By and large, writers are not the flighty, head-in-the-clouds, dimwit with a heart of gold or its polar opposite, the anti-social curmudgeon, often portrayed in movies or television (think Joan Wilder from Romancing the Stone and Marvin Udall of As Good As It Gets). Writers are people, too. And there are the ones destined for success as well as the ones who’ll never get beyond the threshold of the publishing door.

One of the key differences between successful writers and unsuccessful writers is DISCIPLINE: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training: A daily stint at the typewriter is excellent discipline for a writer. (Courtesy of and I swear I didn’t tweak that example sentence at all!)

But it’s about more than showing up at the keyboard every day. It’s about finishing what you start (a diatribe I’ve previously discussed in this feature), picking yourself up when the rejections knock you down, showing up where you’ve promised to be, and meeting deadlines on time. How can you do all this? Here are a few tips:

1. Be organized, be efficient. Use a calendar, datebook, notepad, parrot, whatever works for you to stay on top of things.
2. Educate yourself about all aspects of the business. Research is and always has been a writer’s best friend.
3. Twitter and Facebook can be great promotional tools, but don’t let them steal your creativity or suck up too much of your time.
4. Stop procrastinating. Just because something is due by the first of the month doesn’t mean you can’t finish it much earlier and submit it when it’s done rather than waiting. (This will free up your time to tackle other projects so you’re never running behind.)
5. Don’t sacrifice your honor to get ahead.
6. Envy is a wasted emotion. Forget about that other writer who, even though she doesn’t have half your talent, just signed a three-book deal. Focus on your work.
7. Don’t quit. See that project through to the end before starting something new. Even if you think it sucks, finish it.
8. Be willing to sacrifice. Writing requires time, money, and effort. Playtime can’t come before worktime.
9. Find a process that works for you and stick with it. Stop buying and reading how-to books. Too much advice can water down your own spark. Don’t let others dilute your unique voice to boring pap. Take what you need and ditch the rest.
10. Know when to let go. You can edit a book into oblivion. For every writer, there comes a point in time where you must say, “There. I’m done.” and move on. Don’t keep trying to improve. Start something new.

For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina’s Articles For Writers page: