Breaking Down Five Keys to Writing Success
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We all want to be successful, don't we?
We want to be happy in our work. To be motivated and inspired, always ready to write. We want to find as much time to focus on our stories as we can, and we want others to love and support our stories when we share them. And let's be real: most of us want to make a bit of cash by publishing our books, too.
Success. It's a shiny concept, but also hard-earned. And because success often seems so distant and unattainable, the desire for it can lead us to place undue pressure on ourselves.
If I only worked hard enough, I could…
If I only wrote like that author, I might…
Am I even good enough to be a writer?
The pressure to succeed can easily lend itself to doubts, fears, and a whole lot of stress. It can even make writing feel like a chore, rather than the hobby we once enjoyed — which is of course no bueno. You know what I mean? Here's the good news: You can find writing success. And you can do it without all of those nasty side effects, too. But how?
Let's dive into today's five keys to writing success!
Here Are 5 Keys to Writing Success...
Key #1: Find YOUR definition of success.
Friends, it's time to stop comparing yourself to other writers.
You don't need to publish two books a year, choose a specific publishing route, or even publish at all. There is no golden standard for writing success. Success is merely a concept that you mold according to your vision.
- Does success look like self-publishing to you, even when all your favorite authors have book deals? Who cares?! Go chase that!
- Does success look more like getting started on your long-term plans for a new epic fantasy series rather than finishing the story you're currently working on...but don't really love? Fantastic. Let go of the pressure to publish ASAP and get to world-building!
Forget about what other writers are doing, figure out what you want from your writing, and go rock your vision with confidence. It's your writing life. Seize it.
Key #2: Chase a goal, not a dream.
The term "writing dream" gets tossed around a lot in the online writing community, by myself included. Case in point? Our Well-Storied Facebook Group is called Your Write Dream! And don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with having a writing dream.
The issue comes into play when your writing dream looks a whole lot like...well, a dream, rather than something you can actually achieve. Because, writer? There's no amount of hard work that will guarantee you a multi-million dollar book deal.
Those suckers are so rare that working toward one is setting yourself up for failure. But you can work toward landing your first book deal or building your own self-publishing side hustle. You can even set a long-term plan for building a full-time writing career.
Those things are still damn hard work, but they're goals that can reasonably be attained. And I know there's nothing sexy about the word "reasonably", but when it comes to taking the pressure out of working toward success, believe me: a reasonable goal is your new best friend.
So daringly work toward a reasonable goal for your writing. I promise that success will suddenly become a whole lot more attainable.
Key #3: Make a plan.
Don't groan at me, writer. Planning may not be your favorite activity in the world, but if you don't lay out a roadmap for success, you're never going to achieve it.
No matter what your definition of success looks like, take the time to do your research and build a reasonable (ah, there's that word again!) action plan. The clarity, focus, and confidence an action plan can provide is beyond valuable.
For real. Go do it. Check out my step-by-step guide today!
Key #4: Accept writing's hard truths.
It's time to face the music: Writing isn't easy.
We've talked about this in length before, so rather than rehashing all of the hard truths you should know before beginning to work toward your dream, I'll link you to them here. Can't spare the time to read the full article? Here's a quick recap:
- There will always be parts of the writing process you don't enjoy.
- Your determination will make or break you.
- There will always be people who don't respect your writing.
- Not everyone will like your books.
- There will always be better writers than you.
Just remember, the sooner you get acquainted with the dark side of writing, the sooner you can begin your Jedi training. Because you will have to face Darth Vader at some point. It's only a matter of when.
(Spoiler Alert: You'll overcome though. You are one with the Force, and the Force is with you. So go get 'em, champ!)
Key #5. Make motivation a top priority.
Most writers — and humans, for that matter — make the mistake of thinking motivation is some sort of ethereal spirit guide that chooses on occasion to grace them with its presence. But friends? Motivation doesn't work like that.
It can't be conjured with a little wishful thinking or a magic spell. You have to fight for it. Have you heard the Maya Angelou quote, “You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."? The same goes for motivation.
Getting started is always the hardest part, but if you can get the ball rolling, you will begin to build momentum. And before long, you'll be chasing after your motivation, trying to create ideas at even half the rate your brain is producing them.
And trust me, when the writing gets tough and your motivation hits the mud, you'll be so thankful for the momentum you've built to keep moving forward. It truly makes all the difference when trudging through writing ruts.
The Most Important Key to Writing Success...
Each of the five keys we talked about today work in tandem to help you achieve your vision for writing success, but there is one overarching key that outshine them all: learning to love the journey.
There isn't going to come a day when you can kick back, give a happy little sigh, and say, "I've made it as a writer. I'm successful now." There will always be another hill to climb, another goal to reach, a new star to strive for. So learn to love each and every day of your writing journey, no matter how hard it gets. Because success won't bring you happiness. Joy will.
Appreciate the good days and the bad. Turn mistakes and failures into opportunities for growth. Look at hard writing sessions as cardio day for your creativity and motivation, and learn to take pride in every bit of progress, no matter how big or how small.
Success is within your grasp, writer. You've got this. So, go conquer the world.