There are writers, and then there are writers.
You know what I mean. Some people tinker with writing, whereas others make it their successful career. The first write a story here, a fanfic there, a half-finished novel now and again. The latter churn out stories and get published.
So what drives a writer to the productive end of the spectrum? What makes a writer successful?
Is it talent?
Is it luck?
Is it hard work?
Maybe. But having worked with a number of authors, I tend to believe it all comes down to one thing: how you view writing.
If you treat your writing like a serious business, it will become, in time, a serious business.
Here are some tips on doing that.
It all starts and ends with your approach to writing.
- Sadly, your writing isn’t perfect. (No one’s is.) Acknowledge and embrace that. There’s always room to improve, and as a writer, it’s your job to constantly chase improvement. You can do that by reading tips and references (woot, you’re on the right path!), going to workshops, getting edited by professionals, and so on. Take criticism in stride, and put emotions and pride aside when you edit.
- Editors are not out to butcher your work. Yes, we come with a sandpaper in hand, but only because we mean to polish your work to a high shine. And yes, getting sandpapered hurts. A lot. Embrace that pain and take advantage of editing in order to make your writing better than ever.
- Publishers are not your nemeses. If you get rejected, it’s not personal. It means that your writing is not developed enough, or that it simply doesn’t fit the publishing house you’ve tried. Either way, accept it gracefully and move on.
- Your readers are your greatest treasure. Treat them with respect and love. Got a bad review? Ignore it. It’s a person’s right to think whatever he or she will. Concentrate on nurturing the good, and you’ll find yourself making new reader friends left and right.
Your time is precious, so make the most of it. Be sure to allocate time to all aspects of writing:
- Learning and developing skills. Make a list of teaching resources, such as blogs, books, and online courses, and work your way through it.
- Reading. Read high-quality fiction, especially in your genre, to constantly challenge yourself to greatness.
- Writing. Because all the rest won’t matter if you don’t take time to actually write.
- Editing. Don’t edit as you write. Save it for a later time, once your manuscript has had a chance to cool down.
- Submitting & promoting. Work on getting your completed stories out there, or on getting them read by more people.
Try to set a weekly schedule with achievable goals and do your best to stick to it. A little perseverance can take you a long way. Check out the cool Excel worksheet at the end of this post, it might help you with planning.
Your words and thoughts are your greatest assets. Treat them with respect.
- Always carry a notebook around. You may never know when inspiration will strike.
- Collect every story idea you come up with and write it down, but keep them for a time when you’re free. The more pieces you try to write all at once, the less your chances are of completing any of them.
- Back up all your work even as you write. Keep copies on your computer, in the cloud, anywhere you can think of. Losing a piece of work is a painful blow, and the second time you write something never seems as good as the first.
Treat yourself as a serious writer, and over time you’ll become one. And perhaps the most important of all tips is this: never give up. Bad writers quit; good writers keep going.
Tal Valante •