The One Thing Writers Need More Than Anything Else

Updated: Jun 11

If you have it, you'll succeed.



Photo by Philippe D. on Unsplash

More than reading.


Bloggers write all the time about how to be successful. Published book authors often talk about how to be better in this profession. Research studies have found that it matters.


If you’re reading this, you already know what they say.


They all tell you to read…all the time. Whatever you can. All kinds of materials. Various genres. Every day.


Yes. Reading is important. It is necessary.


You have to have words going in to have words going out.


You have to process ideas to generate new ones.


Words and ideas are sort of like rabbits. The more they rub up against each other in the small, private, dark confines of your brain, the more they get turned on. And all that heat leads to proliferation.


John Steinbeck said it best:

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.”

But there’s more.

More than writing.


Yes. Yes. Yes. Writers have to write to be successful.


(Shouldn’t this go without saying?)


You can’t publish if you don’t write. You can’t connect with others if you don’t put your ideas on paper (or cyber-paper-pages.) You can’t hope to get an agent, an editor, or an author blurb if you don’t write.


The only way you can fail is not to write.


To quote maybe a million writers out there, “Put your butt in the chair and write.”


Write daily. With fervor and fury and fire.


Because, of course, writing is essential to being a writer.


One thing matters more than reading and writing.


While I bow with adoration, respect, and yes — envy — to the writers who are able to rake in a six-figure income with their wordcraft, I am well aware that the average salary of a full-time writer in America in 2017 was just above $20,000.


And then there’s the difficulty of publishing in the traditional market. How demoralizing is it that after 71 queries, I still haven’t gotten an agent to read my finished manuscript?


That after two months of daily communion with job sites like Indeed, LinkedIn, ProBlogger, MediaBistro, Guru, and Freelance Writing Jobs, (just to name a few,) I haven’t landed my next gig?


Today, my rejected applications for remote writing jobs caught up to my rejected queries. My combined total for agent rejections and job apps is now at 142, and that doesn’t even count the various other pieces I’ve pitched and sent.


Ouch.


Am I warped because I am actually excited about hitting the “100 Rejection-Threshold” that so many freelancers talk about?


Why do I — and other writers like me — put themselves through this kind of financial, psychological, and spiritual torture?


Why do I keep doing it every day even though I’m getting rejected every day?


Optimism.


Because with every post and every pitch, I believe that “this may be the one.”


Because with each query, I imagine an agent who says, “Yes. I get it. I can sell this.”


Because with each new day, I wake up, driven by an internal force, to write.


Because I know that each step is leading me upward.


Because I can’t NOT write.


Because I believe that success WILL happen if I just keep working.


An undying, eternal optimism keeps me going.


And that crazy, despair-defying confidence is the one thing that every writer needs to succeed.



Photo by Austin Schmid on Unsplash

Melissa Gouty is a writer who never gives up. Her manuscript, The Magic of Ordinary, celebrates the positive impact that one, good father — whether he’s mine or yours — can have on the world. Join the conversation on books, writing, literature, and history, here.

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