I have a friend who has enjoyed a long successful career as a published novelist. More than once we took part in the same panel at a writer's conference. Whenever it came time to field questions from the audience I came to expect - actually anticipate - that some bright-eyed, eager novice would direct a particular question at my friend. It wasn't so much the question that I anticipated as her answer.
The question would always be some variation of “What is the secret to your success?" We all knew it would happen and we would always sit back and let my friend handle it. Not only because she was the most successful among us, but because she had the best answer.
My friend would always play to the audience. She'd lean forward conspiratorially, check to make sure the doors were closed, and swear the audience to secrecy. Then she'd repeat the question and pause for a few dramatic heartbeats and answer: “The BIC Method!"
Those of us in on the secret would begin to grin at this point, but it wasn't until she explained the BIC method that the other writers would get the joke. You see BIC stands very simply for Butt In Chair.
Yes, her writing success is that simple. Placing her bottom on the chair in front of her computer and writing every day - whether or not she was in the mood, whether or not she was motivated, whether or not she was inspired, and whether or not she had a paid writing gig.
Regular writing improves the quality of your writing by giving you the chance to hone your skills and experiment with new methods. Writing regularly also generates greater quantity - in two ways. First, obviously simply disciplining yourself to generate two or four or ten pages a day will quickly add up in quantity, but the more disciplined you become about this regular production the easier it will be to achieve your minimum and you can keep step up your daily goal accordingly.
Improving the quality of your writing and generating more writing projects gives you that much more to market to the reading and publishing public and therefore increases your chances of writing success.
It really is that simple and it really isn't a secret. Most successful writers know the BIC method is key to their success.
Of course some of those eager-beaver beginners don't want to believe in the BIC method because it actually involves work and discipline. They'd rather believe it was as simple as dreaming up a catchy pseudonym. But if you have become a writer because you love it then the BIC method is the best possible news. Simply keep on doing what you love and you can make your dreams come true.
Deanna Mascle publishes the writing newsletter Word Craft Online and writing site Answers About Writing where you can also find her free “Challenge Your Muse" writing prompts and exercises. She has published three novels; written and edited numerous newspapers, magazines, books, and online publications; and teaches writing. You can read more writing advice in her blog.