By Debby Giusti
Since we're only a few weeks into the new year, I thought it might be a good time to revisit the Seven Secrets to Success for Writers I penned more than a decade ago. I hope you'll add some of the secrets to your own success in the comment section so we can learn from each other. What works for you? What doesn't? Grab a cup of coffee and let's share tips and techniques for the new year!
A few writing Secrets to Success for the New Year:
1. Put God First
Everything goes more smoothly, including the writing, when I start my day with prayer. I think of it as giving Him my “first fruits” before the hustle and bustle begins. Similarly, I “bookend” my day by spending time in prayer before I fall asleep. Often I may be struggling with a character or plot point, but when I make time for God, the problems resolve and the story gets written.
2. Know why you write
For financial gain, notoriety, fame? (Are you laughing?) Maybe your goal is to bring joy to your readers’ lives or spread God’s message of love or show how good can triumph over evil. Whatever the reason, it should be important to you, important enough to keep you writing when you’re tired or sick or frustrated with the story. Once you determine the why, you can accept projects that advance that vision and reject those that don’t.
3. Learn How to Say No
This dovetails with knowing why you write. Say no to the things that don’t fit into your plan or your reason for writing. For me that includes social functions that keep me from my computer, such as lunch dates or shopping sprees. I still have a life, but I don’t overschedule my week with events that keep me from working.
4. Study Story
Learning to see the big picture is important. Often we focus on the bits and pieces--the plot, the characters, the conflict—instead of the story as a whole. We need to know how the parts fit together into a seamless tale that transports readers to another world. Studying the greats who “get” story helps me. Some of my favorite gurus include Christopher Vogler, author of The Writer’s Journey, Michael Hauge, who wrote Writing Screenplays that Sell , and Donald Maass, with his Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.
5. The Synopsis is Your Friend
I’ve never known anyone who enjoys writing synopses, but I have learned to use them as a tool. If I can’t get the synopsis to work, my story won’t work either. Finding the flaw—the weak plot point, the limp conflict, the lack of motivation, or even the wrong villain—in that early story overview saves times and keeps me from writing two hundred pages that head in the wrong direction. Embrace the synopsis as a friend and an important first step in your writing process.
6. Guard your Health
Sitting at a computer for long periods of time is detrimental to your health. Take frequent breaks when you’re working. Exercise daily. Get adequate rest. Drink lots of water. Health is one of our most important assets. Take care of yourself so you can enjoy the long writing career God has planned for your future.
7. Ignore the Negative Voice
You know what I’m talking about—that small internal voice that says hateful things about you and your writing. My negative voice can be very vocal…and very mean. “You can’t write,” she often taunts. “This story stinks. Give up now!” Early on, I waged an almost endless battle to squelch the negative and focus, instead, on what I got right. These days, my internal voice is a bit more subdued, although when I’m tired or overworked, she frequently makes herself known. My advice? Turn down the volume and don’t let her sap your confidence. Remember you are a writer. Ignore the criticism and just write!
The coffee's hot. Grab a cup, and let's discuss our own personal tips for writing success!
Wishing you a productive and successful 2022!
Happy writing, dear friends!
Smugglers in Amish Country
Uncovering secrets in this Amish town
could deliver deadly consequences.
When the robbery suspect she’s tracking begins attacking delivery girls in Amish country, officer Marti Sommers must go undercover as bait. With ex-cop Luke Lehman’s niece as one of the targets, this case is personal. After all, Marti’s rookie mistake ended with Luke injured and another officer dead. But can the two former colleagues stop a deadly smuggling ring…before Marti becomes the next victim?
Releases March 2022
Pre-Order on Amazon!