There’s a reason not all good writers “make it.”
It has nothing to do with their inability to write. They might compose beautiful prose, have a fairly decent following online, and provide relatable, well-thought-out content useful to many people who need it.
But it turns out people who spend all their time and energy on learning to write well — and nothing else — might be at a disadvantage when it comes to finding success in writing.
You have to be good at writing to succeed in this industry. There’s no disputing that.
But no matter how good you are at making words happen, that alone won’t get you where you want to be. Not quickly, at least, if at all.
Why? Because you aren’t the only one who’s “really good” at writing. You’re also not the only one trying to use that as leverage when applying for writing jobs and/or reaching out to editors and agents.
You’re not the only one with a blog, self-published titles, publishing credits,
There’s a skill, story, or some other selling point that makes the best writers also the most unique. You need something that makes you stand out that’s also relevant to whatever opportunity you’re trying to pursue.
To succeed in writing, you also have to be good at things like marketing. Email and in-person communications. It pays — literally — to have some photography and graphic design skills.
It’s not your ability to write that’s going to set you apart from other capable writers. It’s your unique experiences. Your willingness to experience and learn new things in a variety of areas. It’s your versatility when it comes to topic areas. Your adaptability when it comes to rapid, unexpected change.
You have to write exceptionally well. But you also have to be a team player with a desirable personality.
Also, connections. You have to KNOW people. In some cases, that’s more important than anything else.
Do you see, now, why not all good writers succeed? Writing is only half the effort. It takes much more than being able to string sentences together to impress an editor or show a potential employer you’re an asset worth pursuing.
First, of course, you have to “get good” at writing. Start here.
But work on all the other stuff, too. Practice being creative in all situations. Learn to problem-solve. Give off the vibes that show those around you that you’re worth keeping close. Develop new skills — even ones you don’t necessarily think will benefit you in the long-term. Don’t focus all your energy on getting really good at one thing. Practice and improve as a writer in a variety of ways, to make yourself as well-rounded as can be.
In the end, you won’t regret it. Trust me.
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.