The year 2011 was monumental. It was the year that I invited Flossie Benton Rogers and Dylan Newton to lunch. This was not a mere luncheon to catch up on the latest gossip. I had an ulterior motive for wanting to meet with these ladies. With nervous trepidation and fearing they would laugh at my proposal and give a resounding, “no,” I presented my idea of forming a writers group. Not just any writers group, rather, a professional organization where members were focused on becoming career authors rather than hobby writers. On that day, Sunshine State Romance Authors, Inc. an umbrella chapter of Romance Writers of America® was born. We chose the mermaid as our logo because Homosassa is just up the road from Weeki Wachi Springs, home of the mermaids.
January 11, 2016, SSRA officially turned 5 years old. Wow! Since our inception, our membership has grown from 10 to 41. More than 38 percent of our members have obtained their PRO (professional writer) status. Our published author numbers have increased from two to twelve; and we represent all genres of romance.
SSRA will celebrate this monumental anniversary all year with a variety of fun activities such as The Mystery of Five (my lips are sealed. Otherwise it wouldn’t be a mystery); themed months such as wearing red in February to commemorate Valentines, Heart Month, and Cherry Pie Month, and a very special Holiday Party in December.
But, I digress from topic. Because SSRA is celebrating five years, I would like to share with you five ways to become a successful author. Granted there are dozens of ways to achieve success, but for this article, the focus is on five.
It’s difficult for writers, because we dream big. People often ask me how I managed to achieve success in such a short span of writing years. I have to admit that figuring out how to become a successful writer is not easy, and not for a person, who like myself, tends to be reclusive.
However, we writers want to touch people, change lives, grab readers’ attention on those dark and stormy nights, or during hurricane season. The truth of the matter is that no one can give us the ability to do those things. We can only give them to ourselves.
Because I am a writer and tend to be verbose, it was difficult to narrow my list to five, but these are the things that seem to work best. I hope you find them helpful.
- Communication: Connect with other writers who speak your language and support your efforts. Join a professional writers group; attend writing conferences.
- A Clear Intention: Writers must consider their audience. Set an objective for how you will delight your readers. Honoring your readers with good stories is what will keep them turning the pages of your books, and waiting for the next title to release.
- Make New Contacts: While writing itself can be immensely fulfilling, let’s face it, we’re all in it to get some recognition. This is why it’s important to meet as many new people as possible to grow your network. In this day and age of technology, reaching out doesn’t need to take place in person; online contacts count, too. For example, responding to a blog comment, or writing a guest blog. Connect with someone new everyday and success will find you.
- The Initial Spark: The moment an idea comes into your mind jot it down. Create a file and name it: Story ideas. Acknowledge the story idea by jotting down a brief character sketch, a general GMC, and a synopsis. By acknowledge that initial spark you will always have a new story within computer reach.
- Schedule Nothing: It’s tempting to keep your schedule jam-packed. A busy writer is a successful writer–right? Wrong! Yes, you are a writer, but above all else, you are a creator of ideas. Believe me when I say that ideas come when your mind is empty, especially at night when you’re supposed to be sleeping. Take time out of your day, even if it’s a half-hour: go for a walk or veg out in your recliner. Shut everything off and allow new story characters to whisper in your ear. This is one of the best writing habits you can develop.
In closing, writers can love writing so much that we forget true success as a writer involves many people and activities beyond our words on the page. Send a card of thanks to your mentors, treat a writer-friend to lunch; hug your husband, wife or significant other for supporting your writing dream; and treat yourself to chocolate.
If I can leave you with one last piece of 5th anniversary writing advice, remember that perseverance is the holy trinity of writing. Having courage, a plan, patience, discipline, faith in yourself, a long-term perspective, laughing over rejection letters (yes, rejections, because all the famous authors will tell you how many rejections they received before getting that coveted contract), simplifying your life, and celebrating your victories.
Happy 5th Year Anniversary!
Loretta C. Rogers, Co-founder and past President of SSRA
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