7 Bad Habits of Successful Authors

One of my favorite blogs is Copyblogger. I’ve recommended it before and once again I’m suggesting you take a look if you enjoy reading about ways to have a successful website. Recently I read an article there called The 7 Bad Habits of Insanely Productive People, and it was so good, I got permission to steal the idea and adapt it here.

SmokingCan you do all the things everyone tells writers *not* to do—and still become a successful author? I spend a lot of time on this blog giving you tips on how you “should” be. Hundreds of other bloggers are doing the same… not to mention all the books for writers and all the teaching going on at conferences.

But the truth is, we’re all just muddling along. Even the most successful of us have habits and/or traits we know we shouldn’t. Nobody is doing everything exactly right.

So below are what I think are the most common foibles to which writers fall prey… and somehow they are still able to succeed. I give you this list not so you can gloat and feel superior (not for more than a minute anyway) but so that, if you happen to have any of these particular traits, you now know, unequivocally, that you can no longer use it as an excuse for not reaching your goals. Accept your weaknesses, and carry on.

Herewith, 7 bad habits of successful authors:

1. Impatient.

Everyone knows that it can take time to build a platform, time to get an agent, time to sell your book. It takes time for agents and editors to respond to you. It takes time to write a good book. Even self-published authors have to take the time to build their readership.

Everyone knows this, but it doesn’t matter. Once a person adds the word “writer” behind their name, it’s all over with. Any patience they enjoyed heretofore in their non-writerly life flies out the window. Almost all writers are, shall we say, less patient than they wish they were. But still, somehow, they make it through.

The upside: Patience may be a virtue, but impatience can be a motivator: Write another book. Build your platform. Do something different.

2. Inclined Toward Panic.

All of the foibles of the writer stem from their deep desire not just to be published, but to do it well, to be read by many, and to make a living doing it. So any time any of the specific goals seems threatened, even successful authors tend to get that cold-sweat feeling and wonder if it’s all over. This is when they call their agent or dash of an end-of-the-world email begging for reassurance that life as they know it really isn’t over.

The upside: Well, if you’re panicked at least you know you’re breathing.

3. Ruled by Reviews

While there are a few wise, brave and totally inhuman writers out there who swear they stay away from reviews both positive and negative, most writers are mere mortals and find that their moods live and die by the latest review on Amazon, Goodreads, or any of the professional review outlets up to the NYT and PW. Bad review = a bad day. No matter how many times we remind them that it’s all subjective, that every book gets some negative ones… it doesn’t matter. Many authors still find themselves slaves to the “stars.”

The upside: It’s nice when you’re getting a lot of great reviews. Otherwise… well, nevermind, that wouldn’t be the upside anymore.

3. Addicted to Bookscan sales reports

We tell them again and again, “Stay off of Bookscan.” We warn them, “That stuff’s like meth. It’s crack cocaine. It makes you feel horrible and ruins your life.” And yet they keep going back for more. We tell them those reports can have a low accuracy rate (depending on the genre of your book). Checking the numbers every 20 minutes isn’t going to help you. Alas, it’s to no avail. Crack is crack.

The upside: The one good thing about carefully tracking your sales is you may be able to tell if specific promotional efforts created a spike.

4. Thin-skinned.

It’s like this weird poetic justice. As if #2 and #3 aren’t enough, many writers also take everything hard (in their cute, thin-skinned way) so those unhappy reviews and sales numbers hurt all the more. We tell them, “Develop rawhide!” Thicken your skin! It’s a tough road ahead! It doesn’t matter. We are what we are, right? It’s a rare writer who actually has a thick skin.

The upside: That thin skin is what allows people to truly feel things, to experience every up and down of life… and consequently, probably makes them better writers.

5. Insecure

It’s a well-known fact that all writers think they can’t write. One book in, six books in, 47 books in… every writer is convinced, over and over again, that it was a fluke, they’re not a writer, they’ve lost it, they can’t possibly do this again. Ah, insecurity is beautiful, isn’t it?

The upside: If channeled properly, the insecurity can help a successful writer stay humble.

6. Unscheduled

Impossible to believe, but contrary to ubiquitous writing advice, many writers do not have a set schedule by which they write every day. In fact, numerous successful authors are squeezing the writing in with their day job or even homeschooling five kids. (You know who you are.) My hat’s off to them… I wouldn’t recommend it but somehow they get it done.

The upside: If you can get large amounts of writing done with a less-structured schedule, then your flexibility speaks volumes to your ability to be creative and productive under less-than-ideal circumstances. That is nothing short of awesome.

7. Easily distracted

Even the successful authors are susceptible to Twitter, Facebook and reading those darn agent blogs. We’re all easily distracted these days, to our detriment I’m sure, but we can be productive nonetheless.

The upside: You never miss the latest post on the fabulous pie your cousin Mildred baked in honor of Uncle Fred’s colonoscopy.

What are some of YOUR bad habits that you’re willing to share with us?

