14 Ways Writers Cheat Themselves OUT of Success

Edie Melson is the author of numerous books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. Her blog, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains ChristianWriters Conference and the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy. She’s also the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts. Com, Social Media Director for SouthernWriters Magazine and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect with her on Twitter and Facebook.

I’ve never met a writer who didn’t want to be successful. Sure everyone’s definition of success is different, but we all want to succeed. And a lot of writer blogs offer advice on how to find that success. And while it’s vitally important to learn how to write well, network, and market. Often those aren’t the only things that stand between us and our goals.

The one thing I’ve discovered on my own writing journey is that I’m often my own worst enemy. I’m the person who has—most often—stood between me and success. So today I’m sharing 14 ways writers cheat themselves out of success.

1. We spend too much time watching TV. There are some great television shows out there right now (Castle, Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D, Bones, are some of my favorites). And while they can provide inspiration, they can also stand between me and writing time. I have to decide which is more important, writing or watching TV.

2. We spend too much time reading about writing instead of writing. You’ve seen this one a lot on my blog lately. But the reason is that I’m running into this a lot with wannabe writers.

3. We don’t track our time online. It’s easy to lose track of time when you’re surfing the web. Social media (can anyone say Facebook?) is a big sinkhole for time. Because of this, I pay very close attention to the clock when I’m online.
4. We don’t follow a schedule. I get a lot done during my writing day, and the primary reason is that I follow a schedule. I’ve learned that it’s the best way for me to stay productive with my ADD tendencies.
5. We don’t set goals. It’s really hard to get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.

6.  We don’t have a plan or track our progress. Just like #5 above. If you don’t have a plan, it’s hard to tell if you’re actually making progress. Beyond that, if you’re not tracking your progress, it’s much easier to get discouraged and give up.

7. We rely too much on inspiration and motivation. Inspiration is great, but perspiration is gold. The transition from writing as a hobby to serious writing comes right here. It’s when a writer can and will put words on paper even when he doesn’t feel like it.

8. We make too many assumptions. Making assumptions is rarely a good idea, and that’s especially true in the publishing industry.
9. We aren’t willing to wait. Waiting is never fun. And patience isn’t in my arsenal of super powers. But I’ve learned how this business works and waiting is part of it. If you’re willing to wait, good things will come.

10. We don’t listen to the experts. I can’t tell you how many times someone has come to me as a freelance editor and paid me to edit a manuscript. Then, completely ignored my advice. I get that it’s our work and we’re in charge, but don’t ask my advice if you’re just going to argue with my expertise. That’s a waste of my time and your money.

11. We take the advice of EVERYONE. No this isn’t contradicting #10. Choose the people you take advice from and realize that not every piece of advice is the right thing for you. 

12. We read passively. Words are our business. Don’t waste an opportunity to learn. Look at the book or article or blog you’re reading as an opportunity to improve. Why do you like it? Why did you choose that book? Don’t pass up what amounts to a free workshop when you read.
13. We don’t believe in ourselves. Ultimately my success and my failure rests with me. If I don’t believe in myself, in the calling and gift that God has given me, then no one else can help me.
14. We give up too early. This one is related to #9. When I started writing seriously, I was part of a group of women and we were all about the same level. Today, I’m one of the few left. I’m not more talented than the others, I just refused to give up. Talent will only take you so far. Success comes from pig-headed diligence.
Well this is my list of things that stand between me and writing success. What would you add to the list?