Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Differences Between Successful & Unsuccessful Writers

by Edie Melson @EdieMelson

As writers, we’re warned early on to avoid the trap of comparison. Each of us has a different path to success—and a different path to publication. These varying ways of living life as a writer aren’t good and bad or even better and best—they’re just different.

Today I want to encourage you to do just the opposite.

While we shouldn’t judge our value as writers by looking at one another. There are some comparisons that can make a difference between fulfilling our dreams or losing heart and quitting when success is just around the corner. These are some key differences between successful and unsuccessful writers.

The Differences Between Successful & Unsuccessful Writers
1. Goals vs. Wishes
A successful writer sets goals.
An unsuccessful writer makes wishes.

2. Striving vs. Complacency
A successful writer finds others who are further along on the writing journey and strives to catch up.
An unsuccessful writer finds others who are further behind on the writing journey and relishes being ahead.

3. Taking Responsibility vs. Whining
A successful writer takes responsibility for making the dream happen.
An unsuccessful writer whines about all the reasons the dream will never happen.

4. Acting vs. Talking
A successful writer invests time, energy and money in learning how to write better.
An unsuccessful writer talks about writing better.

5. Belief vs. Unbelief
A successful writer believes in her dream.
An unsuccessful writer believes it will never happen to her.

6. Positive Companions vs. Negative Companions
A successful writer surrounds himself with others who are willing to pay the price for success.
An unsuccessful writer hangs out with others who make excuses for not attaining their dreams.

7. Talks About Ideas vs. Talks About People
A successful writer talks about ideas.
An unsuccessful writer talks about other writers.

8. Takes Responsibility vs. Places Blame
A successful writer takes responsibilities for failures.
An unsuccessful writer looks for others to blame for failure.

9. Rejoices in the Success of Others vs. Rejoices in the Failure of Others
A successful writer takes joy in the success of others.
An unsuccessful writer takes joy in the failure of others.

10. Embraces Change vs. Avoids Change
A successful writer looks for ways to embrace change.
An unsuccessful writer looks for ways to avoid change.

11. Afraid of Mistakes vs. Afraid of Trying
A successful writer isn’t afraid to try something difficult and make mistakes.
An unsuccessful writer believes that not making a mistake is better than ever trying at all.

And ultimately... 

12. Keeps Trying vs. Gives Up
A successful writer never gives up.
An unsuccessful writer quits when things get tough.

This is my list. What would you add? 

Don't forget to join the conversation!



  1. Great post, Edie. This gives us a measuring stick at-a-glance that we can use to quickly assess where we are in our writing journey, and what we need to correct to ensure success. Thanks.

  2. Great list, great post, Edie. This is maybe a composite of #2, 4, & 6, but I think a critical step to success is to network with a group who learn, critique, share, & encourage each other. This is another way to invest in your success. Join a guild. Go to a retreat for writers. Not all in the group might go, but those who did are eager to share and use the skills and information to advance all in the guild. I know one group in NC who get together weekly for 2 hours in a room in their library and share, then write, then critique. That's commitment to writing, to improvement, to success. Not for everyone, just the serious. Happy new year, Edie.

    1. Jay, that's a GREAT addition! thanks so much, Blessings, E

  3. By your definition--I'm successful. At least I succeeded one place! Love your blog.

  4. Bravo!!!!!! I'm sharing. Taking to my Word Weavers next month to read to them. And might use this on the FCWC blog with your permission. Good stuff.

    1. Andy, thank you! You absolutely can use it on the FCWC, Blessings, E

  5. Excellent points. A great tool for looking at yourself with an open mind. There were a couple I had not thought of before and now realize how important they are, i.e. not being satisfied with what you have done but striving to do better and more.

    1. Carol, writing it actually helped me clarify some things I hadn't considered before! Blessings, E

  6. An excellent list, Edie! Thank you! I would add speaking your writing future into existence. There is a powerful Scripture verse in Romans 4: 17 ESV that says “God . . . calls into existence the things that do not exist.” God created the universe by speaking it into existence. We are made in God’s image. We, therefore, have the power to speak our futures into existence.

    When I first began my writing career, I made a list of things I wanted to see happen. I began calling into existence those things that did not yet exist in my writing life. When I first made the list, none of the things on the list had occurred. Today, every one of them has occurred.

    Proverbs 18: 21 says that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” We can give life to our writing life by speaking life into it.



    1. MaryAnn, excellent thought! I'm definitely adding that to the list. Thanks for sharing, Blessings, E

  7. Another motivating and inspiring post, Edie. Thanks! Pinned & shared. :)

  8. Thank you Edie for such an inspiring and honest blog post. I pray I can a successful writer. I will add a successful writer finds and knows his/her audience; and unsuccessful writer writes without the reader in mind.