Do writers’ personality traits make a difference in getting published? You betcha! Here are the personality traits that help authors and professional writers succeed.
“E. L. Doctorow once said that ‘writing a novel is like driving a car at night,” writes Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird. “You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.’ You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. That is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.”
Writers need the ability to take it one step at a time — one article at a time, one page at a time, one paragraph at a time, and even one word at a time. I don’t know if that represents a particular personality trait, but it’s key to a successful writing career.
If you haven’t read Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, get it now. It’s one of the best, most encouraging and informative books on writing.
And, here are several characteristics of successful writers…
Writers Personality Traits – The Key to Getting Published
To persevere after constant rejection and keep pitching into the editorial abyss, writers need personality traits that go beyond talent and creativity. Self-discipline and motivation to write are qualities that writers need to get published — but there’s more!
Here are a few thoughts from some of my fellow scribes over at AbsoluteWrite.com:
Stubborness, and a drive to succeed as a writer
“I think stubborness and ego are two biggies. I know they have served me well,” says Barb Nefer. “An example of the stubborness: my mother was very non-supportive and said I would never sell my writing consistently. Instead of believing that and letting it hurt me, it hardened me and made me even more driven to succeed and get published.”
Perseverance, patience, attention to detail
“An unwillingness to give up in the face of constant rejection is a personality trait of a successful writer,” says Monica Shaw. “I’d also add patience – we all know how long it can take to get a response to a query letter, if we get a response at all. But we also need to be thorough, taking the time to research our markets before pitching a query letter. We must also be bold, willing to call a magazine to find out who the editor is and how to pitch, and willing to talk to people in order to get those great quotes that will sell our stories!”
Consistency and the ability to meet deadlines
“Too many people are flaky,” says Casey. “A freelance writer can make a successful career of being reliable and delivering on time with quality. Unlike other jobs that allow you to slack off and make up for it, writing has deadlines that need to be met or not only do you lose a client, but you lose your reputation.” Casey Quinn
A healthy ego – perhaps the key trait for getting published?
“One of my first sales occurred when I read an article on horse training and thought, ‘I can do better than that!'” says Barb. “A writer isn’t going to get very far if she’s crushed by rejection slips or intimidated by everyone else out there who might be a better writer or who is getting published more. You have to have a healthy coat of Teflon and faith that you can run with the big dogs, and that you deserve to!”
Faith and hope
I suffered through most of October without a single magazine assignment (but, luckily, was working on two previously assigned articles). Then, when I thought I wouldn’t meet my financial goals for the month, three editors emailed me four assignments within 12 hours! Four business days later, I had six assignments due. So, another personality trait of a successful freelance writer is having faith that another article will turn up. Eventually. You just have to hang in there if you want to get published.
Humility and gratitude
I’ve been learning to thank my editors for the changes and suggestions they make to my articles. The editors I’ve worked with only want the best, clearest, and most well-documented sentences to be published…and they’re improving my writing. I’m grateful for their help/comments/suggestions/questions/clarifications/changes/notations/aargh!! – and I think I’ll be an even more successful writer if I keep feeling humble and grateful.
To learn more about personality and writing, read 7 Best Pieces of Advice From Creative Writing Workshops
What do you think, fellow scribes…do writers need certain personality traits to get published?
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