The 5 Secrets of Successful Writers

The 5 Secrets of Successful Writers

Some writers think that success occurs in a magical moment when the stars and planets align for a particular person. But waiting for Fate to tap your shoulder as the lucky one places your chance to succeed in the hands of strangers.

And, yes, it is just luck at that point.

You can build your own success as a writer or an author without waiting for Fate to come calling. You don’t have to just hope to be “discovered” by a publisher or a major blog. You don’t have to wait for destiny to align your stars.

Just follow these 5 steps, and writing success is in the palm of your hands – not those of strangers:

1. WRITE. If you talk a lot about writing, do plenty of writing research, tell all your Facebook friends about how you’re a writer… well, you’re not actually writing. You’re doing everything but. A writer writes. Period. A writer spends time tapping on the keyboard and publishing the results, whether as a book or blog posts or something else., and a writer moves forward with steady progress.

2. READ. When you’re not writing, read. Read everything you can get your hands on, and not just books in the genre you like to write. If you’re writing a nonfiction business book, read fiction. If you’re writing a fantasy tale, grab a business book. If you don’t have books, read magazines or even the backs of cereal boxes. The more you read, the better a writer you become.

3. FINISH. You need to finish what you started. Even if you hate it. Even if it sucks. Even if you think it’s awful. Starting to write a book without ever finishing it means you’re not a true writer – you’re just a wannabe. Starting to write blog posts and leaving them half-finished and never published won’t work. Ever see a practicing cook stir a cake endlessly without ever putting it in the oven? Of course not –  so finish your book or your blog post and be done with it, for better or worse. You can always edit and improve on it later.

4. PUBLISH. This can be anything from hitting ‘publish’ on a blog post to self-publishing to writing ebooks and handing them around to friends. Publish, as in, get your work in front of people’s eyes so they can give you feedback. Do you have a critique group? Let them tell you what they think. You have to get your writing out in the world so you can accomplish the next step.

5. LEARN. This step is the true secret of successful writers. Writing and showing other people what you can do with words isn’t the last step – it just lets you gather feedback so you can listen and learn. Take in what people say about your writing. Find out what they liked and what needs work. Improve your skills, and with each piece you publish, observe how you can become an even better writer next time.

Need proof that these 5 secrets of successful writers are the simplest key to success? Look at all the popular names of A-list bloggers and bestselling authors with paperbacks on bookstore shelves. Each and every one of these writers has used these exact 5 steps to get where they are today.

They actually DO these 5 steps. Over and over and over again.

Don’t you think it’s time for you to give this proven method a try?

Post by Kari

Kari is a full-time content manager, editor and in-house blogger at Men With Pens. In her spare time, she writes fiction and is working on her first novel.

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  1. Great tips Kari. Especially the cook analogy. What would be the point of slaving over a meal only to throw it down the garbage disposal before anyone tasted it?

    • Exactly, Bill! Personally, I prefer my cook friends to come over and prepare meals FOR me when I get the chance :) Plus if someone doesn’t at least sample it, how do you know if it’s any good? :)

  2. Hi Kari, great tips. . Agree, we should always read when we don’t write. . . Thanks for sharing! :)

    • Thanks, Adithya! Reading lots and lots has always been my thing — but don’t let it keep you from writing. What do you usually enjoy reading?

  3. Finish. That’s my biggest problem. I’m a great starter but a poor finisher. So much promise in one little word.

    • Hi Teri! I completely understand what you mean on the finishing thing — I have that problem too! I’m trying harder to finish more because when I go back and rewrite my work, I tend to think up something even better that I didn’t (or wouldn’t have) thought of before! :) We have to finish things — have to get that practice in too :) You can do it!

    • Teri, finishing is difficult for me too, especially book length projects.

  4. Great information, things I’m still doing. I published my first novel a little over a year ago, a historical novel, “Yet Another Fallen Star”, and I’m about a third of the way through my second novel, “I’m Just the Keyboard Guy.” I have had an active blog for most of this time, but not the amount of comments I’d like. I’m an eighty four year old new author. Your never too old to learn.

    • JoAnn, you’re awesome and an inspiration to us young ‘uns (I’m 60).
      My mother in-law is in her 70’s and wouldn’t know how to turn on a computer if her life depended on it.
      But look at you! You’re blogging, writing and active on the internet. Keep it up.

  5. I would also extend the idea of reading when you’re not writing to learning of any kind. Just yesterday I was listening to a podcast for solopreneurs and found a potential place to market my book. You never know where you will find opportunities or ideas.

    • Cheryl, I would completely agree! And you never know where you can pick up ideas for stories or any other interesting pieces of information.

