What do you need to find success in creative endeavours? It’s the greatest puzzle and most asked question by people trying to break in to the creative industries, or to remain working in them. Here’s what I think it takes:
1) Talent – I do believe talent is a thing, a natural predilection towards a field or skill, whether it be a particular way with words, a specific way of looking at the world, or expressing it. You don’t have to be a genius in your field, but it helps to have an elevated ability in an area.
2) Graft – This is twofold, in that you need to endlessly hone your craft, but also to continue working, and submitting and failing, persevering and learning for years, even in the face of adversity and rejection.
3) Likeability – Perhaps a slightly controversial one, but I truly believe that the first two skills can get your foot in the door, but if nobody likes working with you, you’re going to really struggle. Networking can bring you to the attention of decision-makers or clients, and a writer’s room is a hard place to be without good social skills. This may sound like it’s out of your hands, but basically don’t be a dick. Have empathy. Don’t publicly bag on the works or personages of anyone else in the industry regardless of their level. Show interest in other people, regardless of their level. That’ll already put you in the top 10%.
3) Luck – This is the really tricky one, and one you have no control over. This can be just the good fortune of submitting to, or encountering, the right person at the right time. But it also refers to privilege. This can be the privilege of family connections, or not having to work at a day job to keep yourself and your family alive, or having people around you who are supportive.
Why do I call this the Chair Leg Thesis for Success in Creative Endeavours?
Because if you take away one leg, you still have a reasonably functional stool. You can still use it. It might be a bit more wobbly than with four fully functional legs, but it’s enough for you to stand on successfully. The less legs you have, the more of a balancing act it will be, the more precarious your perch. Impossible? No. But very, very hard.
Here’s a final thought:
Do The Hard Graft – It’s The Only Thing You Have Control Over.