Everyone has different ideas about what success is. This is as true of writers as it is of anyone else. Some write to earn a living, some write because they have something valuable to share with others, some write because they’re driven to by an inner calling. Some are a little of all three, with some other reasons too.
Regardless of how you define success, what’s important to note is that no definition of writing success can be fulfilled if you aren’t actually writing. So, if you want to be a successful writer then you’ll have to take this seriously and commit to making the necessary changes. If you don’t want to do that you may as well move along.
But if you DO want to do that, and you want to write more prolifically, write better, and do both consistently, then read on.
Four Ways to Guarantee Writing Success
I’ve learned some things that can help you guarantee writing success in your life. As we go through these things I want you to remember that you don’t have to do everything at once. It’s okay to take progress one step at a time, and in fact most should, so you don’t get overwhelmed.
Establish Clear Goals
The first thing you want to do is set clear goals. You’ve probably heard this before because it’s said so often. It’s said so often, however, because it’s simple and it’s true. People often overlook the simple things, thinking the answer to their problems has to be as complicated as the problem, but it really doesn’t.
In fact, the problem isn’t even that complicated, but it often seems so because of how much anxiety we can build up over it in our minds.
There are a few things you should think about when establishing your goals.
- Make your goals very specific and targeted.
Don’t say, “I want to write a book.” That isn’t a goal, that’s a wish. Instead of having extremely general goals like that, hammer out what you really want to do. Yes, you want to write a book, but how are you going to do it?
“I am going to write 500 words a day, every day, for the next 100 days,” is a much clearer and more specific goal than the first one. Not only that, but it takes me to point two…
- Track the numbers
That specific goal included two numbers that you can easily track each day: number of words written and number of days you’ve been writing.
You may not be able to write quite that much every day, or you may be able to write a lot more than that. Either way, what’s important is that you track. Once you begin tracking how many words you’re writing and when you’re writing them the whole process becomes more real and you can see your daily investment right in front of you.
It’s encouraging and helpful on this journey to be able to look back and see all the work you’ve done. Whether you’re writing books or essays or blog posts or emails, it doesn’t matter. Tracking your numbers will absolutely help you to stay consistent.
- Create deadlines
You’ll also notice that the goal included “100 days.” That may seem like a lot, but it’s really only a little more than three months. How many three month periods have gone by in your life when you haven’t accomplished what you wanted to accomplish?
Also, 100 days of 500 words a day? That’s a novel, people, a novel.
Anyway, you could even make that more specific. Instead of saying the general “100 days,” you could say, “I’ll have my novel completed by December 25, 2021.” Then map it out. How many days are there until Christmas? How long do you think your novel will be? How many words will you need to write each day to accomplish that specific goal?
Even if you don’t accomplish it, you’ll still get pretty dang close as long as you keep that goal in your mind and continue working toward it.
- Ambitious but achievable
Your goals should be right on the edge of ambition and achievability. Don’t set goals so easy that you have no concerns about reaching them, and don’t set ones that are so far beyond your capability that you’ll never get there.
If you don’t already know your writing ability, take some time to figure it out. Sit down for half a day and write. How much did you write each hour? What was your total word count? Use that as a baseline so that you know about how much you can accomplish in a set period of time.
Then set your goal for the higher end of what you think you can accomplish. You can write 1,000 words an hour, and you can write for one hour a day, six days a week? Great! That’s 6,000 words a week. So now you’ve got a specific goal of having a 50,000 word novel written in 9 weeks!
Not too bad, right?
- Set short, intermediate, and long term goals
Inside the Indie Space author community we’re setting clear goals and sharing them with one another for accountability (which we’ll get to in a bit). We’re each setting nine goals. The first three goals are what we are working to accomplish in the next month, the second three goals should be accomplished in the next six months, and the final three goals are for the next year.
This way our goals are clearly stated and out there for everyone else in the community to see. When you keep those things to yourself it’s much more likely that you’ll let yourself off the hook when you fail. But when you have a community of other writers like you to help hold you accountable, that’s when the magic happens and things get done.
If you’re not a member yet, what are you waiting for? Check it out by clicking the button below!
Establish Your New Identity
No, I’m not talking identity theft.
I’m talking about beginning to see yourself as the person you want to be. My wife is currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. In that book, Clear gives the example of two people being offered a cigarette.
One of them says something along the lines of, “No, thanks, I’m trying to quit” while the second says something like, “No, thanks, I’m not a smoker.”
Which one do you think feels more comfortable with their decision and is more likely to stick to their chosen path for the long haul?
The first person still sees themselves as a smoker while the second sees themselves as the opposite of that. Ultimately, it’s what you think of yourself that determines your success. If you don’t think you’re capable of winning, you’re not going to win. Every successful person believed they could achieve what they set out to achieve. They believed in themselves.
Even lottery winners believe they can win, otherwise they wouldn’t spend their money on tickets.
So one of the major things you should focus on is establishing the new you. Start seeing yourself as the person you want to be. Start telling yourself you’re capable of being that person.
