As an editor and book coach, I work with writers who are at all different stages of the writing, editing, or publishing process. Because of this, I've realized that there are certain traits and habits that make some writers more successful than others. So, I've taken those traits and habits and summarized them into seven secrets to success that every writer should know.
No matter where you're at in the process, adopting these seven secrets will completely transform your writing practice. If you're brand new to writing, these seven secrets will help you develop a strong writing practice right out the gate. If you're further along in your writing career, these seven secrets can help take your writing practice to the next level.
So, what are these seven secrets to success that every writer should know? Let's take a look!
The first secret to success is having the courage to take action. And this really means taking action even when you're not 100% sure where your story is going, or what the next step of the process is.
It's no secret that writing a book can be challenging, right? And it can be especially challenging when those negative thoughts creep into our heads. What if my friends don't like my book? What if I query agents and they reject my story? What if I get really busy at work and I can't dedicate as much time to my writing as I'd like to?
I mean, we’ve all had versions of these thoughts, right? And sometimes we get so scared of these what-ifs that we end up feeling paralyzed and unable to take action. And when that happens, we either never start writing our books, or we never finish anything.
But here’s the thing... Most of that stuff, we can’t control. We can’t control whether someone likes our story or not. We can’t control if a publisher decides to pick up our book and help us bring it to the market. We can’t control our busy work schedule or the fact that we’re all stuck at home in quarantine right now, right? But what we can control is taking action towards our goals.
So, tap into that courage that lives somewhere inside of you and start writing or editing that messy first draft. Or maybe taking action means working with an editor for the first time or finding a cover designer. Whatever it is, that action will get the ball rolling. And once the ball's rolling, and you've gained some momentum, that's where success secret #2 comes in.
The second secret to success is having confidence. Confidence comes after you have the courage to take action and you start to see some kind of forward momentum.
A lot of people think that confidence is something you're either born with or not, but that's isn't true. Confidence is something that anyone is capable of developing.
When we take consistent action toward a specific goal, and start seeing results, it adds to our feeling of confidence. If we let fear stop us from taking action, we'll never get to the point where we're feeling confident in ourselves or in our writing.
The other thing I want to say here is that somewhere inside of you there’s a feeling that says you were meant to be a writer. And you’ve probably felt that feeling for a very long time, right? Maybe even since you were a child? Well, here's the thing about that feeling... It's there for a reason.
So, even if you don't have confidence in your writing abilities yet, let that feeling of "I was meant to be a writer" fuel you. Your skillset will grow and develop as you continue to practice, but that feeling exists inside of you now. Take comfort in that feeling and let it fuel your confidence until your skills develop.
The third secret to success is having clarity. In other words, you have to be clear about what your goals are and how you're going to accomplish those goals.
So, first, get clear on what you're trying to do. If your goal is to write a book, what kind of book are you going to write? A 12-page children's book? An 80,000-word novel? Something else?
Then, once you have clarity around what goal you're trying to accomplish, you need to get clear on how you'll accomplish it. So, if your goal is to write an 80,000-word novel, how will you know that you've accomplished your goal? Is there a deadline by which you'd like to have a first draft completed?
For example, say you want to write an 80,000-word first draft in 8 months. That means you'll have to write 10,000 words each month. So, how will you get this done? Will you write 2,500 words each week? Or break up the workload in a different way? Then, determine where you'll do the work. Can you write those 10,000 words each month at home or do you need to make other arrangements? These questions help us turn the larger goal of writing a book into smaller, more actionable steps.
The final thing you'll want to get clear on is your motivation. So, what's driving you to write a book in the first place? Why do you care so much about being a writer? Keep digging into what's motivating you until you come up with an answer that will sustain you all the way until "The End."
Once you’ve gotten clear on those three things, you can drill down even further and get clear on what kind of story you're writing. So, what’s your genre? Who is your protagonist? What does he or she want? What's the central conflict of your story? Things like that. The more clear you can be with your goals, the better.
The fourth secret to success is being consistent. Once you get clear on your goals, and how you're going to accomplish them, it's going to be much easier to show up consistently.
You’ve probably heard the advice to write every day, right? But, that doesn’t really work for everyone. So, what I mean by consistency is that I want you to create a writing practice that works for you. If that means writing once a day, great! If that means writing once a week, that’s great, too!
The key here is to create consistency in your writing practice so that you are constantly taking action. Remember that taking action is what's going to help you develop confidence. And if you have confidence, it's going to be much easier to accomplish your goals.
I see so many writers who are motivated and excited to write a book, but they have no education or training in how to craft a compelling story. And because they haven’t developed this skillset yet, they don’t get the kind of results they’re looking for. And that’s when a lot of people start to feel frustrated or like they’re a failure or they wonder if they should just throw in the towel. I mean, that makes sense, right? If you’re not making the kind of progress you want to be making, it’s easy to give up.
But here’s something I wholeheartedly believe to be true... Anybody can write a book. They just need the right tools, strategies, and hard work. I see it happen every day in my work as a book coach.
So, if you know your scene writing could be better, educate yourself on what it takes to write a scene that works. You can do this by researching scene structure, analyzing a scene from your favorite book, or getting feedback from an editor.
If you don't know what to focus on learning first, consider working with a book coach who can help guide you. There's something to paying for your education that makes you show up in a different way. If you pay to work with a book coach, or to take an online class, then you've got skin in the game. And when you've got skin in the game, it's easier to show up for yourself and your writing.
So, the lesson here is to just keep educating yourself. Keep growing your skillset and learning new things. This is what will help you develop the kind of writing life you want to have, and what will separate you from the rest of the writers out there.
The sixth secret to success is finding a community. In other words, find a group of like-minded people who are writing fiction or who have the same goals that you have.
It's not a big secret that writing can be lonely sometimes, right? I'm sure we've all felt that way at one time or another... but, it doesn't have to be like that. Not only will being part of a writing community help you feel less lonely, but it can also help you become a better writer, too. Plus, what a great way to find beta readers or critique partners, right?
So, if you’re not already part of a writing group, whether that's in person or online, I highly recommend finding one. If you don't know where to start, Google "writing groups near me," or "online writing groups." You can also lookup events like NaNoWriMo or Camp NaNoWriMo which happen every year. If you're on Twitter, there's an active writing community there that you can join by using hashtag #writingcommunity.
You're also invited to join my Fiction Writing Made Easy Facebook group that’s for anyone who's writing, editing, or publishing fiction. You can click here to request access to the group or search Fiction Writing Made Easy on Facebook.
The seventh secret to success is commitment. Not only do I want you to commit to your writing goal and practice, but I also want you to commit to constant evolution, too.
Constant evolution means getting better over time. This is important because there's no secret formula or magic pill that's going to help you finish your book or become a better writer. Instead, you have to put in the work to constantly evolve yourself and your skills.
The good news is that if you keep these seven secrets to success in mind, you will become a better writer, and you will evolve over time. By adopting these seven secrets into your writing practice, you'll start to set clear goals and take action toward those goals. And by taking action toward your goals, you'll develop the skills and the confidence put your work out there. You'll also gain a community of like-minded people to turn to when things get tough or when you need a second opinion. Sounds pretty good, right?
Hopefully, you guys can see how these seven secrets to success can really make an impact on your writing life. These seven secrets can literally make the difference between your success and failure as a writer. They're really that important -- and that impactful!
I highly encourage you to write these seven secrets down in a notebook or on a sticky note above your desk so that you can see them when you sit down to write. Since I've started focusing on these seven secrets, I've been much more productive -- and I know the same can happen for you, too.
👉 Let's discuss in the comments: What's the one success secret you can implement in your writing today?
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