Exactly what constitutes being a writer? Or, even better, how does one become a better writer?
Writing success, when condensed to basics, consists of hard work, imagination and passion. It takes exactly 100% of hard work, 100% imagination and definitely, 100% passion. Like marriage, it is not a 50/50 proposition. It is a total 100% commitment in the process. 100%. Period. If you don't want to write or feel you can't write, the passion is not there. The same holds true for imagination. A wild, care-free imagination filled with an overflow of ideas is a definite plus for the writer but it isn't a necessity. BUT, an imagination is needed and one must be willing to let it free to explore possibilities. Inhibition can stilt your prose.
Also, to be a writer, a successful one, you must be willing to be a reader. If you wish to write science fiction, then read as much as possible in that particular genre. Why? It helps you to stay on the edge of the what is happening within the genre. Also, read outside — yes, I said OUTSIDE — your chosen genre. For science fiction to be good science fiction, one must understand the fundamentals of science. As a writer, you can only do a certain amount of jibber-jabber or techno-babble. There has to be a scientific basis for some aspects to ring true.
Establish a time and place to write. An accountant goes to the office from 9-5 and does his bean counting thing. As a writer, you don't go to the office, per se. You are at home. Therefore establish an office area for writing and make sure the family understands that you are at work, not playing on the computer OR leave the house and use a local library or cafe as your office.
You work full-time at the current time as a loan officer, secretary, clerk, window-washer or time-keeper. But you want to be a writer. When you get home, have an established time and place to write each day. Here's the secret. Lock the door — and write!
Successful writers also carry notebooks, sheets of paper or recording devices and pens — at least two working pens. Why? As a writer, an idea or even a solution to a difficult scene will come to mind. Short-term memory is exactly what it is called. Short term. Unless you commit the idea or words to paper, recorder or whatever (napkins, toilet paper, gift wrap, arm) the idea will dissipate into the same thin air from whence it came. Gone forever to mock you.
Today, most writers use a computer or laptop for writing. For those who still use a manual typewriter, they are blessed. For those of us who joined the electronic world — disconnect. That's right. Disable the internet connection so while writing you won't be bothered with email or any of the social media sites. You're writing, you're at work — be professional and work.
Set a daily goal. During National Novel Writing Month (in November, http://www.nanowrimo.org) I establish a daily goal of 1700 words. If I can do more, I continue on. There is no shame in completing 2500 or 5000 words each day. The catch is to remain seated until the goal is reached. Most non-NaNoWriMo days I attempt to accomplish 1000 words.
All work and no play makes a poor writer. The mind must be stimulated by other activities. One must relax, socialize and exercise to keep the blood circulating which energizes the brain. Many successful writers have families, lead a well-adjusted social life and enjoy a movie out or on the television.
Learn to listen to your inner voice. If the story seems to be dragging or not moving forward, stop, follow the trail back to where it took a wrong turn and then consider an alternate route. Even the masters of writing make mistakes.
So, what makes a successful writer? A simple rule …
That's right — Just do it!