What traits, if any, do good fiction writers have in common?


Answer by K.M. Weiland:

Following are ten habits of the successful writer.

1. Write every day. Treat your writing like a job, even if it isn’t yet. Writing something every day, even if it’s only a paragraph, keeps your creative pump primed and your inertia at bay.

2. Complete stories. Discipline yourself to finish every story you start. If you quit whenever the going gets tough, or whenever the shine of a new idea beckons, you’ll never finish a story. No one reads (much less buys) half-finished tales.

3. Learn the rules. Thankfully, writing is largely a craft that can be self-taught. Read voraciously: fiction, books on writing (check out my list of recommended books), blogs, workshops, and anything else you can find. Never stop learning.

4. Break the rules. Once you have a solid understanding of the principles of fiction, don’t be afraid to step beyond their confines. Experiment. Think outside the box. Fiction is based on a set of basic tenets because they’ve been proven to work, but art is an evolution. If it stagnates, it dies.

5. Create your own inspiration. Pinpoint what inspires you and surround yourself with stimuli. Discipline, creativity, and persistence are a cure-all for writer’s block. Don’t allow writer’s block to become an excuse for giving up.

6. Don’t slack on the hard stuff. Not all of writing is fun and games, but if you want to create a polished story, you have to submit to the hard stuff, as well as the fun stuff. Don’t cut corners on research, outlining, or editing. The extra work always pays off in the end.

7. Follow your heart, not the market. Art is a deeply personal expression. Write the story your heart has to tell. Conforming your work to the market, just for the market’s sake, will cheat both yourself and your readers in the long run.

8. Develop a thick skin. Criticism of our work can seem like a personal attack. But criticism—especially when coming from critique partners, agents, and editors—is a vital part of the process. Accept constructive criticism, learn from it, and use it to make your story better.

9. Set your stories free. When the time comes to send your stories into the world, learn to let them go. Your characters are yours no longer. They belong to everyone who reads them. Rejoice that you’re able to share them, say goodbye, and move onto the next story.

10. Love what you do. We writers are a blessed bunch. Don’t ever forget that. The writing road has its own set of speed bumps—isolation, loneliness, rejection—but the benefits of spinning these webs of color and fantasy are more than just compensation!

What traits, if any, do good fiction writers have in common?

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