Tuesday, August 8, 2017

10 Traits of Successful Writers



Pondering what to blog about today got me thinking about the attributes of successful writers, so I came up with a Top 10 list. Maybe you’ll find some of these descriptions as motivational (and, in some cases, as convicting) as I do.

Trait #1. Writers write. You get a story idea, but you haven’t settled on the best way to begin, so . . . you don’t. Sure, you may be uncertain where to start, but if you don’t start somewhere, the book will never get written. You can always go back and fix things during revisions. The important thing is not to get hung up on getting it right the first time, because that’s paralyzing. Just write!

Trait #2. Writers finish what they start. I know, I know. It’s way too easy to get sidetracked by glittery new ideas you’re eager to pursue, or finding yourself bogged down in the middle of the story without enough energy (or interest?) to push through to the end. Make some notes for future reference and then ignore those other ideas for the time being. Because, especially for unpublished writers, it’s next to impossible to sell an unfinished manuscript.

Trait #3. Writers don’t wait to feel inspired or until they’re “in the mood” to write. If you’re waiting for the perfect state of mind or that elusive burst of inspiration, you could be waiting a long, long time. If you want to make money as a published author, you have to approach writing in a businesslike manner. Schedule writing time, and when that time rolls around, make sure you’re in your chair with fingers on the computer keys. This is your job, so treat it that way.


Trait #4. Writers identify their target audience and focus on them. When I first started out writing for magazines, I sent off for scads and scads of sample copies and writers guidelines. This was back in the day when snail mail ruled, so I racked up some hefty postage bills. But studying those sample issues gave me insight into whom the magazines were targeting, what kinds of topics the editors looked for, average article word count, and so much more. Even the advertisements offered clues about the reading audience and their interests. Novelists should be prepared to do an equal amount of market study. Visit publishers’ websites. Pick a similar book to your own and scan Amazon’s “also bought” feature. Read reviews. Check out book blogs to see who’s commenting and what those comments say about the readers.

Trait #5. Writers master basic grammar. Okay, do I have to get Grammar Queen on your case? Because I will, you know! If you don’t trust your own skills to catch grammar errors, enlist the aid of a proofreader whose knowledge you trust. Words, sentences, punctuation—those are the tools of our trade. You don’t want glaring grammar mistakes blowing your chances of an acceptance.

Trait #6. Writers continually study their craft. If you need to brush up on topics like single point of view, characterization, story structure, etc., just check the labels over on the right. You’ll always find plenty of helpful instruction right here in Seekerville. Attend conferences and workshops. Invest in some good craft books, check them out at the library, or borrow from your writer friends. (Have you seen my office bookshelves???)


Trait #7. Writers trust the vision. Having a critique partner or two or three can be helpful, provided you respect them both as individuals and as writers. But bear in mind that everyone has an opinion, and the more opinions you solicit, the more varied those responses are going to be. Take it from someone who’s been there—too many opinions can confuse you so much that you lose your grip on your own vision and voice. Limit yourself to feedback from the people you trust the most, and even then, weigh their comments against your own best judgment.

Trait #8. Writers take the long view. Especially when you’re first starting out, it can be all too tempting to jump at the first offer of a publishing contract or agent representation. (Can you hear Sally Field’s Oscars speech in your head right now? “You like me! You really, really like me!”) But be patient. Don’t get locked in with a bad deal—an unfairly slanted contract or an agent who turns out not to be the right fit. Building a successful writing career takes time. Plan wisely.

Trait #9. Writers take responsibility for their own marketing. Whether traditionally or independently published, we can’t escape this crucial part of the business. A professionally designed website is not a frivolous investment. Make sure it showcases who you are and is easy to navigate. If you blog, make sure you’re offering useful information for the readers you want to attract. Use social media for developing relationships and not just to sell books. Get to know your local booksellers and librarians, because you want them on your side!

Trait #10. Writers don’t quit. So it’s taking a lot longer than you thought it would and the long-awaited book contract hasn’t materialized. Or you’ve published several books but the sales numbers are unimpressive if not downright dismal. It’s hard to watch your writer friends’ careers going gangbusters while yours seems to be creeping along at a snail’s pace. But quitting? When you have no idea what could be waiting just around the bend? Take it from someone who, after 25 years of collecting book rejections, was this close to walking away before I got “the call.” That was nine years ago this month, and in just a couple of weeks, my twentieth published book officially releases! If you can quit, then . . . okay. But if you’re hardwired to be a writer, then stay true to the work God called you to. Be patient, keep writing, and wait for His perfect plan to unfold.

Writers, which of these traits causes you the most struggle? Which comes easier? If you need to make some changes, what steps can you take?

Readers, are there aspects of these traits that could apply to your daily life? Please share!

Any other traits you’d add to my list?

Join the conversation in the comments and mention your interest if you’d like to be entered in a drawing for either or both of today’s two giveaways: my very first published novel, One Imperfect Christmas, or my twentieth book in print, Her Hill Country Cowboy


About Myra: Award-winning author Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. Myra is a two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but now residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered doggies who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They have also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind.
Twitter: @MyraJohnson and @TheGrammarQueen 
Sign up to receive Myra’s quarterly e-news updates here!

123 comments :

  1. As a reader, I can apply some of these to my own life. I review books for various authors, so I can say "readers read". I love reading so it's no big thing to do. There have been a few times (thankfully very rare) where I have almost too many books to do at once. I just kept plugging away until I got them all done. So I guess I could apply #1, #2 and #3 here. In all honesty, "waiting until I'm in the mood to read" when I saw that overwhelming pile of books wasn't going to cut it, I didn't want to let my authors down. Praying through it helped!!

    "Readers continually study their craft", in a way I have. I can tell a real difference in how I write my reviews today from when I first started two years ago. I feel I've honed it a bit. I'm still wanting to learn more, ever improving myself. I do sometimes read other people's reviews (the really good ones) just to study how they word things. I also consult the thesaurus so I'm saying the same thing by using different words. For example, instead of saying "I loved it", I can say "I adored it"...something like that. One of my goals in writing a review, is to get other readers excited about the book and if my words will help draw them in, then I'm all for it!

    I guess writing reviews is kind of like writing a book, with obvious differences of course! Some of the same principles can apply :-)

    Myra, toss my name in for Her Hill Country Cowboy please and thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trixi, I agree. The same principles apply and we so appreciate that! I love even short reviews, it doesn't matter to me the length, it's that heartfelt "loved it!" kind of thing that other readers gravitate to. Thank you!!!

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Trixi! I love the way you related the traits to reading and reviewing, and we appreciate all you do to share your love of books!

      Delete
    3. Trixi, reviewing is a craft and an art in itself, and looks like you've been working on it.
      Kathy Bailey

      Delete
  2. TWENTY NOVELS! Congratulations.

    Successful writers don't quit. Yes. Number ten is the most important. When the going gets tough, the tough get writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Tina! And I'm still kind of in shock every time I count how many books I've written and published. God is good!!!

      Delete
  3. Myra, keeping it straightforward and simple! My kind of direction so I don't get confused. Develop the habit until the habit becomes a job.

    Wonderful stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "Just write." It doesn't get any more simple than that, does it? Your bookshelves looks like mine, Myra...neater, of course. Thanks for the great list! I'd love to be entered for both drawings. Congratulations on twenty books!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I should probably mention that the photo of my bookshelf doesn't show what they look like at the moment. As the collection grows, the shelves overflow. And other stuff gets stacked in front.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I love to read and read quite a bit but never truly considered the things authors go through to produce these works of art that I thoroughly enjoy.

    As a reader and reviewer (though not a blogger....yet) I finish what I read. There were only two books so far that I haven't finished because I just could not get into the story. Even if I am not completely enthralled with the book, I try to push on to the end to provide some kind of feedback for the authors and readers at large.
    Being masters of grammar is very important. I've read so many ARCs that made me cringe from the grammatical errors....but that's why they're ARCs, right?
    I do believe being a reader/reviewer is a craft as well. I'm trying to practice and hone the craft daily.

    I would love to be entered in both contests. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. MH!!! YOU ARE A READER AND REVIEWER!!! Where do you hail from??

