Thursday, October 23, 2014

12 Key Differences Between Successful and 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.

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.

This is my list. What would you add? 

Don't forget to join the conversation!



  1. Yikes! I saw myself a couple of times in your list, Edie. Gulp. Thanks for the attitude readjustment!

    1. Vonda, I don't see you in this list at all! Luv you! E

  2. A successful writer reads good writing blogs :) then acts on the advice...

    1. Jennifer, you totally made my day! Blessings, E

  3. Wow, Edie. Good stuff! A successful writer also seeks God's direction and is always ready and willing to share with others to help them succeed.

    1. Andrea, you are so right! Thanks for sharing your insight. Blessings, E

  4. Edie, this is a fabulous post! One of my favorites this month! A successful writer recognizes the gift of a mentor and gives back to those who are newer to the journey than themselves. (It seems that by reteaching what we learn it becomes more cemented, God also blesses faithfulness, and by mentoring another we are encouraged to continue.)

    1. Michelle, great insight! Thank you so much for sharing, blessings, E

  5. I saw myself too, in a couple of the list items. Ouchy. But a good writer will also take what seasoned, experienced writers advise and apply it to their writing goals. One more: a good writer will make it a priority to stay current on social media trends. (A biggy for me).

    1. Terri, we all are guilty of one or two of these, trust me! Thank you for sharing, blessings, E

  6. I love these, Edie (or I will once I finish cringing). How about "A successful writer submits versus fears hitting 'Send'"? I see so many people stuck in that never-quite-ready zone. And I recognize it because I used to live there.

    1. Marti, I love that one! Thanks for stopping by, Blessings, E

  7. Great list Edie. I'm learning that a successful writer is willing to let go, delete thousands of words and even start a story over, regardless of the amount of time invested.