Ten Book Writing Tips for Career Writers
The book writing tips here illuminate ten crucial habits and attitudes of successful creative writers. Career writers, those who live off writing income, treat
writing as a vocation and a business, not as a hobby. To match their success, follow these practices. They're good principles in general,
but they're especially important in a writing career, in which it often takes years to be adequately rewarded.
- Dream big. If you want a career as a writer, set your sights on big achievements, the best agent, a major publisher, and publication in a dozen
countries. Imagine yourself living the life you desire. Don't settle. If you dream big, you'll strive harder. Be an optimist and refuse to consider failure. Successful
writers don't think about failure. They spend time thinking about how to succeed with the story at hand. They acquire the necessary skills for success, they dream big,
and they work hard without giving up, for as long as it takes.
- Write about something you're passionate about. What interests you? If you spend most of your time thinking about abstract concepts, create a
protagonist that is a mathematician or a physicist, so you can spend your time thinking about what excites you. If you spend most of your time thinking about
relationships, write about complex relationships. If you live for your children, write children's books.
- Commit to learning everything you can about writing. Of all the book writing tips listed here, this might be the one unsuccessful writers neglect
most often as they learn a little and believe that is enough. The world is filled with wishful writers who think that anyone can become an author. With practice, anyone
can write, but only a small percentage can write well. Author, screenwriter, and publisher Sol Stein claims that good writing is as complicated as brain surgery. I've
been writing for twenty-five years and I'm still learning something new every week. A willingness to understand craft is the minimum requirement for success.
Understanding what makes a book good is more important than liking it. Understanding how to analyze good writing is crucial. Invest in your writing and literary
education and commit to becoming one of the top writers in the country. It won't happen overnight. You may not find the success you dream of in two decades, but strive
to learn everything there is to know about the art and craft of lasting literature, get experienced feedback, never give up, and it will happen.
- Develop your strengths. Are you particularly good with dialogue? Then follow the example of Irish novelist Roddy Doyle and write books heavy on
dialogue. If exquisite diction is your strength, think of Annie Dillard or Anne Michaels and perfect each sentence. Don't neglect other skills, and strive to improve in
the areas you find more difficult, but your main focus should be on doing what you do well. This is where you will shine and gain recognition.
- Accept 100% responsibility for your success or failure. Let others whine about the state of publishing, the weak economy, small advances, and
dwindling readers. If your book is good enough, it will sell. Don't worry if it doesn't sell as many copies as you'd like. Once you publish enough good books that you
have a large following, all your books will sell well, your new ones and your entire backlist. Many authors find that it takes five or more books to earn the money they
thought they'd make with their first book. Be prepared for that and keep writing.
- Stay focused. In the early years, when you don't earn as much as you'd like, it's easy to get sidetracked by the need to make a living. Do what you
must to pay the bills in the fewest hours possible, and devote the rest of your time to reading, analyzing, and writing. This dedication is the price of success as a
writer, so accept that you will take writing vacations while others lie on the beach. You don't have to work all the time, but you will need to make sacrifices and
strive to make these book writing tips second nature. Refuse to consider the possibility of failure.
- Spend time with writers who want to succeed as badly as you do. Find writers who will provide respectful but honest feedback. Let your spouse or
parents tell you how wonderful you are. As a writer, you need the feedback of those with enough knowledge and experience to analyze your work and pinpoint its strengths
and weaknesses, particularly its weaknesses. You're likely able to see the strengths on your own. Create your own writing group. Stay away from negative people who seek
to undermine your enthusiasm. Writing has never been considered the best occupational choice. Instead seek out those who understand what it takes to be a career writer
and who follow these book writing tips themselves.
- Be prepared for setbacks. Every time something you write succeeds, something else will fail. Novelist and non fiction writer Annie Dillard
writes: On plenty of days the writer can write three or four pages, and on plenty of other days he concludes he must throw them away. Each breakthrough in
understanding creates new, difficult demands. Writing success will always have its peaks and valleys. Once you're published, you'll find that one week reviewers will
love your work, and the next week another reviewer will dismiss it. One book will win awards, and another won't. As with everything in life, expect to take one step
backward for every two steps forward. Resolve to pick yourself up after each setback and move forward. Forget about sulking. It wastes time. Not even the best writers
can escape criticism and disappointments. Persevere, and accept all hurdles with the knowledge that "this, too, will pass."
- Set clear goals and think about how you will achieve them. Goals are useless if you do not have a plan for achieving them. If you want to sell
10,000 copies of each book every year, write down a dozen ways that might happen. Maybe you need speaking engagements. Maybe you need more traffic to your website.
Choose the most plausible or the most enjoyable possibility and decide what concrete action steps would make the goal a reality. Then do something every day that moves
you closer to the desired result.
- Write honestly. Exceptional writers don't write what will make them acceptable to others. They write what others only think and few will say.
Allow your characters to verbalize what goes unsaid, to act as many would like to act and dare not. Have the confidence to write what you know to be true. "The Emperor's
New Clothes," by Hans Christian Andersen, is remembered by everyone who hears it because the little boy says what everyone knows to be true and no one else had the
courage to say. As a writer, have courage.
No one of these book writing tips is more important than any other. If you dream of publishing success, let nothing deter you. Practice these habits and keep practicing
them until you succeed, as you will.
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