Let the list begin:
- 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...
- 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...
- 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...
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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