Most non-authors think writing a book is easy and they could do it if they only had time. In fact, many people plan on writing a book once they retire. But more often than not, they start a book and don’t finish it, or they don’t get it published. So what qualities actually help a person succeed as an author?
Obviously, you can’t create something if you aren’t creative. If you are creative, you are able to take old, existing ideas and combine them in new, interesting ways. For fiction writing, there are a lot of typical plots out there (billionaire, boy-meets-girl, second-chance love, etc.), and to make your book good, you need to be creative enough to introduce new elements that will make your story stand out. For nonfiction, you have to present the material in an easy-to-understand way that gives more value than can be found by simply looking up the topic on the Internet.
The good news is that creativity can be developed with practice!
Finishing a book takes discipline. It takes consistency, whether that is every day or weekly, depending on your schedule and whether or not you have a day job. It also takes multiple revisions and being able to read your book again and again and again. Book writing, whether fiction or nonfiction is often like putting a complicated puzzle together. Setting daily and weekly writing goals is a good way to maintain discipline.
3. Willing to Learn Something New
This quality helps in three ways:
- We live in an evolving world; the way authors work today is not the way authors worked decades ago. Today, work is done digitally, and to communicate and work with editors and designers, authors have to be willing to learn about and use new technology. Authors also need to be able to learn about marketing their book digitally, and self-published authors have to learn about ebooks and how to upload their books for sale on digital retailers, such as Amazon.
- If you never learn new things, your writing will become stale; you can only write what you know. Authors destined to succeed are eager for new knowledge and experiences that they can incorporate into their writing.
- Research is another way to learn new things. By thoroughly researching, you will likely learn far more than you will ever include in any given book, but the result is writing more authentically.
4. Willing to Improve
An author knows there is always room for improvement, whether that is improving their own writing skills with practice, or accepting criticism and feedback on the books they’ve written without getting defensive. Revisions will help you create a book that readers will be able to follow easily.
Authors observe the world around them so they can write better.
For fiction writing, authors need to understand how their own characters think and act. Authors can do this by observing those around them and trying to understand how and why those around them act in a certain way. Fiction authors are fascinated by the inner workings of the minds of those around them. Authors can also take what they see and use pieces of it in their books. Multiple pieces can be used in a single character.
For nonfiction writing, authors need to understand what their target reader might think and what questions they might have so they can answer everything that might come up, as well as bring up things the reader might have never considered. Observation, along with research (see #3), will help you cover all aspects of the subject, give examples from real life, and show you are an authority on the subject.
What qualities do you think successful authors have? Let us know in the comments below!