The Secret To Being A Successful Writer

Here’s what nobody tells you when you start on this journey.

Rachel Thompson
May 24 · 5 min read
Photo by Hannah Wei on Unsplash

Regardless of how you publish your books, articles, or blog posts, the secret to being a successful writer is not anything pie in the sky or full of inspirational goo-gah. (Besides, I’m not the kind of person to spray glittery sunshine up your you know what, so here’s the real deal.)

Here’s the big secret. You ready? Grab your pens.

Don’t be lazy.

That’s it. Let me deconstruct this a bit. Pull up a chair.

Make It Happen

You. Yes, you. Stop looking around.

I’ve worked with writers in all kinds of ways since hmmm, gosh, 2009-ish. Ten years of observing that unique species of human we refer to as, writer. I’m a writer myself (six books released so far — two more on deck for this year) so I fully comprehend the challenges of balancing writing, marketing, the day job, real life, chronic pain, mental health, and single parenting.

So, yea. Completely and totally get it.

There isn’t room in any of those roles to be lazy if we’re being #TruthBomb honest here. Yet, in my ten years of working directly with writers, I can count on one hand the writers who are get-out-of-my-way go-getters.

Not the kind who will eat you for lunch with some fava beans and a nice chianti. I mean those who actively set aside time for writing AND marketing AND promoting strategically — not creepy, spammy, ‘must take a shower after seeing this’ ways. Nope, I mean those who treat their publishing career as a career, not a hobby where they lollygag around on social media arguing politics or talking about writing their book, then hope and pray someone eventually buys it.

In fact, I so related to that panicky, ‘Where do I even start?” feeling I experienced with my first book back in 2012, that I created an entire month last year (year two is happening right now! and every May) where I’m giving away expert consultations from publishing experts and shockingly (she says not shocked), very few writers are taking advantage of it.*

When I speak with them, several have told me they know about it but don’t want to participate because then they’ll HAVE to work on their writing and marketing.

This baffles me. And yet, nah, it doesn’t.

Lazy Writer Syndrome

It’s a thing, right? We all get it. I get it, too.

It’s not that I’m not writing. I’m here, aren’t I? I also write for my own two blogs (RachelintheOC.com and BadRedheadMedia.com) which are an important part of my author marketing and business marketing. I have those two manuscripts mentioned above on my desktop: one is in edits, and the other is in draft. I also keep a journal, a planner, and a book just for creative notes and ideas.

So, yea, I’m writing. Yet sometimes it feels like I’m not writing writing.

Am I accomplishing stuff? Am I climbing the mountain? Well, yea. Kinda. It feels like this: it’s a big mountain, full of mud. It’s raining. Hard. I’m carrying this heavy weight. But I’ve got this! It’s just that some days it’s just…so exhausting. Or I have a migraine. Or I’m running my kids around (single mom). Or I’ve got client deadlines (solopreneur).

So I set the weight down and make camp. For a little while. To rest and recuperate. And then get back out there.

That’s okay. I’m getting there. We’re all getting there (wherever the hell there is).

Maybe lazy doesn’t describe me. I am a Capricorn, after all.

Are You A Lazy Writer?

These are the hard questions you have to ask yourself:

·What am I doing to move my writing career forward?

·What am I not doing?

·What actions am I taking to build relationships with readers?

·How can I learn more about how to market my work?

·How am I standing in my own way?

Creating an author platform is not a choice in today’s market. Many writers refuse to treat their writing like a business — they think if they can just sign with a traditional publisher, and then that publisher will swoop in and do all that work for them.

If only.

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, I deal with many stumbling blocks: anxiety, depression, chronic pain. There are days where all I can do is the bare minimum for my business, kiss my kids, and that’s it. And that’s okay. Big fan of The Four Agreements: always do your best, and if your best is just getting out of bed that day, okay. I Scarlett O’Hara that bitch: tomorrow is another day.

Please understand, I work with many different types of people and recognize there are completely legit reasons many writers are physically or mentally unable to attend to ‘doing it all,’ and that’s okay. You don’t have to. Know your limits. If you can only do a little, do that. The point here is, do something to move your writing career along if it’s important enough to you to do so.

In my business, many of my clients are traditionally published. Big 5 even. They hire me to do their social media and book marketing because no publisher does that for them. It’s on you, writer friends. Start early, share often. Learn author branding (we brand the author, not the book).

You don’t need to hire someone to do this marketing stuff for you. You learned how to write. You can learn how to market.

The other big secret I’ll share with you is this: book marketing isn’t about spamming your book links with everybody (that’s desperation). It’s about building relationships with readers early on.

I do a free weekly chat on my @BadRedheadMedia business Twitter, #BookMarketingChat, every Wednesday, 6 pm pst, 9 pm est. Every week for the last 4 years, I share my time and/or recruit an expert in publishing and marketing to share their expertise with you, the writing community.

Invariably, someone says, “Yea, I should do that,” or “I’ll give that a try.”

“Do or do not. There is no try.” ~ Yoda

Writing is great. Publishing is a business. Treat it like one.

Connect with Rachel on her personal site at RachelintheOC.com or on her business site at BadRedheadMedia.com, Twitter at @RachelintheOC or @BadRedheadMedia, Instagram, Facebook, and join her free weekly #SexAbuseChat on Twitter every Tuesday 6pm pst/9pm est or #BookMarketingChat on Twitter every Wednesday 6 pm pst/9 pm est (just use the hashtag to join).

Want an insider peek at her writing and other marketing projects? Join her street team!

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

Rachel Thompson

Written by

Author, 6 books. Writer: The Every Day Novelist, P.S. I Love You, Athena Talks, The Writing Coop. Assault survivor/advocate. Marketer http://BadRedheadMedia.com

The Every Day Novelist

An Experiment in Reading + Writing

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade