Kevin J Anderson – Sure, I Can Do That

Kevin J Anderson will traditionally kick off the Superstars Writing Seminar by talking about his Popcorn Theory of Success. In the talk, Kevin starts by outlining his journey as a writer and then digs into the metaphor, postulating that there are two ways to make popcorn.

First, you can choose the perfect pan, measure out a preordained “correct” amount of oil, and search for the ideal popcorn kernel, plucked directly from Plato’s allegory of the cave. You can set it in the center of your precisely prepared and heated pan and anticipate the moment of popping, only to catch it and set it aside. You can then clean your instruments and begin the process again. You will likely starve if you work that way though.

The other option is to take your pan, give it a liberal loading of both kernels and oil, turn up the heat and wait. Nothing may happen at first, but keep kernels in the oil for long enough and something will eventually pop. Ensure that the pan is always loaded with fresh material and you’ll have enough to eat your fill.

Said in another way, “Be prolific or starve.”

It was the battle cry of the pulp fiction community. At a cent a word, the only way to bring home enough money to live was to write in huge quantities. Since then, pulp magazines have largely been replaced by eBooks and other digital media, but the thirst of the masses has not lessened. Instead, our patience and attention spans have decreased. Research has shown that most readers expect a new book in a series every 9 to 12 months or they will start to lose interest. Simply put, the mantra has not changed.

Since I attended my first Superstars, I have been converted to the belief in the power of the phrase, “Sure, I can do that.” They are five little words that embody the essence of the Popcorn Theory. Kevin J Anderson has made a career out of seizing opportunities, using each success as a launch pad for garnering future work. With over 50 best sellers and has more than 23 million books in print to his name, Kevin’s strategy has undeniable credibility.

The key to the success of the Popcorn Theory, however, is delivering on the promises you make. I strive to be someone who is pleasant to work with, who is on time, every time, and whose quality of work is undeniable. Be willing to go the extra mile to get the job done. Often, this is enough to be invited back to do another project and when asked, remember the five powerful little words. “Sure, I can do that.”


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