The Most Successful Writers Have This Important Thing In Common

If you learn this, you’re good to go.

Every writer wants to be the best.

At the very least, we all have at least one stretch goal we’d love to reach at some point.

Maybe you want to publish a book. Maybe you want to guest post on your favorite blogger’s site. Maybe you just want to be able to make ends meet by writing, without suffering through a day job you can’t stand.

I have no doubt you’ve wondered, more than once, what exactly you need to do to get from where you are to where you want to be.

And you likely already know there’s a lot that needs to happen before the idea that descends upon you in the middle of your morning shower becomes a bestselling masterpiece. Like, you actually have to write the thing, and all that.

But you might not know many writers — especially those who earn success in their endeavors — have something you might not.

And the good news is, this “something” — a key to “making it,” if you will — can be learned.

I don’t think you’re born with this particular trait. Maybe some people are, at least, born with the ambitious tendency that likely makes the characteristic easier to develop.

The most successful writers out there are not masters of their craft — not in the way you think.

They’re all willing to admit they still have a lot to learn.

And they never stop learning.

Even though I’ve been blogging since 2009. and work in media as a writer, and give a lot of general writing tips and advice to anyone who wants the help, I never pretend to know everything there is to know about writing.

I’ve learned more about myself as a writer in the past year than I have in the last 10. And that’s because I don’t believe I’ll ever know it all. There will always be something new. There will always be someone more skilled than I am at something, who can, directly or indirectly, teach me.

I believe many writers’ success is due to their willingness to admit they’re still students of creativity, no matter how many words they’ve written in their lifetime.

I also believe the best way to learn to be better is to continue writing, no matter what. There will never come a point when you’ll stop writing because there’s nothing more a story can teach you.

Be willing to learn. Not just from people older than you, but those younger than you, too. Not just from writers, but from editors, filmmakers, designers, musicians, chefs. Every form of creativity has its lessons. Look for them. They will find you.

And if you apply them, you’ll continue to improve, year after year. That will ensure you never fall behind. That you’ll always have something to keep you going.

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a staff writer with The Cheat Sheet, a freelance editor and writer, and a 10-time NaNoWriMo winner. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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10 thoughts on “The Most Successful Writers Have This Important Thing In Common

  1. Agreed!
    I think, like inspiration, like the desire and energy to craft a story, one must be open to the unexpected moments where new ideas about writing and storytelling find you, but it’s also important to dedicate some time each week, or month, to actively trying to learn.
    I’m fond of maintaining a weekly quota table, with columns for each type of writing effort (Stories, Blogging, Book Reviews, Studying Writing, and Reading/Commenting/Connecting). Some of them blur into each other, but I believe a certain amount of time each week should be dedicated to each type of effort, though I do prioritize stories over the others, and try to ensure that is the largest segment of my week’s efforts.
    But yeah, there is no “enough”, no “done”, which can be troubling, or comforting, depending on how you look at it. I like to think it’s the opportunity to keep exploring, and never become bored with what you do, because what you do keeps changing.

  2. Brilliant!

    My favorite part of this post: “Be willing to learn. Not just from people older than you, but those younger than you, too.” Great advice. My pastor is the same age as my daughter. My doctor is younger than my youngest son. But they are geniuses in their field, and I am happy to learn from them.

    Since giving up the dumb idea that I can only learn from someone my age or older, wow, I have learned so much.

    My granddaughter graduated from Harvard last week. I can’t wait to find out what I will learn from her, the next time we visit!

      1. Aww, I am glad my comment made you feel happy. 😊

        When I was 26 years old, I took a proctored Mensa test and my IQ was 156. That’s just 4 points below Albert Einstein’s 160. I doubt if my IQ is that high today, though. I’m in my mid 60s now and over the years I have had a couple of hard knocks in the head, plus I did some heavy drinking when I was in 30s, after my dad died and while I was going through a divorce. Which was REALLY stupid. The drinking, I mean. But my point is that being aware that you do not know everything (not even close!), and being willing to learn, even from someone who is a fraction of your age, is a sign of intelligence, in my opinion.

        The know-it-alls are to be pitied, really.

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