Every successful author has his own little quirks. Elmore Leonard only wrote in pencil on yellow legal pads. Stephen King writes 2,000 words a day, and none can be adverbs. Habits make the work go smoother, whether they make sense or not. Every successful author, though, has a few habits in common with all the others. They're the basis of a successful writing career, and it's almost impossible to make a living writing without practicing them.
- Communicate with your readers. Give them an email address where they can reach you, allow comments on your blog posts, or reply to comments on your Facebook page. It doesn't have to be a daily habit, but readers should be able to contact you.
- Create a team. As much as you'd like to, you can't go it alone. Find a great editor, sensible beta readers, and enthusiastic street team. Build a writing group and bounce ideas off each other. Find other authors to hold writing sprints with. The more support you have, the easier the tasks will be.
- No trunk novels! Finish your drafts. If you have a habit of doing four or six chapters before stuffing the work in a virtual drawer, stop it now. Finish all the work you start. Either it will be better than you thought, or it will be just as bad as you feared and you'll learn something.
- No slacking. Even when you've reached the level where you've got thousands of readers who'll instantly buy your new work, have enough respect for them that you'll do your very best work every single time. Good enough isn't.
- Don't talk about it, write about it. Sharing your work early dulls its edge. Don't bounce story ideas off friends and family until they've become worn and familiar. Once you sit down to write, even the best ideas will seem useless and done to death. You need that spark of excitement when you start outlining and writing a new book. Don't ever doubt that it shows in the work.
- Set some boundaries. Writing is your business. If you worked in an office, family members wouldn't stop by to chat about the dog and ask you about dinner. You wouldn't feel the need to keep working long after your day is done. Set office hours, and make sure your tail end is in the chair during those hours. When your time is up, shut it down and walk away without any guilt.
- Create a work space. Some people work best in a busy environment, while others need complete silence. Every author needs a set place to work, though. Find a compatible coffee house and choose one table as your regular office. Turn a corner of the bedroom into your personal space. Turn a shed into a writing pod. Just the act of sitting down in your spot will signal to your brain that it's time to get down to work.
- Set goals. Goals should be lofty, but achievable. If it's easy to reach your goal, bump it up a little higher. You should have to work for it, but it can't be out of your reach. Keep records of every time you reach your goals. Use an app, put star stickers on a calendar, add a paperclip to a chain. Do something to signify the fact that you've hit your goal another day.
- Manage your time. Work a full-time job? Find an hour early in the morning and write every day, or give up an hour of television each night. If you write full time, work the same hours every day and stay away from email, social media, and research during those hours. Writing time is just for writing; everything else comes after.
- Read every day. Successful authors are constantly reading, both in their genres and in others. How else will you know what's going on in your business? New authors can inspire you, anger you, make you laugh, and make you cry. All of these can motivate you to write. Spend time reading every single day, and make the subject matter as varied as possible.
Keep the Faith and May the Force be with You!