‘Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” Stephen King
Ever wonder what the hands of fate will deal you in the way of success as a writer? Or why some individuals reap the rewards of literary recognition, while others fail and fade into anonymity?
Just as highway signs alert travelers of their impending destination, there are give-away indicators that point to “the road to success” for writers.
Here are checkpoints that reveal you’re in the literary fast lane!
- You’re Playing the Field- The more genres of writing you apply your talents to, the greater the odds of continued publication and pay. I began my journalistic journey over a decade ago, writing poetry and greeting card verse.
What I discovered was that poetry (although my first love), was not very marketable. As a result, these efforts alone met with very little success until I decided to try feature writing for magazines. This change in strategy not only allowed me to establish publishing credits and an impressive portfolio, but also financed the self-publication of 3 volumes of poetry chapbooks and opened avenues for paid performances and open mike competitions as well.
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- You’re an Avid Reader- It is virtually impossible to become a marketable writer without reading and studying prominent writers and various styles of expression. Whether you’re a member of a local book club, subscribe to a few on-line publications, or regularly escape through a good Harlequin Romance, you’re moving in the right direction! Being an avid reader helps you expand your vocabulary, become familiar with different writing styles, and understand the needs of your audience.
- You’re Self-Disciplined- Unlike other professions and industries, writing is by and large a do it yourself success story; there is no delegating or getting by on other team members’ strength. It’s either sink or swim! You establish your own goals, develop your own game plan, and assume sole responsibility for your career. Successful writers go the distance by making writing a priority, honing their craft and persevering through rejection.
- You Understand that Writing is a Business- Far too many writers fail to recognize that writing is a business. One that requires much more than creativity and a command of the King’s English. To achieve professional status, one must have marketing savvy, time management skills, analytical ability, research knowledge and familiarity with the industry. It also requires putting money back into the “business” by investing in trade related materials such as the Writers’ Market, computer equipment and business cards (to name a few things).
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- You Recognize the Importance of Critiquing- Whether it’s through a writers’ group, a mentor, a college professor, or people whom you admire and trust. Getting an outside, objective analysis of your work can mean the difference between rejection and perfection. Just as “love is blind,” many of us are far too close to what we’ve created to see flaws or gaps in what we’re trying to convey.
- You Know the Meaning of Working Smart- At least 50% of my writing income is generated from resales. The well fed writer realizes the potential to resell and represent the same pieces many times over just by changing the slant and minor details, and by negotiating rights.
- You’re Navigating “the Information Super Highway.” Do you Google? Are you able to successfully research, review writers’ web sites, and submit work via the Internet? Doing so decreases down time, increases productivity, and puts you in the fast lane to creativity. Check out the following writers’ E-zines to enhance your bottom line:
- Absolute Write Newsletter- http://www.absolutewrite.com- This weekly contains articles, interviews and calls for writers.
- Inscriptions-http://www.inscriptions.com- Features weekly calls for writers, interviews, book reviews and announcements.
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3. National Association of Women Writers- http://www.naww.org- Produces a newsletter that provides useful insiders’ tips, motivational quotes, contests, conferences and more. It also serves to support and promote the works of female authors.
A great book to also help you improve your surfing savvy is 300 Incredible Things to Do on the Internet by Ken Leebow.
- You Write for the Love of It!- Do you practically eat, sleep and drink writing? Love to communicate and connect? In this field, perhaps more so than any other, passion precedes success. Having the desire to educate, entertain and empathize through the written word is indeed a noble ambition. And it is this philosophy that will allow you to persevere and avoid “road rage” in your daily travels!
COPYRIGHT 2004 JENNIFER BROWN BANKS
About The Author
Jennifer Brown Banks is a writer, poet, speaker and literary consultant. Her work is featured monthly as a contributing writer to Being Single magazine. Additionally, she is a high school substitute teacher.
Publishing credits include: Chicago Sun-Times, Being Single Magazine, Funds 4 Writers, Writing for Dollars, Honey Magazine, Today’s Chicago Woman, National Association of Women Writers’ Weekly, Empowermag.com, Gospel Synergy and a host of on-line and print publications.
Her upcoming book of poetry “A Paradox in Pink” is due to be released in fall 2004. Banks is listed in Marquis’ Who’s Who in America.
She may be contacted at
Jennifer Brown Banks
P.O. Box 208821
Chicago, IL 60620-8821
This article was posted on August 12, 2004
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