Writers want success, but how do you define it? Is it writing enough to pay your bills? Is it writing to find an audience, regardless if you make enough money or not? Maybe you want to be famous or win an Emmy or Oscar. Any writer would probably welcome all of these things. But how does a writer attain these levels of success? What type of person is behind the successful writer? Here are the five key characteristics found in successful writers:
Persistence Successful writers are grinders. They don’t stop writing no matter what and avoid making excuses for why they have no time to write. Accomplished writers squeeze time out of a busy schedule to continue working on their scripts, taking feedback, and pushing forward regardless of how discouraging the notes might be. Persistent writers do not allow themselves to be discouraged at all. They take the weak and broken draft of their screenplay and keep rewriting it. Sometimes they might not have anyone in their lives supporting their writing dreams, but it doesn’t stop them. They alone are enough support for themselves. They keep going—-early, often, and forever.
How persistent are you? Are you willing to fight for your career, for a better movie, for the best pilot you’ve ever written? Only by sticking to your path and completely fastening yourself to your purpose in a stubborn way will you ultimately triumph.
Confidence Writers who make it find a way to stay confident. While they might experience times when they doubt whether everything will work out, the writers who succeed believe in their ability and talent to write. Good writers understand they have the stuff to write the best stories. They know they can do it.
When you’re stuck, remember who you are and what you can do. Focus on this. It’s not unattractive to admit you can write. Writers can sometimes struggle because confidence is no longer the engine of their work. You already know you can do this or you never would’ve started. Successful writers modestly accept and admit they are highly capable of great work.
If you struggle with believing in yourself, remember exactly how you started, and why. Tell yourself the story of why you ever started writing, and you’ll soon be back on course.
Integrity If you want a career as a professional writer, be honest. Don’t lie to others about what you will write for them, when or how. Be clear with your collaborators on what they can expect from you and what you want from them. Don’t be afraid to confront people with your concerns. You’re not being fair to anyone if you just sit on your thoughts.
More importantly, be honest with yourself about your script. Don’t try and sell yourself on the idea that your script is done or cannot be helped. Those are lies. Successful writers do not pull the wool over their eyes about the quality of their stories. They know when their script needs work and when their script is great.
Are you being straight with others about where you stand with your project? Are you being honest with yourself about how much you are writing? Be clear with every aspect of your writing and tell yourself the truth—–it’s the shortest way to a classic story.
Humility Confidence is key, but thinking you know what’s best at all times is deadly. Learn how to take a note. Be humble enough to admit your script needs to be rewritten once again. Successful writers know they are capable of writing a bad scene or creaky dialogue. They freely admit when they have problems with their scripts, seeking the input of others who will point these things out to them.
Successful writers will not resent their critics. They understand feedback is always valuable. And they accept rejection as one step in their journey towards success. Maybe your work isn’t for everyone. But it will be for many people. Be humble in your process and you’ll stay out of your own way.
Patience More than anything else, successful writers need to be patient. We need to wait for the answers to arrive when developing a story. When you’re impatient about someone who was supposed to read your script, take time to work on something else. Who cares when they get back to you! Why does it matter how long it takes to make your script great? If you have patience with your dreams, they will happen. If you’re impatient, you’ll only set yourself back.
Don’t rush or force anything. Hang in there. There’s time for it all. Keep working hard, honestly, diligently, and with great patience, and wonderful things will come to pass.
All successful writers display some of these traits at crucial times in their careers. We don’t have to do it perfectly, and we will all forget at times how important these qualities are to our daily success. But when we return to these basic values, we can achieve any goal for our stories.
And we might be a bit proud of ourselves along the way, too, which is a sweet success unto itself.