JK Rowling reading book.
Many tips and advice are given on how to become a successful writer. Tips such as perseverance, dedication, and hard work are some of the most typical advice. Indeed, these things are key to becoming a successful writer, but what else do successful writers do that are hardly ever 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’ lives to really understand the daily grind and less glamorous part of their lives that makes them so successful. In deed, some of the things successful writers do to become so successful in their craft have nothing to do with writing.
What I've learned from my research and experience is that the journey of a writer is long and bumpy, with many ups and downs. As such, the daily habits you need to help you get through the difficult days are as important as the writing skill itself.
A photo of Stephen King resting on a couch.
Here are some of the findings from my research of things highly successful writers did/do daily to achieve success that you can learn from and emulate to achieve success yourself.
1 - Read Works of Both Good and Bad Writers
You have probably heard a million times that to become a good writer you need to read a lot. But, writers will inevitably hit mental blocks from time to time. Reading is one of the most powerful solutions famous writers such as Stephen King, Danielle Steel, and John Grisham use to overcome the creative blockage and improve their writing.
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 bad writers. They read both bad and good writers alike. Many successful writers practice this ritual daily to stimulate the creative mind and process. 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 of bad writing and some good writing 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.
2 - Read Blogs About Business, Finance, and Marketing
One of the key abilities of prosperous writers that is seldom ever mentioned is their understanding of business, finance, and marketing fields 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, genre, 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 good, informative blogs about business, finance, and marketing. Before you know it you will start having a better understanding of business, marketing, and finance concepts that you can apply to your writing career for further success.
Additionally, listen to radio programs like Bloomberg radio and CNBC radio when you are driving in your car or whenever you can, and start applying the concepts you learn to your writing career. You will be setting yourself apart for more success by doing this. You can get these business stations using a satellite radio.
3 - Time Your Work and Take Scheduled Breaks
Japanese writer Haruki Murakami said:
“Talent is nothing without focus and endurance.”
Other successful writers such as Nora Roberts and Danielle Steel also advice 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 stressed anywhere. However, when you research successful writers closely, you realize it is a crucial part of their success.
Below are points from Stephen King’s Top 20 Rules for Writers that touch on timing your work and scheduling breaks:
- Turn off the TV. “TV—while working out or anywhere else—really is about the last thing an aspiring writer needs.”
- You have three months. “The first draft of a book—even a long one—should take no more than three months, the length of a season.”
- Take a break. “You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
As part of your daily routine, plan your morning, afternoon, and evening work schedule. Some guidelines that can help with that:
- Write continuously, even if you don’t like what you are writing. (It is just a draft; you can fix it later.)
- Set specific times for breaks.
- Don’t break until you finish what you said you would finish.
4 - Take Care of Your Physical, Mental, and Spiritual Health
Physical, mental, and spiritual health almost never come up when discussing writers' success factors. But these are things that are integral to any person's overall success.
Nora Roberts, American author of more than 225 romance novels, revealed her physical health routine in an 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 stated his less talked about secrets to success:
“I stayed physical healthy, and I stayed married.”
As part of your daily routine, you can do the following things to stay physical and mentally fit before you start writing day:
- Start the day with a good workout (Running, Yoga, Swimming, etc).
- Eat a healthy, filling breakfast.
- Meditate/pray for a few minutes.
- Fix yourself up nicely (Even if you work at home). You'll feel good about yourself.
- Drink water throughout the day to stay well hydrated.
These tips might sound simple, but they go a long way in making you feel energized and physically and mentally capable of doing what needs to be done for success. They also help to avoid depressive moments and increase motivation and happiness for writers.
5 - Spend Focused, Productive Hours On Social Media
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.
For most successful writers, 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 an estimate $1 billion, as of 2023. Most of that money comes from the Harry Potter book sales and movie deals, but a significant smaller portion is online income. This is not to say that money should be the main driver for writers being active on social media, but rather to demonstrate the importance of the media today.
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, allocate focused time to engage with fans on social media and to grow you social media reach. You can stay active on social media in the following ways:
- Post an article on your blog.
- Respond to your post comments.
- Post on your Facebook page or group.
- Read and comment of famous writers’ blogs and Facebook groups and pages.
- Respond to your fans’ emails.
- Read, comment, and post something on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, your blog, and any other relevant social media channels.
Those are only five things successful writers do that are rarely mentioned. I hope you benefit from my research and put these suggestions into practice to become a more success writer.
If you have more tips or suggestions you'd like to add, share them on our social media channels.