One of my favorite books on writing is Dara Girard’s The Writer Behind the Words. I’ve read it cover to cover at least twice. Rather than focusing on craft, Girard focuses on developing the attitudes and lifestyle habits that help writers create the best career possible. This week I’ll be sharing some of my favorite lessons from the book.
Three Traits of Highly Successful Writers
The book actually talks about seven traits, but I’m highlighting three.
One of my favorite topics to discuss in general, courage is especially relevant to writers. When I first began blogging about controversial subjects, I needed courage. When I decided to quit teaching full time, I needed courage. When people ask me what I do, I need the courage to say I’m a writer, regardless of the skepticism they may have.
Every writer’s fears will be different from others. No matter the fear, we must “have the courage to write anyway” and to share our work with the world.
Girard offers many practical tips for how to develop each trait. For courage, my favorite tip is Fail fast. Many writers fear that first rejection or negative review. Once we’ve gotten the first, it’s easier to face the second.
With courage, we can be persistent. We can keep submitting even as the rejection letters pile up, keep posting even as the nasty comments roll in, keep writing honestly even as family and friends question our choices, and remain true to ourselves even when the trend is very different.
You never know when that next query or submission might be the one that gets accepted and propels your career in the direction of dreams.
Of all the tips Girard gives for persistence, my absolute favorite and the one I do several times a day, is to play “warrior” music. I have a YouTube playlist of empowering, upbeat songs by young women.
“Successful writers know their purpose is to serve the world through writing.”
Vision will give you courage and the motivation to be persistent. A writing career is not sustainable without a meaningful purpose.
Girard offers many tips on clarifying your vision. I do all of them regularly, but the one I’ll share today is to imagine your life in five or ten years. Write down a vivid description of what you’re doing, where you are, your daily activities, and your accomplishments. Keep this description where you can see it every day.
I urge you to get your own copy of The Writer Behind the Words so that you can gain powerful insight and encouragement for creating your ideal career.