Last week, we looked at the first three commandments of being a successful writer. Click Here
This week, let’s dig further into more of the elements that contribute to our success. We need to keep in mind that success is different for almost every writer. For many, being published defines success. For others, it’s being published many times. Some don’t consider themselves successful until they make a best seller list, preferably the New York Times or USA Today. Completing a novel or nonfiction project can be a success for some. For others it may be finishing the story that leads to psychological, spiritual and relational healing.
Whatever your definition, these commandments apply.
4. Thou shalt believe in thy dream
Dreams are part of who we are. If we’ve dreamed of being a writer and it won’t go away, chances are it’s a drive from deep within. Some would say it’s a seed from God, planted as part of his plan for us.
Cherish the dream. Nurture it by applying these commandments to our writing and our life.
5. Thou shalt surround thyself with others who share the same
positive attitude and commitment
Writing is one of the loneliest professions in the world. We’re alone with our akeyboards, writing away, excluding others because we need to focus. Yet, we need so many others to help us on this journey. First is our family. See Commandment 1. Don’t neglect them. Don’t put our writing above them. It will build unnecessary tension and conflict. We want tension and conflict in our stories. Not so much in the real world. There’s enough there already. We don’t need to add to it by turning into prima donnas.
Beyond this is our writing family or community: our critique groups, our writing partners, our mentors and coaches. Strive to find others who share our vision of writing with the same determination as ourselves. Seek out writing partners who write better than us, who will encouragingly challenge us to keep writing through the humps of rejection and writers block.
Another layer of relationships is our network. These are blogs we follow because they help us grow as writers. These are people we meet at conferences, workshops, and other events. We make connections and we keep in contact for our mutual benefit and for our writing.
6. Thou shalt develop a thick skin
When we open our writing to criticism for others, we face one of the hardest writing challenges—don’t personalize it. We have to work to develop and maintain the viewpoint that they are criticizing our writing. They are not criticizing us. For me, and I’m sure for many of you, writing is a very personal experience. What helps me maintain a thick skin is to look at my writing as the best I can do, but it’s not perfect. My writing partners are there to help me improve it.
Another aspect of building this thick skin is to exercise discernment over the feedback we receive. Some of it will be contradictory. Some of it will be an effort by the critiquer to get me to write like him. Some it will be just plain wrong either from a craft standpoint or from the perspective of the story. Receive the criticism with grace, understanding the person giving the feedback took time from their own writing to provide it. Then, in the privacy of your writing space, decide what’s valuable and what’s not.
Stay tuned for the last four commandments next week.
How about you? How do you keep your writing dream alive?
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