What if JK Rowling only imagined the Harry Potter series in her head? Or even told a few close friends about it, but never got to writing it.
The entire world would have lost out on an epic story and my childhood generation wouldn’t have been the same.
Or if George R.R. Martin only had the idea but never finished his hit book series titled A Song of Ice and Fire?
Then I would have never experienced the dramatic books and always entertaining HBO series Game of Thrones. How could I go on without knowing that “A Lannister always pays his debts” and hearing “You know nothing Jon Snow.”
Anyway, my point is: It doesn’t matter if you have the perfect book idea, if you can’t focus and put in the work to type it out to completion. The execution in how to write a book is the critical step that transforms an idea into reality.
So you have your book idea? That’s a good first step, but now it’s time to execute because the writers who execute get their message out and impact the world. Those who don’t finish, are left thinking to themselves, “What if?”
These 11 habits of successful writers will help your writing output and quality.
1. They write at the best time for them.
Are you more efficient in the morning or at night? I recommend to get your writing done first thing in the morning, but there are some people who are truly more productive at night. And don’t fall for the misleading thought that since this famous self published author writes at 1 am, you’re going to write at 1 am. Because that doesn’t mean it’s the best time for you. He or she could have a completely different biological clock than you. So write at your best time and your writing speed and content will improve.
2. They know where they do their best work.
It’s true that the environment where you work influences the quality of your writing. Top writers know this and know where they’re at their best. For you, is your best writing place in your silent room? In a coffee shop to the tune of overheard voices? Or outside where you can hear the noises of the world around you? It’s for this reason that famous authors have little writing sheds and huts so they can completely focus.
3. They put in their dues.
In any career, you have to start at the bottom because you won’t immediately get a seven-figure book deal or position at The New York Times. However, successful writers develop the habit of doing their best work even if they’re not writing about the perfect topic or at their dream job. Continue to improve your skills, and you’ll look at the journey as half the fun until you reach your dream destination.
4. They know exactly what their audience wants.
Writing for yourself is one thing, but where things can become extremely profitable is when you know what your audience wants (even if they don’t know it) and deliver it to them. These writing skills will get your blog posts shared, books sold, and customers hungry for more from you. Then you have a following that you can make your career out of.
5. They write for more than the money.
Although you can make money in self publishing books and as a writer, there has to be something else in it for you or you’re going to burn out eventually. If you don’t love writing, impacting people with your words, or some other ‘Why’ factor, then it’s going to be tough to compete against someone else who is internally motivated.
6. They dig in when it gets tough.
Feeling sick or having a bad day? That shouldn’t get in the way of your writing output. A key quality of successful people is their ability to focus on a specific task, and drown out the other noises pulling for their attention. And successful authors are able to write no matter the circumstance. I’m writing this with the flu—it’s not fun.
7. They don’t edit mid-writing session, but after.
This is a classic killer of writing productivity. When you stop mid-sentence or even mid-paragraph to debate over something silly like a word choice or comma, you lose your train of thought. Then once you gain it back and begin writing, you interrupt yourself again to make another edit. Instead, it’s much smarter to complete the entire piece and then come back to edit smaller details like word choice and grammar at another sitting. Don’t edit mid-writing session and you won’t have to learn how to get rid of writer’s block.
8. They plan ahead for future pieces.
Just as planners prosper, so do writers when they have a good idea of what they want to work on in the future. For example, bloggers need to plan ahead for their future content. Authors need to determine if they’re writing a stand-alone book or something that will be a part of a series. Plus, it’s always fun when authors hide a little foreshadowing clue in their book that points to a future work.
9. They constantly read.
Reading other writer’s work will inspire you and your writing. You’ll pick up the way they describe things, their sentence structure, and their voice among other observations. And reading is so important that Stephen King mentions his reading list for aspiring writers at the end of his book On Writing. Plus, there’s a productivity trick that recommends reading before sitting down to write yourself. I’ve done it, and I’m convinced it works regardless of the book genre you open. To help your career, start reading to become a better writer and check out the best books on writing.
10. They don’t let negative criticism or self-doubt get in their way.
Whenever you have an active voice with opinions, criticism and self-doubt will always follow. Writers with thin skin can get discouraged from writing if one of their articles or books gets rejected or receives negative comments. This negativity happens often when you tell people, “I’m writing a book.” But, the top writers have a thick skin and recognize that they can’t control other people’s opinions. So they continue on their way with the same confidence as before. Haters are going to hate, especially in the writing business. Don’t let them win by getting all emotional with their comments.
11. They write every single day.
I believe this is the most important habit of successful writers. Whether they wake up inspired or want to curl up in bed all day, the best writers write every single day. They constantly train their writing muscle while getting better at their craft. If it’s a self-imposed deadline—like finishing a chapter for their book—or external deadline—like a freelance job for a business—they get it done based on their daily commitment to write. If this is foreign to you, start by writing 500 words a day. Do that for one week. Then improve your words per day to 750 and see how that goes. Push yourself to write at least 1,000 words a day and you’ll be thankful you did it.
I do an excessive amount of writing each day for Self Publishing X, Take Your Success, and new book drafts.
There are many times where I’m slugging and I struggle to write. However, I push through in these moments by remembering and implementing these 11 habits of successful writers.
Give these tips a try and see how your writing productivity improves. Being productive is especially important when you’re writing with a day job.
What habits of successful writers do you want to emulate? Do you have any routines of your own that are crucial to your productivity?