The Seven Secrets of a Successful Writer


21 March 2018
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Want to be a successful writer? These tried and tested tips will help get your writing career off the ground


Want to be a successful writer? These tried and tested tips will help get your writing career off the ground

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Believe in your writing and take it seriously

Whether you write for money, pleasure or both, your writing matters to you. Treat writing as a priority, and make time for it. Find the writing routine that works for you, and build it into your schedule. Invest in what you need to make your writing the best it can be. Course, critiques, workshops, magazine subscriptions etc are all money well spent if they help you achieve your writing ambitions. Above all, write – every day if possible. The only way to be a writer is to write.

Write for pleasure

Enjoy your writing process. Look forward to the time you spend getting your ideas on paper and choosing the right words to shape them into the best writing they can be. Writing may sometimes be hard work, but when it is, it should be a labour of love. Writers write, every day if they can, because they can’t help it. They write because they love writing. They get better at it, too – it’s like exercising muscles to get them to peak performance level. It’s a win-win situation – the more you write, the better you will get at writing.

Edit your writing

You need to be able to look at your writing and realise that the first draft of anything is just that – a first draft. It’s not finished work until it’s been edited. Successful writers know that whatever they have written will always be improved by editing, whether that involves correcting typos or completely redrafting, or even cutting, long passages that you think are brilliant but mean your chapter loses focus. Successful writers know that readers want to be immersed in their story, not distracted by punctuation mistakes, factual errors or over-written prose.

Study the market

Know what’s being written, what’s not being written, and where your work might fit in. Understand publishing trends. If you’re looking at being traditionally published, find out which literary agents are taking on clients who write in your field or which independent publishers are accepting submissions of the kind of thing you write. If you’re interested in self-publishing, be aware of best practice and what you need to do to market and sell your book. Find out how to make social media work to create your author platform. Successful writers understand that once they have written their book, article, short story, script or poetry, they then need to find the readers who will give it the best possible chance of success.


Every single highly successful published author that WM features says the same thing: you can’t be a writer unless you are a reader too. Successful writers are always readers, because successful writers are always curious and interested about writing. Read widely. Read books you love. Read books you think are rubbish, and see what you can learn from them. You might think you hate romance but reading it will teach you how to get readers emotionally involved. Read crime to learn how to get readers hooked. Read bestsellers to find out how to keep pages turning. Read literary fiction to discover how to create textures with words. Read in genres you don’t think you like. Read something old; read something new. Reading is never a waste of time. It teaches you how books work. It teaches you how to tell a story, create characters, build an imaginative world. Reading teaches you how to write.

Keep learning

Successful writers are always ambitious to be better, which means honing their skills and learning new ones. They’re always fascinated to keep up to date with what’s going on in their field, and discover new information. They’re always thinking of the next project, the next feature article, the next book. They learn from other writers. They learn from their successes. They learn from their mistakes. They want their writing to be the best it can be.

Finish things and publish them

How is anyone beyond your immediate circle ever going to know you are a writer if they can’t read anything by you? If you want to be a published writer, you need to finish your writing projects and get them out there. Unless you really are writing only for yourself, and are happy to have dozens of files of unfinished writing projects littering your desktop, finish whatever it is you are writing, and submit it – to an agent, a publisher, a magazine, a competition. Upload a story to Amazon. Self publish. And then start writing something else, and finish that too. In the face of rejection (which happens to all writers at some point), be persistent. That’s what successful writers do. They write things, they finish them – and they never give up.



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