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  • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

    Why add anything to the list, Rachelle? I’ve already got a few of these bad habits and I hadn’t heard about Bookscan — not going there, I promise. Here’s a new discovery for me: Amazon’s Author Central, where you can track sales, among other things.
    Yep. Another way for an author to swing low, swing high.
    Avoiding it. Avoiding it. It’s a portal to writer’s hell.

    • Jeanne T

      Love this, Beth. :) Avoid, avoid, avoid. Others will follow in your trailblazing footsteps. :)

    • http://www.catherinejwest.com Cathy West

      Beth, my dear friend, that portal goes waaaay beyond hell. Trust me. Stay away from the dark pit that leads to insanity. You probably won’t, and if you do I want what you’re taking, but thought I’d throw it out there anyway. :)

      • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

        Cathy, the vow to stay away from that portal of hell is now public. So, I’m committed. Shall we take the vow together? ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/KayGlassAuthor Kay Glass

      I have this same problem! Okay, I have most of these problems… But I find myself stalking my Amazon KDP page at least once a day to check sales, and on free promo days I’m on there 10-15 times to see how many copies are being downloaded. And Facebook… I live on Facebook. And my blog, and Twitter. I’m a slave to it all.

      • http://bethvogt.com Beth K. Vogt

        Confession is good for the soul.
        Step away from the portal, Kay. Step away from the portal.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-A.-Kierstead/e/B004LOZ1YG Kevin A. Kierstead

    Happy to report that 1-6 do not apply to me. At some point, you have to ask yourself, “If I’m not good, how am I publishing my fifth book?” Might as well be confident and enjoy the ride. If your writing and promotion is no good, your sales will tell the story. And even then, if you’re like me and sales success isn’t what makes you put words down, that won’t even stop you.

  • http://farthestoceans.wordpress.com Donna Davis

    It wouldn’t be so bad if it was my cousin Mildred’s blog about a pie for my Uncle Fred’s colonoscopy. The trouble is that it is someone else’s cousin, and I’m still reading that darn blog.

  • http://lorimazzola.blogspot.com/ Lori E. Mazzola

    Mrs. Gardner,

    I truly enjoy this article. It is very well written and filled with truth. Thank you for sharing it. I’m sure it will be useful to many. You are very intelligent. I am going to share it with my readers and aspiring authors.

    Cordially,
    Mrs. Mazzola :) <3

  • http://www.kenpreston.co.uk Ken Predton

    The internet is a wonderful tool for communication, but also a terrible distraction. I sometimes wonder what I did with my time before the world wide web (and 2 kids) came along!!

    • http://www.kenpreston.co.uk Ken Predton

      Sorry, that should be Preston. Not Predton. Damn these virtual keyboards!!!

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        Hey, points for admitting you spelled your own name wrong. It’s early, no one will care. Signed Jennfier Mjaor

        • http://www.kenpreston.co.uk Ken Preston

          Ha! Yeah, maybe I should stop with those early morning whiskys.

          • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

            Especially in your cereal. ;)

  • http://jodyhedlund.com Jody Hedlund

    Yes, I really don’t know how those writers who homeschool their 5 kids manage to find writing time! They must be slightly crazy! ;-)

    My bad habits? Where to begin?!

    Drinking too much coffee? Eating too much chocolate? ;-)

    No seriously. Going into a slight depression because I’m nearing the end of writing a book, knowing that I’ll be parting with a story and characters I’ve grown to love, who’ve been living inside my head for the last several months. Then feeling slightly desperate until the next story and characters come alive and fill my head.

    • http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ Wendy Paine Miller

      Jody,
      Great point about missing characters. My nasty habit goes along with this, I’ll be hanging out with friends and then I’ll start talking about one of my characters as though she’s one of us. I have to catch myself (and quickly make fun of myself).

      But I so hear you on this one.

      • http://www.gabrielle-meyer.blogspot.com Gabrielle Meyer

        Wendy, I can so relate! Not only have I started talking about my story world people as if everyone else knew them, I’ve also brought up fellow bloggers and their latest posts in conversations – then I realize that none of my “real life” friends and family even know my online community – so I try to explain and I am usually left with some blank stares. *sigh* :)

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Okay, aside from the points Rachelle is making….how much is too much chocolate? What? Oh. #7….yup.

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Oh…and because I got distracted I couldn’t finish the comment in one box….
      L on forehead…
      I keep tweaking my WIP’s dialogue because I want to hang out with them. And I stopped myself from saying “You won’t believe what Jack said today” to my friend who was sitting in the hospital.
      Homeschoolers have a saint gene, check your helix, it’ll be there. Along with the awesome gene and the patience gene.

    • http://marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

      I totally caught the Jody reference. :) I’m homeschooling my 3 this fall. Just need to adopt a couple more and I’ll be set.