      Delete
    2. Welcome, MH! We always love to meet readers and reviewers in Seekerville! I totally agree about grammar. Nothing takes me out of a story (or anything I'm reading) faster than a poorly crafted sentence or incorrect spelling and punctuation.

      Delete
    3. Welcome, MH! I definitely think writing reviews is a craft that takes lots of work. I have a terrible time trying to write them. The hardest part for me is trying to summarize a story, so I usually stick to how I liked it.

      Delete
  6. I'm not a writer, but I can relate here with my craft work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mary, what craft work do you do? Do you have a Pinterest page??

      Delete
  7. Hi Myra:

    Thanks for another thought provoking and enlightening post. I strongly agree with all your traits except Number #9 -- that writers should take responsibility for their own marketing. As a marketing person I believe that the goal of a successful writer should be to make sure that her highest and best use is in writing more stories. My idea of being "really successful" here is being able to hire many of life's non-writing duties to be done by others because your time is so much more valuable than the person's you are hiring.

    Writers write! Really successful writers write to the exclusion of many non-writing tasks which they can hire done.

    You asked if we can think of any other traits of the successful writer. Well, that thought woke me up at 4 am with a list of traits that philosophically 'should' be traits but I have no evidence that they really are. Just 'arm chair' philosophy. :)

    1. Above average intelligence.
    2. Above average curiosity.
    3. A lifelong love of reading.
    4. A love of storytelling.
    5. A fascination with learning new things.
    6. A lifelong love of adding new words to their vocabulary.
    7. A strong degree of self-motivation and self-directiveness.
    8. A strong desire to become a successful writer.
    9. A strong practitioner of positive thinking and creative visualization.
    10. A strong sense that being a writer fulfills God's plan for them.

    Again, I have no evidence that these are true but philosophically, they should be! Now I can go back to bed and maybe sleep. : )

    Vince

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excellent list, Vince--thanks!

      As for #9, I agree, it would be great if most writers could afford to hire out the marketing and other work that isn't the actual writing. I personally don't earn enough yet to justify the expense, so I'm trying to learn more about effective newsletters, designing and placing ads, etc. It's time consuming and NOT what I'd rather be doing by any stretch of the imagination. But for now, at least, it's a necessity, especially since even traditional publishers aren't investing their marketing dollars behind any but their top-selling authors.

      Delete
    2. You're spot on, Vince. But only in my dreams.

      Delete
    3. I was referring to marketing...hehehe.

      Delete
    4. Myra, I've been spending time learning all that, too!

      Delete
    5. It's crazy! I am SO overwhelmed!!!

      Delete
  8. Trait #3 gives me the most trouble, especially during the school year when I'm feeling pulled in so many different directions.

    *Hangs head in shame* Yesterday was a very bad day, and at the end of the day, I just felt defeated. So, I didn't write. What I failed to realize was that writing makes me happy. So instead of spending the evening being sad and anxious, I should have spent time in my "happy" place.

    Thanks for these reminders, Myra!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean, Rhonda. When I'm not writing, something really feels like it's missing from life. I need to get back to my happy place, too. With all we had going on this summer, it feels like forever.

      Delete
    2. I have a magnet that says, "I AM NOT IN MY HAPPY PLACE."

      We need to stay in that happy place. To heck with the world.

      Delete
    3. Rhonda, saying a prayer for you that today will be a good one!

      Hugs, Janet

      Delete
    4. Rhonda, that's so true. Tina, I need that magnet!! Because I'm the same way. I tend to get irritable and don't realize why.

      Delete
    5. TINA: Beware! Some would call that "Happy Space" and "Comfort Zone"!

