Oct 23, 2010

8 Secrets to Success for Writers

I love Ted Talks, there are some brilliant minds sharing innovations, motivation and inspiration. I recently came across a fantastic 3 minute talk by Richard St. John, sharing the 8 secrets to success. These elements rang true to me for writers, so I wanted to share.

What Leads to Success:

  1. Passion - I've blogged about this before in Z is for Zen, If you don't love what you do, find something else you do love doing. You should write to fill yourself with joy and satisfaction. Write because you must.
  2. Work - All things of value in life come with great effort. Be prepared to put in the hours and send out the queries and rewrite your novel for the hundredth time. Don't whip up a first draft and assume other people will edit it for you.
  3. Good - Skill is a basic ingredient to success. How do you get good at writing? Learn from the experienced, read to expose yourself to good writing and... practice, practice, practice. 
  4. Focus - Tune your energy and attention to the task at hand. Sometimes this may require switching off the internet and other distractions. You're here to write, so write.
  5. Push - Keep going, despite every hurdle. The only way to guarantee you won't make it, is to stop now. Push yourself physically and mentally. Met your word quota for the day? Double it!
  6. Serve - To become successful at anything you can not be only meeting your own needs. Serve others, in writing this means write for your reader, not for yourself. You think that scene is just perfect, but your beta readers all tell you it's just backstory and confuses the flow of the narrative? You know what you have to do.
  7. Ideas - Keep your imagination active. Always have your notebook (or your notes app on your iPhone) and record interesting dialogue, story plots that come to mind and anything that inspires. Journal and record your dreams.
  8. Persist - When you hit that first rejection this will be the hardest element to hold onto. If you are truly passionate about writing you won't give up. Keep trying, keep sending stories out there. Keep getting better.
Click below to see this motivational talk by Richard St Johns:


  1. This is really good points. Thanks for sharing.


  2. What good advice. I don't like it all, especially knowing how hard one must work, but I do know it's true.
    I'm working off a very old computer, (lap tops in the shop) but the youtube link did not show. You may want to check to see if the link is there. It may just be my old computer.

  3. Great list, thanks for the link.

  4. Clarissa - Thanks, this guy is so motivational.

    Myrna - Yes, that hard work always seems to be necessary darn it. Sorry if the link is not working for you, it probably is a fairly big video file even though it's only 3 minutes. If you get a chance you can see this clip on the TED site, cut and past this addy into your browser:
    TED has great talks, you can search for writing and inspirational.

    Catherine - thanks :-)

  5. That's terrific advice! Thanks for sharing :)

  6. Very good list. Thanks for sharing!