I somehow wandered upon this blog that posted what they thought the 5 traits of successful artists were. They focus on visual artists, but I think many of these work for writers too.
I'll put my own thoughts below in blue text...
5 Common Traits of Successful Artists:
1. Art is the core of their lives. Successful artists wake up and go to sleep thinking about art. They carve out time in their day making art or marketing it. (In fact, for these artists, there seems to be no clear distinction between the creativity of making and marketing.) If they have a full-time job, it is secondary in their minds to art and mostly a means to and end. Their real job is being an artist.
-- This is very true for writers too. Even if you have families, jobs that aren't related to writing, hobbies, other commitments, your writing is the core of your life.
I think it's interesting how she mentions "marketing" here as for writers that's an important part of the job too. I know so many think it's a bad word, but part of the job as a writer is submitting your work. There is a difference to "smart marketing" or "shameless self-promotion" - you want to be known as a writer, not someone people run away from because they see your book peeking out of your shirt pocket.
2. Successful artists understand how business works in the art world. Successful artists understand the entrepreneurial aspects of making a living as an artist. When they encounter something new or unusual on the business side, they investigate and learn to do it or delegate the task. They know the value of relationships and network in person and through social media.
For me, this one really means, act professional. If you make a commitment, stick with it. Don't be flaky, learn how to submit to presses, literary journals, and editors in a professional manner. Don't respond with what I call "the poison pen" when you feel wronged, rejected, or upset with publisher, literary journal or another writer -- (my Poison Pen definition: this is when people write fast crazy emails filled with anger and venom then hit the send button without caring how the recipient may feel or what bridge they are burning).
But yes, also when you don't know how to do something, learn how to and do make connections with others (real connection, not phony "build-your-brand" connections, but real I-like-your-work-and-who-you-are connections).
Successful artists have a strong work ethic. They manage themselves, their creative energy and resources. They balance the time to produce art and to market it. Whatever rhythm of working they choose, they stick to it. Whether these artists enjoy the business tasks or not, they know they must be done and they do them without complaint or resentment.
---Work ethic should really be #2, it's that important. Your focus should be on your art first, then the business side of things. If you're not produce good strong work, you shouldn't be marketing it.
Successful artists are resilient. They know that success does not happen overnight – it requires hard work. These artists understand that things don t always work out the way they expect. When they make mistakes, they focus on solutions, not on regrets. They learn from experience and experiment to improve on any success they have.
--- I love this one. I think it's important to remember that everyone gets rejections. It's not always easy and you will make mistakes. Be resilient to rejections. Be very resilient to rejections. We all get them. It's again, just part of the job!
Successful artists spend time only with people who are 100% supportive of their art career. They limit their time and emotional involvement with people who are negative especially about art as a career choice. If people close to them have the skills and inclination to be more directly involved in their art career, the artist can produce more and better. Successful artists do not allow unsupportive people to be an obstacle to their plans for success.
--If you make one change in your writing life this year, this is one thing you should do-- keep the positive, supporting people in life.