Sunday, October 4, 2009
Revealed—The ROAD MAP to Writing Success
Revealed—The ROAD MAP to Writing Success
By Rob Parnell
There's no secret to success. As the saying goes, success leaves clues.
There is a map.
Ask people who believe they're successful and they will happily tell you about it—the right moves they made, the deals they struck, whatever. They may have worked hard, they may have been lucky, they may have found a secret of their own.
What's clear is that there are as many ways to become successful as there are people. This is good news. It means that YOUR way may not yet have come to pass. It just needs YOU to do it.
Success in writing is often nebulous. Our friends and families might only regard us as successful if we get on the news or get a mention in Who's Who, but this is wrong.
Successful people are happy, not hampered by what they can and can't do, and to some extent in control of their destiny.
How does this apply to writers? Well, successful writers make a living from it, enjoy what they're producing, have some idea where they're going - and feel capable of getting there.
You don't need to be rich and famous to be successful as a writer.
You can be a good writer—and successful because you don't have to do anything else to keep yourself afloat.
There are thousands, hundreds of thousands of writers that do this.
To constantly compare yourself to JK Rowling and Dan Brown and feel like you're a failure is ridiculous—and yet writers do it all the time!
Does a bricklayer worry because he hasn't been asked to create another Hadrian's wall?
Does your average engineer worry because they haven't built a bridge as good as one of Brunel's?
Does a doctor feel a failure because he's not Sir Hans Christiaan Barnard?
To become a successful writer you need to travel the ROAD. And, in this case, ROAD means:
Read, Observe, Acquire (skills) and Do.
Writing is about talent sometimes but most times it's about learning the craft. Reading books and observing people and events will get you a long way into the mindset of a writer. Then, acquiring the skills necessary to put your thoughts on paper is the lifelong task. Knowing grammar, correct punctuation, stylistic elements and developing simple communication skills may be something you learned at school. But if you want to write for a living, you need to continue that education.
Especially if you want to dedicate your writing to particular areas—be it fiction, non-fiction, article writing or whatever. You need to study those areas to familiarize yourself with the territory and know how to compete.
And what about the map I mentioned?
MAP is an acronym which stands for:
Motivation, Application and Persistence.
This map will get you wherever you want to go, whatever your goal.
During the motivation phase you need to come up with lots of reasons why you want to succeed at a particular task. Motivation is not a mood. You can't wait around for it to strike. You can't buy it at the 7-11. It's a force within that is waiting to be unleashed. You have to know what you truly want. You need to think about it and latch on to that special something that makes you excited, gives you pep to continue, get you up in the morning with a fire in your heart.
Too many of us ignore the spark - the thing that will make us special—in favor of the mundane, the workaday, the 9 to 5. Find your spark, your spirit enclosed, and free it.
Application is what you do - your efforts, your sweat, your dedication.
Here's a clue. Every day, make a list of five things you need to do to achieve your goals. Then pick the one that will give you the most pleasure, the one that will fill your wings and help you soar.
Persistence? It speaks for itself. Once you know you're good at what you do—and that means learning the skills and requirements of your chosen field - you have to keep going.
Many writers stop or get disheartened too early, before they really know whether they can be successful.
You have to believe in what you do. If you don't, you need to return to the motivation stage and work out what it is that you want. You can't follow the MAP otherwise. Persistence only works if you believe what you're doing is right.
Rejection and lack of interest will kill you if you don't believe in yourself and your work.
The good news is that if you do believe in what you do and persist, that puts you in the top 1% of creative talent. Your work and enthusiasm will carry you forward and onward.
So remember. You may not have the secret. But you do have the ROAD
Newsletter contributing columnist Rob Parnell is a prolific writer who’s published novels, short stories, and articles in the U.S., U.K., and Australia, and a teacher who’s conducted writing workshops, critique groups, and seminars.
Please visit Mr. Parnell’s Web site at: