Do you ever wonder why some writers rise to popularity and fame, become well-published, well-paid, award-winning authors while so many other writers languish in virtual obscurity?
Is it skill? Luck? Smarts? What is it?
This is what I believe…
I believe that if all writers started out on an even playing field, with the same opportunities to learn and grow, and have access to the same resources, some would become masterful writers while others fall by the wayside.
I believe there are things successful writers do that other writers don’t do. And not only do they do these things – they do them well.
Below are seven key things I believe successful writers do that set them apart from other writers:
1. Successful writers start. This is a no brainer. In order to be a writer of any caliber, you have to start. I’ve met people who’ve said, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel.” But they haven’t gotten out of the starting block. Successful writers start.
“The journey of a thousand miles begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu
2. Successful writers take a good story and make it a great story!
Example #1: They give the reader something totally unexpected. A story may start out as one thing, then it’s flip, turned on its head, and becomes something totally different.
Take A Time to Kill. We thought it was going to be a story about the trial of three White boys who raped a little Black girl. But John Grisham flipped it, and it became the trial of a Black man accused of murdering the three White boys who raped his little girl.
Example #2: They take something old and make it new.
In Twilight Stephanie Meyer took an old story idea and made it new. Vampires of yesteryear were old and scary – often from Transylvania. They had to be in their coffins by dawn or they’d melt in the sunlight.
Stephanie Meyer brilliantly made her vampires young and sexy. And they walked around in the sunlight – glistening. And it was a love story! New is good!
Example #3: They take Bible stories and make it their own.
The Matrix (Trinity, the One, the Nebuchadnezzar, two worlds, good versus evil)
The good thing about the Bible, is there are no copyright laws, so go forth and pilfer!
3. Successful writers learn the craft of writing.
They learn grammar and how to write creatively. Below are some of the things they do:
• Read books on writing (Bird by Bird, The Elements of Style, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft.
• Read books in their genre
• Read for pleasure and technique
• Attend conferences and workshops
• Utilize beta readers
• Have their work critiqued and edited by experts
4. Successful writers get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Motivational speaker Les Brown said, “You have to do the things others won’t do, to have the things that others won’t have.”
In order to be successful, writers have to:
• Send out query letters – LOTS of them
• Pitch their manuscripts at conferences
• Grow a tough hide; learn to deal with rejection, knowing it’s par for the course in traditional publishing
Before and after their book is published, successful writers:
• Do self-promotion, build their brand – They build a social media platform (Website, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Pinterest; YouTube; Press Release; Launch Party)
• Attend book fairs, book signings, present at writer’s groups, workshops and conferences
• Do interviews
5. Successful writers silence their inner critic.
They silence the shaming voice inside in the following ways:
• Remind themselves why they write.
• Remind themselves who controls their destiny.
• Remind themselves that others have walked the same path and have gone on to greatness:
– After 5 years of continual rejection, Agatha Christie finally landed a publishing deal. Her book sales are now in excess of $2 billion. Only William Shakespeare has sold more.
– John Grisham’s A Time to Kill was rejected by 16 agencies and then 12 publishers.
– Carrie by Stephen King was rejected 30 times before it was published.
– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was rejected 12 times and J. K. Rowling was told “not to quit her day job.”
6. Successful writers are disciplined.
Successful writers have goals. They identify a certain number of words they will write each day or a certain number of hours they will write each day. And they write every day!
7. Successful writers never quit!
They never,ever,ever give up until they have accomplished their goals!
So, what do you think successful writers do that set them apart from the rest of the pack? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.