      • http://www.booksbyamanda.com Amanda

        Ha! Another fabulous post. I think I’ve broken every one of those rules – but I haven’t heard of book scan before. Cross my fingers, hope to die, spit in my mom’s eye, I’m not going to check it out, either. (ok. I would never. Under any circumstance, spit in my mother’s eye. She would seriously hurt me! And I respect that…)

        I do have to say, though, I homeschool my two children as well, and to be quite honest, I really had no idea how these other writers out there were able to stick to their schedule. Thank you for posting that they probably don’t, Rachelle. I can now stop beating myself up!

  • http://thoughtsthatmove.blogspot.com/ Wendy Paine Miller

    Having a good laugh at myself in regards to #1, #2, #4, #5 (do I get points for knowing who’s homeschooling five & writing in #6? eh hem…above.) & #7.

    Good, good laugh.

    Think you about covered mine. But because of #5 I’m pretty sure I could come up with a whole new list. Nah.

    “Accept your weaknesses, and carry on.” A quote to live by this week, then next week…
    Great post!
    ~ Wendy

  • http://www.sueharrison.com Sue Harrison

    Oh my goodness. At one time or another, I hit them all, Rachelle. Love these comments. I think we all must be second cousins once removed, although I never did homeschool 5 children. (Does substitute teaching count?)

  • http://heathersunseri.com/blog Heather Sunseri

    I had to read the post twice, because I got distracted thinking about #7. But yeah. I’d say I’m a pretty pannicked, unscheduled writer who is disracted by… Squirrel!

    • Jeanne T

      LOL! One of our favorite movie lines. :) Oh, I think I just got distracted.
      :)

    • http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/ Heather

      My husband and I love to quote movies, and the short and simple “Squirrel!” line is one of our favorites… now, what was this post about again?

      • http://heathersunseri.com/blog Heather Sunseri

        Exactly! Ha!! :)

        • http://www.booksbyamanda.com Amanda

          Another one! I’m so glad I’m not alone! Most of my friends have nicknamed me Squirrel. Nice to know I’m in good company! :)

  • http://www.10minutewriter.com Katharine

    From the artwork you attached, I thought sure you would mention that writer often depend too much on artificial stimulants, some, of course, that are more socially acceptable than others. Which means, since you didn’t mention them, that maybe my Hemingway-inspired Whiskey and Cigarette Path to Fame and Fortune is not so bad after all. ; )

  • Else

    Heh. I worry about being all of those things and upsetting my agent. Good to know she’s used to it. Thank you.

  • http://theotherstephenkingonwriting.blogspot.com Stephen H. King

    I am NOT easily distrac–hey, look, there’s a squirrel outside.

    What was I saying?

    Oh, right–thanks for another great post.

    -TOSK

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      I read the first line, looked up and thought “where?”.

  • http://www.lisajordanbooks.com Lisa Jordan

    I’m so guilty of #6, but for now, that’s how I have to handle both a day job and a writing career. I need to become more consistent in having a regular evening writing schedule, but I have to be careful it doesn’t cut into family time either.

    I’m also one of those insecure writers who thinks having a couple of books published is a fluke and any day now the editor is going to realize she made a mistake…okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but with the beginning of each new book, “this is crap this is crap this is crap” is the mantra playing through my head. Thank goodness our rough drafts aren’t set to editors…or shouldn’t be. ;)

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Rachelle, When I read those paragraphs, flinching at each one, my first thought was, “This woman knows entirely too much about me.” I appreciate the reminders. I’ll try to do better in the future–honest, I will.
    As for my other bad habits? I guess that, other than my excessive humility, I don’t have any. But thanks for asking. : )

  • http://www.cgblake.wordpress.com CG Blake

    I think every writer goes through periods of self-doubt when they ask: what am I doing? I can’t write like (fill in the blank). I have no business thinking I’m a writer. This usually happens for me when I’m struggling with writer’s block and my story is stalled. You just have to fight through it. As Cher said in Moonstruck: “Snap out of it “

  • Jeanne T

    I love how you shared the upside of each of these “faults,” especially the one after #2: “Well, if you’re panicked at least you know you’re breathing.”

    I work through every one of these, well, except for looking at reviews, since I have nothing being reviewed, yet. :) I think that when my focus is on myself that causes a lot of my bad “thought” habits to make an appearance in writing life. Thanks for the chuckles and truths today.

  • http://www.gettingdownwithjesus.com Jennifer@GDWJ

    What is it with #5? I’ve been writing professionally since I was a teenager, and I still struggle. I have continually defined and redefined my value as a writer with a sentence that starts with these two words: “If only.”

    As in: if only I got the promotion, or a job in a bigger newsroom, or if only I could win that coveted award, or (fill-in-the-blank).

    Sometimes I reached the if-only, and sometimes I didn’t. But always, the if-only clause remains — or is replaced by a new fill-in-the-blank.

    Great post, Rachelle.

  • http://www.katieganshert.com/blog Katie Ganshert

    What is this book scan of which you speak?

