Blogger Tolly Moseley
Have you ever wondered why some writers tend to write standout copy effortlessly, while others strain and struggle to craft content that meets the needs of readers? If you have read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do, you know that highly successful people are not necessarily more talented than the majority. Highly successful people are just like you and me, but with a set of positive values, attitudes and habits that give them an edge.
No matter what kind of writer, freelancer or creative person you are, or how small or big your business is, you too can become highly successful by adopting habits that promote success. Here are nine things highly successful writers habitually do so well you can emulate to achieve success. Keep in mind that about 50% of our daily lives is habitual.
Exceptional writers know life lives up to (or down to) what you expect of it. They, therefore, plan and prioritize their efforts meticulously with a positive end goal in mind, expecting that life will reward their efforts well. They know their stories and target audience before they sit to down to write. This allows them to work backwards and lay out clear steps that lead to success. If you don’t have a positive mindset and don't expect life to reward your efforts, then it most likely will not. However, if you are optimistic and plan and prioritize with the end goal in mind, life will reward you handsomely. Confucius said it best, "Those who think they can and those who think they can't are both usually right."
Exceptional writers know today’s readers are focused on “Me, Myself, and I.” The question on the readers mind is: "What's in it for me?" or "Will this work for me?" Exceptional writers, therefore, ensure readers get valuable informative or entertaining from reading their finished work. It is not enough, nor is it sustainable, to only plan and prioritize your own agenda. Good writers weave into their work the audience’s agenda in addition to their own writing goals. If you can meet your reader’s agenda or needs, the battle is half won. You will avoid wasted effort, offer a powerful customer-focused experience and set yourself apart from the crowd.
Exceptional writers have mastered the art of concentration. They consistently remove any distraction that hinders them from achieving their core goals. Whether it is having a dedicated work space with good lighting to work from undisturbed, turning off cell phones and e-mail alerts or blocking distracting sites like YouTube and Facebook with tools like Anti-Social and Freedom, successful writers do whatever it takes to eliminate distractions when working. If you can figure out what is distracting you and combat it successfully, you will boost your ability to think clearly, focus on tasks at hand better and deliver your best work each time.
Exceptional writers don’t worry too much about the quality of their work at first draft. They focus on getting their ideas written down uninhibited first. They know there will be plenty of time to edit later. As Cecil Castellucci, a distinguished writer herself, says: "The best flowers are fertilized by crap." She means that you are allowed to write a crummy first draft and then obsess over surface-level issues of grammar, style and typos later during the editing stage. In other words, separate the writing and editing processes because both require ample time, space and quiet to complete successfully.
Let’s face it. Some notable writers do procrastinate and still manage to deliver quality work at the last minute. However, procrastination is counterproductive for the majority of excellent writers. Procrastination leads to rushed work that often does not really hit the mark. Exceptional writers, therefore, habitually push themselves a little harder than the rest of us to get things DONE when they ought to. If you can push yourself a little harder and beat procrastination like the pros, you will be on course to reaching your goals and possibly winning membership in the ‘exceptional writers’ club.
Exceptional writers edit their work in dribs and drabs. They write the first draft uninhibited, let the writing “cool off” and then come back to it later with fresh eyes for editing. You will often find them at their work desk whispering the words they have written to themselves. It might sound cheesy and appear silly, but successful writers don’t really care what it looks like because it works. Read your work out loud to yourself, break big chunks of text and reorder sentences to enhance readability. Also,correct typos and punctuation errors and obsess over word choice and sentence structure to achieve the exact meaning and sound you want. Keep in mind that writing is more than just meaning—it's also about sounds and can be visual as well.
Exceptional writers know one big enemy of success and happiness is obsession about the past. They don’t let past experiences become stumbling blocks to future successes. They let bygones be bygones and avoid dwelling too much on past victories, failures or mistakes. They simply appreciate the best moments and move past the bad. This allows them to focus on producing the best work now rather than worry about illusions of what might happen tomorrow. Don’t get hung up on past results. Work hard and get what needs to be done—done! Small and steady steps coupled with persistence and perseverance are the key to long term success.
Exceptional writers understand people around you have potential to be the best teachers you can have. They, therefore, diligently study the works and lives of writers they admire and consider themselves lifelong apprentices of the best writers. Their aim is to learn from the best, improve their own craft and expand their own horizon. Study and learn from writers you love to draw inspiration and develop your own language use, sentence structure and overall writing style. The best writers do this all the time and it helps them keep growing from strength to strength.
Exceptional writers are grateful for the opportunities each day presents. They are equally grateful for each day spent. Gratitude is a secret ingredient that keeps them hopeful for tomorrow and motivated to keep pressing on the next day. As Melody Beattie notes, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
Image credit: Marisa Vasquez/flickr
You might also like
Spotlight book of the month
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.
Have something to say about this article? Share it with us in the comments section below.