The internet is crawling with magic bullets. I’m going to make some up, but they’ll probably replicate or be damn close to real ones: “5 Easy Tips To Unleash Your Creativity” “10 Great Writers Tell You How To Be A Success” “3 Simple Principles To Unlock Viral Fame”.
You know the stuff. You’ve seen it. Maybe you’ve clicked on a few. Lean in close, I’ll tell you a secret.
I’ve clicked on a few.
Yeah, sometimes I read those things. Maybe you have never, but the odds say you have. They’re tempting. We all want to do the stuff we do better. Sometimes we’re pretty sure we’re doing it wrong. Sometimes we’re pretty sure that what we’re missing is simple, a little thing, something so obvious that we’re not seeing it like (we presume, because AFAIK nobody’s ever talked to a fish) fish don’t realize they’re swimming in water.
Also, there’s great advice out there. Granted, it’s usually not behind a headline like “7 Pathetically Simple Things Your Dumb Ass Can Learn In 30 Seconds By Reading This Article What The Hell Is Wrong With You”. Which is how all those headlines read when I’m feeling down. THANKS INTERNET YOU JERK.
The great advice, though, really is in little online articles sometimes. Or in tweets from some of the more entertaining and personable writers out there. Or in books like the ever-so-frequently-mentioned On Writing by Stephen King — his isn’t the only one, look for some in your home genre if you write and you’re looking for tips.
Y0u just never know where it’s going to show up.
But the “magic bullet” articles are generally 1 part obvious stuff and 9 parts crap. There’s not a magic bullet to make you an enormously selling writer (I mean, I don’t think so. I’m not enormously selling, so I could be totally wrong I suppose) or anything else. No magic listicle to unlock huge webcomic popularity or world champion marathoner prowess or being a better friend-spouse-whoever-you-are-to-someone-else, no magic bullet to jack your B average up to an A, no magic bullet to unlock the best lyrics ever from your songwriting pen.
If you’re really looking for magic bullets to success, you’re in for a sad surprise. They’re basically spells. Modern-day incantations and rituals. Do X,Y, and Z while saying A and writing B, and you’ll be the next Rowling.
There’s magic in the world — and if you’re allergic to schmaltz, skip ahead a bit. There’s the magic of hugs and love and empathy and giving a damn about your fellow human being and babies and kittens and freshly baked cookies and waterfalls and walks on foggy beaches and blooming flowers and fat bumblebees and…
You get the point.
But there’s no magic zip-zappity-poof now you’re at the top of your chosen field.
The truth is boring.
Always work to improve. Always be ready to hear constructive criticism. Always be ready to ignore trolls. Keep working. Keep looking for new opportunities. Keep on keeping on. And do read things that you think might contain helpful things for you. Sometimes you can find a bit of perspective or a tidbit that points you at a personal shortcoming or strength so you can improve or capitalize. Sometimes it will even be in one of those silly listicles. But mostly not.
Just don’t give up.
And maybe write something like this if you’re having one of those days when you, personally, feel like giving up.
It helps. Take my word for it.
First, the clickbait titles themselves. On page 2 (the link to page 2 is allllllll the way at the bottom of this page, under the related post thumbnails), I will post the title plus the book the title refers to.
That way, you can enjoy guessing which books the clickbait titles are ‘advertising’ before going to the next page to see if you guessed right.
You Won’t Believe Why One Old Hobbit Walked Halfway Across The World
One Weird Trick To Becoming The Religious Icon of An Entire People (Hint: Kwisatz Haderach!)
You’ll Be Shocked When You Realize You Love This Genocide-Committing Murderer
The Most Embarrassing Reactions When Winter Is Coming
This Weird Old Trick Will Help You Defy The Book Burning Hordes
This Story Will Put You Off Pork Chops Forever
You’ll Be Shocked When You Find Out How Dangerous Lifehacks Really Are
This Zoned-Out Martian Hippie Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity
You Might Think Nothing Is Worse Than Ebola — But You’re Wrong
The Most Important Thing You’ll Ever Read And Not Understand
How Bad Will Your Kids Screw Things Up? The Answer Is Worse Than You Think
One Grandpa Goes Green — You’ll Never Believe What Happens Next!
You’ll Never See America The Same Way Again After You Learn What One Convicted Felon Learned
Click over to page two below, and see the headlines matched up with their classic SFF titles!