Things Successful Writers Know

August 19, 2010

The majority of the population wants to write a book. Some people have a natural talent for writing, while others have to work a little harder. The good news is that whichever path you take–talent or skill–you can apply some basic things successful writers know to your writing career.

  • Writing takes time–time to conduct research, time to organize research, time to brainstorm content, time to write, time to rewrite, time to edit, time to proofread.
  • Be disciplined and schedule your writing. We’ve read stories about writers who get up early and write before going to work or before the rest of the family gets up. Only you know when you can find time to write, so if you really want to write as much as you claim you do, be disciplined about it.
  • Give yourself permission to write. Many of the attendees at my workshops smile when I challenge them regarding why they put writing at the end of their “to do” list. They take care of chores or do whatever else needs doing instead of giving themselves permission to write. Why? Most of them like writing, maybe even feel a bit guilty about doing something for themselves, so they postpone it until everything else is done. Here’s a news flash–there will always be something else to do, so give yourself permission to write, then write!
  • Everything you write begins as a first draft. It’s almost impossible to create a finished piece that requires no second look. So, knowing that, get your first draft down and don’t worry about the fine tuning. That comes in the rewriting and editing.
  • Remember writing is a creative exercise and you can’t always predict when the next great idea pops into your head. Thus, it’s important you’re flexible and allow the process to work. If you can use the idea right away, great. If not, capture it in a note somewhere for future use. The important thing is to be flexible when you’re doing something creative.
  • Write to be understood. The reason no one wants to read academic, business, or government text is it’s boring, long-winded, and hard to understand. Clean, crisp, clear, and concise writing earns you more readers than being flamboyant or showing off your vocabulary.
  • Give yourself a break–literally. “We are not perpetual motion machines. Even God rested one day.” That’s the advice I got that made me think more about taking breaks. I still struggle with taking breaks, but I know I’m better overall when I do. You will be too.

Well, there are some things successful writers know and they’re not rocket science. Now you know them too.

Happy writing!