      Delete
  9. Myra, this is a great checklist. You obviously follow it yourself. Twenty books in NINE YEARS? Wow.
    I'm okay with the discipline side, making time and meeting deadlines. I was a print journalist for 30 years, so I've got the "not waiting for inspiration" part licked. And I'm okay on studying craft, although I tend to study more when I know there's something I'm weak in, I don't study craft for the fun of it. Social media is hard for me, not here but more in a general sense, and I'm not too good at marketing because I don't yet have anything to market.
    This past year I became more aware of the importance of targeting, thanks to a couple of sharply-worded posts, coincidentally on this blog.
    I do struggle with discouragement, but probably no more than anyone else who is unpublished. But I'm "hardwired," to use your phrase, and will see this through.
    I am excited right now because I've been roughing out a new story, part of the contemporary Christmas romance series I've been working on, and I love getting to know these new people.
    Please enter me in the drawing. I always enjoy your books and have not read these two.
    Kathy Bailey

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good that you recognize you're "hardwired" to be a writer, Kathy. That alone is a big factor in conquering discouragement when the results don't come as quickly as we hoped. Because we know we just can't quit.

      As for 20 books in 9 years, part of those numbers were manuscripts in my inventory that I wouldn't give up on and rewrote and reworked and revised until they finally found homes.

      Delete
    2. Yeah, I have a few of those. If you know what you're doing, nothing ever goes to waste. Or, very little.
      I've also roughed out and written drafts for sequels to my first three books, all different series, so if the first book of any series sells I'll be ready. And it will look like I worked harder than I did, ha ha.
      Off for now, may be back later.

      Delete
  10. The hardest part for me is trusting the vision - I always doubt myself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sherri, I get it. It's good and often helpful to get opinions and advice from other writers, but in the end, if you let THEM tell you what your story is, it won't resonate with the same intensity as if you followed your own vision. So take from others what does resonate, and then shape it with how YOU see the story. And don't let those doubts keep you from writing!

      Delete
  11. MYRA,thank you for sharing. As a reader, I'm still trying to write better reviews.

    Please enter me for a copy of One Imperfect Christmas.

    Have a wonderful day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And we always appreciate those reviews, Caryl! Thank you so much!

      Delete
  12. Myra, great advice for writers at any stage. Thanks for sharing. (And if you'd like to trade pulled pork for REAL barbecue, we'll welcome you back to Texas anytime).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Doc! Fortunately, we've found a couple of restaurants here in NC that do a pretty decent job with Texas-style brisket. The trick is making sure to ask for the right kind of sauce.

      Delete
  13. Hi Myra, what a great list. Thanks for sharing. Today, I am writing. Yay! So, check off trait #1. I have one story I never finished because an agent showed interest in another story. Besides that one, I pretty much finish every story I start. And the unfinished story, I'll get back to it one day.
    Have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you, Jackie! I've got one of those unfinished stories, too, and was looking at it again just yesterday. How much time and mental energy it gets is directly contingent upon other writing deadlines.

      Delete
  14. Hi Myra, great list! Wondering about the last one though. Might I add that a true writer probably can't quit? Oh, sure, I can quit submitting, even hoping, (and I would admit to doing that a few times) but quit writing? Not sure that's possible. In fact, that's what's saved me several times over. Write something new and love doing it, even if nobody ever reads it. Then go find somebody to read it! Oh, I kind of like Grammar Queen. I think we could be friends if she would just quit correcting me all the time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, Cindy--I'll pass your sentiments on to GQ. She likes you, too! πŸ˜‰

      I think one of the things about true writers is that, even when we absolutely wish we could quit because of the frustration and discouragement, our writerly brains just won't cooperate. Everything we see, hear, and do starts percolating as a potential story idea. And pretty soon--guess what!--we're writing again!!!

      Delete
  15. Myra, there seems to be a constant theme--write! What? No short cuts? LOL.

    I think Trait #7 used to be more of a problem when I was first writing and entering contests. Every judge's opinion seemed to be right on even if they differed. I followed every one of them.
    Now, most of the time, I'm able to set good suggestions aside if it doesn't go w/my vision for the book.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the way to do it, Connie. What makes it even harder is when several judges or critique partners all seem to have valid ideas, but they contradict each other! That's we we need to keep a solid hold on our own vision and use only the suggestions that strengthen it and move it forward.

