Success Comes to Those Who Work for It (Usually)

This Week In Writing, we talk about success and perseverance through the lens of Simu Liu’s memoir. Oh, and AI writing, too.

Success Comes to Those Who Work for It (Usually)
“A Cyborg Writing a Memoir” by Justin Cox and Midjourney

I’m back on my audiobook kick since I drive to an office three or four days a week. Last week I “read” Simu Liu’s memoir, We Were Dreamers. It’s a well-told story about his parents’ immigration to Canada from China and his exploration of acting.

While Simu is now a Marvel superhero, he was once an accountant searching Craig’s List for acting jobs. He had never taken an acting class, had an acting gig, or done anything on stage (aside from a high school boyband talent show and some ‘tricking’ stunts in college).

What’s interesting about Simu’s story is that he relentlessly pursued every acting opportunity he could find, from Craig’s List audition calls to kids’ birthday parties. He had a vision (be a great actor) and a goal (star in a Marvel movie) and knew getting there would take work. Simu reinvested every dollar he made from small gigs into classes and training, working as hard as possible to improve his skills.

While improving, Simu also made connections with other actors, agents, and directors. He wasn’t afraid to connect or ask questions. As a result, his community helped him continue to grow as an actor.

Eventually, through hard work and perseverance, Simu Liu fulfilled his goal and starred in Marvel’s Shung Chi.

Simu’s story is captivating and has a lot of things writers can glean in their own pursuit of creative success. Growing as a writer requires putting in the work. My book, Write Now, dedicates an entire chapter to this point: there is generally no quick route to writing success. However, success finds those who work hard, write relentlessly, and build their audience.

Unfortunately, there are many writers looking for shortcuts. Whether it’s a magic wand that makes their content popular or using generative AI tools to crank out thousands of words daily to capture engagement earnings, don’t be that person. Put in the work. Write the words. Grow. Your audience is out there.

Submission Rules Update

Speaking of people looking for shortcuts, I updated The Writing Cooperative’s submission rules over the weekend. There is now an entire section on Generative AI. While I love AI image generators and have used them for unique and creative featured images, I am increasingly becoming less of a fan of generative writing AIs.

Since wondering aloud a few weeks ago about AI-based publication submissions, I’m getting a feel for what the tools can and cannot do and feel more confident spotting AI-created content. Just like every image Midjourney creates has a similar feel, so does AI-written content. Zulie Rane has a great explanation of AI tools’ complete lack of soul.

An AI cannot replicate your personal experience, which is what makes for a great article. Experience-based content is what I want to read in the publication. So, anything written entirely by an AI is not welcome in The Writing Cooperative. Will I catch them all? Probably not. But don’t try to game the system; instead, write from your experience.

Related, if a generative AI is used in any capacity, it should be noted in the piece like you would cite a source or affiliate link. While these tools are in their infancy, we writers can help set the tone for how they’re used. Let’s ensure we use the tools ethically.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!