Need help submitting your writing to literary journals or book publishers/literary agents? Click here! →
Every writer has an individual voice and unique style, but it’s important to work on your craft and hone your skills if you want to boost your odds of getting your short stories, poetry, or book published. At Writer’s Relief, we know an effective way to improve your writing skills is to emulate successful writers. Whether you’re new to writing or a published pro, these 5 writing habits shared by successful authors will help you become a first-class wordsmith.
5 Writing Habits Of Successful Authors
Have a writing schedule. Some writers write every day—and if that works for you and your schedule, great! But daily writing might not be possible for everyone. What’s important is determining a time frame that fits you, your life, and your writing style. For example: Author Haruki Murakami gets up at 4 a.m. and works for five to six hours! (Personally, we’d sleep in a little later.) Working your writing muscle consistently is one of the easiest ways to improve your skill, so it’s important to have time set aside, even if it’s just a few hours once a week.
Read, read, READ. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: If you want to be a better writer, read! Take some time to read the works of other authors in your genre. But don’t stop there—reading other genres will help you generate new ideas, expand your language skills, and even inspire you to try new styles and rhythms. Best-selling author Stephen King states: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot…reading is the creative center of a writer’s life…you cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.”
Set realistic goals. Tony Robbins is a successful writer and motivational speaker, and he believes that setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. But don’t set yourself up to fail by giving yourself an impossibly difficult goal to reach on a tight deadline. Instead, break your overall goal into smaller tasks that are easier to accomplish on schedule. Giving yourself clear bars to hit, celebrating your accomplishments, and then moving on to your next goal will keep you on track—and it feels wonderfully validating to meet a goal! Whether your plan was to write three paragraphs, proofread your poem, or send out submissions this week, meeting your goal will spur you on to complete the next task on your list.
Find your ideal workspace. Whether it’s outside on the grass, in the middle of a busy coffee shop, or sitting in your favorite cozy writing nook, find a workspace that boosts your productivity. Neil Gaiman built a gazebo out in the woods for his writer workspace! Ideally, distractions should be minimal, and it should be a place you have easy access to (remember that important first habit: Stick to a schedule!).
Have a community support system. Writing may be a solitary activity when it’s just you and the words on the page, but there are also times when it’s good to have a network of writers and friends to offer feedback and support. Attend online or local events, volunteer to read for lit mags, and join writing groups where you can talk about reading and writing. Offer your thoughts on other people’s work when they ask for it, and don’t be afraid to ask for their input on your writing. Author A.A. Milne said it best about having supportive people on your writing journey: “I knew when I met you an adventure was going to happen.”
Adding these habits to your writing life will help you improve your craft and boost your odds of getting published. Who knows, maybe someday, someone will be asking you what your successful writing habits are!
Question: What writing habit works best for you?