Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Dave Chesson as he shares with us “Mindset Shifts for Authors: New Ways to Look at Writing.” Enjoy!
If you want to be a full-time writer, you will probably need to make some adjustments to your mindset.
The way you think about your writing, as well as the action of writing, can make a huge difference in your success.
If you don’t believe that you can succeed, there’s a very good chance that you won’t.
Very few people, if any, have succeeded at anything without first believing that they could.
So today I’m going to walk you through five different mindset shifts that I recommend if you want to be a successful writer.
Focus on the Process, Not the Destination
One of the best ways to burn out as a writer is to focus too much on the destination.
If you are so concerned with how much money your book is going to make, and your willpower is contingent on it succeeding, you will almost certainly fail.
Instead, you want to focus on the process.
Big goals are great, but break down those goals into what you need to do every single day, then focus on following the plan for that day.
Sooner or later, as you focus on the steps you take, you will find that you arrived at the destination anyway. But if you focus too much on how far you have to go, each step will feel harder and harder.
Treat Writing as a Business
If you are serious about writing for a living, then you have to treat it like a business.
This means that you need to look at money differently. Money is what will enable you to be a full-time writer, and therefore you need to earn more of it.
There are multiple ways you can do this:
- focus on writing a lot of books
- develop multiple streams of income
- find ways to scale your business
- be frugal with your money
- make good investments on things like book covers, etc.
When you learn to focus on the business side as well as the artistic side, you will find that they have more in common than you think.
Think Like an Athlete
I like to think about my writing the same way that an athlete thinks about their sport.
An athlete knows that they need to practice hard, practice daily, and stay laser-focused on continuous improvement in order to be the best at what they do.
Sadly, there is no Olympic sport for writing, but if there was, I would encourage you to go for it.
How would you change your writing process if you knew you could one day win a gold medal at an Olympic event?
First of all, Olympic athletes didn’t get there overnight.
It took years of training, and that is one of the first mindset shifts I recommend to think like an athlete.
Develop the Habit of Showing Up
There are a number of books out there talking about how to develop habits by starting small.
For writing, I recommend what I call the “habit of showing up.”
[Editor’s note: This is one of my absolute favorite habits of mind and of action. ~Beth Barany]
The habit of showing up is simple: just sit at your desk (or wherever you do your writing) and start writing.
You don’t have to write for hours, especially when you’re just starting out. If all you do is sit for a minute, or write one sentence, that is enough.
Beginning with this small habit will make it easier to be consistent every day.
Once you have mastered that skill, you can increase the amount of time spent writing. You will be surprised at the compounding effect of this one tiny habit.
Art is a Learned Skill
Finally, I want to talk about art. Most people think that art is something that just comes when the muse strikes.
But this is not true.
- Picasso painted hundreds and hundreds of paintings before he was considered a master.
- Stephen King writes 2,000 words every single day, and has released dozens of books.
- Brandon Sanderson wrote 13 books before getting his first publishing contract.
- Octavia Butler wrote everyday, no matter what.
- Sophie Littlefield sent out 100 query letters to literary agents before getting picked up with her 101st query.
- Meridel Lesueur kept writing even while she was blacklisted in the 1950s.
In other words, art is something that comes with practice. The more practice that you have, the better you will be.
Yes, it’s true that inspiration can strike. But you will be in a much better position to do something with that inspiration, if you have put in the hours practicing.
Which of these resonated with you?
I love to hear any mindset shifts that you have had, and any of these that spoke to you.
Please leave your comments down below, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dave Chesson is the creator of Kindlepreneur.com, a website devoted to teaching advanced book marketing. Having worked with such authors as Orson Scott Card, Ted Dekker and more, his tactics help both fiction and nonfiction authors of all levels get their books discovered by the right readers.
Also by Dave Chesson