The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in 2017, 131,200 writers and authors commanded a median annual salary of $61,820. Being a professional writer pays, but it is hard work, and with estimates revealing that 80% of Americans would like to be an author, there is also lots of competition in an exceedingly subjective industry. But while anybody can write, not everybody can be a successful writer.
Habits Make the Writer
Through years of extensive writing and editing experience, I have observed that writers that allow their writing processes room to grow and evolve are more likely to succeed. In addition, much of a writer’s success is determined by habits. Habits can be likened to an elevator—good habits can take a writer to new heights; bad habits can bring a writer right back down again.
Below are very distinct habits every writer should consider incorporating into their writing processes. Read on to learn why these 10 habits can make good writers into great ones.
Strategies for Successful Writing
- Read: Everything you read brings inspiration and exposure to new vocabulary for storytelling. Consider reading different genres to gain a variety of inspirational influences.
- Set Goals: Setting goals is a great habit for life, and it is acceptable to set the bar low at first. Goals prevent a procrastination cycle. It can also be a great way of tracking accomplishments when (not if) you experience writer’s block.
- Create Boundaries: Treating writing as if it is your job will help to eliminate distractions, allowing you to meet or exceed your goals. Take this as seriously as you would a “regular” job—if you wouldn’t do it at the workplace (i.e., go on Facebook, take selfies, or watch cat videos), then don’t do it during your writing time.
- Build a Great Team: Great works are not the product of a solitary writer. While you are indeed the writer—the center of the team—to turn your opus into a masterpiece requires help. For this, writers typically need an editor, a proofreader, a cover artist, and possibly an agent or manager as part of their writing team.
- Be Available: Creativity often springs from the unexpected. Take your writing to the public and allow fans to interact with you via social media and/or your website. It’s true, you may have to face criticism, but there will be praise as well. Writers often find new inspiration through interactions with their fans.
- Grow Thick Skin Fast: Rejection is just part of the professional writing process, and even the world’s most successful writers have experienced rejection. Stephen King’s first big novel, Carrie, was rejected 30 times, causing him to toss it into the wastebasket (lucky for us, his wife fished it out). Since that time, his career earnings have topped $450 million, with a whopping $39 million earned in just one year (2012). Remember: painful as it may be, rejection is not personal—just think of it as an opportunity to improve your story and writing style.
- Focus on Showing NOT Telling: This is an old rule for writers. Focus on how to convey a character’s feelings in a way that is interesting.
- Do Your Research: While obvious for non-fiction writers, fiction writers must also employ this tactic to ensure cohesive, genuine narrative that readers will believe and connect to. It may be necessary for fiction aficionados to research a character’s job, city, or any number of topics to keep the storyline true to life.
- Read Your Work Out Loud: Do you ever consider the rhythm of your writing? Writing rhythm is more noticeable when a story is read out loud. In fact, many gifted writers whisper to themselves as they write.
- Accept That Some of What You Write Should Be Tossed: Sometimes being tired, distracted, or an intense case of writer’s block can lead to less than perfect work. Just accept that all writing goes through stages where parts of it are deleted and tossed into the junk file.
Incorporating habit and routine into their processes empowers writers to create something wonderful.
What’s in it for me?
In writing, talent doesn’t always equate to success. Many talented writers never have a book published. This isn’t because their writing was of poor quality; it’s because they didn’t follow the rules of highly effective writers. Let your writing processes evolve. By setting routines and incorporating good habits, such as the 10 outlined in this post, writers have the fundamental tools to produce work that could become the next bestseller.
Do you have questions about incorporating these 10 habits into your life as a writer? Are you struggling to understand the self-publishing landscape? Let’s figure it out together—click here to contact me today.