Secrets to Successful Writing: What’s In Your Mind Counts

Think like a writer

You think; therefore, you write

Part 2 of the Business of Writing – How to Make a Living as an Author or Writer

(This is a special guest post by one of our favorite writers. Grant will visit once or twice a month and explain the business of writing. His articles are spot-on for authors and writers interested in developing business sense or refining the way they run their writing businesses.)

By Grant McDuling

Have you ever had the feeling that things are running out of control — that you don’t seem to be in control of your own life anymore?

It’s a feeling we’ve probably all had at some time or another. The real question you should be asking yourself is: How often do you feel you’re not in control of your own life?

You see, if it’s only once in a while, then there’s nothing to worry about. But if this is generally how you feel, it’s time to take action.

Have you heard of the saying: You are what you eat? Well, that happens to be very true. I like to take this a little further and say: You are what you think. This is not a new concept. Hundreds of years ago the French philosopher Rene Descartes said,

“I think, therefore I am.”

I began thinking that, if you exist merely because you have the ability to think, then surely the way you think can affect your very existence – the way you exist.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that I was/am alone in my thinking. The world is full of positive thinkers. And negative thinkers too, for that matter. Why else is it that if we are all born equal (in a biological sense), some people go on to create very successful lives and careers, some amass great wealth, and some are able to live contentedly, while others just never seem to make it, being afflicted along life’s journey with great misfortune, poverty and frustration?

Can luck have anything to do with it? Is there even such a thing as luck?

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking there is because if you do, you will lose your competitive advantage as a writer. You will also be surrendering your initiative, which is another vital characteristic of a successful writer.

How You Can Boost Your Writing Career

If you can identify with this, what should you be doing to progress your career as a writer?

The first thing you need to do is examine your vision. What is your vision for yourself and your future?

Start by taking stock. That’s right, just like you would if you were running a shop. Think about your strengths and weaknesses and write them down.

This is what your list might look like:


  • Creative
  • Well organized
  • Disciplined
  • Loyal
  • Conscientious
  • Humorous
  • A great writer
  • Ability to spot a good story
  • Hard working
  • Thorough


  • Poor money manager
  • Lack of vision
  • Lack of self-belief
  • Modesty
  • Shy
  • Humble
  • Not pushy enough
  • Poor marketer
  • Drink too much
  • Weak manager

Next, think of what your ideal situation in life would look like. Be extravagant; don’t pull any punches here. And don’t be bashful or modest. What I want you to visualize is the kind of lifestyle you’d be leading if you could have anything you wanted. If money were no object. If there were no social constraints placed on you at all…

Close your eyes and visualize the life you would love to have. Spend ten minutes enjoying the dream. Then write down the key point. They could be things like the following:

My Vision

  • My house would be paid off
  • My credit card would be paid off
  • I’d drive a new sports car
  • I’d be running my own very successful freelance business
  • I’d be in demand as a writer
  • I’d be earning at least $200,000 a year and only writing what I like
  • I’d be working no more than three days a week
  • I’ll be specializing in travel writing
  • I’ll be the author of a best-selling novel
  • I’ll have my own column in a popular women’s magazine

Now write down your vision in BIG BOLD letters and run off a few copies. Stick one up on your mirror in your bedroom and the other above your computer at your workstation. That way you’re sure to see it at least a couple of times each day.

Habits for Highly Successful Writers

I want you to get in the habit of thinking about your vision at least twice each day – once first thing in the morning and once last thing at night. Close your eyes and see yourself living your ideal life. This is important because if you think it hard enough, it will come to pass.

Remember what Descartes said:

“I think, therefore I am.”

You are what you think you are. It’s important to realize that the first battle to become the new you will take place in your own mind and not out there in the marketplace. Understand that to be a successful writer, you have to think you’re a successful writer. It really is a question of attitude.

If you want to kick-start your writing career sooner, rather than later, you can always download my Kindle book Write For A Living In 7 Easy Steps.

Grant McDuling ghostwriter

Grant McDuling, author and ghostwriter

Grant McDuling is a Brisbane-based author of 35 books so far. He has published three as Kindle books and says that since buying a Kindle, his reading habits have changed. Grant is a well-known ghostwriter, having written for a range of clients all over the world, Many of his books are now international best sellers with sales in the millions. Grant has been writing since 1978. His other interests include amateur radio, computers, electronics and classical music. He is also working hard at improving his golf swing.

Read Part 1 of Grant’s series on writing for a living. The Business of Writing — How to Make a Living as an Author or Writer

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12 Responses to “Secrets to Successful Writing: What’s In Your Mind Counts”

  1. Eunice Riemer May 31, 2012 at 8:51 am

    This is the sort of advice we can do without. It is a prime example of circular thinking–round it goes and comes back on itself. Decartes’ statement has been quoted ad nauseum, usually, as in this case, by people who have no idea of what it means.
    My advice: Stop reading advice to writers and start reading real literature. It will improve your writing and you might actually sell something.

  2. Maryann and Grant,
    Another superior, thought provoking blog. I was in a slump and after reading your blog I’m on my way again more motivated and excited and make my lifestyle and writing dreams come true.
    THANK YOU! I always look forward to reading this wonderful blog each and every day. If I can help you please let me know.


  3. Hi Jilly, very kind of you to compliment our work. I strive to empower authors and writers in any way I can. Hey, have a look at our submissions page (nav tab above) if you want to write for OnText!

  4. Grant McDuling May 31, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Eunice, Appreciate your comments. But here’s the thing: far too many of us WANT to be writers, when all we need to do is to BE one. We need to get our BUTs out of the way, as the Rev Ike told me once. You know, “I’d love to write for a living, BUT …”

    This is why I say our obstacles to success are largely in our own minds.

    What we think about is what we end up doing, or being.

    Hope this throws more light on where I am coming from.


  5. Grant McDuling May 31, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Hi Jilly,
    Glad to have been of help. I always remind myself when the going gets tough that this craft of our is perhaps the ultimate of intellectual pursuits. And if this is true, then surely the way we move forward and stay on track is by exercising our intellect. It’s all in the mind. It’s also just as easy to think negatively as it is to think positively, but the results are miles apart.


  6. Eunice Riemer May 31, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    “But here’s the thing: far too many of us WANT to be writers, when all we need to do is to BE one.” Do you ever listen to yourself? That is an absolutely ridiculous statement.

  7. To be a good writer is to know in your heart you have that ability because you care about this art. I realize many may feel that in order to write and be a good writer one needs to read every book on the library and how sad becuse there goes all your precious time and you have not even tapped your own valuable resource which of course is your mind and all that you know. You do not have to be perfect at it just be your creative self.

  8. Grant McDuling June 3, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Look at it this way: in live in general, we all want to HAVE things, don’t we? Of course we do. And how do we typically go about HAVING things? We DO something. This tends to be the formula we use, but there is a part missing. In order to DO something we need to first BE the right person to DO the things we need to DO in order to HAVE the things we want to HAVE.

    It’s the same with writing. So many of us want to HAVE the results a successful writing career can give, and so we start DOING the things we believe writers DO. I believe there’s one more step to this and that is we first need to BE the right type of person (a writer) as this will allow us to DO the things we need to DO to HAVE the results we desire.

    We are all born with the talent to write; we just need to realise this and act accordingly.


  9. Just want to say that I did not write that first comment. Don’t know why my name is on it…just to clear it up.

    Maryan, you are a God-send to those of us whose life goal is to be the best damned ghostwriters we can be. Reading this blog every morning with my cup o’ joe is a happy habit. I wait with great anticipation for the next post.

    Grant, I highly respect you and your knowledge also.

    I have but one request – post more often! 🙂



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