There’s a boat load of resources floating through cyberspace about how to succeed as a writer. Though everyone’s process is different, I’ve found that the absolute most important tools are the same for everyone. I managed to round them all up in one quick list.
1. DON’T SEND YOUR MS OUT TOO EARLY: The problem is, how are you supposed to know if it’s too early? A good rule of thumb is to have at least five HONEST readers (a mix of writers and readers) take a look at your MS. What was their feedback? Writing mechanics aren’t enough. For a little guidance on this, check out APPLYING THE SPIT AND POLISH
2. RESEARCH INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS: Scour their websites, read their tweets, or check out any write-ups about them in Publisher’s Weekly and agent tracking websites. Most importantly, talk to their clients to get a feel for the agent/editor’s personality and their preferences. The more information you have, the more likely it is that you’ll connect with the right people to help you further your career. Besides, you may make some great friendships along the way.
3. SEE AND BE SEEN: A web presence is crucial when marketing yourself, but it’s also NOT ENOUGH. Join writers’ groups and readers’ groups. Attend conferences. Connect, swap ideas, help your fellow authors grow. The more you participate, the more you will A) learn B) feel good about yourself and your own process and C) have a fighting chance of becoming published.
4. PRACTICE YOUR CRAFT: This goes without saying. Keep writing and reading. A LOT. Write some more. Try writing in forms that challenge you to think about words in a new way. Dabble in some poetry, song lyrics, magazine articles, short stories, journaling, blogging even. Practice makes perfect and growth is essential or you’ll never get anywhere.
5. LOSE THE EGO: No one likes a know-it-all. Acting as if you’re better than anyone, newbie writers included, is about the fastest way to destroy relationships with cool people. The other problem with a ginromous ego is that if you’re too busy tooting your own horn, you won’t be open to LEARNING something NEW or you may even miss opportunities.
6. TAKE YOURSELF SERIOUSLY: On the flip side of the huge head is the squeaky mouse in the corner, afraid to peep lest someone laugh at them. You must take your writing seriously. Even though God and everybody says they want to write a book the minute you mention that you’re a writer, it doesn’t make them one. It also doesn’t belittle your process. YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD. YOU ARE NOT INSIGNIFICANT! If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one else will either.
7. BE FLEXIBLE: This little ditty can be applied to most things in life. A branch that bends doesn’t snap. If the traditional publishing route isn’t working out for you, there are loads of options. Try indie publishers or even self-pub. Redefine your view of what successful means. Is it realistic? Adjust, grow, and meanwhile, write your heart out.
8. DON’T LOSE HOPE: This is the great American Dream…or really anyone’s dream. There is ALWAYS hope in pressing on. So write on! Keep learning. Keep pouring your soul into your creative works. Participate. Success WILL find you.