How to be a Successful Writer

success road

How to be a Successful Writer:

  • Write every day
  • Write at least 2000 words a day
  • It doesn’t matter how much you write, as long as you’re doing something
  • Keep a notebook on hand to jot down ideas whenever the muse strikes
  • Don’t wait for the muse—write anyway
  • Read at least 200 books per year
  • Learn all the rules of good writing
  • You can break all the rules as long as you engage your reader
  • Enter contests to get feedback on your work
  • Don’t enter contests, they’re a waste of time and money
  • Stick to your genre/brand
  • Try a bunch of different genres until you figure out what works best for you
  • Don’t put yourself in a box—defy the confines of genre
  • Make sure you know where you fit so you can market yourself
  • Read everything in your genre
  • Read across multiple genres
  • Listen to constructive criticism
  • Ignore critics
  • Go to writing conferences
  • Don’t waste your money on writing conferences
  • Hire a good editor
  • Don’t waste your money on an editor—learn to self-edit
  • Read more than you write
  • Write more than you read
  • Blog every day
  • Don’t worry about blogging—no one reads blogs anymore anyway
  • Become an expert on social media to market yourself
  • Don’t worry about marketing yourself on social media—if you’re a good writer, the readers will come to you

All of these are pieces of writing advice and wisdom I’ve actually heard at one time or another, and I’m sure there are many more. All of them have truth to them, to an extent, and yet many of them contradict one another.

What’s a writer to do?

Even if you tried to follow some of the more prominent ones, like reading widely and writing a certain number of words every day while still maintaining a blog and a couple social media accounts and learning more rules about writing craft and so on, you would quickly run out of hours in your day to do things like eat and sleep and spend time with loved ones and keep a day job.

It just isn’t possible to do everything.

So, with that in mind, I have a few more pieces of advice:

  • You can run around in circles trying to do everything and make yourself crazy. Just do the best you can.
  • Find balance. You don’t have to do all of everything. Balance reading, writing, and learning with job, family, church, and so on.
  • Don’t gauge your success by someone else’s. Your journey will look different.
  • Keep moving forward. When you strike a balance and find what works for you at any particular period in your life, keep going. Take the next step in your journey, doing each bit to the best of your ability, and eventually you’ll get where you’re going, even if that place isn’t where you thought it would be when you started out.

About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

7 comments on “How to be a Successful Writer

  1. “Keep Moving Forward.” That’s my favorite right there. 🙂

    • That’s pretty much all you can do, if you think about it. Stopping is the same as rolling backwards down the hill. You have to keep pushing forward, even if it’s just a little.

  2. Thank you for adding some common sense to the mix! Would-be writers should have to drive to succeed, but they also need to realize that life goes on beyond the printed page, and your loved ones need some of your attention too. I think my one cardinal rule for writing would be, “Don’t take no for an answer.” Beyond that, we’re all making it up as we go along.

  3. This is great, Avily. One of the most crucial epiphanies of the writing life is realizing that the “good advice” is often contradictory and that you need to find your own path.

    There is no single road to success. (Even though success almost always involves certain things like putting in the time, not giving up, continuing to improve with each project, etc.)

  4. Yes, yes, yes! Once you start getting involved in writing communities online, the advice can be overwhelming and so contradictory! (Reminds me of the barrage of advice I got when researching motherhood…) Your list is freeing truth. Great post.

  5. Thanks, all!

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