I think I speak for all of us when I say that writing is bloody hard work. Not just getting the right words down, but also getting the tone just right, doing good characterisation, proper pacing, and a ton more things go into creating a good story.
It’s tough, but somehow there are writers out there who seem to do it without breaking a sweat.
How do they do it?
How do they manage to write book after book, yet never seem to struggle with all the same things we do?
While I’m sure that it’s no walk in the park for them either, it does seem like they’re doing something different that helps them do what they do.
So I’ve taken 10 authors and looked at what I’ve learned from them. Not all of them are good things, but they have all been helpful in teaching me something important about being a writer. I’m not saying that these are the factors that made these writers successful either. I’m merely taking a step back to see what each has taught me and how I can use it to better myself as a writer.
Hopefully, some (or all) of these will help you too.
Write Every Day, Even When It’s Hard – Neil Gaiman
Neil Gaiman’s famous speech (dubbed ‘Make Good Art’) is probably one of the most inspirational speeches on the subject of writing ever made. In this speech he explains that, while life is difficult, one should never stop creating.
Writing is difficult, but if it were easy, everyone would do it. If you waited for the stars to align in order for your muse to strike you with inspiration, you would never get anything written.
Life is hard. Writing is hard. Neither of those facts will change.
What sets the professionals apart from the amateurs, however, is whether you have it in you to keep writing despite those facts.
Reading Is As Important As Writing – Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the biggest authors in the world. He has written more books than I ever think I’d be able to and has even written a book on writing itself (which I highly recommend).
He is also a big reader; claiming to read at least 40 books a year.
Now I’m not saying that there’s necessarily a correlation between reading a lot and his writing being so damn good, but I highly doubt that it had no effect either.
Reading should be mandatory for all authors. I’ve written on this topic before, and probably will again in future, but I can never say these things enough. In order to be a good writer, you must be an avid reader. There’s no two ways about it. If you don’t read a lot, your writing just won’t be as good.
Never Give Up – J.K. Rowling
There are very few success stories out there as well known as J.K. Rowling’s. She started from nothing, living in a trailer as a single mother on welfare, and is now one of the highest earning authors in the world with a book and movie franchise behind her name.
Harry Potter was rejected countless times before she finally got a publishing house to accept it. She didn’t give up when she was writing it because life was hard, nor did she give up when it was rejected countless times.
J.K. Rowling is the perfect example of why you should never give up.
So don’t give up. Keep fighting.
Maybe this is the start of your own success story?
Write With Honesty – Charles Bukowski
Bukowski is a writer I’ve only recently begun to read. His writing is clean, and quite plain. Yet his prose speaks with such unabashed honesty that I couldn’t put the book down.
I feel like Stephen King’s writing feels real (don’t ask me to go into it, that’ll be a whole post on its own), but Bukowski’s writing is honest. He doesn’t hide or pussyfoot around a topic.
Depression, adolescence, angst, sex, anger, violence.
None of these are off limits. Bukowski is the true ‘Uncensored Writer’ because he never let anything become a taboo topic for himself. He wrote the world the way he saw it and didn’t pull any punches.
Let The Story Go Where It Must – George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin is probably one of the most famous writers in the world with one of the biggest fantasy novel and television series of all time. He’s taken the world by storm and some have even called him the Tolkien of the new generation.
Game of Thrones (television series) and A Song Of Ice And Fire (book series) are so widely loved because they flipped the fantasy genre on its head. The story is bloody, gritty, and so real that it seems hard to believe that Westeros is just a made-up land.
He is often quoted as saying that he just writes and lets the story lead him. He has no plan and no outline before he jumps in. The writing flows and he follows.
While I do both outlining and ‘free-writing’, I wholly agree with his method and advice. Stories are real, living things that we birth from our mind. Trying to force it strictly to a mould is like forcing your child to live out your dreams. You can do it, sure, but there’s a high chance of both parties being unhappy.
Let your story write itself. Nudge it the right way every now and then, but let it grow organically. It might even lead you to new places you never thought of before!
I was going to write all 10 of these in one, single post, but then I realised just how long it was going to turn out. Rather than leave you with too much to take in, I think I’ll cut it here for now. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
What Have You Learned From Highly Successful Writers?
Let Me Know In The Comments Below!
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