New writers often look at authors who are already successful that they want to emulate and wonder is it luck, hard work, some kind of secret formula or a combination of all of those. Unfortunately, it can be tough to figure out when you are still trying to make your way through your first novel.
All successful writers have so best practices that they stick to. It is a combination of things such as writing regularly, continuing to read a lot, being a skillful editor of their own work and building a brand around themselves.
Let’s take a look at 10 rules that commonly come up for writers who discussed their own best practices so you can determine which ones to build into your open process.
You may be surprised to find out that only some of them directly relate to the actual writing process. Many best practices are also critical but outside of the creative part.
The first and most important is to write daily or at least close to. Almost all successful writers make it clear that they write virtually every day, typically for several hours.
They don’t get distracted and rarely allow difficulties such as the dreaded writers’ block to stop them.
They acknowledge that some days are better than others in terms of quality of writing. Still, they all agree that the best way to produce high-quality writing is to continue pushing through any issues and to continue writing anyway, no matter the quality.
You will typically find that you get back into the flow quickly by pushing on.
Set a daily schedule for yourself
Find a time you can be alone and concentrate for the entire allotted period.
Make sure others know this is your time
It may seem that spending time reading when you could continue writing and improving your skills would be a waste of time. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Once again, writers widely agree that continuing to read and consume other people’s books will help you with your own creativity.
It’s important not to limit yourself to just a few authors you like purely as a fan. Make sure to read things such as classic novels, bestsellers, your competition within your niche and a lot more besides.
Your aim is to make sure you read a wide selection of things that your audience also read so you are up to date and familiar with public tastes. This can help you greatly in your own writing.
Review your own niche and list the bestsellers to read
Add some classics to the list
Edit With Passion
Editing can be one of the most challenging things for writers. It feels like you’ve just spent so much time writing that it would be a waste to chop bits out and throw them away after all that work.
You need to understand that being honest and ruthless during your editing is one of the most important ways to improve yourself at the end of the day.
Many writers have found stepping away from a manuscript for at least a few days or longer can be very helpful in seeing the writing with fresh eyes.
One idea is to move on to your next project and at least make a start on that. Then after a few days or weeks have passed, go back to begin editing your finished work.
This gap will help you see problems and make improvements a little easier than if you edit right after you finish writing.
It’s essential to be really honest about the quality of what you are reading. You’re not doing yourself any favors by leaving weak sections you thought were good when you wrote them.
This is one of the most critical skills for successful writers that must be practiced extensively.
Read up on the editing process and compare it to how you do it
Practice with some older writing and be critical of yourself
Build a Brand
Too many new authors think that if they just write a good book, the rest will happily take care of itself.
The truth in today’s market is that you are up against massive competition both from the traditional publishing houses and the immense amount of self-published works that are now available thanks to the opportunities provided by the Internet
To overcome this, successful writers know that they need to build their name into a brand.
Here is a good article giving an overview of author branding: Building An Author Brand (Even If You Don’t Write Full-Time)
Build your own brand plan outline
Add details as you progress toward publishing
Reach Out to Readers
The only way you become genuinely successful is obviously to sell lots of books. But, unfortunately, there are many authors, particularly beginners, that are very reluctant to spend time interacting with readers.
Understandably, they think more time spent writing is far more productive.
The reality is writing and editing is really only 50% of the job. The rest are various non-writing tasks, one of which is spending plenty of time reaching out to readers in multiple ways.
A book signing event with a reading and Q&A, for example, is one way of reaching out. Joining forums and answering questions, having virtual meetups, responding to emails and many other forms of interacting are must-do steps for the modern writer to be truly successful.
Draft your list of outreach ideas
Include your website update steps
Build a Site and be Online
Another outreach method that is really underutilized by far too many writers is their personal website. Many of those with a website leave it somewhat generic with a basic bio, a brief page for each book, and often not much more.
You need to think of your personal website as part of your brand plan and central to your ongoing personal marketing strategy.
Many writers do not enjoy all these buzzword items like personal branding and marketing website and such. Unfortunately, due to the limited promotion typically done by modern publishers, it is left to you, the author, to fill in the gap.
You can add a lot of value and interest to your readers by adding much more to your website. A lot of this can actually be great for your readers while not being as much work as you think.
- You are bound to get lots of questions via email. So add some of these questions and your answers to a Q&A page and just add one or two a week.
- Write short stories that relate to a published novel, such as a story about your favorite character before or after your novel’s timeline.
- In addition to the Q&A page, record some questions with you answering them on a video. Maybe also add some updates on your current novel progress.
- Lastly, make sure to add a signup box where people can add their email to your email list. This is a great marketing tool, so you will have a great list of people you know will be very interested when you release a new book. Just make sure to send them a few emails and updates now and then to keep them engaged.
Review lots of other author websites to see what materials they have
Make a list of exciting ideas
Plan what additional materials you will add to your website
Treat it Like a Job
Being fairly casual when it comes to writing a book is extremely common. So many who want to be writers will just write at random intervals with no consistent effort or clear plan and wonder why they are not improving or being successful.
The best way to fix this is to treat it like a job. Create a clear plan for yourself with achievable, realistic goals. Create a schedule and have a set location where you will always write. Stick to your schedule.
As you achieve small goals, continue to add more to always have a target to push towards.
You will find yourself far more successful if you make many small steps to reach your large end goal.
Find a location where you can write every time
Create a plan with reachable goals
Assign a timeline to them you can aim for
Keep working towards the plan consistently and update the plan as you achieve a goal
Too often, we are focusing on being like our favorite author. This is very typical. There is generally one author that we really love that we can point to as the inspiration to want to be a writer ourselves.
It’s essential to be careful that you are not trying to emulate anyone particularly closely. Make sure right from the start of your writing that you aim to be individual.
As you learn, let yourself develop your own style. Don’t try to force yourself into a particular way of writing that you think is correct. You will find yourself having a much harder time writing novels.
You will be much more successful if you find your own natural voice and it is likely your books will be far better because of this.
Resist trying to emulate anyone you love
You will find your own writing style and form as you practice and develop as a writer
It can be tough to move on to a new story and new characters if you’ve been working on a particular setting for quite some time. It can be especially difficult if others do not seem as enthusiastic as you.
Any kind of negative feedback, or a simple lack of positive reinforcement for anybody, can easily take the steam out of your love and enthusiasm for writing.
Successful writers can recognize well they may be running into this kind of problem and force themselves to set it aside and continue.
You need to make sure you keep creating new stories and characters even if others have not been too enthusiastic. The reality is some things will hit, many things will not.
The only way to find the gold is to continue developing lots of creative ideas and pretty soon, you will have plenty of high-quality to choose from.
Last, let’s discuss one of the most difficult things that any writer regularly encounters: failure.
There is so much competition that the reality is you will fail as a writer far more than you will succeed. The successful among us are those who are able to learn from each failure as much as possible but, most importantly, can push failure to one side so that they can continue forward on that journey.
Each of us handles failure in a very different way, obviously, so you need to figure out how you can best move past failure so you can continue your progress.
Do not be afraid of failure.
Be afraid of quitting due to failure and prepare yourself to not let it get to you.
How will you accept and overcome failure?
What positive new tasks are you excited about that will motivate you when failure hits?
So, there are the 10 rules that should help you get into the mindset of a successful writer.
Many will be surprised that most of them are not directly related to the writing or improving it. Yet, all these other skills are just as crucial for becoming more than just another average low-paid writer.
Have you encountered failure? What did you do to overcome or move past it?
Let us know in the comments below!