Stephen King resting on a couch.
There are many tips on how to become a successful writer. Tips such as perseverance, dedication and hard work are some of the most typical advice. Indeed, these concepts are key to becoming a successful writer, but what else do successful writers do that is rarely discussed?
I am not implying successful writers are hiding information from us; it is just that the human brain is selective in nature. We tend to remember the big events that marked a major shift in our lives, but tend to forget the little, daily rituals that also help us succeed. One needs to take a deeper, close look at successful writers’ daily lives to really understand the daily grind and less glamorous part of their lives that makes them so prosperous.
Some of the things prosperous writers do to become successful in their craft have nothing to do with writing. What I've learned from my experience and research is that the journey of a successful writer is long with ups and downs. Therefore, the daily habits that help you get through the difficult days are as important as the writing skill itself.
Here are the result of my research of extremely prosperous writers and the things they did to get there that you can learn from.
You know – and have probably heard a million times – that to become a good writer you need to read a lot. As a writer, you will inevitably hit mental blocks. Reading is one of the most powerful solutions famous writers like Stephen King, Danielle Steel and John Grisham use to overcome the problem.
Stephen King said: “You learn best by reading a lot and writing a lot, and the most valuable lessons of all are the ones you teach yourself.”
But what you probably don’t know is that successful writers read the works of both bad and good writers alike. Many successful writers practice this ritual daily to align the creative process in the brain. The idea is that if you read a page of a bad book and a page of a good book one after the other, your consciousness will clearly identify the characteristics that make one good and the other bad, consequently setting you up for better writing that day.
Stephen King uses this technique to discover treasures not recognized by the untrained eye. The idea here is that even bad writers have unique angles that applied and polished the right away can be treasures. It’s similar to listening to underground artists who sometimes produce great music even though they are not famous or recognized publicly.
As part of your daily routine make it a habit to read a page from a book of a bad writer and one of a good writer before you start your writing day. You will have to use your own criteria to determine what is good and bad, this is subjective and can only be determined by you.
One of the key abilities of prosperous writers that is almost never mentioned is their understanding of business, finance and marketing as it relates to writing. Expanding one's knowledge of business, finance and marketing is an essential skill to prosper as a writer regardless of one’s writing ability and talent.
Mike Zimmerman, writer at success.com, wrote: "Stephen King uses his success to guarantee further success. That sounds obvious, but how many creative types are that business savvy? Artists starve not because they aren’t talented but because they often have no idea how to make money."
As part of your daily routine, make it a habit to spend at least 20 minutes reading a business, finance or marketing blog.
Here are a few good blogs that offer not only valuable industry insight, but also a unique style of writing that may teach you a thing or two:
This is a great blog to learn about business in general. Read an article daily. Before you know it you will start understanding business concepts and then you will start relating it to your writing career.
You don’t have to understand everything you read in a business blog, but read it anyways. In due time it will all start making sense to you, and you will see clearly how to use it in your writing career.
Additionally, listen to radio programs like Bloomberg radio and CNBC radio, say, when you are driving in your car. You can get these stations using a satellite radio. Make a habit of listening to these stations whenever you can and start applying the concepts you learn to your writing career. You will be setting yourself up to prosper by doing this.
This is a great blog to learn marketing. The website focuses on helping you ensure your content strategy fits your target audience or consumer.
Marketing is a very big field, so don’t get overwhelmed. Simply read one article each day and right away think how to apply it to your writing. 90% of the concepts you will learn in this blog are applicable to your writing career.
Despite its name you will not find any get-rich-quick schemes here. Instead you’ll find information about personal financial growth.
A daily dose of this blog can go a long way in making you a very prosperous writer.
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami once said: “Talent is nothing without focus and endurance.” Other successful writers like Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel also instruct writers to plan their working day and schedule breaks in between work. This is something that sounds so basic that you almost never see it discussed in detail anywhere. However, when you research successful writers closely, you realize it is a crucial part of their success.
Below are some of the rules from Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers that touch on timing your work and scheduling breaks:
As part of your daily routine, plan your morning, afternoon and evening work schedule. Below are some guidelines that can help with that:
Physical, mental and spiritual health almost never comes up when discussing successful writers. But, it is the one thing that is present in almost every part of their lives:
Nora Roberts revealed her routine in a past interview: “A typical day starts with a workout in the pool or on her elliptical trainer, then up to work. After running through her e-mail and logging onto the various websites where her fans gather, she dives into the work at hand."
On the other hand, Stephen King’s stated secrets to success are: “I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
As part of your daily routine, you can do the following things to stay physical healthy before you start writing:
These tips might sound simple, but they go a long way to making you feel better physically. They also help to avoid depression moments and increase motivation and happiness as a writer.
Social media has become a crucial part of every writer’s life. It gives writers a way to connect with readers to further understand their interests and emotions. It is amazing how much of successful writers’ income comes from online activities. Their published books are a huge source of income mostly in the first year the book is published, whereas their ongoing online activities on social media bring in recurring income that is constant and 70% passive.
J.K Rowling is worth a whopping $1 billion. Most of that money comes from the Harry Potter book sales and movie deals, but a smaller portion is online income.
This is not to say that money should be the driver for writers to be active on social media, but rather a way to indicate the importance of the media.
Readwrite.com wrote about Brazilian lyricist and novelist Paulo Coelho: “Coelho doesn’t use his blog as an outlet for new creative writing. Rather, the object is to engage with his readers – which he does effectively, judging by the amount of comments and social media sharing.”
As part of your daily routine, attend to your social media channels in the following ways:
These are only five of the rarely mentioned activities of prosperous writers. I hope you benefit from my research and put these suggestions into practice to become a prosperous writer yourself.
If you have more tips or suggestions you'd like to add, please feel free to add them in the comments section below.
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by Hugh MacLeod
Ever wonder what it really takes to make a living as a creative person in today's complicated world?
MacLeod presents some witty keys for creative success, including "ignore everybody. Why should you "ignore everybody"?
Because, he writes, nobody else can tell you whether your idea is worthwhile. People can give you advice, but at the end of the day, it's your decision. The more original an idea, the less helpful the advice is going to be.
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