As a business coach, I recently had occasion to research what makes people successful, and I found this great article that I’m going to steal and talk about writing – success is success no matter what business you are in, and, believe it or not, writing is a business. I’ve used his headings, but changed it to talk about writing.
1 – Successful People Go to Work to Prosper, Not Just to Work
Writing is an exercise, and we learn every day, good days and bad (“it’s all crap”). But what we don’t realize and need to embrace is that every single sentence, every phrase, or every expression you’ve managed to put down on paper is fodder for the next. Prospering on a daily basis seems a bit unrealistic, but you can move ahead every single day. Write. Just write. Not because you’re committed, but because you want to get better. It’s a circle.
The opposite of the successful person is someone we all know, with an attitude like: “Hey, it’s a job. I’ll do my job, collect my paycheck, and leave precisely at 5:00. I won’t think about the job at all over the weekend and on Monday morning I’ll just start over again.” Nice try. You can survive, but can you thrive? I think not.
2 – They Exercise Incredible Drive
Here’s where I have a bit of a problem when people talk about “natural writers” versus “writers who have learned their craft.” The perception is that some people have an innate talent to write; they sit down without any preamble, any preparation, any practice, and they succeed, like snapping their fingers. a God-given, once-in-a-lifetime-touched-by-an-angel miracle.
I say balderdash. These people knew early on that once you establish a habit, you will follow it daily and it becomes something, like going to the gym, that you absolutely have to do or you don’t feel like yourself. These are the people who had enough drive and determination to just do it. Natural talent to write? Maybe, but the daily reinforcement and daily habit of improving is enough to keep them going to become not just good but excellent.
Again, the other kind of person says, “I’m not talented. Why am I wasting my time? I’ll never get published.” That may very well be true, but successful people just don’t hear that tape playing. It’s not about the destination, to use a worn-out phrase, it’s about the journey. Writing every day, day in and day out, practicing your craft, is the journey.
3 – They Never Make Excuses
Making excuses may work with a boss (not really), but when writing, making excuses to yourself just doesn’t work. The words still have to appear on the page. The thoughts, plots, and feelings have to come across, and nothing, absolutely nothing, will stop them.
Saying “I don’t have time” is not a viable excuse. There are twenty-four hours in a day. You can steal an hour from TV, internet, texting, tweeting, and anything else you do that doesn’t really produce much. It’s there. Just find it – no excuses.
4 – They Focus on Their Goals Daily
New Years Eve resolutions are for amateurs. Make goals a daily habit. Every day write down what you want to accomplish. It can be as minute as “pick up dog poop” or as big as “write a book” because the act of writing it down brings it into focus. “Write a book”, if you work at it every day, becomes reality, unless at some point you decide to drop it off your list. Then it becomes dead and fades into the background. If you keep it front and center, you will continue to focus on it, if only in your subconscious.
Do you have word or page goals? Stephen King says he never gets up from his chair until he has at least 2,000 words done per day – every day, including Sunday. And that’s not counting extra words from the day before. He writes every day. That’s drive. That’s passion. That’s success.
5 – They Are Willing to Fail
Failure is definitely an option here. Not everyone is going to take to your project. Finding an agent is a crapshoot, it seems. Some may love what you’ve done, some may not; some may be in the perfect spot to take you on, some may be in the perfect storm and cranky about everything, so you’re rejected. Correction: not you, your manuscript. There’s a difference.
Let’s face it, some days just aren’t worth getting out of bed for (that’s why we have laptops). At the end of the day you can say either you did a good job or everything you did was junk. Your choice.
But every day you did it is a day you can call a success. Something happened in that day that will come back to you, pulled forward from your subconscious, that you can use.
Is every one of your manuscripts going to find success? Sorry, no. Accepting that rejection is part of the process. Move on. Start over with Tip #1.
Approach your project with these five tips from successful people – change your mindset and you are sure to find success, progress, and satisfaction every single day.