Have you ever wondered how some authors manage to find massive success, while others remain unknown and frustrated?
There are certain habits that successful writers have developed that set them apart from the rest.
Habits of Successful Writers
If you’re new to writing or have dreams of making it big as an author, you’ll definitely want to take note of these 15 tips for success as a professional writer.
1. Write Daily
If not daily, at least weekly. Professional writers and authors schedule their writing time on a regular basis and stick to it. They don’t let themselves succumb to writer’s block or lack of inspiration. Professionals write. Period. And they do it a lot. They may skip a day here and there, but they never quit.
If they have to schedule time in their calendar, turn down requests for social events or appointments, or commute to a quieter location, they do whatever it takes to write consistently and invest the many hours it takes to create great work.
2. Don’t Complain or Maintain a Victim Mentality
Professional writers and authors don’t complain about how hard it is to get published or how unlucky they are. They focus on writing and getting their work out there.
If they get rejected 100 times, they continue to submit their manuscript until it gets published or just self publish instead. If they have to go through another rewrite, use a new pen name, or write a new book, they’ll do it. Professionals don’t let anything stop them, especially not a victim mentality or a negative attitude.
3. Promote, Market, and Build a Platform
The pros understand that it takes a dedicated fan base and a lot of promotion to make a difference with their books and earn a living.
If you want to earn more money, help more people, and get your message out their, you have to be willing to promote yourself a lot. Like every day. Like in the supermarket talking to strangers, and on your Facebook page, and on social media while you’re waiting in line at the supermarket. Never pass up an opportunity to promote. If you do, you’ll regret it. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but someday for sure.
4. Build an Email List and Connect With Readers
Professionals understand that their email list is one of their greatest assets. They use a professional autoresponder like Aweber, and they don’t just have an “email list” of friends and family who never opted in.
They don’t leave connecting with readers up to their publishers or publicists. Pros respond to emails from readers and want to hear what their readers love, what they don’t like, and what ideas they’re passionate about.
5. Join and Build Communities
Professionals are part of communities, whether it be a community of fellow writers and authors, science fiction fans, or a creative or business community. This means participating in online forums, social media groups, local writer’s groups, writer’s conferences, or networking groups.
Pros don’t just sit at home and write, completely disconnected from the world. They connect with other communities, give back and serve, and connect with other human beings, whether it be in person or online. Being an introvert is just fine. But being a hermit and isolating yourself from the rest of the world will only limit your ideas and creativity.
6. Invest in Your Education
The pros understand that learning is crucial to success. That’s why they invest in their own education by reading books, attending writer’s conferences and personal development seminars, and taking online courses. Learning is a part-time job for pros, and they work at it as often as they can.
No matter how successful they become, pros always want to learn more. They never think they know it all, and even if others consider them to be the world’s greatest expert in their field, they’re willing to learn from others.
7. Read Great and Popular Writers
Professional authors read voraciously. They read the classics, as well as popular books in their market or genre to learn how to write and communicate better and what readers are buying today.
They read what interests them, of course, but they also read what interests their audience, whether it’s unpopular, unsophisticated or unpretentious.
8. Treat Your Career Like a Business (Not a Hobby)
Pros don’t treat their writing like a hobby; they treat it like a business.
That means they take it seriously. They may track their own writing times and productivity, invest more money than others may think appropriate, and work harder than others think is prudent. But one thing they don’t do is play it safe and pretend their writing is just a hobby. Maybe it started out as a hobby, but it grows into something more. It grows into a passion, an obsession and a way of life. And pros will do whatever it takes to make that way of life work for them.
9. Don’t Wait for Inspiration
Professionals don’t wait for inspiration. Instead, they just write. Whether it’s good or bad doesn’t matter.
Just like Michael Jordan practiced free throw after free throw, professional writers practice writing word after word, sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, and book after book. If they write a bad word, a bad sentence, a bad paragraph, or a bad book, they either go back and rewrite it or move on to the next one.