      Delete
    2. Connie, I employ a 2-out of 3 rubric: if two out of three judges or two out of three people in a crit group suggest something, I'll strongly consider it. One person, not so much. If you work with someone long enough you also begin to see their prejudices and their "hobby horses," and filter the criticism through that. Obviously not a technique with an anonymous judge, but good with someone you've worked with for a while. It doesn't mean they're a bad critic or even wrong, they're just human. I'm open to almost anything from a crit partner or a judge, but I balk at someone who wants to change the heart of the story. Dropped one crit partner before he/she/it even began because they had a dismissive attitude toward Christian romance. I mean really.
      KB

      Delete
  16. Myra...19 more books after you wrote One Imperfect Christmas? I'm speechless! Congratulations!!!! Wow! I've got a lot of books to write to catch up with you. lol

    Now to your post...#9 is my biggest weakness. If I could figure out how to get less sleep or totally ignore my husband, I might improve in this area. I still haven't cracked the code.

    I'm so happy that you never gave up, my friend. I think God created Abingdon Press just for all those writers who were about to pack away their dreams. I'm glad you didn't quit, Myra. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And as I have said many, many times, I will always remain eternally grateful for the opportunity you gave me, Barbara! I learned so much working with you on OIC.

      Hey, if you ever crack the marketing code, clue me in! I spent a good part of yesterday watching some videos and reading up on Facebook ads. YIKES!!!!!

      Delete
    2. :-) To God be the glory! I master one little thing and then social media and promotions changes the rules.

      Delete
  17. Myra, what a great post! Lately, I've been paralyzed by #1. I haven't made a good plan, so I can't decide where to start or even what to work on first. I'll be talking about that in my post next week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And I'll be eagerly awaiting your post, Missy! I've been feeling stuck and unsure for a few weeks now.

      Delete
    2. Myra, you are off your game because you had such a busy summer. You will Get It Back.
      KB

      Delete
  18. Myra, this is a terrific list! With twenty published books you know what you're talking about. Those twenty-five years you kept working had to be discouraging. Success isn't overnight for most of us. It requires hard work. Thanks for the motivation and inspiration.

    Janet

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wouldn't be here today without friends like you, Janet! Seekerville and my Seeker sisters mean the world to me!

      Delete
    2. Myra, I feel the same!

      Janet

      Delete
  19. Myra, congratulations on 20 books in 9 years! That is fantastic. Obviously you follow your rules. I think the first three are the toughest for me. When I sit down to write and it doesn't come out the way I want it to, then I just want to give up and go do something else. I have to make myself slog through it.

    Please put me in the drawing for Her Hill Country Cowboy. I already have One Imperfect Christmas.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sticking with it when the words and ideas aren't flowing is hard, Sandy. There are times when taking a break is helpful, though--as long as you don't stay away too long.

      Delete
  20. More from KB, whose morning plans were cancelled. One, two and three aren't issues for me right now because I'm working on sequels to three FINISHED books. If you set yourself up right in the first book, sequels are relatively easy. (RELATIVELY. In caps. Nothing is easy.) IF I've got two characters from the first book and I've established who they are and gotten to know them a little, I tend to know what they'll do in a sequel when the spotlight is on them. If you're stuck, pick out a couple of characters from a finished MS and play "what if." You may end up with a story.
    KB
    Ruminating in NH

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, KB! I love working with characters already established in earlier books. For one thing, I sort of know them already, and for another, I enjoy discovering where life has taken them since then.

      Delete
  21. WOW, Myra, EXCELLENT LIST, my friend, and you nailed my butt to the wall on #'s 3 & 6!!

    I am SUCH an emotionally driven writer, that it's hard for me to get started on something new if I'm not feeling it, a la #3. But the true mark of a successful (and professional) writer is to do it anyway because 9 out of 10 times, just doing that revs my engine and shifts me into high gear. I always think of Joyce Meyer's statement to "Do it afraid" because I think it's fear holding me back, so just plunging in and doing it anyway is some of the best advice I have ever received or given. :)

    As far as #6, I'm afraid Ruthy and I would have to take a seat at the back of the class because both of us tend to be learn-as-we-go types who like to fly by our own instinct, be it good or bad, rather than study in depth how someone else does it. I did that once, and found that I hated my writing because it was too stilted and didn't flow like I wanted it to. But that's me ... and Ruthy, apparently!