    • http://www.gabrielle-meyer.blogspot.com Gabrielle Meyer

      Resist, Katie!

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Back away from Bookscan and nobody gets hurt!

    • Rachelle Gardner

      It’s the sales numbers you get on Author Central.

      • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

        You know you just gave us another can of worms, right?

  • http://www.gabrielle-meyer.blogspot.com Gabrielle Meyer

    I haven’t been writing for long (at least seriously writing), but I already fall under a lot of these categories – does that mean I’m on the right track or I should run away as fast as I can?!?!

    I can relate to #6 & #7 more than I’d like to admit – I even had to pop back up to the post to remind myself what they even were. Oy. I am so easily distracted that it’s starting to bother me. Between managing the lives of six family members, operating our business and writing, I feel like my thoughts are a ping pong ball. I’m beginning to see that this may just be a side affect of the writer’s life. It’s comforting (sort of) to know that I’m not alone. :)

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      We should have nametags. “Hello, I am a writer and I need a full time wife.”

      • http://elizabethbarone.net Elizabeth Barone

        YES. Really all I need for her to do is cook for me, and maybe do my laundry once in a while.

      • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

        I am pretty sure I started saying that (I need a wife) before anyone else did.

        • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

          I’ve been in touch with TLC and will be auditioning several men to be on my TV show “Brother Husbands”. But, it’ll be solely based on cooking, housework, yardwork, a new deck and perhaps even the ironing.

  • http://crowproductions.com Joan Cimyotte

    I love how there is always a positive bent on all our bad tendencies.

  • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

    #1 this is why I don’t put a Jesus fish on my van. And why I yell in Spanish at hockey games and not English or French. I don’t pray for patience because then I may be forced to refine mine.
    #2 PANIC WHAT PANIC????????
    #3 irrelevant at this moment in time…
    #4 not in my DNA, hello? A redheaded, unpubbed writer? Thick skin? Bwahahaha.
    #5 I need a hug, can I have a hug?
    #6 I write my best when the house is silent, so my schedule is set for me
    #7 Squirrel!

    • Lynelle

      THAT sums it up right there!

    • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

      Great, Jennifer!

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TC Avey

    I tend to get distracted by researching for my book. I love reading and history and can get lost in a book. I also make TONS of notes as I read, problem is, I also lose those notes!

  • http://lindsayharrel.blogspot.com Lindsay Harrel

    Oh my, number 1 is soooooo me. I like to have goals. I like lists. I like it when I can cross stuff off my list. And I’m still trying to cross off finishing this darn current ms! :P

    But seriously, it’s been so helpful to bond with other writers and see how long their journeys took them. I try to pray and find peace about it all, but sometimes that impatience factor creeps up to a scary level.

  • http://www.jessicathomasink.com/blog Jessica Thomas

    Yeouch. I can relate to all those except for the Bookscan one. I sure hope Bookscan doesn’t have handy iphone app.

    It actually feels good to know I’m not alone. I’ve had that feeling of “Oh, I wrote something that’s actually good” only to think the next day “I’ll never write anything that good again”. I thought maybe it meant I wasn’t cut out for this, but apparently not. Good to know I’m normal.

  • http://fromsarahwithjoy.blogspot.com/ Sarah Allen

    Oh gosh, definitely have the habit of impatience. That’s probably the most prominent one for me. Gah! All the waiting!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  • http://www.heatherdaygilbert.blogspot.com Heather Gilbert

    End of the world emails to my agent–sadly, YES. (Also ranting diatribes to my beloved husband, who has a way of picking my teetering emotions off the floor every time.)

    Patience? I’ve learned NOT TO PRAY FOR PATIENCE. Doesn’t matter, though–seems to be the one thing I haven’t learned yet, since God keeps putting me in that waiting boat!

    Reading blogs in the meantime? Well, here I am!

    Love this post! I think the ups and downs of writing manage to make most authors feel somewhat bipolar half the time–we’re either floating in the ecstatic clouds of acceptance, or fumbling in the dark caves of rejection and/or WAITING to be rejected or accepted.

  • http://www.lavenderwilliams.com laVender

    The telephone is my distraction. Working from home requires much discipline, and the callers don’t understand. I’ve had to just stop answering or sit outside with my laptop to work.

  • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

    Ahh, I liked the upsides to #1, 4, 5, and 6; they show that you can tweak bad habits and make them work for you. I can be guilty of #7, but still make it productive by letting myself be distracted by research to flesh out the worlds I’m creating in my stories.

  • http://tekia.wordpress.com Tekia

    I know for me it’s definitely the last bad habit of being easily distracted. This has been something for me ever since high school. In class I would get easily distracted with a new idea for a poem or writing project or new character. So, I’m guilty of that last one :-). Being unscheduled is another one I’m guilty of too. I try to write everyday but some times I take extensive breaks from the project. Then I get antsy after too long and start back writing with a sense of urgency. This was a great article! Thanks for sharing!

