Write for the Jugular

The One Thing Successful Writers All Have in Common

Writers are odd people. We and artists are the only two types of professionals I can think of who are told to have real jobs.

A life lived for creative fulfillment scares a lot of people (particularly the non-creative) because it’s so unpredictable. Especially as people get into their 30s, 40s, and 50s, the realities of life and its ceaseless demands for your money weigh people down. They give up on their dreams of being writers and novelists and whatever else in the face of steady checks from the office they’d rather not inhabit.

But people above age 30 have a certain advantage that they often forget they have — they know how to get to work. By age 40, people are painfully aware of the bills and how to pay them — by getting to work. Well, it’s no different for writers. The answer to the great secret of the universe named “How Do I Be  A Writer” is, get to work and stay there.

I spent a recent Saturday at a writer’s conference. One of the panelists was novelist Susan Isaacs, who said something I’m strongly considering having tattooed on my arm: “Writing is a job.” Better still, though, was novelist Meg Wolitzer, who spoke about a teacher friend of hers. This friend made an observation: All of her writing students who had gone onto successful careers as writers had one thing in common. They all worked on their writing, all the time.

That’s it. That’s the answer. You’re always looking for the secret to a writing career, right? Well, there you go. Now get to work.

If it helps to further inspire you, one of the other truths Ms. Isaacs espoused was that writers are very good at putting off writing. We love to read books and blogs about how to write. We love to say how busy we are. We love to attend conferences and pick brains and do anything but actually write.

So seriously. Go. And get to work. You can thank me and Susan Isaacs and Meg Wolitzer after you finish your book tour.


Visit me at www.write-hook.com


2 responses

  1. I loved your answer to whether bestsellers are made or born. It was awesome, But even though I know it’s writing,
    writing, writitng, I still fall off the horse when other writers need my help. Ummm. Got a cure for that one?

    June 23, 2011 at 3:36 pm

  2. Jan Urban

    Thank you so much for the advice! I’m of the “older generation”, and have decided to finally pursue the writing I’ve wanted to do all my life. Starting out small, with a blog, while writing the book I’ve wanted to write for several years. I had gotten easily distracted by the things you mention, when starting out. Now I’ll be on guard for the distractions, and practice, practice, practice!

    June 5, 2011 at 3:57 pm

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