There's more to writing than meets the eye. Contrary to the hype you'll often encounter in online job ads and how-to books, skillful mastery requires much more than "good grammar and an Internet connection."
If only it were that simple.
As someone who has been behind the keyboard carving out a career in the creative field for many years, I've come to the realization that most successful writers are not just effective communicators; they also possess these five skills and abilities for optimal success.
See how many you can check off here.
If I had a dollar for every person that says, "I could write a book," I'd be rich. Though it's true that many of us have a story within us, being a "real" writer requires real discipline. Day after day, week after week, month after month, amidst rejections, work woes, family dramas, self-doubt and fears.
If you don't have the discipline to commit to setting goals, writing regularly, sending out your work, researching markets, and improving your craft, you'll never cut it.
Can you handle stress? Would you be able to accept a career that has more ups and downs than an amusement park ride? Stress management is crucial to today's successful writer. The underlying reason? If not handled properly stress can cause writer's block. No output means no income. No income means no chocolate. Which leads to more stress...
You get where I'm going here?
Have you ever seen those hostage negotiators on many of the popular cop and weekly TV crime shows?
Take note; you'll become one. The main difference here, is not the release of a victim or kidnapped person, it's the timely and careful release of your writing fee. Hello? Sometimes you have to bargain, beg, strategize, reason and negotiate to earn what you feel you deserve with clients, publishers and editors. Your "survival", in fact, depends on it.
Time management skills
There's great validity to the expression, "Time is money."
If you don't manage time well, you're likely losing out on money, sleep, and the potential opportunity to make even more money. Additionally, poor time management and poor prioritization skills often lead to missed deadlines and costly errors. According to Lucy V. Parker, author of "'How to Start a Home-Based Business," these are the main characteristics of time management:
doing regular planning, listing tasks, prioritizing, following through, and rewarding yourself for achievement.
Strategic skills involve good decision making, business savvy, and the ability to remain profitable as a freelancer. It means knowing that every creative situation requires the "write" approach.
It involves having a game plan for successful execution of your projects.
If you use discernment before you take a gig, weigh the pros and cons of opportunities, research, and exercise "due diligence," you're a strategic writer.
Okay, confession time...
How many of these skills do you possess? What do you lack?
What would you add to the list?