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  • http://babblefromtheburbs.blogspot.com/ Kathryn Elliott

    Am I the only one willing to confess to snacking? None of you eat your body weight in Sun Chips during character development? Plow through a sleeve of Thin Mints during research? No? Hmm…I think there are some “pants on fire” out there. :-)

    • http://elizabethbarone.net Elizabeth Barone

      Hahaha! To be honest, I don’t think of snacking as a bad habit. Maybe that’s another bad habit!

      I like those extra cheddar Goldfish, Lindt white chocolate truffles, and Twizzlers. And sandwiches. And pretty much anything. Food and writing go together so well!

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      How about an IV drip of Stash Earl Grey with a side of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate. But I only use the chocolate for the parts that need a highly concentrated level of serotonin. Fans self.

    • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

      I have always known what it is to chew on a thought. Or a plot. Or insecurities. Or…

  • http://jomurphey.blogspot.com Jo Murphey

    I tend to be unscheduled and distracted while writing…it’s the main reason I stopped writing for publishing houses. I have a terminally ill husband which is why my writing life is as it is. At any given time an oxygen or cardiac monitor can start beeping and ruin my otherwise scheduled writing time. Even when I’m writing, one ear is constantly listening for alarms. It tends to make me scatterbrained.

    • http://elizabethbarone.net Elizabeth Barone

      I think your distractions are pretty understandable. Hugs to you.

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Oh my, that puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it? Prayers for you and your husband.

  • Madeline

    Sometimes I do get distracted…. Another habit? Well, when you’re trying to write numerous books and then jump to another book and come back to the one you were working on earlier and having almsot no idea what is going on in the book.
    Love the post by the way!

  • http://makingbabygrand.com Dina Santorelli

    Holy cow! I quite possibly have had all of these 7 bad habits at one time or another! Guess that means I’m destined to be a successful author. :)

  • http://www.tantusamorscribendi.blogspot.com Kelsie Engen

    Firstly, I have to thank you for this very blog post being my current #7 distraction. (Well, I suppose it originated in Twitter, really…so no excuse there!)

    I definitely fall under number 5 and 7, oh, and probably number 4, too.

    In all seriousness though, it’s encouraging to see an upside attached to these vices. Sometimes the vice is all we can see, when really facing that vice and turning it into a virtue is well worthwhile.

    Thanks,
    Kelsie

  • http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com Liz Johnson

    Rachelle, thank you, thank you for making me feel a little more normal … for a writer. Everything on your list was so me! I thought I was alone in my insecurities and neurosis. :) It’s good to be part of a group. :)

    • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

      I agree, Liz. That’s what’s great about this blog. Rachelle always does great, thought-provoking posts and it’s wonderful to be part of a community of writers. It’s good to know I’m normal–for a writer :)

  • http://www.yourvervemagazineonline.info Paula

    I love this post : )

    Sometimes I hesitantly click on posts about “writing and/or writers” because there’s just so much conflicting advice out there…but I honestly found this post incredibly refreshing! Thank you for this!

    My list of faults is waaay too long to list here but I’ll write at least one:

    1) I become a loner when I write. Normally I love people but when “manuscript mode” attacks I pretty much turn into a hermit. Friends make fun of me for acting like a crazed recluse, my parents and other family members get worried…it never fails!

    • http://elizabethbarone.net Elizabeth Barone

      I’m the same. I’m actually so bad that when I’m writing, I get mad at people who want me to leave my laptop.

  • http://www.kristinemcguire.com Kristine McGuire

    Well, you pretty much summed me up. It’s actually kind of comforting to know I’m not the only one. :)

  • http://www.christianmamasguide.com Erin

    So, that panicked email I sent to you last night in a Haagen-Daaz-fueled-craze was a bad thing? Who knew!? This is great… thanks Rachelle!

  • http://www.stephanieshott.com Stephanie Shott

    You got me at, “Easily dsitracted”.

    With a 9 to 5 that consumes much of my time, a ministry to oversee and my attempts to be a ‘good’ little pastor’s wife, I confess to being easily distracted.

    When my plate overfloweth, so does my mind and the next thing you know, I’m all over the place. A little FB promo post here and a little Twitter update there and a writing project that calls me to quit being so ridiculously distracted.

    Loved this post, Rachelle!

  • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

    Guilty as charged. Thank you for finding a positive side to all of the bad habits. My additional bad habit is having difficulty knowing when to stop revising. Although revision is a good thing, every time I read my manuscript (even just review a couple of pages) I find something to revise. I guess it all goes back to #5. I never think my writing is good enough.

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Same here! I’ll revise until I get a sentence just right and then GAH!! I change another one!

      • http://www.fragmentsandfriends.blogspot.com Christine Dorman

        Yes, knowing when to step away from the manuscript–that’s the problem.

