Usable Ideas for Living and Working


Suggested Cures for these 5 Habits of Stubborn, Unsuccessful Writers

Now, who do I call a stubborn, unsuccessful writer? One who can write but won’t and one who does but wouldn’t change or adapt when needed to. All because of a mindset problem.

One who’s caught in his own distorted reality, born of stubborness to change.

As a writer-editor for the past 30+ years, I’ve come across many such writers – either colleagues or subordinates. Here are their recipes for failure.

Very few of them who have been successful. Some had promised by writing and had now moved on to better (lucrative and lesser challenging) jobs.

Others are just slogging along without much success and are whining about it. One such writer will not write beyond what he has been writing about for the past thirty years. Only what he writes matters. Nothing else does.

Having observed these writers for years and having interacted and tried to help them (most of them are helpless), I identified many habits that prevent their progress.

I would, however, narrow them down to the main ones as discussed below:

Habit 1 : The Habit of Expecting Quick Returns

To some this is money. To others it’s fame.

This habit comes to the fore especially when they’re working on new projects.

They expect this project they’re excited about to launch them into the limelight and fetch a huge monetary reward.

The result: disappointment. They did the work not because it must be done, but because of ulterior motives. Anything done with an ulterior motive seldom brings positive returns.

Suggested Cure: Take on every new project as a challenge which will contribute to your growth as a writer. Being able to write is a bigger reward than winning fame or getting a fat paycheck. You got to embrace this mindset first before you can last as a writer.

Habit 2: The Habit of Emulating a Writing Hero

This writer is obsessed with hero worship.

He’ll only write like his hero. No other kind of writing matters. He has decided unless he writes like his hero, his writing has no value.

He’s fanatic who can’t give up his obsession. It makes him feel good but doesn’t earn him results.

Suggested Cure: The world doesn’t need a writer who writes like Stephen King or Margaret Atwood. No matter how hard you try to emulate your hero, you aren’t going to succeed. Why not trust your own voice and work on nourishing it? That’s what those writers whom you wish to emulate have done to be successful.

Habit 3 : The Habit of Thinking Writing is Not Worthwhile These Days

“I like to write but I’m not writing because nobody is reading these days. So, writing isn’t worthwhile.”

Just because the people around her don’t read, this writer feels that writing is a ‘worthless’ pursuit. People these days are watching television/YouTube videos and playing video games. They’ve no time for reading. Books are becoming like public telephone booths. Very few have any need for them.

Suggested Cure: Don’t use the people around you to form your judgement about the value of writing. They may like you but not be interested in your writing life. Why should they be? There’s a big reading world out there, very accessible in this Internet age. Why not try to grab it’s attention.

Almost all the people I know hardly read, much less write. I don’t need their support to go on writing. I’m not writing for them, but to world out there which loves to read. Forget the world around you and aim beyond.

Here’s the thing. No matter what you think, people still buy books and read. Visit Amazon and read the reviews. Your pessimism will dissolve.

Habit 4: The Habit of Talking About Future Writing Projects But Not Doing Anything About Them

“I’m thinking of starting a blog.”

Talk to the writer a year later and it merely remains a thought. Five years on, he can’t remember saying it.

This is one writer who can write but won’t put a single word on the page unless you put a gun to his head.

Oh, he can write, yes. If his Boss asks him to write a company report, he’ll do it. Much is at stake here.

When there’s no gun put to the head, writing is important but not urgent.

Suggested Cure : Make writing an urgent undertaking today. Start now. Write something after reading this article. Don’t leave to regret years later for not doing what you could, when you could.

Habit 5: I Can Write But I’m Not Ready Yet

This writer, although hasn’t written anything much, operates at a very high standard.

His standard must be those of the masters, otherwise he won’t write a single word.

So, will he achieve that high standard? He himself doesn’t know. Maybe he’s hoping he would one day mysteriously attain that high standard. Chances are he would miss the bus.

Suggested Cure: If you’re deceiving yourself of achieving the high standard, rest assured, you’ll never even achieve a lower standard. There’s no such a thing as perfect writing. If you can write in such a way that gets your messages across clearly, you’re writing at a high standard. Don’t bother about language and style. They don’t matter much, these days.

I have more habits of stubborn, unsuccessful writers. If you would like to hear them, leave a note below.

Meanwhile, try applying the any of the suggested cures if you fall into any of the category of stubborn unsuccessful writers.

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