Success only flourishes in perseverance -- ceaseless, restless perseverance.
--Baron Manfred Von Richtofen

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Storymakers Highlight: Top Ten Habits of Successful Writers

One of the best classes I attended was The Top Ten Habits of a Successful Writer in which Julie Coulter Bellon and Robison Wells debated two complete opposite top ten habits lists. Things like, "write whenever you can" vs. "write in big chunks of time," or "research heavily" vs. "make it up as you go." They each presented why they thought their way was the best, though they did say that perhaps they weren't really as adamant in real life as they were for the debate. I have to say that I was totally inspired by Julie, as she is the mother of seven with another on the way, and has six published novels! Anyway, the point was that we all write differently. We were supposed to come up with our own top ten habits for successful writers, so here's mine (some based on the lists from the conference, some of my own creating):

1. Take yourself seriously. You are a writer. Believe in yourself.
2. Write every day, whenever and wherever you can.
3. Finish what you start.
4. Have at least a light outline to follow.
5. Set SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound).
6. Network online and in real life, but not so much that it overwhelms your writing time.
7. Learn all you can about the craft.
8. It's okay to edit as you go. This saves a lot of revision time later. But don't let it stop you from finishing.
9. If you want to get published, you must submit! Don't fear rejection.
10. Write from the heart. Don't let anyone tell you that what you love to write just won't sell. If you don't love it, no one else will.

So, there you go. Take it for what it's worth. What's on your top ten list for success?

33 comments:

Elana Johnson said...

What a great list!! I like the SMART goals idea. We do this in teaching, but I've never applied it to my writing before.

I echo the "don't fear rejection" but I don't finish everything I start...

Aubrie said...

What a great top ten! Sometimes I write in big chunks, and sometimes I scribble a sentence down in my car. I see both sides of the argument. That must have been fun to sit through!

Yamile said...

Great list! I'll print it out and tape it on the wall next to my desk. I really needed this today. Thanks!

Carolyn V. said...

Oh my gosh Angie! I love your list! I agree with the others, don't be afraid of rejection. It's so true.

Tess said...

These are great reminders. My mom always told me "90% of winning is just showing up and doing the work". So very true. It's not easy, but nothing beats belief in yourself and putting the time in.

Lindzee said...

This is the problem with the writers conferences...all the classes sound so fantastic and it's so hard to choose which one to go to! I'm going to go write my Top 10 list right now. :) Thanks for sharing this class for those of us who didn't go to it.

Mandy said...

This is a GREAT post! Thanks for sharing this list. I'm going to print it out and hang it up! :D

Jen said...

Great list Angie! I'm still inventing myself as a writer, and trying to find balance.

Sarah M Eden said...

I loved that class too!! Rob and Julie are both fab!

David J. West said...

That was a good one. I think I sided with Rob just a little bit more.

Terry W. Ervin II said...

I guess I follow 9 of the 10. I just don't manage to write every day.

AstonWest said...

Great list!

Instead of writing every day, I set a daily word count goal, and if I miss a day, I just have to write twice as many words the next day. ;-)

Kim Coates said...

This list is GREAT! I'm sad I missed that class. Thanks for sharing. I'm printing it out and putting it in my writing station!

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great list! Thanks for sharing...

Stephanie McGee said...

Interesting list. I have to take write every day off of my list otherwise I get too hard on myself. Sometimes my life just gets in the way of my writing. And if I worried about it too much, I'd go insane.

Becky Mushko said...

#11. Join a good crit group.

Mary Campbell said...

All great tips. Get SMART goals - very awesome. Finish what you start - I need to work on that one *sheepisly shrugs shoulders*

Wendy Sparrow said...

That is a great list!!! The advice on networking is definitely true... it can eat you up so easily.

Jan Markley said...

My favourite tip is: cultivate a cranky personality - that way people will leave you alone and you will have more time to write. ;-j

Kaylie said...

Hi! I came over from Beth Revis's blog. My tip is: Don't criticize yourself until you're all done your draft. It probably stinks less than you think it does.

elizabeth mueller said...

Hi Angie! I'm so glad you posted this! I'm so guilty of number 6. I need to cut back!!

Saumya said...

Hi!!! This is my first time to your blog and I love it! Each of these tips are so helpful. I love 8; I think it's so important to balance revision with completion.

roxy said...

Hey, Angie! Oh, how I wish I could have attended Storymakers. It sounds so awesome. Maybe next year. If you'd like to go to the Utah Valley Spring Workshop I mentioned in my blog, you're more than welcome. We do have room. Email me at roxyhaynie@mac.com I'll forward all the details to you.

Rosslyn Elliott said...

That's a very smart list. :-)

Mine would also include "find a critique partner or freelance editor whose comments egg you on and improve your work."

Tahereh said...

awesome list!! thanks so much for taking the time to put it together and share it with the blogosphere. every little bit of information helps!!

Joanne said...

I like to-do lists, and write up weekly ones to keep me on track. It helps to have that visual of my short-term goals.

Danyelle Ferguson said...

Excellent top ten, Angie! Thanks for sharing what you learned. And welcome to the Authors Incognito group!

Danyelle

beth said...

I think that first one, to take yourself seriously as a writer--that one might just be the hardest. Even though it's now my paying profession, I still have a hard time realizing this strange thing I love to do is something that I should own and be proud of.

Angie said...

Wow. 28 comments! I think that's a record. I think I responded to all of you via email. If I missed you, forgive me. It is great to hear all of your advice, and knowing my list has helped some of you just makes me smile!

Annette Lyon said...

GREAT list! Like so many others, I like #5 as well.

One that would also be on my list: learn your genre, your market, and your craft. Don't sell out, but know what's expected and what CAN sell in the first place!

John Ferguson said...

Great List! I did have a comment about SMART goals. I've found that by the time you include the S, M, A, R, and T sections the goal is often unwieldy and isn't very "smart." But here's a good trick. Just use M and T (measurable and timebound). By definition this will be Specific and Attainable. And few people set unrealistic goals, but even if you do you can dial them down later. An M/T goal sounds like this: "### [of something] by DATE". For example, "50,000 words written by May 31, 2010" or "30 query letters sent by July 12, 2010". See, that's a "smart" goal.

Emily J. Griffin said...

1. Take yourself seriously.

Amen.

Angie said...

Thanks, Emily.

John, my husband and I were laughing over that acronym the other day because really what is the difference between realistic and attainable? Between specific and realistic? I think someone just wanted a cool acronym. :)