  • http://neuroticworkaholic.blogspot.com Neurotic Workaholic

    I wish I wasn’t so easily distracted, because I would waste a lot less time that way. I watch a lot of Youtube videos, especially home movies that people make of their dogs. I also like subscribing to Conan O’Brien’s Youtube channel, because whenever I need a break I know that I can watch one of his videos and get a good laugh.

  • http://www.examiner.com/childrens-literature-in-chicago/elizabeth-mackinney Beth MacKinney

    Are you kidding? I don’t have any bad habits. (And NO, I’M NOT IN DENIAL!)

    jk

  • http://joylenenowellbutler.com joylene

    I’m in trouble. All 7! Yikes.

    • Eric Hammers

      Work it to your advantage

      • http://joylenenowellbutler.com joylene

        So, use the fear and the nervousness to my advantage? Let it drive me. Okay. My suspense thriller just received a Silver Medal from the IPPY Awards, and my first thought was: there must not have been many entries.

        Thanks, Rachelle. I understand what you mean.

  • http://elizabethbarone.net Elizabeth Barone

    I’ve always been impatient, hahaha.

    I don’t really pay much attention to reviews — I’m always forgetting to check to see if there are any new ones on Amazon — but I definitely have a bad habit of checking my Amazon sales reports at least once a day. That’s my crack. I’ve been getting better at paying less attention to them, but I’m always under threat of a rebound.

    I’m also very easily distracted. This is my greatest weakness. Everyone has tips for being less distracted and more productive, but there’s really only one thing you can do: be less distracted and more productive. For example, I know that my undoing is opening up Google Reader or Twitter before I’ve touched my To Do list for the day, so I know I need to just avoid them or I’ll go down the rabbit hole of articles. (To be honest, though, that’s how I found this article. Sigh.)

  • Eric Hammers

    I read as far as number four when my Facebook updated about Farmville and I had to check it out.

    Otherwise I’m guilty of the bad habits, too. I enjoy the impatient habit because it means that I keep working on my projects while waiting for word on those that I’ve sent to agents and editors!

  • Lindsay A. Franklin

    I suppose number 6 still applies, even though I only homeschool three children. ;)

  • http://www.JoAnnYhard.ca Jo Ann Yhard

    Hmmm, I have all of these. Maybe, instead of bad habits, these are symptoms?

  • http://jaimieteekell.com Jaimie

    There are two #3s in this. Annnd I’m making sure I didn’t miss the “skims posts without seeing that some mistakes were intentional” point buried somewhere in there… ;)

    • http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/ Heather

      I was just thinking the same thing!

    • http://talesfromtheredhead@blogspot.com Jennifer Major

      Ummm hmmmm….

  • http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/ Heather

    All of these apply to me (although I only homeschooled 4 children), even both #3′s… I would have to say that while each one has prominently out weighed the others at some point in time, my biggest bad habit right now is my insecurity. Every time I send something out, I expect to hear back that it isn’t worth anything and they can’t believe that anyone would ever read something that I wrote. Especially if it’s something different than the norm or to someone I haven’t communicated with before.

    • http://authorheatherhart.blogspot.com/ Heather

      Now, off to check my reviews and sales for the week.

  • http://www.seekinghisgrace.com Missy

    These bad habits are very good to read as a “budding” writer. Thank you Rachelle!

  • http://einefeistyberg.wordpress.com Cherry Odelberg

    Thin-skinned and insecure? How else do you bleed all over the keyboard?

  • http://mandysantos.com Mandy

    This was so good, thank you Rachelle! I feel like I fit right in.

  • http://aishahmacgill.com Aishah

    Going back and endlessly correcting, editing my own work. When I go back, what I previously thought was divine inspiration, I think to myself, “What idiot wrote that piffle?” And I change it again or back to what it was!

  • Susan

    I have a pretty good feel for how this process works from the time I’ve put in studying the process.

    I’m one of those “gather the facts” type people before you go all out.

    I don’t like backtracking. I have to see the entire picture.

    This doesn’t mean I won’t respond in the some of the ways mentioned in your post. It’s more that I am aware of the pitfalls and I accept them along the way.

    This is a good thing because I feel I’ve done my homework.

    My distractions are my adult children. Sometimes one of them needs me at a particular time, more than usual and I stop what I am doing to assist them for that time period.

    This is a part of who I am and probably who I will always be.

    During these times of not writing, I will continue to study great books like “Writing the Breakout Novel”.

    I love learning about writing. As I’ve mentioned, it’s part of seeing the entire picture.

    I feel it, and many other great books on writing, have broadened my writing and creativity in numerous ways that are critical to the writing process.

    Now I have to concentrate on continuing my attempt towards writing the breakout novel.

    It’s been achieved by many.

  • http://www.heidi-rice.com Heidi Rice

    Many thanks Rachelle, a wonderfully positive and empowering post… Which has made me feel so much better about the way I have managed to turn procrastination into an art form!

