My 3 Sure Fire Ways to Writing Success
By S.J. Robinson
Step #1 TO GET FAR, YOU NEED TO GET OVER YOURSELF
First off, one of the biggest differences between a writer and a ‘serious writer’ is found your ability to take criticism and feedback graciously (‘graciously’ being the operative word here!). Many people who set out to write a book initially think that all they need do is hit the finish line on their last page and that they now suddenly have some sort of incredible masterpiece in their hands that absolutely everyone wants to read. And hey, maybe it is a masterpiece, don’t get me wrong... but the key truth to take away here is that this is still only your first draft and most definitely NOT your final end product. Feedback and improvement are what is usually needed to get it up to that place of true greatness. This is often a quite a shock for most aspiring writers, and it was definitely a shock for me too starting out!
In essence, what your first draft boils down to is an internal monologue captured on paper, and the most important thing to do here (hopefully before you go and shop it out to the literary world), is to first get over yourself. I smile saying this because I crashed and burned the hard way, so please make life easy for yourself and learn from my mistake! So you wrote the book you always wanted to write, that is truly awesome and well done you... but in order to have any real success, you need to take the next crucial steps. Otherwise, you will soon find yourself eating a very big humble pie all on your own, and that is no fun... no fun at all! I think– GET OVER YOURSELF AND YOU WILL GO FAR! – is probably the most important lesson out of all three lessons mentioned here... and oh how I wish somebody could have just been blunt enough to tell me this at the very start! It would have saved me a lot of cringe-worthy moments of that dreaded “inflated author egotism”... :D (yes, I’ve labelled it for what it is... a very serious condition unique only to writers!)
The tail-end of this lesson, but which works in tandem with getting over yourself, is to be very, very GRATEFUL to anyone who is kind enough to take any time out of their busy day to give you any vital tip or feedback on your work, whether this is a reader / editor / agent / publisher. Just listen to what they say to you, thank them and take it on board; ultimately, they are only trying to help you on your road to success in your writing journey!
Step #2 MAKE SERIOUS FINANCIAL INVESTMENT IN
YOUR WRITING CAREER
The second difference between a writer and a ‘serious writer’ comes down to money. Writing is just a hobby until you can write well enough for other people to want to pay to hear what you have to say. So maybe what I’ve just said can be a bit of a sensitive issue for those still suffering from the dreaded ‘inflated author egotism’, but ultimately, you are going to have to develop a thick skin (yet open heart) if you want to take a career in writing seriously and if you really want to ‘get in on the game’. The most successful writers, making the serious money, actually do take their writing very seriously. Unsurprisingly, there is often a direct correlation between monetary investment and monetary gain. Serious writers have invested in continuous self-improvement to hone in on their craft and, more often than not, wise investments become hallmarks of your writing that will pay off in the end. Whether this involves paying for writing courses or paying an editor for feedback on your work, or making some other meaningful investment, all of this adds value in the long run.
While putting the final full-stop on your internal monologue of sixty thousand words may seem like a fabulous achievement at the time (and it is, don’t get me wrong!), I can assure you that this feeling is usually short-lived. And the sooner you get other people eyes on your work (I mean, other professionals), the better. Coming out of the ‘writing cocoon’ brings many new and exciting challenges. The biggest challenge here now is to make your internal monologue appetizing to readers. My advice is to find the best help that you can afford, and PAY for it. This is what the process will look like at this stage... Edit, Rewrite, Reread, Repeat... Edit, Rewrite, Reread, Repeat... Edit, Rewrite, Reread, Repeat (or some variation that works for you). Okay maybe I’m being a little too drill sergeant here, but in reality, this is the process which can and often does continue on for several more rounds. This is not-to-mention the proofing and beta reading that comes after, until you are so totally and utterly exhausted at looking at the same book so many times, you want to crack up! But with all that said, it will be so worth it when you finally succeed in cutting out a pure diamond so bright and shiny that it stands out a mile to all who behold it!
Step #3 EXPLORE AND EXPLOIT ALL AVAILABLE AVENUES
...And learn what you don’t know. Another way to get the ball rolling is to see everything coming your way as a potential opportunity. I am not suggesting you say ‘yes’ to everything that comes your way at the beginning, but this is definitely a good way to start. Pretty soon you will find out what your unique niche / angle / hallmark is and you can greatly exploit this later on. Questions to ask at this stage include: What can I offer that nobody else is offering? Or what can I do well that nobody else is doing well? Moreover, what am I most passionate about? And who wants to know? Who can mentor and guide me in this area? What opportunities keep on appearing before me? What indicators am I getting back, to show me that I am on the right track? What don’t I know that I really need to know? And who can teach me?
So to all aspiring writers this is my advice in a nutshell... all of which was learned the hard way by me. Hopefully, it can save you some heartache and point you in the ‘write’ direction. Remember, books are a dime a dozen at the moment, often with little or no quality control involved anymore (...and I’m talking about BOTH indie and trad publishing here). Everyone wants in on an already over-saturated market. With the advent of ebooks and, with it, an element of just pure laziness, QUALITY as a hallmark has been on a significant decline. However, this is really good news for all ‘serious writers’, as it means you now have a whole niche market to provide quality work to the abundance of quality readers who still do exist out there in the world! Think of the writing process as being like a metal worker hammering out a sword. You have to hammer it, beat it and craft it into shape with a significant amount of time, labour and skill. Your hope by the end is to have hammered out your own unique “excalibur” which you can then use to cut out a large slice of the market with! So in closing I won’t wish you ‘Good Luck!’ but rather say: ‘Reread Steps Above, and Execute!’
To your continued writing success, and to your creative pen and sword!
- S.J. Robinson is the author of the PROJECT CODE-X TRILOGY of high-concept thrillers. For a special advance reader copy of her first book, click HERE.
Text Copyright © 2017, S.J. Robinson. All rights reserved.
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