A writing career is different from other occupations. A writer has to make up their route to success. There’s no policy and procedure manual, no checklist for success. What to do and how to do it is solely up to the individual author.

Each day brings unchartered waters especially in the current, ever-changing face of publishing. There are good days and bad. Success and rejections. The emotional wave is like a roller coaster ride. Up one day. Downhill fast the next.

More than any other job, at least as far as jobs I’ve ever had go, writers control their destiny. At the same time writers can become their own worst enemy.

By that, I mean we tend to sabotage our success.

1970-pogoposterOr, in the immortal words of POGO, “We meet the enemy and it is us!”

Not familiar with Pogo Possum?

He’s the anthropomorphic comic strip animal created by Walt Kelly in 1948

The poster pictured on the left was created by Mr. Kelly for the first Earth Day in 1971. To read more about POGO and Walt Kelly, click here.

Why do I believe POGO writers can be their own worst enemies? I see signs, and I’ve seen writers who exhibit these characteristics and fail.

You’re a POGO writer if…

1. You spend too much time and energy focused on mimicking the writing and style of some other author.

We’re spinning our wheels and wasting our words when we do this.  The publishing world already has Janet Evanovich, J.K. Rowling, Steven King, and Nora Roberts. Their success is their success. You can’t copy and get there! Every writer has his own path to carve.

2. You obsess with following THE RULES.

Don’t get me wrong. THE RULES are important.

Once you understand the basics—things like POV, dialogue, setting, character, plot, theme, etc., you have to trust your instincts and what works for your story.

Rules are very important guidelines. Writing, on the other hand, is an art form that entails experimentation, innovation, and expansion. Don’t be so hung up on THE RULES you lose your own sense of story.

3. You buy into every new way to write or plot that a writing expert suggests.

Learning the craft, and studying with writing experts is important. I’m not arguing it’s not necessary to study writing craft.

Heaven knows I’ve spent a fortune learning from some of the top teachers in writing craft, and I improved my writing skills by leaps and bounds.

I’ve also learned that all the classes and workshops in the world are wasted if I’m not producing.

More importantly, I realize that writing experts don’t always know what’s right for me or my writing process.

Once you find the process that works best with your personality and lifestyle, you need to stick with it. 

Btw, if you’re interested, I’d be delighted to share the names of those experts I highly recommend, just email me.

4. You’re unable to take criticism or the flip side-believe everything anyone says about your story.

Either of these positions can be fatal. Critiques and reviews are an essential part of every writer’s life.

No denying bad critiques or reviews hurt. Surviving a brutal criticism or review of your work definitely isn’t for the fainthearted.

You have to develop an elephant hide and learn to weigh the opinions expressed for exactly what they’re worth then make up your own mind.

It is YOUR story, after all.

Strong writers survive…and often produce better stories from hard critiques or bad reviews.

5. You’re not writing.

This sign is the most telling of all.

Who doesn’t struggle with the procrastination parasite from time to time?

But a successful writing career requires disciple and focus. Whether moved by the muse or not, a professional goes to the keyboard or grabs a pencil every day.

I know what you’re thinking. Authors have to promote and develop reader relationships, which cuts into writing time.

Very true, but I would argue that the key to gaining recognition and readership (aka success) is writing the next story.

Do you recognize POGO writer signs in yourself? If so, now that you know, you can defeat the enemy.

Close this browse and get back to writing!