    • http://www.booksbyamanda.com Amanda

      Heidi, they say that good things come to those who wait, so that would make procrastination a virtue, right?

  • http://livingthebodyofchrist.blogspot.com/ Connie Almony

    Awesome! I’m halfway there. Only need the ones that come with being published :o). Then, I’m sure I can finish the list. Except it isn’t my cousin Mildred’s pie recipe from Facebook distracting me. It’s my crit partner, Mildred’s, pie recipe from her new historical novel. Close enough!

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  • R Mark Huffman

    Good article, but we do all realize that there are actually eight habits listed, yes? What with two #3s and all. Hey, I guess that’s why we’re writers, not engineers, huh?:)

  • http://klparry.com K.L. Parry

    Thank you Rachelle. I love this post. I can admit to lat least half of those. :)

  • http://www.helenlandalf.com Helen Landalf

    Great post! I exhibit every one of these habits/symptoms. Does that mean I’m a successful writer??

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  • nuku

    I’m thin skinned, at the moment, insecure, unscheduled, and easily distracted… Oooh, Solitaire… I play too much of that when I should be writing.

    Hey, would checking for the newest posts of your favourite blogs count as a good or bad habit?

    When I’m writing I start late at night, and I don’t usually stop till 4:00am. Also, with writing so late, when I work on a scene intended to scare others, I almost always tend to scare myself! When it works into my dreams/nightmares, then I know it’s a keeper! That HAS to be a bad habit! I hate getting freaked out, but I LOVE to write scenes that would freak others out… Go figure.

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  • http://thenotebookblogairy.com Rochelle

    Love this Rachelle!

    Tears were coming down my face as I read your post. Each and every one is me! My personal crack is KDP Amazon (to check book sales) & Smashwords. I promise to put the pipe down…

  • http://www.maryincontro.com Mary Incontro

    Impatience is clearly my #1. When I got braces on my teeth, I wanted straight teeth within a week. When I was a trial lawyer, I hated waiting for the verdict. When I start a diet or an exercise program, I want the weight to fall off the next day. Now that I’m writing, nothing’s changed. If I submit a short piece for a critique, I start checking for the critique 10 seconds after posting. I started a blog a month ago and wanted a following right away. I need to keep telling myself that what it takes – anything worth having in life – is patience and hard work. I think I need to take a long, deep breath. Ommmm.

  • http://www.shootthewounded.org Lynn Dove

    I definitely fall into a few of those categories *sigh* but hadn’t heard of Bookscan…maybe I’ll just take a peak…LOL!

  • http://www.facebook.com/KayGlassAuthor Kay Glass

    Well, I definitely stalk my sales, I’m insecure, I cried when I got my first 1-star review, I tell my friends I don’t think my work is any good, and I’m addicted to Facebook. Yeah, I fit right in!

  • http://taylorprescott.wordpress.com Taylor Zaytsoff

    My biggest bad habit is that I am so easily distracted. The internet…my cats…that episode of CSI that I missed back in 2004…I can find a list of things to do other than write. This is particularly the case when I’m stumped about what to do next with a character or scene.

    Then, factor in my 3 month old daughter and I’ve just got a terrible mix of excuses. It’s gotten to the point where I will disconnect the internet for a few hours of the day, when my girl is asleep, and I’ll try to get some work done.

  • http://www.cwgortner.com C.W. Gortner

    Love this article; it made me laugh and cringe. I had one of the crack addict days just yesterday, in fact. I confess one of my bad habits is comparison shopping; why is my not career doing what X author’s is? In private talks skulking in crowded bars, other authors have admitted the same to me. Why should the glass be half full, when someone else’s is overflowing? It’s terrible thinking, utterly reprehensible and useless, not to mention detrimental to one’s sanity, but there you have it.

  • http://www.cwgortner.com C.W. Gortner

    Oh, and typos on comments on other people’s blog: another bad habit. I meant, why is my career not doing what X author’s is?

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  • http://raincoastimages.ca/raincoastfiction Alan Dean

    Bad habit – preferring to take my daughter to the beach … :)

  • http://www.pure-text.net Lauren @ Pure Text

    Enjoyed the post. The last one made me laugh. :)

    I’m extremely guilty of the last two. Sigh. Hopefully I can turn these around.

    I’m so proud of my editing clients for having been able to *actually write an entire novel*! Lol. Blows my mind. :P

  • Janet

    If only I had sales numbers to watch…(sigh)

    I love the list. Easily distracted definitely applies to me. I can go online to do some tiny bit of research for an article on golf courses and stumble onto something that tickles my curiousity. Next thing I know, I could be compiling a research file on fashion trends in 16th century Venice or something.

    When I remember to do it, I have a trick for keeping the social media networks from eating my time. I keep an old-fashioned “rotary” kitchen timer on my desk. I set it for 15 minutes and when it goes off, I have to quit Twitter (or posting blog comments. I have other bad habits I could expand on but….DINGGGGG!

    Sorry. Time’s up.