  6. Pretty sad we have to be told to write to be a writer :(

    • Chiara, I think sometimes we fall into ruts and routines and we become complacent with ourselves. Sometimes it’s the little things we forget. And writing can be extremely intimidating — even to a writer. Writer’s block can be paralyzing, but you have to work through it (and that is coming from experience). It’s easy-peasy to talk about writing, not-as-easy to do it.

  7. Becoming a successful writer is not an easy task but with the right tips and training, one can make a mark in this field. There is no doubt that the best way to hone your writing skills is to write as much as possible and as often as you can.

  8. Hi, Kari …

    Great post! Reading doesn’t come as easy to me as does writing, but it comes in as a close second. Like Bill, I really related to the analogy about the cook – what a great way to consider it.

    If someone is unable to finish a writing project, perhaps there’s a reason – like, maybe the story has gone off track … maybe the theme has become muddied or even lost. Speaking for myself, that’s the first sign I look for. If I can’t course-correct my narrative development, I’ll finish it as best I can – but shelve it and revisit it later for some heavy editing … however, I will continue writing – perhaps not on that project, because it might need to percolate a bit before I can fix it … but other writing, just to keep the words flowing.

    That’s how I see it, anyway. Thanks for those tips – they really clarify things.

    cheers,
    /L.

    • Lily, exactly! Finish it — and go back later to edit it when it’s not so fresh in your mind :) And write more! You’re doing a fantastic job!

  9. Ok, “Starting to write a book without ever finishing it means you’re not a true writer –”

    That stabbed me in the heart…

    Thanks for the encouragement. For real. I needed that.

  10. To LeAnn, Bet I didn’t spell that right. You hit it right on for me. If the words get foggy it’s time to give it up for a while. Other wise, go where the words takes you?

    I think it’s amazing a theme that you never dreamed of the day before comes into being and makes all kinds of sense on the next day.
    Author, JoAnn L. Hill

  11. I love these tips, because they’re not fluff or decoration. These are the bones of the writing life, without which you’re writing life falls apart. In that sense, “tips” is an understatement. These are more than suggestions. We MUST do things to be considered serious writers. Thanks for the post!

  12. An interesting set of points, but; “Starting to write a book without ever finishing it means you’re not a true writer – you’re just a wannabe.” If you have the foresight, and humility, to realise you’re not on a good project then go ahead and ditch it. It doesn’t mean you’re not a true writer – since when was this a consideration? Is this an ethic of the e-publishing generation, “Just finish it and publish, what the hell?” Whatever makes your approach to writing work, do it. Plenty of writers have abandoned a book and then used themes from it to influence a different novel.

    • Exactly, Alex, and you answered yourself – ” Plenty of writers have abandoned a book and then used themes from it to influence a different novel.” These writers actually finish something, which was my original point!

  13. Simple steps. But oh, so effective! Thanks for the reminder.

  14. Solomon V says:

    Hi Kari,
    There are several points I need to take from this post. the first one is’ Finish what you’ve started’. this one is quite important for me. I need to know if I can self publish my book and sell it myself…or give it to a publisher. I know that getting published IS such a difficult thing these days. I want your opinion on this.
    Pls. suggest me on this …mine is a non-fiction – self help genre
    thank you
    Solomon

  15. Michael Hicks says:

    “…so finish your book or your blog post and be done with it, for better or worse. You can always edit and improve on it later.” AMEN to that!!!

    How many writers do we know who are afraid to get started for fear of failure,
    or afraid to finish out of fear of success? It’s like they’re stuck in a perpetual
    midlife writing crisis. Just be done with it and let the chips fall where they may.
    It’s part of the risk we take for the carefully crafted words we choose.

    Very well done, Kari!!!

  16. John Waghorn says:

    Good post Kari, another one for success is passion. Without a passion or a dedication for the subject you are writing about, it will be difficult to convey your feelings and draw people in.

    You can always tell when someone is genuinely writing with a passion as it comes out in their writing style. Obviously reading and writing will improve and develop your style, but passion will attract an audience. Point number five is a good one too, it’s always worth taking on board feedback for next time round.

  17. I apologize for my English, i am from Romania. I tried most of the marketing measures wich online marketing guru write an talk about they, including those. I buy and read many books about this subject. Unfortunately none works. I have a 100% original site. Is a full content site, with almost 1000 article, a site about politics, movies and rock music. Is four years old and still barely make 15-20 visits per day. In a “great” day almost 50… All over, I use Genesis Framework by 2 years. Moreover, he have PR = 2! Only “2” after four years?!! … Excuse me but I do not believe in what you write. I think it’s just a matter of chance …

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