Either way, they continue to write, in good times and bad times, when the public doesn’t know who they are, when the public loves them, and when the public hates them. Pros continue to write no matter what, so find your writing motivation and keep working every day.
10. Plan Your Writing
Pros plan their writing ahead of time. This means they spend time planning their outlines and scenes. They invest a few minutes planning, whether it be on paper (most often) or in their head. That way, when they sit down to write, they actually start writing instead of staring at a blank page hoping for inspiration to hit.
Pros don’t leave their writing to chance. They plan ahead. If inspiration strikes, so be it. If not, start planning your next writing session.
11. Edit and Rewrite
Pros fall in love with rewriting and editing. That doesn’t mean they have to enjoy every second of it or that they smile all the while. It means they understand that editing and rewriting is the only path to creating something great, and so they fall in love with the habits that make them great, just as a mother falls in love with her baby when she gives birth.
Is it painful and difficult sometimes? Of course. But it’s totally worth it. And it’s the only way to create new life.
12. Publish Quickly and Avoid Procrastination
Pros publish quickly. They don’t wait until the timing is just right or the book is perfect, because they know the timing will never be right and there are no perfect books (at least, none that have been published yet). Yes, they go through many edits and rewrite often, but they don’t get stuck in the editing process. They realize if they want their writing to actually be read, they have to publish it sooner rather than later.
The truth is that until you allow the world to read your book, you’ll never know how good it is or what kind of an impact it can have, or what your readers can teach you. That’s why second editions exist.
Not sure how to get started? Check out our guide on how to publish a book.
13. Work on Multiple Projects
Pros are always working on multiple projects. Whether it be multiple books or other creative endeavors, pros never stop creating, and usually have multiple projects going at one time.
Working on multiple projects has many benefits. First of all, it helps to be able to work on a new project if a current project gets dull or boring.
Second, it helps the author avoid getting too attached to a project. If you only have one book and fall in love with it and readers don’t feel the same way, you’ll be devastated. If you have other projects in the works, you won’t take it as personally, and you’ll continue to work instead of getting stuck in self-pity and despair.
Third, working on multiple projects is what pros do because pros love to create. They love it so much that they would do it whether they got paid to or not. For a pro, writing and creating isn’t just a strategic initiative or meticulously planned business strategy. Instead, it’s an act of love.
14. Embrace Your Uniqueness
Pros embrace their own unique quirks, habits and temperament. They don’t just believe everything they read online, they don’t try to do what everyone else is doing, and they don’t change what works for them if they know it works.
Pros stay true to themselves. They don’t sacrifice their own values for the values of others. When they decide to make changes, they make those changes because they know or feel that it’s the right thing to do, not just because someone else said that’s the way it should be done.
15. If All Fails, Make Something Up
Like right now. I’m not really sure what else to write, but I promised 15 success habits, so by golly I will deliver 15 success habits!
Pros aren’t afraid to just make something up and try something new. If it’s awful, so be it. Better to write something awful than write nothing at all and let your creativity atrophy. If a professional athlete practices for four hours and performs poorly, they don’t regret the practice. They take it as a sign that they need to practice more, and that they might want to try harder or try something different tomorrow. Professional authors practice the same way.
It may not always be pretty, but practice is always worth it.
If you liked this post, then you will love my book Secrets of the Six-Figure Author where you’ll learn how to create your own success habits as an author, how to build your success team, and how to cultivate an unstoppable daily method of operation (DMO) that will guarantee you keep making progress and achieve the success you deserve as a writer and author.
Which writing habits have helped you? Feel free to share in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:
- How to Adopt the Reading Habits of Successful People
- The 6-Step Morning Routine of Highly Successful People
- 11 Things Good Writers Do: The Writing Habits of Successful Authors
- Schedule Your Success: The One Key Habit That Can Transform Every Area of Your Life
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of TCK Publishing, and the bestselling author of 27 books including Secrets of the Six-Figure author. He is also the host of the Publishing Profits Podcast show where we interview successful authors and publishing industry experts to share their tips for creating a successful writing career.