  • http://desclick.net Gerald

    Thanks for saving my today’s 100$ session with …

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  • Sam Beringer

    I don’t think I have any of the flaws listed above. But before you prepare the stake for burning, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I’ll sit down, tell myself “Okay, Sam! This is it! Today you’re going to finish the chapter/scene/page/sentence!” And then I check my e-mail, find something that catches my interest, and decide “I’ll do it after looking at this.” And then I get sucked into the black hole we call the internet.

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  • http://www.gkbyrne.com Gabrielle Kirouac Byrne

    Thank you, Rachel. I think you can add that as writers we all, at one point or another, think it’s just us. Other authors can’t possibly be this . This was my first trip to your blog, but it won’t be my last. Thank you for the validating entry!

  • Michael

    Enjoyed this, identified mostly with it, adapted it to my own blog, with a link and a recommendation to others to read it for themselves because I enjoyed it so much….

    When I noticed…

    There are eight habits here. There are two number threes.

    Was that deliberate, to mess with our heads, or oversight?

  • April Kempler

    Rachelle,
    Thanks so much for the helpful tip about Copyblogger. Thanks to their inspiring article on the Facebook timeline cover photo I was able to figure it out. The tutorials on copy writing are also an invaluable resource. I’m putting the tips to work and hopefully will see positive changes in my article postings.

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  • https://twitter.com/#!/olegmedvedkov Oleg

    I am thinking if we get over “Unscheduled”, the rest of the Bad Habits would not look quite as bad. What do you think?

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  • http://kathrynmagendie.wordpress.com kathryn Magendie

    I consider myself a mere mortal and I do not read reviews – unless someone, like my editor, sends one and says I should read it. I do not go to Amazon and read my reviews, nor do I check rankings unless there is some promotion where I am curious – and even then, I check a couple of times and I am out of there.

    Reviews are for the readers, not for the author, at least this is how I think.

    Why is that so difficult to imagine? or why is that so wrong? It’s a choice, and one my editor, who is a best selling author herself, wisely advised me to do.

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  • http://shamrachronicles.com/ Barry Hoffman

    What I tell students when I go into school with my YA trilogy The Shamra Chronicles is that there is no one right way to write a book. Everyone has different habits. None are wrong. Some authors write a book in a week or a month. Personally, I couldn’t. I need to have my characters percolate in my mind as I’m writing and help steer where they and the book goes. But, that’s MY preference. I won’t ever condemn an author for being able to write a book in a week or month. By the same token you won’t find me criticizing authors who take years (if not decades) to complete a book because they want it letter perfect. There’s nothing wrong with that. My main suggestion to those interested in writing is to do just that, write!!! Even if they eventually toss out much of what they’ve written just writing is what I encourage most. I’d only add that for me I write what I want with no eye to whether it will ever be published. I don’t cater to the “next big thing” or to a publishers bottom line. If my novel crosses genres so be it. I want to be proud of what I’ve written when a short story or novel is complete. I don’t let tastes of the moment dictate what I write. It’s far more enjoyable to write what pleases you as opposed to catering to others.

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  • http://tonyacree.com Tony Acree

    I think the one that hits closest to home is not writing on a fixed schedule. While I am not home schooling five kids (my deepest admiration for anyone that can do this)my twin eight year old girls keep me busy enough and I try and write around their schedules, which can make things tough. I hear of writers getting up at 5:30 every morning to write for an hour or two, to avoid distractions. Perhaps this is the solution I should try. I enjoyed the article and look forward to reading others on your site.

  • http://stephenjennisonsmith.blogspot.com Stephen Jennison-Smith

    I write in the bath, in the car, in people’s gardens, Starbucks, McDonalds, libraries, in bed, on the PC, iPad, Kindle, at friend’s houses, at the top of my mother-in-law’s stairs, while I am walking (if I get an idea), outside the front door, Costa, on the couch, at Leeds University, at York University, at York St. John’s, the garage, on the bus, York College, Tesco cafe, Sainsbury’s cafe, ASDA’s cafe, Debenham’s cafe, on tables, the back of magazine flyers, notebooks, scraps of paper, box lids, my wife’s diary, receipts, paper cups, my son’s Android phone…

  • Mohamed Foor

    I think the problem is that Facebook sees “sharing it voluntarily” as “sharing it with everyone” when most of their users want (and really, the initial premise of Facebook itself was based on the idea of) to “share it voluntarily with the people I choose.”

  • http://www.athomeinholbrook.wordpress.com Mary K. Johnson

    Did you know there’s a name for feeling like you can’t do what you are actually doing? I read about it when I was teaching and knew I fit the category: the impostor complex. You think everyone else in your job is “real” but you are an impostor, pretending to be real. And if others realized how inadequate you are, they’d stop supporting you. Others are real writers, you think, but you are just lucky (or as yet your inadequacies have not been discovered). I’ll bet us writers are even more subject to this feeling than teachers!

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