerous Weakness on the backs of envelopes and scraps of paper, and put them away in a suitcase which my daughter-in-law found about 8 months ago, and encouraged me to publish a book. It would all still be on scraps of paper if she hadn’t found it. That’s it. But, through it all, I think it is a good book. In fact, now I’m working on my second. The really wonderful part of my story is my son who left his home in America to come back to England to take care of me when I needed a little help. Lorna Page

      The comment appears under the name of the daughter-in-law. You can find it here.

      The Lorna Page story shows that you not only have to blow your trumpet, you also have to write a press release that triggers emotional buttons 🙂

    • Mo says:

      Just went back to Making Light – Lorna Page talked to the BBC to set the record straight – she paid to have the book published. Link

    • Mo says:

      This story did not happen as you present it – there has been a good thread about it at Making Light Link

      Basically, the book being published and the house being bought have nothing to do with each other. The book is self published and thus there was no advance to buy the house. The story is being pushed as publicity for the book. She “hopes” that there will be money to support her friends leaving their nursing homes.

      There are far too many scam artists preying on would-be writers. Do some research before spreading these sorts of stories.

    • writer dad says:

      I’ll be there. I promise. Great writing can’t exist in a vacuum. If you have even a glimmer of talent as a writer, you will probably have plenty of loved ones to tell you you’re great. Listen to them, of course. But also listen to those who know better, and can tell you how to rub your work from dull to shine. I’ve found myself fortunate, that someone has taken such an interest in me. It is making a difference.

    • Scott McIntyre says:

      What an inspirational story, Mary.

      It is brilliant to read of someone who never gave up on their creative dream and eventually tasted success.

      Perseverance is often as necessary as talent and passion to see one through the fallow period until strangers become your audience.

      I admire Liz Strauss greatly- she has made it her purpose in life to pass on her writing and blogging skills to help others.

      Personally, I am so grateful to her for giving me an unbelievable opportunity to write for her blog – even though I’m not a blogger with my own blog.

      Some might have thought it a risk to let someone like myself ‘loose’ on the pages, without prior experience.

      Liz, however, was willing to take that risk and has allowed me to speak with her readers. There is nothing more precious than that.

      I’d love to participate in the writing workshop. Can I ask how it will work, Mary?

    • Awesome story, very inspirational. Like many, I am currently writing a book. I believe it will be great. I have a blog, not related to the book, though I’ve mentioned the book there.

      I have also planned to start a second blog, to showcase and eventually market my book. The feelings inside of me have been telling me, “now is the time”.

      Perhaps your post is the sign.

      Thank you – Brett


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