Why do some writers produce so much and others flounder and flail time after time? Is there a secret ingredient that makes all the difference between someone with the success of Steve Jobs and the rest of us mere mortals?
Well, yes, there is. In fact, there are quite a few of them. We’ve narrowed down three of the best secrets of success that can work for any writer, whether they’re seasoned professionals or still trying to break into the scene.
Join the 6 AM Club
This is the one highly creative people might groan about, but it really can make a difference.
Getting up early gives us more time to work on our writing before the daily demands of family, work, and everything else take over. “‘If it has to happen, then it has to happen first,’ writes Laura Vanderkam, a time-management expert and the author of “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.” Those among us who have managed to find professional success… must set aside their first hours of the day to invest in their top-priority activities before other people’s priorities come rushing in.”
Willpower is also at its strongest in the morning hours, when our energy levels are at their best.
According to “Roy Baumeister, a Florida State University psychology professor…early mornings offer a fresh supply of willpower, and people tend to be more optimistic and ready to tackle challenging tasks.”
How to Do It:
If you’re not an early riser yet, make it a point to set your alarm for ten minutes earlier than normal and then get up at this time for the next week. Keep shaving off ten minutes every week, giving yourself those 7 days in between to adjust, until you’re up with the sun.
Commit to Anti-Distraction
We’ve all done it. You meant to check Facebook for five minutes, and here it is, an hour later and you can’t stop scrolling. That’s one hour that you could have been working on your screenplay. Highly successful people don’t allow themselves to lose precious time browsing through status updates and cute kitten photos. But don’t worry. Help is near, and most of the times it’s even free. That’s right, I’m talking about social media blocking apps.
“One popular app among college students is SelfControl… The free Mac OS X application lets users choose specific sites to block under a “blacklist” for a set amount of time, the max being 24 hours. Taking functionality a step further, founding developer Charlie Stigler, created the app without loopholes or cheat escapes. Users can attempt to restart their computers, delete the app, et cetera, but no action will affect the remaining time for the blocked sites.” This article on six apps that block social media distractions gives more information.
How to Do It:
This one is really easy. Google “social media blocking apps” and check the “best of” lists to see what would be the best fit for you. Then take the plunge and activate. If you want double accountability, promise a friend in writing that you will work on nothing but your creative projects for the length of time you’re blocked from social media.
Read More (Significantly More) than the Average Person
If waking up early and swearing off Facebook seem impossible to you, that’s okay. This last secret falls into an arena in which most writers definitely have the advantage. Reading can be challenging, if not downright boring, for a lot of people. But for writers, it’s one of the things we love to do most.
“When Warren Buffet was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of nearby books and said, ‘Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it,’” writes Andrew Merle in Huffington Post. If you’re a writer you already know you can do it. And just think about it, if you’re waking up at 6 am every day you’ll have time to read and write—the perfect creative combination for any writer.
How to Do It:
Set yourself a reading goal and commit to reaching it. Websites for bookworms such as Goodreads offer built-in tools for readers to set goals and share victories with others on social media, but something as simple as emailing a friend and telling them what you intend to do can work wonders, too.
Each of these three “secrets of success” can work with any lifestyle. The key is to start slowly and set reasonable goals. Celebrate every time you hit the mark and stick to your plan. Share your wins with friends and family who will support and encourage this kind of positive growth in your life. Most importantly, give yourself a pat on the back for even trying out any one of the above. Remember: Every journey to success starts out with one small step.