Number of Attempts

I was looking for a book by authors who were similar to Robert McCloskey this evening. I remember the Homer Price books to be an enjoyable read as a kid. (I cannot vouch that they are still an appropriate read for kids. Sometimes books, wording, or attitudes don’t age very well.) As I was looking through the similar authors on Goodreads, I was struck by the number of books that some of these authors wrote: 

  • Beverly Cleary: 148
  • Geoffrey Chaucer: 499
  • Margaret Wise Brown: 267
  • Marcia Brown*: 53 

What strikes me about the list of authors and the number of books that the wrote is that they must have been writing many books each year. Beverly Cleary wasn’t a one-hit wonder. Rather, if she were writing between 1950 (when her first book was published) and 2000 (an arbitrary year I chose), she would have to write three books each year. I won’t even start to calculate how many books a year Chaucer wrote. 

Number Of Attempts Matter

Think about how you can apply this to your work and life. Don’t worry about making the one perfect one-hit-wonder. Worry about how many projects you can put out. Be sure that you know your craft, and then go and do as much of it as possible. Whether it is creating courses, coding, producing value through consulting, or any other work that you do: do it well, and do a lot of it. 

Make more good attempts, and you will spread the benefit of what you are doing to more people than you ever expected.  


*I included Marcia Brown because she wrote Stone Soup, one of the best books of all time.