3 Strategies to Advance Your Writing Career

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You’ve had the dream, now let’s talk about your writing career in a practical way.

I’m a firm believer that you are more likely to achieve your goals and achieve them faster when you have a plan. Some writers say that it was luck, that they just wrote, and the opportunities came to them. I don’t buy it.

Successful people have some type of goal or plan. It may not be a 60 page, detailed breakdown of every minute and every dollar you plan to spend for the next year, but there should be some kind of goal, plan, direction, or mission guiding you.

Dara Girard would say the same. She’s presented a few ideas for how to develop a strategy. I’ve picked three of my faves.

Find a role model.

Study a living writer whose writing and career you admire. Research their career history and the steps of their journey from the beginning to where they currently are. If you can contact them via email, phone, or social media, that’s even better. You can ask specific questions to help you develop your own game plan.

Gather industry news.

Girard suggests small doses information. This is a good idea because, as discussed earlier, a flood of information may have you spinning your wheels without actually getting you anywhere. I think small doses are good because they give you concrete, actionable steps to take in a particular direction.


Work towards your mission statement. Do something every day to make it real.

This requires that you actually write a mission statement. Now you’ll be able to clearly identify a direction for your writing career. This strategy also requires daily action. Even if you identify where you want to go in your mission statement, you must take actions to get there. I suggest writing a general mission statement (a few sentences or a paragraph), and then listing intermediate steps you would have to take to get there, like a map.

It’s Friday, and I’ll be bringing you insight from another book next week. But you don’t have to stop learning from Dara Girard. You can get a copy of her book and savor many more lessons.

What Real Progress Looks Like

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Doing a lot but not making progress? Dara Girard begins her book chapters with poignant quotations. One chapter opens with the quote:

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” – Alfred A. Montapert

Apparently writers can suffer from too much inspiration known as a creative flood. Unlike writer’s block, writers have no problems finding ideas or starting new projects when they’re experiencing a creative flood. However, too many ideas can make finishing any of these many projects seem impossible.

Just like fear of starting can paralyze you,

“Having too much to do can paralyze you. Too many story ideas may cause you never to finish one.”

My favorite tip in this chapter is to, “Always carry a notebook with you to jot down ideas.” This is helpful because creative floods can quickly turn to dry spells, so think of your notebook as an emergency fund for when times get hard. Also, listing potential ideas tends to motivate me to finish each project because I like checking off items on a list.

Remember that doing a lot of writing is important, but so is finishing what you write. If it’s not finished, you can’t publish it or get paid for it!

Learn more from Dara Girard by getting a copy of the book today.

Writing Doesn’t Get Easier (but it could get better)

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Writing is hard.

The Writer Behind the Words has a section titled, “Six Hard Truths.” The first truth is, “It doesn’t get easier.”

This truth is true of the writing process and the writing life. We cannot rely on our previous success to sustain us for the years to come. Each new story, article, poem, book, or blog post must be worthy of reading by its own merit. We have to constantly deliver excellence in our craft.

The life a writer, no matter how successful, will always be filled with stress. There’s always the pressure to sell, to write what’s popular, to be better than your peers. No matter how long we’ve been writing, there will be times when we get stuck, get depressed, get rejected, and question ourselves. There are no guarantees even for celebrity writers.

What Dara Girard helps us do with this book is develop the habits and attitudes required to be successful even in the face of these hard truths. While the circumstances may always be difficult, we can acquire new coping strategies that sustain us through anything.

3 Traits of Successful Writers

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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.

Courage

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.

Persistence


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.

Vision

“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.