Developing a Winning Mindset for Writing Success

In Kung Fu, the mind guides the fist. In writing, the weapon is the pen, which is mightier than the sword, but is still only as strong as the mind of the wielder. Successful writing builds on a winning mindset that forms the foundation for good habits.

My writing mindset has been honed by four areas of my life: Christian spiritual practices, Kung Fu training, self-help psychology, and a fanatical devotion to the Green Bay Packers and the teachings of Vince Lombardi. Coach Lombardi taught,

Lombardi Quote

The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will. . .Mental toughness is essential to success. . .Its qualities are sacrifice and self-denial. Also, most importantly, it is combined with a perfectly disciplined will that refuses to give in. It’s a state of mind–you could call it character in action.

This winning mindset is common to all areas of success, including business. Here are seven keys to developing a mindset to win at the business of writing.

Treat Writing as a Business

Unless your writing aims are literary or personal rather than commercial, writing is a business, and to be successful at it, you must treat it as a business.

Successful business means serious business. When you write for business, your livelihood depends on writing, and you are literally writing for your life. Remind yourself frequently of how your writing relates to your financial and personal goals.

This attitude enables you to prioritize your writing and find the energy to stick to your writing schedule even when you don’t feel like it, which is the only way to achieve consistent success.

Set Motivating Writing Goals

With the attitude that writing is a business, you can mentally tie your business and personal goals into your writing goals, enabling you to set motivating goals.

Set specific targets like writing revenue per month, number of pages per day, and hours of writing per week. Then break your goals down into smaller chunks by setting benchmarks that let you track your progress.

Your benchmarks can be as ambitious as finishing a set number of chapters of a book before the end of the month, or as modest as finishing another paragraph before your next break.

Plan a Writing Strategy

Steering a clear path towards your writing goals requires following a well-designed strategic map. Break your writing processes down into steps, such as research, theme selection, outlining, detailed expansion, and editing. Plan each step in as much detail as you need to get started and keep moving forward.

I usually start with a template based on my previous writing. This gives me a game plan to come back to and refocus myself in case I get stuck drawing a blank.

Develop the Skills to Make Your Strategy Work

To put your plan into practice, you must practice developing the writing skills necessary to make your plan happen.

This includes basic writing skills like spelling, punctuation, and grammar, along with more advanced skills like research, expanding an outline, and developing a thesis.

It also encompasses additional skills required by professional writers, such as knowing formatting and style standards.

For polished writing, you must also master subtle skills like observation, description, and rhythm.

Finally, if you want to improve your efficiency, you should learn software tools used in the writing and publication process.

You can’t perfect all these skill sets at once. But committing to growth in one or more of these areas and improving yourself a step at a time through steady practice will gradually improve the overall quality of your writing.

Set a Writing Schedule

Successfully using your growing skills to implement your writing strategies requires getting in the habit of writing on schedule. After deciding how many hours a week you need to write to achieve your goals, budget the necessary time and block out designated writing times. A regular routine broken down into reasonable intervals will yield better results than sporadic marathons, so try to schedule writing sessions no longer than about a half hour to forty-five minutes before planning a break.

Stick to Your Schedule

Once you’ve settled on a writing schedule, your success pivots on sticking to it. Part of the trick here is regularly reminding yourself of the motivations that drove you to set out to achieve your writing goals in the first place. This helps you refuel when your energy runs low.

Another key is sticking to your break schedule as well as your writing schedule. Skipping breaks will burn you out, kill your motivation, and fuel procrastination. Avoid this problem by following the strategy of writing in short, manageable blocks broken up by rest and recovery periods.

Commit to Perseverance

Finally, commit yourself to perseverance when setbacks arise. There will be times when you fall behind on your writing goals due to other commitments, fatigue, illness, or writer’s block. This happens to all writers, including bestselling authors. But as Coach Lombardi also said, “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”

Lombardi Quote 2

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