Sunday, August 2, 2015

Seven Habits of Bestselling Authors

by Kristi Belcamino


As a newish author, I've spent some time studying what other successful authors do with their time. Luckily, they talk about their habits in interviews and on social media, so I've been able to get a small glimpse of how they spend their days.

Now this won't apply to every bestselling crime fiction author out there, but many of the things below appear to be common factors in those who find the most success in this field. Here is my take from my limited study of bestselling authors. Would love your feedback.

Bestselling authors:

1. Are extremely disciplined. They are writing between four to ten hours a day, at least five days a week. They don't wait for the elusive muse to appear. They stick their backends in a chair and get down to it. Every day.

2. Produce. They publish a book a year, at the minimum. Almost every author making a living by writing and nabbing spots on the bestseller list is putting out a book a year.

3. Study crime fiction in other mediums. Most bestselling authors mention that studying film and TV shows inspires, motivates, and helps them improve in the craft of writing.

4. Exercise on a daily basis and use this time to work out sticky plot points in their heads or meditate on the motives of their characters or just to get their head in the right space to write.

5. Spend a moderate amount of time on social media. They aren't on Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr all day long, but they do check in and are a definite presence.

6. Don't give up. Setbacks are a bump in the road, not a stop sign, as a dear friend told me recently.

7. Continually work to improve their craft. Whether it is attending a writing conference when they are just starting out, welcoming feedback from other writers or editors, or just studying books on craft, bestselling authors know they can always become better writers.

Dear reader, would love to hear what other common factors you notice in the habits of bestselling authors!

*PS I have no idea what Joan Didion's work habits were, but think this is the coolest picture ever of one of my favorite writers.


Scott D. Parker said...

Generally, I do all but #4. As for #1, I don't have up to ten hours to write, but I write every day: weekdays at 5am and weekends at 6 or 7. And, as chance would have it, starting this month, I'm incorporating #4 into my life. Perfecto!

Kristi said...

Cool! I am trying to walk at least 30 minutes a day, but hope to increase that to one hour. I think it really helps in so many ways.

Dana King said...

This is a good list. I don't have 10 hours a day to write, but, when I'm writing, I do write every day. (I'm taking the summer off to recharge myself, and finding new ideas and solutions to old problems popping unbidden to mind several times a week.)

I need to exercise more, but find driving while running errands, and the morning shower kick loose ideas. I came up with the germs for three scenes in a book I don't plan to write for at least two years on my way to Costco yesterday.

Rick Ollerman said...

Bestselling authors have lots of relatives? I didn't see that one. Bestselling authors have lots of friends that only buy from the stores that report sales to the NYT bestsellers list? What kind of list is this?