From the dearth of how-to articles and books on writing, it would appear some writers have identified the Holy Grail of writing: how to find success. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against how-to books. My shelves are packed with them. But they will not do the grueling work of writing your story – only you can do that.
James Bonnet’s The Real Key to a Writer’s Success pinpoints several key factors in attaining success as a writer: a special knowledge, a serious commitment, dedication, a thick skin, and lots of hard work. The first can be overcome with research, which I love to do. Research can take as much time as actual writing, and is key to including authenticating details in your story. The rest require self-discipline.
Before all of that must come a great love of story. Carole Lee Dean states, in Your Mind is the Key to Your Success, that believing in oneself is critical. Not just believing, but visualizing your success after the fact. The old Field of Dreams theory, but instead of making one baseball field on which others gather to play, you have the ability to create endless worlds for readers to visit.
In order to get to that place in your mind where you are secure in dreaming your own success into being, you must first know yourself. Sound silly? Not really. As Howard M. Gluss says in The Writer's True Self and Success, “What you want out of life will, in return, create and nurture your sense of self.” He’s provided several sets of questions to help you delve deeper into what your true goals are, and strengthen your resolve in the face of the ever-elusive “success.” As many a writer can tell you, having success with one book doesn’t ensure success forever. In fact, publishers can be tougher on second-time novelists if the first book’s sales underperform.
While some writers may find limited success in “writing to the market,” the better tack is to write the story only you can write.
Michael Lent shares his story of overcoming personal obstacles in Be the Writer You Want to Be Now. Although his article is aimed at screenwriters, the main thrust – believing in yourself – rings true with any writer. Read Marilyn Beker’s Dare to Dream – Write Anyway! if you need more of a pep talk.
Don’t allow yourself to be led by dreams of success. Write for the love of story, as only you can tell it.