The Seven Unhealthy Habits of Unsuccessful Writers

I shouldn’t be posting this because you’re probably going to think, “Who does this ‘ho think she is?” Well, it all started when I was taking a break from revisions and came up with the following list based on some of the bad habits I’ve had to undo (yes, me), and the habits I’ve observed in others.

So before you hate me, hear me out okay?

The Seven Unhealthy Habits of Unsuccessful Writers
1. Wrote to get published when I should’ve written to uncover my voice
2. Spent more time talking about writing than actually writing
3. Believed my own excuses as to why I never had time to write
4. Needed the approval of others whether it was a contest judge, a “get-published-quick” seminar or a critique partner
5. Said “if I finish a book” instead of “when I finish the book”
6. Couldn’t keep my behind in the chair, or worse, played online Mah-jong for “inspiration”
7. Gave up too early

This week, I’m going to talk about these bad habits in detail and when we’re done, I’ll post the Seven Healthy Habits of Happy Writers.

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6 thoughts on “The Seven Unhealthy Habits of Unsuccessful Writers

  1. Oh my God, Mary. I could have written this list! Just swap “Mah-Jong” for Bejeweled, and you’re looking at Weezie’s List of Bad Habits. The comment about believing your own excuses is such a good one. I finally had an epiphany one day while whining about my lack of time to write. Every published author I know managed to finish a novel and get published while juggling jobs, families, housework, long commutes, stress…. All the things I used as excuses for not writing. I now have a sign on my wall that says, “Stop whining. Start writing.” And for some reason, that sign really motivates me. Since putting it on my office wall a few days ago, I’ve logged nearly 30 pages!I also have signs all over my house that say, “How many pages have you written today?” At the end of every day, I write down on my calendar the number of pages I wrote. It’s such a great feeling to see those pages adding up and to know that I’m getting closer to “The End.”It should come as no surprise to you, Mary, that you serve as an inspiration for many people — including me. When you and I first met, the thing that struck me the most about you was that you believed completely, thoroughly and without apology that you would one day become a published author. Can’t wait to see the list of Healthy Habits!– Weez

  2. Ah, yes. Online Mah-jong Solitaire. Whenever I had trouble figuring out a plot point or character, I’d tell myself that I’m going to play the game a few times just to get my brain into “problem solving mode,” and before I knew it, an hour or more had passed. It wasn’t until I resolved not to play and to keep writing, instead, that I’ve found I got so much more accomplished. LOL! Go figure. It’s nice to know I wasn’t alone. Can’t wait to read the rest of this discussion and the Seven Healthy Habits of Happy Writers. :-)Michele

  3. I’ll see your Mah-Jong and raise you a blog for unpublished writers (umm Romantically Inclined). BTW I’m guilty of a few of those. Which might I add that my best excuse is my pc has fried..ohh and I’m in the hospital. I currently look for no ones approval. My novel has many things that judges..and other people might not like but I love it. And it has always been WHEN I get published. Now that I’ve broke that one rule about talking about writing instead of doing I had better go write some huh.

  4. I dare any writer –published or not — out there to say they haven’t committed any of the habits on this list. I know I’m guilty of… well, I won’t list the number.It’s a good list, Mary. Can’t wait to see your good habit list.Jen

  5. Congrats on those 30 pages, Weez!Okay Michele I have to confess, I played one round of mah-jong this morning! I was tempted to move onto the next level but I stopped myself.Hi Haven Rich! I hope it’s not serious what put you in the hospital. As for being a blogging unpublished writer, I think that can count towards writing. I wrote a couple of articles for RWR and contributed to my chapter’s newsletter. That kind of writing greased the wheels, so to speak.Hey Jen! You my friend, have the ultimate excuse from writing: planning a wedding. I think I wrote all of twenty pages from my engagement in January, to the marriage in October. I don’t remember the pages but I’ll never forget the moment when I walked down the aisle and only saw Ryan. Sigh.

  6. Mary–STephanie from Yahoo Chick Lit–this is just what I need right now. In a deep funk over rejections; need to get going on book number two… thanks for telling it like it is!

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