As long as you believe you’re not a good writer, you won’t be one. As long as you see yourself as weak, that’s what you’ll be. The same goes for everything else too. If you want to be better, start telling yourself that you’re
- A great writer
Whatever it is that you want to be, believe you’re that and you’ll begin trending in that direction. Before you know it you’ll fulfill your own visions of who you’ve always wanted to be.
It’s been shown time and again that our thoughts affect our reality. Just google it. Seriously.
If you want to be a great writer you must believe you are capable of it. You must start speaking it. Start writing it down. Post it around your room or office or wherever. Believe it. Become it.
Commit to Consistency
Making a conscious commitment will help you stay on course. State your goals, commit to staying consistent, and watch what happens. Don’t just to commit to everything, though. Commit to remaining consistent. Consistency, which is just another way of saying discipline, will talk you further than trying to do everything perfectly.
Perfection is God’s domain. As for you, you have discipline. You can build up your levels of consistency in three ways.
- Take it seriously
Nothing is going to get done if you don’t take this seriously. That seems like a simple, common sense idea, right? But too many of us slough it off, thinking that we’re above silly things like discipline.
Spoiler alert: you aren’t. You don’t have to take everything in life seriously, and in fact, you shouldn’t. But when it comes to your success as a writer, do.
- Make it easy to stick to your habits
It’s a lot easier to say yes to writing, even when other fun things are happening in the world, when you’ve taken your goals seriously (hence, the last step).
Give yourself some space. A space just for you and your writing. Mine is a small, black desk in the corner of my bedroom. There’s a tall lamp that emits a soft light upon the drawings and crafts that my children have made for me to decorate the area. The decorations were gifts, just like the desk and the chair. And the lamp, too. My space isn’t much, but it’s mine, and it was made with the help of my loved ones.
If those things hadn’t been given to me I’d have purchased them, because I need that space. I need the room to let my mind expand in peace in a place that is mine alone. That’s what taking this thing seriously looks like. It’s committing to it, even if it’s inconvenient at first.
Most of you probably already have your own space, which is good. If you don’t, what can you do to get it? Can you clear some room and buy a desk and chair right now? Can you save up some money to do it? Can you get rid of some old piece of furniture somewhere to fit the desk if you don’t have a lot of space? Does someone close to you have some stuff they’re looking to get rid of?
Think about it.
That’s the first thing you should do in making it easy to say yes to your writing. You have a space for just about every other daily activity, right? Sleeping, pooping, eating, lounging… You need one for writing, too.
Another way to make it easy to say yes to your habits is to make it clear to the people you live with, whether they’re friends, family, or otherwise, if you live with anyone at all, that writing is important to you and you’re going to be devoting more time to it.
Let them know what they can expect, then actually do it so they know you’re serious. Before you know it they’ll be helping to keep you accountable.
This carries right into the next thing…
- Set specific, daily writing times
I mean get a calendar and write on it. When can you write? Write it on the calendar. Keep the calendar out so you see it every day. Every time you meet your daily goal put a big, brightly colored star or check mark on that day on the calendar. Each time you miss it, a big red X.
This way you aren’t brushing it under the rug when you miss the mark, but you’re also clearly celebrating your wins. It may feel bad to put that red X on the calendar, but it’ll drive you to do better the next day.
And don’t budge on your writing times unless you absolutely have to. If it’s time to write, write. Don’t take calls or surf social media or watch TikTok. Just write. Don’t let your family drag you away for a movie or a game either. Just write.
That’s not to say that you should write to the detriment of your family. Don’t do that. But do schedule the time for yourself. Have family time anytime other than when you should be writing.
What I mean by this is that you should find someone, or a group of people, who are willing to help hold you accountable to your goals. This is typically best done with other writers because they know what it takes to be a writer and they understand your path and what you want to achieve.
It doesn’t have to be other writers, of course. It could be your husband, wife, son, daughter, best friend, neighbor, librarian, neighborhood barista, taco stand guy, etc. Anyone that you can tell about your goals who is willing to follow up with you and hold you accountable can be a huge boon to your progress.
Having a community of like-minded individuals be those accountability partners, though, is even better. Earlier I shared about how members of the Indie Space author community are sharing their goals with the community. It’s awesome seeing how everyone is mapping out the next month, six months, and year, and I can’t wait to see how we all do. It’s also cool to see members sharing their daily word counts, like a day-by-day record of their progress.
We’d love to have you in there with us! Having a strong community of intelligent and driven authors in your corner to help you grow and keep you accountable definitely wouldn’t hurt! You can check out the community below!
If you aren’t sure yet, no worries. We’ll be around for the long haul! If you’d like to stay up to date with what we’re doing, and get the Publish & Market Like a Pro author workbook completely free, you can sign up to the Indie Space newsletter with now strings attached by clicking the button below.
Wherever your path leads you, I wish you success in your writing endeavors!
Until next time,
This blog is dedicated to sharing the knowledge and wisdom of the brilliant men and women inside the Indie Space, which is, in my humble opinion, the very best indie author community on the internet.
If you’d like to be a part of this community, you can check it out right HERE.