    Don't get me wrong -- I primarily learn (can't speak for Ruthy) through hands-on instruction via critiques, contests, editor's comments, and reader feedback rather than from books or videos, so I tend to shy away from those things. ALL except Seekerville, of course, where I do learn a ton! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So true, Julie--sometimes just sitting down and getting started will fire up those creative brain cells and propel us forward.

      I see where you're coming from about craft books and classes. As I was learning my craft, I used to devour them. But now I'm much more selective, because it's too easy to get sidetracked by how other writers do it instead of concentrating on what I already know works for me.

      Delete
  22. Myra, thank you for an encouraging post this morning! Wow...you're one productive writer!! I think #9-marketing is the hardest for me, especially since I don't yet have anything to sell.LOL

    I like observing how other authors handle this issue. Also, it's an inspiration watching women like The Pioneer Woman and Joanna Gaines.

    I'd love to be entered in the drawing. Since I have One Imperfect Christmas--please enter my name for Her Hill Country Cowboy.

    Thanks again for a helpful post! Have a tea-riffic writing day!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marketing is my #1 bugaboo!!! Whether it's a new book release or just helping to make my name more recognizable through social media and networking, it does NOT come easily.

      Oh my goodness, Pioneer Woman! She's a marketing phenomenon!

      Delete
  23. And here I've been feeling down having waited five years (and counting) to get published! You're an inspiration, Myra!

    Trait #4 may be my biggest challenge. I thought I'd been writing for a target audience of nine to thirteen-year-olds, but the feedback I receive tells me it's the MOMS of that age group who love the story. At this point, I'm still pitching it as middle grade because...I know it's the moms that usually buy the books!

    Please throw my name into both hats!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting observation, Linda! In my early writing days, I focused mainly on middle-graders and young adults. I remember being taught that young readers are more likely to read about characters slightly older than themselves.

      And yes, moms are the book buyers, the gatekeepers, so to speak. So you do need to make sure they like the stories. I remember I read just about all the books my girls were reading at that age. Number 1, to see what they liked to read, and number 2, because usually the books were just so good!

      Delete
  24. Congratulations on that 20th book, Myra!! (And I recognize some of the books on your shelves as having twins on mine!)

    Excellent post and I'm sure it will be a keeper for many who are serious about becoming a published writer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Glynna! Being a writer is not for the faint of heart, that's for sure!

      Delete
  25. Myra, great blog topic and wonderful tips for folks at any stage of their writing journey.

    "Writers finish what they start" is so important! Too many, I fear, start but never finish writing a story. My advice goes hand in hand with yours. Get the book written. Even if it's rough. Then you can bask in the glow of having written a full manuscript...plus you can see the holes and know where to start the rewrites. Without that finished manuscript, you're just floating in the wind. IMHO!

    Finish the story...rewrite...submit...start the next story and repeat the process.

    Congrats on your 20 books, Myra!!! Fantastic success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly, Debby! You can't edit a blank page, and you can't sell a book you haven't written--especially without a proven track record.

      Delete
  26. Hi Myra.

    Love this post! It's a keeper. I think I struggle with book marketing because I wrote(write) for magazines so long and you don't have to do any marketing. I just don't think that I've found the best type of marketing that works for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here, Rose. They say the best marketing is just to write your very best book, but if you don't have name recognition, the discovery process take a whole lot longer.

      Delete
  27. I'd love to win either or BOTH books! jarning67(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Joan! Please tell us a little about yourself. Writer? Reader? Both?

      Delete
  28. Terrific post, Myra! You had great points. This particularly hit home: Take it from someone who’s been there—too many opinions can confuse you so much that you lose your grip on your own vision and voice. Limit yourself to feedback from the people you trust the most, and even then, weigh their comments against your own best judgment.

    I wandered far away from my vision, thinking others knew my story better than I did. It was a valuable lesson, and strengthened my belief in what I write, but it was also a huge time-waster away from my path. I've since learned to trust the beta readers who are like 'my' readers will be when I'm published. There are plenty of books out there for other folks to read :-)

    #9 -- Marketing -- is what I'm struggling with. How to get the word out without sounding like I'm tooting my own horn, how to not inundate potential readers with too much advertising, newsletter, BookBub, etc. I retreat to my writing every time I think about marketing :-D

    Nancy C

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nancy! Glad you've found "your" readers. Those are the opinions worth valuing.

