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The thoughts and work of Sam Witt

13 Ways to Get Lucky

lucky_strikesDon’t get kid yourself – luck plays a bigger role in success or failure than expertise, experience, or effort. It’s the sum of all those factors that seem totally outside your control – who squeezed you out of their love canal, who wanted to be your buddy in kindergarten, whether or not lightning will smack you in the balls on the ninth hole – that will make the biggest difference in whether any of your endeavors are raging successes or dismal failures.

The bad news is you can’t control luck. The good news is you can dramatically increase your odds of swinging luck in your favor. Unlike drinking four-leaf clover smoothies or getting your junk pierced with a horseshoe barbell, most of these luck-attractors aren’t even that hard or unpleasant to implement. Ready to get lucky? Then let’s get started.
 
1. Stop being such a shut-in.
This is hard. For writer-types like me, going out of the house and trying to meet people is like trying to pull your own teeth with a pair of electrified barbecue tongs. But luck is a function of your connection with other people. Unless you’re making friends with evil bastards who spend all their time wanking it to The Prince, the more people you know, the better off you’ll be in the luck department.
 
If you know five people, the odds of one of those people connecting you with your dream project are pretty slim. If you know five hundred people who think you’re pretty cool, your odds are much better that one of them will connect you with a sweet opportunity.
 
2.  Be active online. 
I’m not talking about all that late-night trolling you do over at /r/vampteens or wherever it is you go to get into digital dogfights with the defenseless. Find places that are interested in what you dig. Form a relationship with the people who go to those places. You’re a writer? Go hang out at a writing community. Big fan of sci-fi? Go check out io9.com and jump into a conversation with the other folks there. This is kind of like #1, but, you know, Internetish.
 
3. Be Prepared
You don’t have to agree with their politics to understand that the Boy Scouts get some things right. Let’s say you do get lucky because you followed these thirteen shocking tips. Someone offers you an opportunity to interview for your dream job through one of your connections. Are you ready for that interview? Do you have a killer resume’ or portfolio ready to rock and roll? Do you have the appropriate clothes, or are you stuck with the ones your cat peed on while you were living in mom’s basement? How about business cards – do you have them? A website? An email address other than slinkypeters@yahoo.com?
 
Be ready to take advantage of luck when he shows up at your door slightly wasted and looking for a casual hookup.
 
4.  Keep Your Eyes Open
I’ve missed two fantastic opportunities in the past couple of years because I was not paying attention to what was going on around me. TWO. Either one of which would have had me doing naked handsprings for sheer joy. Both of them slipped through my slimy fingers because I wasn’t looking in places where I should have been focusing at least a little attention every day. Pay attention to the rest of the world so you can snatch up those little luck gremlins by the throat when they try to scurry past you.
 
5. Offer up Blood for the Blood God
Anything you want to do, unless that anything is flipping burgers at the local Feral Cat Rescue and Meat Patty Shack, is going to require a lot sacrifice to do well. I tried to be a writer who wrote when he had a few spare minutes, and that I can tell you that shit does not work. Commit to your dream. Put yourself into what you make. Bleed for your goals. Otherwise, luck will spurn you for that guy across the street who does nothing but hang by his fingernails on the gutter as he prepares for American Ninja Warrior. That guy? He’ll beat Mt. Midoriyama and you’ll have to look at his smug face while you mow the yard. Fuck that.
 
6. Be Supportive, Not Jelly
When someone in your circle succeeds at something at which you have personally failed, do not be a whiny little jackoff about it. Congratulate them. Buy them a beer and discuss what it is they did that worked for them. This isn’t a selfless act of humility – you’re milking their brain stem to get all the luck jizz out of it. Figure out what they did and how you can make that work for you, so you’ll be lucky, too.
 
7. Be Gracious in Victory
So, you got lucky? Spread that shit around. Use your new found influence to connect with other folks and connect those folks with people in your circle that will be beneficial to them both. Use your newfound reputation to lift others in your field up and help them achieve their goal. Your luck came from those people, pay them back.
 
Alternatively, you could choose to be a fucker who spurns those who haven’t succeeded and will eventually be cast down and eaten by feral hogs. Choose wisely.
 
8. Reach High
No one likes to fail, because failing sucks and is a lot like having a dog pee on the back of your neck. But the only way to get lucky is to keep stretching yourself out a little further every time you reach for something. Won your high school’s poetry contest? Sweet, go for one in your city next. Then one that’s statewide. Keep reaching further, because you will come into contact with new people and new opportunities when you’re putting your neck on the line. People like to see others take risk, and they’re willing to help those who do it often.
 
This isn’t condoning your dumbass idea to become a wing walker. That shit is dangerous.
 
9.  Be a Stepping Stone
When you see someone trying to get shit done, lend a hand. Give an honest effort to help out those who are doing things that interest you, and they will be more likely to do the same for you. It’s a psychological fact that people feel that they owe someone, at least a little, for unsolicited help. Helping others is like putting coins in their mental piggy banks, which you can later rip out of their heads along with their time and talent to help get your own projects off the ground or across the finish line.
 
Yes, that sounds kinda evil. Except, it’s not – you’re helping people, there’s no reason you can’t ask them for help in the future. Altruism isn’t a real thing. Get over it.
 
10. Stop Spinning Your Wheels
Honestly appraise what you’re doing and stop doing things that are a waste of time. I want to be a writer. Playing video games 12 hours a day was not getting me where I wanted to be. So, I quit doing that.
 
That’s a lie, I quit sleeping so I could continue playing video games and write. See #5, above.
 
The more time you spend doing things that you want to be good at, or doing things that will help you get where you want to be, the more likely you’re going to get hit by the lucky nut falling out of the sky. That’s how luck works.
 
11. Show Us Your Jiggly Bits
Luck does not like fake people. It likes people who aren’t afraid to expose themselves to the world, to become transparent in their attempts to make it out there.  You have a story to tell, and telling that story will connect you with other like-minded people. But that means you’re going to have to be willing to show us the soft, pink underbelly you’ve been hiding all these years. Tell us about yourself. Show us what you’re made of.
 
12. Embrace the Suck
Not everything you do is going to be awesome. No one is that cool. But don’t be ashamed of the things that you do that fall short. Use them as examples for yourself and others. Learn from the moments you’ve failed to quite get where you wanted to go and teach others how to avoid your mistake. Everything you do, good, bad, ugly, is what will make you who you are. By getting your hands around the nasty parts, you’ll be less likely to kick luck in the dick when it shows up and more likely to avoid the same stupid things you did to fuck up your life in the first place.
 
13. Step Up To the Plate
You can’t get lucky with a project unless you actually deliver it. Let’s say one in every thousand books is destined to make enough money for the author to be a ‘success.’ If you only write and publish one book, your chances of getting lucky with that book are pretty shit. If you put out ten books, your chances are better. If you write a hundred books, then sheer mass is going to help you get the attention of the luck demons.
 
 
Stop being a wuss, step up to the plate, and take your shot.
 
I’m sure there are a dozen more ways you can get lucky, but these are the ways that have worked for me so far. Got some tips of your own? Leave ’em in the comments or give us a link to your site.

About Sam

I am the author of the popular Pitchfork County series of horror novels. I also write a newsletter with great reading suggestions and free fiction.