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Four Characteristics Successful Writers Share

I spend a lot of time stalking reading and observing Neil Gaiman's blog and Tumblr.  I've been reading his posts as though they are chapters of a book for months. For his journal, I started from the first post and worked my way up. There are more than 5000 posts there, so I of course haven't read everything, but I like to believe I will one day. For his Tumblr, I started from the most recent post and am currently working my way to the first.

If vicariously living through Neil Gaiman and other successful writers - Amanda Hocking, J.S. Chancellor, Michelle Davidson Argyle, David N. Alderman, etc. - has taught me anything, it's that there are five characteristics many successful writers seem to share. Incidentally, of the five characteristics, I fail at three.

In fact, my idea for this post came about when I asked myself, "Why am I not more successful? What is Neil Gaiman doing that I'm not doing?" I have faith in myself. I know I'm intelligent and hard-working enough to achieve anything I put my mind to, so why haven't I achieved much of anything since the busiest, most successful month of my life?

Here's what came to mind:

Successful Writers Finish Projects

After all, how can you attain success if you haven't finished anything?

This is, by far, one of the hardest things for an aspiring writer to do. It's completely understandable. Writing a novel is hard work. It takes some people weeks to complete a full novel while it takes others months, if not years.

For many, that's the appeal of Nanowrimo. It motivates writers to finish; it teaches them that writing a crappy novel is okay as long as you finish the damn thing. Even more, it combines all of that with a large support system.

Notice how I said 'projects' instead of 'project'? Sure, some writers are lucky enough to be wildly successful with only one project under their belt, but most successful writers I idolize have finished loads of projects. Whenever I check in to see what they're up to, they're always working on and finishing something else. It makes perfect sense. The more quality stuff you have out there, the better.

Successful Writers Make Meaningful, Genuine Connections 

What does Amanda Palmer, Neil Gaiman, Erika Napoletano, and Chuck Wendig have in common? They don't treat their readers like far-off fans. They treat them like friends. They consistently talk to their readers (for Amanda Palmer, listeners). They let their readers know that they play a vital role in their success and even let their readers play a vital role in their success. Their connections are meaningful and genuine. Whenever I read something of theirs, I feel like part of one big family. Because of that, I absolutely love supporting them. 

I go into more detail about genuine relationships in Facebook and Marketing: Episode 2 - Genuine Networking.



Successful Writers Work Hard and Make Their Own Luck

Sometimes, people do get out-of-the-blue lucky but, in most cases, luck is just a matter of preparation and hard work meeting opportunity.

The chances of you getting lucky rise when you finish more projects. The chances of you getting lucky also rise when you make meaningful connections. See the pattern?

All in all, don't rely on luck and don't expect it. Just work hard, finish projects, and make meaningful connections and luck will probably come knocking at your door.

Most Importantly, Successful Writers are Consistent

Consistency is boss. If you're not consistent with connections and writing, you'll never be successful. Consistency is the driving force behind all the characteristics of success.

What do you think leads to success? What writers do you admire?
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