Thursday, November 10, 2011

11 Tips for Writers to Find Success

Okay, tomorrow is 11/11/11, which is a lot of 11 action. Soooo... I'll let you figure out how I decided on sharing 11 tips for writers to find success. However, once I sat down and thought about it, 11 is a perfect number for covering what writers need to find success.

Let the list begin:
  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Before you jump into the fire of writing and submitting your work, try to understand who you are as a writer. For instance, do you plan to write fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or something else? Are you a generalist or a specialist? You need to know who you are as a writer to help with the next step, which is...
  2. Set your goals. It's hard to monitor your success if you don't know what you'd like to achieve. Your goals can change over time, but try to establish both short-term and long-term goals. In fact, I think it's a great idea to build a list for success. Then, after this little bit of preparation, it's time to...
  3. Just write something! Seriously, park your butt in a chair and start writing and/or typing. Get the words down. Break some lines. Write some dialogue. Describe a scene. Just write something--or actually, a lot of things. As you roll up your sleeves and write, you can also start to...
  4. Build your writer platform. Whether you write books or freelance for magazines, building a writer platform is the way to go in the new reality of publishing and media. The good thing about writer platforms is that you can start building it today. In fact, it's preferable that you start laying the foundation sooner instead of later.
  5. Revise, revise, revise. It's important to write with abandon. Write, write, write! But then, what makes writing enjoyable for the reader is when writers take the revision process seriously. This means that writers need to revise, revise, revise with the same commitment (if not abandon) that they bring to the table for the first draft. After all, good writers revise their writing (and click here for a few of my own revision tips).
  6. Submit your writing. Once you feel you're ready (or even a little before, because many of us never feel completely ready), you can start submitting your writing out into the world. Here are 5 pitch tips for writers (also, learn how to avoid raising red flags on yourself and your writing). Remember: With great success comes great rejections; great writers keep submitting until they find the right home for their writing.
  7. Negotiate great terms. When you do find success submitting your work, you'll need to put on your negotiator's hat. I recommend that all writers always try to negotiate (here are my negotiation tips for writers). Even if you are unable to secure better pay or rights the first time, it sets the table for the next round of negotiations.
  8. Keep working that platform. We're all human, and it's easy for us to let platform-building keep us from our writing or our writing from our platform-building. However, use this platform building 101 for writers to help you devote a little time to successful platform building while you devote a lot of time to your bread and butter: writing!
  9. Learn to speak. The more successful you get the more opportunities you'll find to speak in front of groups. Since many writers are introverts (me included), the great temptation is completely avoid these opportunities and focus solely on online platform-building efforts. However, this is the wrong step. I know how difficult it is to face an audience of strangers, but these speaking tips can help you get over the hump. Believe me, the anxiety always goes away after you get talking.
  10. Build momentum. They say that success begets success and failure breeds failure. There's something to that line of thinking. So follow these tips on how to build the kind of momentum that will help you achieve more and more success over time.
  11. Keep trying. Don't worry if you feel more and more pressure with each success. That's natural. I've been asked if my self-doubt lessens over time, and if I'm answering honestly, the answer is, "No." I think many writers are their own worst critics, because we know our weaknesses and disregard our strengths too often. Just keep doing your best and following your gut, and the rest will take care of itself.
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21 comments:

Jessica Wise said...

Your posts are often full of information, but this one particularly feels less bloggy and more like notes in a college lecture--for a class I have skipped for several days. This hyperlink heaven, which promises to clear all that grey-text obfuscation later, on the first read, has me reaching for a pad and pen to take notes. Thanks, professor, I will save this for reading again.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for the comment, Jessica! I was hoping to bring my A-game for 11/11/11. :)

Kerrie said...

Great post Robert. I like all of them, but I especially like #3 and #6, because if you don't write anything or submit, your chances of becoming a successful writer are pretty much zero. :-)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

No doubt, Kerrie. It's hard to succeed if you're unwilling to fail.

shanatoly said...

Thanks for such great information! For a girl who has been thinking about pursuing a writing career, you have motivated me to take the next step.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

You can do it! Just remember to follow #11.

merf said...

Hi Robert: Just joined the club and Like the Post. By the way, my name's not Bob either yet it's amazing how many insist on calling me that. Look farward to following the blog.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Hey, it happens to me almost daily (someone trying to shorten my name to Bob). It's crazy.

catyork said...

Great stuff, Robert. Thanks so much.

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thank you for commenting, Cat! It means a lot.

tasamoah said...

One post and I am hooked. Thanks!

Bethany D. Ricks said...

Thanks so much for this post, and the links to your many other posts are very helpful. I am going to make sure to pay special attention to step #5, I feel often times I am very inadequate in this area. But thank you, you are always a great source of information for an aspiring writer as myself. =)

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thank you for reading and commenting!

J W Griebel said...

Tip five is too often overlooked.

Too many writers feel that every word they put down is as important as the last. Revising is as important as the writing itself.

Great list.

flowergirl said...

It is so interesting to read how other writers work. For the first draft, I write down everything, from molecules of genius to crap loads of dribble. I know a brilliant writer (worked with him typing and editing) who's outstanding novel was nearly perfect from his head to the page. But, even he revised a word or sentence or two. Thanks for the great tips.

savvymetromom said...

Thank you so much for this invaluable info. I have been a corporate writer for several years with a burning desire to be free and creative...I have been so stuck in where to start and how to do it that I've been spinning my wheels until I found your article and all the great links! I thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Hannah said...

11 is one of my favorite numbers and this list is my new favorite for success! Nicely done, Robert! Smiles~

Robert Lee Brewer said...

Thanks for commenting, everyone!

You must've loved this year, Hannah, especially 11/11/11.

I hope this post helps, SavvyMetroMom!

Jane Rutherford said...

Brilliant post! So simple and short yet with so much substance!

BossM said...

HEY I JOINED THE PARTY LATE, BETTER LATE THAN NEVER...A MILLION THANKS

Casey Flynn said...

Hi Robert,

Awesome post! I have been building my platform using your April 2012 challenge and have been learning a lot. But these 11 nuggets of wisdom really capture the essence of what I've been learning so far and the key points I need to remind myself. Thanks for putting them all in one place!

Casey