2011 is coming to a close, as we all know. For many of us, this has been a year of epic roller coaster proportions. There have been triumphs, disappointments, surprises and moments of amazing revelation.

For those of us with goals, we either achieved them, revamped them or gave them up altogether. I am in the last two categories. Going back over my goals for 2011, I realized that they were somewhat unrealistic. The first thing I really needed to do was to learn more about the writing craft. I wasn’t in a position to publish anything this year, because I was still learning. So, like thousands of other serious writers, I’ve started planning for the New Year.

But that’s not what this article is about today. There are several blogs already out about making achievable goals for 2012. I wanted to tell you what I have found are the ten most important things a writer needs to succeed in making each day, month or year productive. These aren’t necessarily tools of the trade, but what I’ve found very helpful for me in developing my career.

  1. Patience  —  It’s going to take a while to write a book that is worthy of publication. Don’t rush the process. Take your time. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did when you’re checking your sales on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and shaking your head because you can’t believe how many books you sold in one week.
  2. Perseverance  —  There are going to be days when you’ll want to give up, throw in the towel, toss out the laptop, and scream at the top of your lungs. Go ahead and do that last one, but not the first three. Take a breather, call, text or Skype, your writing buddies and vent. Then, get back up on the horse and keep writing.
  3. Continuing education of the writing craft — Never allow yourself to believe that you’ve learned all there is to learn about the craft. Hubris is not a good characteristic in a writer. Even the greats such as Stephen King and James Patterson will tell you they never stop learning. Purpose in the coming year to read a few books on the craft and attend a conference or two. Also, there are many cities which have professional writing organizations. Check them out. Some of them will even allow you to attend a few meetings without joining. I’ve found two near me and will make the decision next month which one I’ll join.
  4. Continuing education of the publishing industry  —  As all of us can attest, the rules in the publishing game are changing quite rapidly. Just five years ago, many writers were still dreaming of getting an agent, an editor and being published by one of the Big 6. Now, most of us are researching and making connections so that we can go with either Independent Publishing houses or total Self Publishing. Either way, there’s a lot to learn. Don’t short change yourself by not keeping up on the changing trends and technology.
  5. A strong support system  —  These people really come in handy when you’re having bad days. They encourage you to keep going. Your support system should only be people who will really stick by you. Your support will be a few who love you enough that they are right next to you giving you that extra kick when you need it. Cherish them and don’t take them for granted.
  6. A dependable writing/critiquing partner or group — This is part two of point 5. Only other writers know what it feels like to argue with your characters when they want to go one direction and you want them to go another. They are also the very people who can help you get back on track when your story heads over the cliff. I have three writing friends that fit this. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without them.
  7. A dependable writing software —  After almost losing my manuscript at the end of November, I can’t shout this out loud enough. If you’re looking for a really fantastic one, try Scrivener from Literature and Lattes. Scrivener ROCKS!
  8. Excercise — Yeah this is one that I struggle with, but desperately need to incorporate. We spend a lot of time sitting (or laying down) while writing and researching. If you’re anything like me, you also might spend too much time snacking on M&M’s and Twizzlers. Exercising keeps the metabolism going, facilitates better blood flow to the brain to help with creativity and alleviates the guilt of having eaten way too many cookies.
  9. Attainable goals  —  I know I said this wasn’t an article about goals; however, I couldn’t write my top ten without mentioning this. Pursuing a writing career is like trying to eat a Woolly Mammoth.  Attainable goals are bite sized and will lead to you eventually eating the entire mammoth over time without making yourself sick.
  10. Rewards for achieving each attainable goal  —  Achieving any goal,  no matter how small, is a wonderful thing. You feel like you’ve just won a contest. Even if it’s just writing a blog for the week, give yourself a pat on the back. For bigger goals, give yourself something amazing to look forward to. It helps to have incentive.

These are just my ideas of what a writer needs to achieve some measure of success. For each of us, that success is different. What are some of your ideas for what a writer needs? Give me a shout, I’d love to know.

In the meantime, I want to thank all of you that have subscribed, read, and passed on my blog articles over the past ten months. Your support and encouragement mean more than words could ever say.

May you each have a blessed Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa. May you have a truly amazing New Year full of love, joy, wisdom and writing.

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