As an author and writer, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about how to be successful with my creative projects. The tips below, which apply to both fiction and non-fiction books, will help you on your way to becoming the successful writer you’ve always dreamed of being, whether it’s publishing your first book or continuing to write prolifically even after being published for years. Each tip builds on the last, so read them all!
1) Forgive yourself
it takes time to learn how to write, so don’t be hard on yourself. While some people may come into writing at a young age and take it on with ease, not everyone does. Many successful writers weren’t published until after years of rejection letters or personal frustration. Simply put: if you haven’t found success right away, don’t be discouraged by it. You could even use it as fuel to inspire your next creative endeavor. In fact, many authors consider their first literary work something they wrote out of sheer frustration at not being able to do something else—which is why they started writing in the first place!
2) Know you’re in it for the long run
You can’t be a successful writer without being in it for the long haul. Success is something that happens gradually over time, not overnight, and you should never look at success as one single monumental achievement. In fact, if you manage to keep writing consistently and develop your voice over time—that will be enough to celebrate. Writers who love what they do don’t write because they want to become famous or make money; they write because writing is their passion and there isn’t anything else they would rather do. That attitude towards writing makes you more likely to stick with it no matter what obstacles you face along your journey of self-discovery. To put it another way: Would an amateur author quit after spending five years on his first book?
You’re an author. You’re a creator. That means you should diversify your portfolio of projects. While many writers find content writing is their niche, there are still lots of different types of writing jobs to be found in just about every field, including blogging, marketing and graphic design. Consider broadening your horizons so you aren’t only looking at job listings as a writer but can apply your writing skills to other positions. The more opportunities you have as a creative professional, the better chance you have at making it financially and artistically.
4) Fuel Yourself (Physically, Mentally and Spiritually)
As a creator you need to constantly be ready to create, so it’s important that you make sure you are physically, mentally and spiritually prepared. You want to think of yourself as an athlete that is always in training. Keep your body fueled with nutritious food and healthy habits by practicing yoga, getting adequate sleep, meditating or listening to music that keeps your creative juices flowing. Try exercising right before writing; it might just be what you need to break through writer’s block. Maintain your mental well-being by taking breaks from your work throughout each day; run errands, take a walk or watch TV when you need some time away from your project.
5) Just do it!
It’s easy to fall into a rut, to get stuck in thinking there is only one way of doing things. If you’re feeling uninspired or burnt out, try something new, anything different. Do something that comes naturally to you—even if it doesn’t involve your work. We all have that creative spark inside us; perhaps it’s time we pulled it out and showed ourselves (and others) what we can really do! In other words: just do it! It may not be your everyday routine but if you give yourself a chance and look deep within yourself, I think you will find an artist waiting patiently to burst onto the scene. And once he does, there’s no stopping him!
6) Set goals
Set goals that are achievable, yet challenging. Don’t shoot for book deals or speaking engagements right away—start small. Set deadlines, write at least one piece a month and make social media a priority by using hashtags to grow your platform and connect with like-minded individuals. In no time, you’ll have mastered your craft and will have momentum on your side. Even if you’re just starting out as a writer, set your sights high; eventually some of these goals will become reality and boost your confidence in yourself as a creator. And when those moments happen—because they will!—take advantage of them by challenging yourself to keep reaching for new heights. It’s okay to be an amateur; most professionals were once amateurs too!
7) Give yourself deadlines
When writer’s block strikes (and it will), try setting a deadline. You can use something you have to do, like an upcoming meeting or event, or something you want to do, like your next business trip or vacation. If writing is part of your job, set a deadline of when you’ll need to turn in your first draft and how many drafts you’ll submit. Many professional writers are up against deadlines every day because that keeps them on track and focused. Even if writing isn’t part of your full-time job, you still want deadlines in place so that those pesky excuses don’t become overwhelming and prevent you from doing what needs to be done—writing!
8) Celebrate small wins
When you get stuck, look back at your writing and celebrate every small win. You may not feel like you’re making progress, but even one word that was hard to find can feel like a major milestone. Celebrate your small wins; they’ll keep you motivated when times get tough. Also, celebrate your big wins too! It’s great to appreciate how far you’ve come; just don’t forget about all of those little milestones along the way. Small wins add up and will push you forward when it feels like there are no good ideas left in your head.
9) Write every day
Whether you consider yourself a writer or not, it’s important to keep writing. If you don’t practice your craft, you may lose your touch and will feel creatively stifled. This is especially true if you find yourself spending more time in front of a computer than with pen and paper. Write every day, even if just for 10 minutes; get your ideas down on paper, even if they aren’t stellar at first. Practice makes perfect!
10) Make a commitment to yourself
It's up to you to make your art. No one else can do it for you. Before you write a single word, take a few minutes and just think about what you want to accomplish as an artist. What kind of stories do you want to tell? Are there other forms of art that you want to work in? If so, what would they be? Make a commitment to yourself that comes from your heart and soul--you won't regret it!