Are writers born to write? It might be true that some have that sparkle of natural raw talent and appear to be a little more articulate or tuned in than others, at the start.
Some might say they’re “quick learners.” Is it genetics? Quite possible.
If you’re one of the slower ones (like I was), don’t be disheartened; both slower and faster learners will end up in the same place so long as they receive the right education, direction, hard work, and mentorship—and that’s in a position of achievement and triumph.
It’s not a race to see who gets there first. The objective is to get there in the end.
There’s a learning process involved before any writer can achieve any degree of success, not only in writing, but in regard to pretty much anything.
Replicating the masters is a great way of teaching yourself and achieving success.
Steven Pressfield, American author of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles, said, “Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end, the question can only be answered by action.”
It requires education along the way. Role models can play a pivotal role in many writers’ careers because they can take positives from their author idols and put them into their own practice.
Even the iconic writers of today have individuals they look up to. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, was inspired greatly by the English novelist Jane Austen, whom she labeled “the greatest writer of all time.”
Personally, as a writer myself, Humphrey Carpenter (who I spent most of my childhood taking great solace from as a Mr. Majeika fan) was my favorite author growing up.
R.L. Stine, Mark Twain, and (as already mentioned above) Rowling are, most notably, other writers who filled a large gap in my youth and teenage years.
These are iconic names that all writers can learn a great deal from through inspiration, education, and building emotional mettle to get to where they want to be with their writing career. Each of them is a master worth replicating.
If you want to take inspiration from the greatest and most prominent writers out there, all you have to do is read on and take a few notes.
Read Their Life Stories: Nothing Is Impossible
I love a good, inspirational life story that gives me goosebumps and leaves its mark in a positive way.
When lacking motivation after having a bad week (it happens), I’d go right to Google and search, “Writers’ rags-to-riches life stories.”
I am always fascinated by how these writers were brought up.
Did they grow up in poverty?
Did they experience trauma in their past?
Were they debilitated by a disability or an illness?
I love hearing inspirational stories like F. Scott Fitzgerald’s.
Believed to be dyslexic, he was expelled from St. Paul Academy due to failing several examinations. Not only that, but he also dropped out of Princeton University to join the U.S. Army claiming he feared he would die from unfulfilled literary dreams, which later inspired him to write The Roman Egotist.
The publisher rejected it, but noticed his originality and encouraged him to submit future works.
Through all of his strain, anguish, and disparity, he pushed the boundaries, overcame the odds, and became a respected, worldwide author.
Fitzgerald wasn’t alone. Octavia E. Butler also struggled with dyslexia and continuous rejection, but that didn’t stop her from waking up at 2:00 a.m. to scribble down her own mantras of success, which she took great encouragement from.
By not giving up on a career in writing, eventually, her determination would pay off when she sold her first story to American sci-fi author Harlan Ellison.
That was only the beginning for her. Butler would then go on to become one of the most renowned sci-fi writers of all time with best-selling novels such as Kindred, Dawn, and Patternmaster.
These authors’ struggles prove to me that, even in the worst circumstances, anything is achievable … So what’s my excuse? Nil. None. Zilch. There isn’t one, in other words.
These little gems are what the doctor ordered for you, too. They’re most definitely something you can take great heart from.
Let nothing stop you in your tracks.
What will you gain from all of this, then?
Like I said, inspiration. Every writer needs some at some point in their career.
It’s a wonderful thing, and if you’re feeling a little down in the dumps about rejection after rejection, a failed writing position, a publishing agent turning away your novel that you’d spent months drawing up—then take the time to read over Rowling’s “rags-to-riches” story or about Nicholas Sparks, who lived through poverty when he wrote The Notebook.
In doing this, I’m not saying you’re going to become a writing icon at the second shake of a lamb’s tail, but it will light a fire under your belly and you’ll finish that draft you had been working so tirelessly on.
It works a treat. Believe that!
Replicate Their Vision
Every best-selling author and successful writer has at one stage in their life had an idea of who they wanted to be or where they wanted to go with their career. They dared to dream big—and it all started with their vision.
You should always have a plan for where you want your writing career to go. Visualize that vision and aim your writing straight toward that destination.
You could have the best jumbo jet in the world, but if the pilot doesn’t know where he’s going, he will just fly around until the fuel runs out—and crash.
Twain once famously stated, “I can teach anybody how to get what they want out of life. The problem is that I can’t find anybody who can tell me what they want.”
Here’s what you can do:
- Write down objectives, ambitions, goals, and targets. Short, sweet, and to the point. Write down where you see yourself in five years. What’s the objective? Who do you plan to write for? Yourself? Want to become a best-selling author? Jot it down.
- Set yourself a reasonable timescale for each objective. If it takes you a little longer than you’d planned, then whatever, you’ll forgive yourself. Better late than never.
- Remind yourself in bold letters that there will be barriers, hurdles, rejections, and failures on the horizon that you will have to overcome. Everybody fails. It’s normal to fail. You will fail. So learn from your mistakes when they come about.
- Never stand still or let your head drop. Divert your pain into learning more each and every day. Be ready, and stay ready.
- Read up on “rags-to-riches” stories for inspiration. They’re absolutely great for refueling the gas tank and renavigating your mindset. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, for example, was shot down by 38 publishers before it was eventually printed! Anything is possible when you don’t give up.
- Have a vision, head toward that vision, and stick by that vision. Follow through and see where it takes you.
Never fall backward. Fall forward; that way, you’ll see what’s coming.
Read Great Novels and Be Inspired by Great Authors, But Have Your Own Identity
I was a sucker for Mr. Majeika books growing up and, most recently, Harry Potter.
I probably wouldn’t even be writing this had I not taken an interest in them.
A good rule of thumb is to take inspiration from how other authors write their novels. Take ideas. Use a similar style and tone (but with your own twist). Maybe even write in the same genre.
Whichever way you choose to take your inspiration, however (and this goes without saying)—never copy another author’s work. Implement your own plot, characters, and storylines, and have your own “writing voice.”
Be yourself. This is your identity as a writer. Being inspired by your favorite writers doesn’t necessarily mean you have to become them. Truth is, you will always be the first you.
Dare to Dream Big
Read lots of novels and learn as much as you can from the greats.
Be inspired by all prominent writers’ journeys, struggles, and hardships they may have experienced to achieve success. This will help sustain your drive and determination.
Prepare yourself for hurdles, barriers, and obstacles that are headed your direction. It will happen, so be prepared for everything.
If you’ve been unsuccessful in your endeavors to date … chillax; go edit your content, send it out to publishing agents; make yourself a published author. There are hundreds of thousands out there. It only takes one agent to say yes to you.
Replicate the masters and create your own inspirational success story along the way.