7 Personality Traits of Successful Writers, Authors, and Novelists

These personality traits of successful writers — whether freelance writers, novelists, or published book authors – almost always lead to getting published. These traits help guide writers towards a successful writing career. And the best part is, they can be learned!

Before the tips, a quip from Elmore Leonard about writing success…





“Success seems like kind of a fluke to me. It’s not based on merit, since not everyone has the same opportunities. For me, it was just something that happened. I was in the right place at the right time,” said Elmore Leonard in Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process. “In 1985 I became an overnight success after 30 years…I didn’t think that I would ever have a best-seller. I never thought that my writing was either good enough or bad enough to make the list.”

Well, there you have it: perseverance is without a doubt one of the most important personality traits of writers.  For more info on how writers succeed and get published, click on Writers Dreaming: 26 Writers Talk About Their Dreams and the Creative Process. And, read on for seven personality traits of successful writers, published book authors, and novelists…

7 Personality Traits of Successful Writers, Authors, and Novelists

1. Successful writers can set and stick to a schedule. Since many working writers can’t be observed or managed (especially if they’re working from home), they need to be comfortable with setting – and sticking to – their work schedule. Successful freelance writers have to meet their own self-imposed deadlines and writing goals, or they won’t earn a living as a freelancer or published novelist. Successful writers push themselves to be productive.

2. Successful writers don’t need constant interaction. Successful writers need to be happy (or at least content) without someone working next to them in the adjoining cubicle or meeting up with colleagues by the water cooler. Successful writers may be a little more introverted than most people…. that is, they may get their energy from working alone. But, extroverts can be successful writers, too! Read 7 Ways for Extroverts to Increase Their Writing Productivity.

3. Successful writers enjoy working independently (or can do it, at least!). Published book authors, novelists, and freelance can tackle tough writing assignments – or break into tight writing markets – without supervision from “the man.” Freelancers must be able to stay self-disciplined to achieve their writing goals, and ignore the distractions of surfing the internet, reading forums, cleaning the house, watching tv “for research purposes.”

4. Successful writers show initiative. Book authors don’t have the luxury of waiting to be told what needs to be done next. Freelancers have to generate ideas, tackle writing assignments, find experts to interview, and continue to generate their own business. To earn a living as a freelance writer, writers must always be open to new markets or clients.

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5. Successful writers can handle administrative tasks. Freelance writers have to track queries and book proposals, follow up with editors, send professional invoices, keep track of their checks received and expenditures, and save all their receipts and write-offs. Professional writers may also do their own taxes, maintain lists of experts, and be adept at handling scanning/photocopying/software equipment.

6. Successful writers maintain a professional image. Freelance writers must submit their assignments on time, follow up when they say they’re going to, and treat editors, experts, readers, and fellow writers with respect. Writers may have once had the image of being disorganized or disheveled – the creative spirit at work! – but not anymore. Now, successful writers are businesspeople and entrepreneurs.

7. Successful writers don’t procrastinate. Waiting until the night before may have got you through college, but it won’t get you far in the freelancing business. Production is the name of the game. Successful writers don’t need reminders, prompts to find great sources, or reminders to send in invoices. Successful writers know what their job is – even if it’s not a paid writing assignment, even if it’s “just” to send out four queries today – and they take care of their business today. For help overcoming procrastination, read 8 Tips for Breaking Bad Writing Habits.

If you have any questions or thoughts about these personality traits of published authors and freelance writers, I welcome your comments below…

6 Reader Comments

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  1. Laurie says:

    Thanks for your comments! I think another personality trait of successful writers is being an introvert. You have to love being alone to write, don’t you?

    Although I’d be curious if there are any extroverted writers in the crowd…

  2. Campbell says:

    I have all of these traits ! Now I know why I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Even if I try to get a new hobby I always go back to writing.
    -Campbell, 15

  3. Bob Spielbauer says:

    Now I realize why I was drawn toward writing! I have all seven of those traits. I’m 17 and have been writing for the past year and a half and am almost done writing my second novel. my dream is to become a published writer, and now that I realized that I have all the traits, I have more confidence that my dream will actually come true. Thanks for the boost in confidence, but it’s time for me to get back to writing.

  4. K.M. Weiland says:

    Great points, all. I really do believe that these 7 seven traits are what will separate the wanna-bes from the pros. #2, particularly, is vital. If you’re a people person who needs constant interaction, this is not the job for you!
    .-= K.M. Weiland´s last blog post ..Guest Post : Good Writers Are So Lazy, They Make Readers Do All the Work! by Jason Black =-.

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