My List of Successful Author Habits and Practices


A renowned author (meaning he doesn’t have a day job and he wears an authoritative corduroy jacket) released a list of ten things successful authors do and don’t do last week.

Predictably, a lot of other authors took issue with the list. Tweets were posted. Blogs were hammered out and published. The argument is probably still raging in some quiet corner of the net.


I don’t really care. If the tips he posted work for him, great. Maybe some of them would even apply to other writers. Most probably wouldn’t. We writers are an odd lot, and it would be dangerous to assert any generality concerning us that’s more specific than ‘Authors should breathe every minute or so.”

It is in this spirit I offer my own list of practices that have catapulted me to my own lofty acclaim and dazzling success. I earned enough in the last two months to make the down payment on an authoritative corduroy blazer, after all.

The Writer’s List

1) Write. Write good stuff. Write bad stuff (you will). Write while the world burns down around you (it is). Otherwise, you might as well be an umbrella. Write.

2) Write. Write the first draft as fast as you can. Go back and fix the places where you stumbled or fell headlong. Keep plowing ahead. Bob and weave. Keep fixing. Avoid the temptation to look out the window, because yes, the world is still on fire. Look away. Write.

3) Write. Write as if this might be the last thing you ever write. I’m not saying it is, and I wish you a long and happy life. But none of us are promised that. Pour everything you’ve got into the words. Write.

4) Write. It’s easy to succumb to the creeping paralysis that intrudes each time you glance out that window. Easy to nod in solemn agreement to the nagging little voice that whispers ‘Why bother? It’s all coming apart, minute by minute, day by day.” Refuse. Resist. Art is protest. Protest is defiance. Writing is an act of rebellion. Write.

5) Write. Write about vampires or robots or love or loss. It doesn’t matter. Write the words only you can write. Take us to the places only you can invent. Write as if your voice, your words, matter. Because they do. Write.

That’s my list. It isn’t a list of ten, and it doesn’t address the use of the Internet or tips on how to approach publishers.

For too many of us, the mechanics of the process have been overshadowed by the chilling realization that the world we see emerging is a world where art itself is viewed with disdain and even hostility.

The only sane response to this is to create more art. More books. More music. More of whatever it is that you call creation.

Don’t let the fire-mongers rob you of your voice.