Three Keys to Success in Writing (and Everything Else)

Whether you’re writing, teaching, parenting, or gardening–no matter what the season, activity or occupation–these three keys will help you be more successful.

Key #1 – Patience

Season of Spring

Just as in life, writing includes seasons. Most of us crave Springtime: when ideas bloom; editors love your writing; you sign contracts; and readers buy your work. You may think “paying your dues” applies to newbies, not a creative genius like yourself. After all, won’t social media and/or a good agent push your first-time creation to the top?

Season of Fall

Maybe, maybe not. (Probably not). Patience includes waiting (and sometimes wading) through all the seasons of writing: Fall, a time for change and reflection, “breathing in,” so you can experience the harvesting of ideas and “breathing out” later.

Season of Winter

Writing also includes Winter, a season to let your ideas simmer, and maybe even die, so they can spring up later with “new life.”

Season of Summer

And Summer, a time for resting, or even celebrating the successes God has given.

It’s Always the Season for Writing

Then what is the season for actual writing? It’s always the season for writing–whether you’re thinking, praying, journaling, working another job, or raising a family. Writing is not just pounding out 1000 words a day to reach a goal.

Successful writing involves all of the above “seasons.” Pause. Rest. Reflect. Breathe in. Breathe Out. Write. Rewrite. Celebrate. Pause, Rest…Writers with no patience may try to circumvent a season, but few realize the fruits of their labor without them.

Where else in life could you apply this principle? Parenting, Spiritual Growth, Marriage?

Key #2 – Persistence

Persistence is similar to patience, yet different. Waiting sounds more passive. But persistence infers action. Instead of papering your wall (or filling your inbox) with rejection notices, keep writing. Write something new, or rewrite what you’ve already written. Learn when to “hold em'” and when to “fold em.'” Never give up on a good idea, always editing, reorganizing, changing it in some way until it’s marketable–if possible. But when your creation needs a funeral, bury it and move on.

I know a little about persistence in writing. Years ago in my attempts at writing greeting cards, I netted 1000 rejections–in one year. I learned the hardest way–through trial and terror–which I don’t necessarily recommend. But I loved writing so much, I kept accepting new challenges and attempted to write whatever product an editor needed.

In time, God graciously allowed me to write the passion of my heart through hundreds of greeting cards and numerous other inspirational pieces, including 11 books. God has been faithful and has given me persistence. And I’m still learning.

Giving Up Is Not an Option

Ask any successful writer about persistence. For those whom God truly calls to write, giving up is not an option. Listen to God and learn from others. And then follow Winston Churchill’s advice: “Never, never, never, never give up!”

Where do you need more persistence? In your job? At home? In your ministry?

Key #3 – Perspiration

Some writers wait for the perfect idea to hit before writing. I’ve talked to some of those writers. They’re still waiting. That’s not the kind of patience I referred to in Key #1. I believe every truly good idea is God-inspired. We can do nothing of ourselves. But God usually gives us ideas in their raw form–like a lump of clay waiting to be shaped into something beautiful and usable–along with the skills or the help to accomplish that. Successful writers must work hard at their craft like anyone else. Like most creative work, successful writing is more like 10% inspiration, and 90% perspiration.

What activities or areas of your life need more perspiration? (Besides physical workouts) 🙂

So What Are the Keys to Successful Writing?

When? Write now. Write with patience. Write with persistence. And write with perspiration.

What About Passion?

Notice I didn’t include passion as a key. That’s because in writing, passion is a given.  I know of few successful writers who lack passion of some kind. It may be the need for expression, the desire for an audience, or the dream for fame. Everyone can express themselves uniquely. Some will gain a hearing. A few will taste fame.

But those who write with “fire in their bones,” like the passion of Jeremiah, are the ones who “can’t not write” no matter how many rejections they receive. Fueled by a cause, a message, the sheer beauty of creating, and the Supreme Author Himself–to these, passion is not an option or a key. It’s their motive. These are the ones who believe in the three keys above as well. They may not achieve stardom, but they understand that true success is simply hearing God’s “Well Done.”

And after all, isn’t that what really matters?

Do not neglect your gift…Be diligent…give yourself wholly…so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life…closely. Persevere…” I Timothy 4:14-16 NIV

What About You?

These “keys” are not exhaustive. Which one of these (or others) is most challenging for you? Besides writing, in what other areas of life can you apply these keys?

It’s Your Turn

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One Response to “Three Keys to Success in Writing (and Everything Else)”

  1. Kris Brown on August 9th, 2014 7:54 am

    Perseverance. Setting your mind like flint to do the Will of God.

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