So how does one become a successful fiction writer? Part 2

Posted by on Feb 18, 2014 | 2 comments

So how does one become a successful fiction writer? Part 2

Our last blog began the conversation about creating success as a writer of fiction and I’d like to add a few more points to the discussion today.

Successful Fiction Writers Finish What They Start.

It took me 13 years to finish my first novel. Thirteen years of a turbulent personal life that saw me the mother and step-mother of five children, and the doting owner of two wonderful dogs. I masterminded seven moves in 10 of those 13 years and I gave birth twice. I also walked my husband—who had been my high school sweetheart—to a traumatic death by stomach cancer. There were a lot of reasons not to finish my novel. It was a discouraging project that contributed not a penny to my family’s well-being. I fully understand why people give up.

But what kept me going, aside from the encouragement of my family, was the thought that if I actually did give up I would never know if this was something I actually could do. It was my life’s dream to become a published author, the icing on the cake of a successful career as a business writer. And it was a very scary goal.

But I think that success in any endeavour involves feeling the fear…and doing it anyway. No publisher will green light a half-finished manuscript. So if you’re feeling the supreme discouragement of the exhausting challenge of writing your novel, ask  yourself this: how many other would-be authors gave up and are now living out their lives wishing they hadn’t given up on their dream? And how many successful authors started their writing careers feeling the exact same gripping fear of failure that you’ve been tripping on yourself? The difference between the successes and the failures is sometimes only the difference between wishing and deciding.

They Edit Like Maniacs

The amount of effort that goes into completing a work of fiction is monumental. Some of the authors whose work I have been privileged to edit thought they were done when they hired me to edit their manuscript. They had already invested countless hours in creating their opus, in making it the best they were capable of creating. That was me, too. When I sent my manuscript to my editor I had no clue there would still be so many errors to correct. After all, I had spent 13 years writing, re-writing, editing and agonizing over my characters and their stories. I was a professional writer, for pity’s sake! But my editor found areas where the motivation was unclear, the language was too wordy and she pinpointed areas where the details were missing.  I labored long and hard over that baby. And then I started over at the beginning.

There are some ego issues involved in working with an editor, by the way. Having someone else take a long hard look at your manuscript is like belly dancing on a busy street in your PJs. Every neurotic impulse you’ve ever had is on display, waiting for judgement. But being edited is not about you. It’s about your book, it’s about making that story the best it’s possible for it to be.

Strong editing takes a good story and makes it incomparably better. Not everyone will love your finished, published book, by the way. Becoming a published author is a huge accomplishment that is sometimes met by catcalls and criticism. Don’t take it personally! Learn from the experience, continue improving your writing skills, and stay true to your own inner voice, the one that says “This is the kind of writer I am.” Not everyone is your perfect reader.


Have you started a novel? Would you like some help completing or editing it? I invite you to visit my business website  to see some of the ways I work with authors and if you see something there that resonates with you, please get in touch!


  1. What a great post. Thanks for sharing your journey. Even though I’ve been an entrepreneur for 30 years, I still get stuck in wanting my success for my current ventures right now! While our stories are different, they are the same in that I keep going, even though I’m scared. I still have dreams I want to see fulfilled and this post was just the medicine I needed this morning!

    • Thank you so much for commenting and sharing about your journey Kathy – Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow your heart!

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