      And yes, I do NOT like tooting my own horn. I really try to balance "selling" tweets and Facebook posts with just friendly, personal, and fun updates.

      Delete
  29. Replies
    1. Yes. I still can't wrap my head around it! True, a few are novellas, but it's still a lot of writing!

      Delete
  30. Great post today. I struggle with finishing and the idea of marketing *shudder*. I've never been good at promoting myself. My boss at work always says so. He tells me I sell myself short on my self evals for the corporate office.

    Home today with hubby. Ninth Anniversary today (08-08-08 our wedding day - easy for memory). I found Seekerville around the same time as getting married too, so it's sort of anniversary time for that too.

    I will work on finishing. I know I won't be quitting. I do happen to know I need to figure out my audience though... That's probably why I haven't been finishing. Hmmmm...

    Great post Myra. Love Seekerville for all the things I learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Happy anniversary, Deb! Yes, that's certainly an easy date to remember. Did you choose it on purpose?

      There's definitely a fine line between acknowledging the credit we deserve and stepping into hubris. So sometimes we try so hard NOT to brag that we do sell ourselves short. The difficulty is finding a healthy middle ground.

      Delete
    2. Yep, chose it on purpose because I'm quite forgetful about dates. My husband? Remembers even minor event dates, go figure 😊

      Delete
  31. Myra, your writer traits offer valuable direction. Thank you!

    #7-Confused vision tugs at me! I need to revise a completed manuscript, but I'm spinning around trying to decide which direction is right for my story. I need to solidify MY vision and more forward.

    #5 I find my grammar is rusty. Do you have a suggestion for a concise grammar review book? Perhaps I should direct that question to the Grammar Queen. :)

    #1 This motto should be engraved on my brain. Just write!

    Thanks for another encouraging and helpful post, Myra!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Sherida! You know, sometimes it takes time to solidify our vision of where we want a story to do. I'm dealing with that problem right now with a ms. I've had on hold for some time. I have the beginning and some general background in place, but I'm not yet sure where the rest of the story is going.

      As for grammar review, Grammar Queen has sometimes recommended Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips. Or just go to Amazon and search "grammar" for a whole long list of popular reference books. Read the descriptions and reviews to see if one of them sounds like what you'd find most helpful.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, Myra and Grammar Queen!

      Delete
  32. I highly recommend ProWritingAid, Sherinda. It's saved me a ton of money in freelance editing. My copy is very clean meaning I pay less. That's because I put it through PWA first for grammar and overused words and spelling checks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recommendation, Tina!

      Delete
    2. Sounds just right. Thanks, Tina!

      Delete
  33. Myra, I am actually on a "Myra Reading Marathon" this week! lol Finished A Rose So Fair, When the Clouds Roll By, half way through Whisper Goodbye and then on to Every Tear A Memory! Love your books! I would love to be entered for your new cowboy book!
    THANKS!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Jackie, you've just made my day! Those are sweet words indeed to this writer's ear! Thank you so much!

      Delete
  34. Fabulous post! Thank you so much for the inspiration and reminders about what I need to do. Loved this!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Myra. You have offered writers sone great tips and they are very helpful to us readers. I especially like Traits 2, 3, 5, and 6. Nothing can be accomplished waiting for a perfect time , the job should always be completed and good grammar is essential in all walks of life. It doesn't matter if you are offering a thought verbally or putting it in writing. Thanks for sharing and I definitely want to be included in your book drawing!
    Blessings!
    Connie
    cps1950(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you found the tips helpful, Connie! True, there is never a "perfect" time to start, unless it was "yesterday," so we might as well jump in. AND finish what we start!

      Delete
  36. Hi Myra, Great points. Boy I sure needed this post. I'm so happy that you reminded us of what makes us writers. I have been a little off track lately so needed this. Thanks. Have a great day.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I needed the reminders myself, Sandra. Really working on getting back on track.

      Delete
  37. Well done, Myra!

    I could work on #7 more as I don't have any writer critique partners yet. I've reviewed for other writers and have some non writing friends that are willing to read for me but they are either too kind or just don't have feedback other than they enjoyed it.

