To be successful you need talent, yes, and a commitment to your work. You need to mix that talent with a fair old dose of hard work to turn those dreams into your reality. The simple truth is that first and foremost, a writer writes. It’s that simple. The complicated bit comes in knowing what you should be writing and in planning for your success. Don’t give up the dreams; just temper them with a little feet-on-the-ground common sense.
Find a way to turn them into goals. Plan your writing career as you would any other endeavor that’s important to you. Dream big, for sure, but keep one eye firmly fixed on your own reality.
In fact, it seems to me that there are several secrets to being successful as a writer and getting published. Consider these:
1) Believe in yourself and don’t give up. Writing can be disheartening at times – you sacrifice time you could be doing other things in order to write. It’s hard, and sometimes it may feel that there are only rejections and it will never get any better.
2) Write the book of your heart - let your passion for the story shine through. Forget the idea of a ‘formula’ and write the book you want to read, the book that tells the story that you need to tell.
3) Realize that a good writer is in a constant state of ‘becoming’ rather than ‘being’ – writers should always be honing their craft, learning and growing, to constant become a better writer rather than merely a good writer
4) Be prepared to put yourself out there - there are many wonderful books that their creators have consigned to a box under the bed for fear of rejection, or fear of what other people might say or think. You have to believe in yourself and in the story you want to tell. What someone else thinks – be it a relative, a friend, your boss, an agent, publisher, editor, or even your creative writing teacher – counts only in so far as you can see a way to use their comments to make the book better in your own eyes.
5) Do the work. This is the biggie - no-one ever became a successful writer by talking about the book they’re ‘going to write someday’. Get the words on paper, learn your craft, learn to edit and polish, send your work out and learn from the critiques you receive from editors and agents. Then, when you’re published, be prepared to promote, promote, promote….no matter how difficult you find this, or how shy you might be.
That's my two cents' worth. What have you discovered about your own writing and the commitment you need to make it successful? Do you have any tips for other writers?