The most popular thing I’ve ever written

Screenshot 2014-04-02 14.37.31A week ago, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced they were splitting up. The UK’s Daily Telegraph (their biggest broadsheet newspaper) emailed me out of the blue. I’d written for them in the past, but not for a few months. They asked if I could turn something around in an hour: they already had an American woman’s perspective on marrying a British man? Could I give them the opposite viewpoint? I bashed it out, happy with most of the jokes. I sent it, and promptly forgot about it. They ran it.

And it blew up. It hit their front page. Last time I checked, it had been shared over 19,000 times on Facebook. It didn’t change the world or anything, but it put me on the map with a few important people. That’s a big win for me.

There’s a weird lesson in here. Opportunity visits in strange ways, and at odd times. You may not recognize it when it arrives. But if you are always working hard, always honing your craft (pitching, thinking, meeting, performing, challenging, writing, and RE-writing), you will get your chance to shine in front of a large audience. If you are in a creative profession, it can seem like most of the time, you’re just WASTING your time: writing stuff no one reads, telling jokes no one hears. You are not. You are constantly improving. And when opportunity knocks, it will be the anonymous failures that prepared you to succeed.