Recently Jon Bard posted a video in which writers will be successful. He pulled no punches. Negative writers will fail because their negativity will dampen their creativity. If you want to succeed, you need to find the joy in writing.
I’ve been noodling over what Jon had to say so maybe that’s why a Zen Habits blog post caught my attention. In this post, simplicity blogger Leo Babauta talked about the lessons in contentment that he learned hearing Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger speak. Here is my take on how what they had to say applies to the writing life.
- Find What Turns You On. We all have to make a living, but spend at least part of your writing time doing something you love. Really love. This means that if you have to write testing material to make a living, then write testing material. But also spend some time each day writing the novel that you simply can not get out of your head. Write what you love. Early on, I was lucky enough to get a gig writing equine nonfiction. I always loved horses and I love ferreting out the facts for a top nonfiction story. Follow your enthusiasm because it will not only carry you through the marketing and editing processes, it will also snag that editor or agent.
- Don’t Worry What Everyone Else Is Doing. You need to know what’s already on the market but do not write to the market. This means don’t try to follow a trend just because you think there might be a check in it. Find a project you can make your own.
- Know Your Strengths. Fiction is fun, but I’m a natural when it comes to nonfiction. I like taking seemingly complex topics and writing them up for children. Perhaps you have a natural middle grade voice. Or you love laying down the clues for a mystery. If you haven’t found your writing strength, don’t worry. Try different types of writing and pay attention to what sings in your soul. You will find it.
- Fewer and Higher Quality. I cringe when a new writer tells me that she has 30 manuscripts circulating. If someone has been writing for two years or less and has this much out, then most if not all of it probably needs to be rewritten. On the other hand, I know a novelist who seldom has more than two or three pieces out at a time. She has six books in print. She did this by only submitting her very best work vs the shot gun approach.
- Know What You Like and Forget the Rest. It is easy to second guess yourself as a writer. There are so many people who are eager to tell us what we should be writing, how to build our platforms and more, but the reality is that you won’t have time for all of it. Find what feels do-able and right and stick with it. I blog regularly and have a presence on Facebook. Twitter? Haven’t touched it because I have enough on my plate already.
Find your way to your writing passions if you want to succeed. Nothing else will work.