1. They have their eye on one goal at all times and review it often. Someone once told me that even just looking at your goals every 36 hours or so can help you stay on track. I don’t know if it’s true, but it’s hard to argue that keeping your eye on the prize can’t help even just a little bit.
2. They don’t let fear stop them from chasing their dreams. It is completely normal to be afraid of chasing after something you truly want, especially if it’s something big that many people don’t expect you to be able to accomplish. But fear can be used as a strength, instead of serving as a weakness. It can propel you forward, if you let it.
3. They are not hesitant to challenge themselves. Sometimes people consider quitting an activity because they start to feel stuck doing the same things over and over again. To avoid this, many writers seek out different kinds of challenges like contests and word sprints. Some even create their own challenges just to see if they can succeed.
4. They know exactly where to go when they need inspiration. “Inspiration hunting” in its various forms can take up a lot of valuable time if you don’t know what you are looking for. Some writers know that listening to a certain type of music, for example, is enough to get them in the right headspace for creating, and they jump right to that activity before each writing session begins.
5. They aren’t embarrassed to talk about their writing lives — the good, the bad, and the in-between. I talk about my struggles a lot on this blog. While I don’t necessarily love doing it, I do it so other writers know that it’s okay to be honest about your craft as long as it helps keep you on track.
6. They are deliberate about how they react to skeptics. Skeptics, in this case, being the ones who seem to constantly question whether or not you are “actually” capable of accomplishing something specific. Some people choose not to take outside comments personally and ignore them. Others take skepticism from others very personally, but use that negativity to fuel their work in a “watch me prove you wrong” sort of way.
7. They have go-to activities, mantras, or people to turn to when they are feeling discouraged. On days when I look at my work and start to question whether or not it’s good or anyone will ever love it or whether or not it is worth continuing to put effort into, I take a break and read someone else’s book. Even just holding a book in my hands reminds me of my ultimate end goal.
8. They know when it is time to take a break and for how long that break needs to last. Sometimes on a Friday afternoon you realize you’re just done writing for the day and promise yourself that you will resume tomorrow morning. Sometimes you dedicate two straight weeks to doing absolutely nothing related to writing, which is what I am in the middle of doing now as you are reading this. :)
9. They are willing to accept that failure is a normal part of the journey toward success in writing. I can’t even tell you how many times throughout my writing career that I have messed up, done the wrong thing, missed instructions, didn’t do my best … the list goes on. It happens. Writers who don’t give up know they might fail. But they don’t treat that possibility as a roadblock.
10. They have a support system. Finding a means of support as a writer can manifest differently for different people. Some need a physical group of people they can meet with on a regular basis. Others use Twitter or online writing forums. Some visit random writers’ blogs and hope to find help and encouragement within their many pages.
11. They know giving up would feel worse than continuing to move forward. Sometimes, in certain situations, quitting is one hundred percent okay. But most of the time, it does not feel good. Writing may seem almost impossible some days, but most of the time, knowing you gave up will feel much, much worse.
12. They are not afraid to truly believe in themselves, even when no one else does. Sometimes we are afraid of our own confidence. Sometimes we feel worn down and totally spent. But the writers who continue to believe they can achieve great things, despite the many hardships they may face along the way, are the ones who find their own versions of success at the end of it all.
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.