    Please enter me in both of today’s two giveaways: your very first published novel, One Imperfect Christmas, or your twentieth book in print, Her Hill Country Cowboy.

    May God bless you and all of Seekerville!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Phyllis! I know what you mean about feedback that doesn't really tell you anything. Do you belong to any writers groups? That's the best place to look for critique partners. And always do a few "trial" critiques to make sure you're compatible.

      Delete
  38. Oh yes, add my congrats to the best wishes on getting twenty novels out there. woo hooo. And they are great ones. I really like your writing style so am delighted there are twenty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sandra! I still can't believe it!

      Delete
  39. Myra, I so appreciate your suggestions for writers. The one that spoke to me most? #7—Writers trust the vision. Thanks for these reminders!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome, Jeanne! We do have to remember that it's OUR vision for the story, not anyone else's, that really matters. Yes, sometimes we have to adapt when our editors say something isn't working, but I've found there are usually ways to meet editorial needs without completely scrapping what I wanted the story to accomplish.

      Delete
  40. As a reader. I am so impressed at all authors do to get books out to us. So many people think authors just write and in no time at all they put out a best selling book. Not true, there are so many steps that they go through and so many people that help them along the way and for that I am eternally grateful. I do my part by reviewing books on Goodreads and Amazon and my hope is to pull more people into reading these awesome books. The authors deserve it for all their hard work.
    Please toss my name in for both books. Myra I have really enjoyed the books of yours I read.

    Cnnamongirl at aol dot com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deanne, thank you so much for being a faithful book reviewer. Those reviews are priceless to an author! And I know it takes time and thought to craft a good review, which makes me appreciate what you do even more!

      Delete
  41. Great list, Myra! I struggle with several of these (especially #5 and #7) and appreciate this post so much. Congratulations on book number 20!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Laura! We all just have to keep working at at, don't we?

      Delete
  42. Writers write... I never used to have trouble with that, until now- being so busy with college and work and stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Life happens to all of us, Boo. I'm kind of there myself this summer but working to get back in the groove. Do what you can, when you can, and NO guilt trips!

      Delete
  43. I'm late to the party but here! The hardest of these...#9 marketing...gulp, shiver...but I appreciate your point about getting to know local librarians and booksellers. So that's a new goal for me.

    #3 is the easiest. Writing is an addiction for me so even if I'm not in the mood, I'm still clicking away at the keyboard.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Sharee! Marketing is by far my least favorite part of the biz. I need to be better, myself, about making connections with local booksellers and librarians. I'd much rather stay home and write!

      Delete
  44. I was thinking that my website is where I need more. My writing time seems to shrink daily. I'm learning what I can, but I use to blog all the time. Now I rarely do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keeping website content fresh is important, but not always easy to do. I mostly use my blog now for special announcements or other happenings I think might be of interest to my readers.

      And it's sad but true how trying to keep up with all this extra stuff AND our home and family commitments takes time away from writing. There are no simple answers or one-size-fits-all solutions.

      Delete
  45. SO sorry I'm super late stopping in today, but this is EXCELLENT, Myra. Right now I am falling behind in keeping my little blog updated. *sigh* After I'm pubbed, I feel certain the marketing would be a challenge, although I know it's essential!
    CONGRATS on your amazing success! You're an inspiration, not to mention a super-talented author.
    Hugs, Patti Jo

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Patti Jo! Keeping up with blogging can be an effort, that's for sure! As for marketing . . . you already know how I feel about that subject. But we're all in this together, helping and encouraging each other along the way!

      Delete
  46. Oops, and here I am late. Where did the time go yesterday? Anyway I have some of the traits, am working on others, and really need to work on others.

    Marketing, and sticking to just one idea (but they're all so shiny), are particular hard spots for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Nicki! I know what you mean about sticking to just one idea. But if you keep good notes, those new ideas will be waiting for you when you're ready to take them on!

      Delete
  47. Great message! I am writing my first Christian fiction novel and I appreciate wisdom from other writers. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Welcome, Melissa! You've come to the "write" place! We hope you'll visit often and tell us more about yourself and your writing.

      Delete