Six Things Every Writer Needs to Succeed (Psst: MFA is not on this list.)

This post by ML Swift originally appeared on Writer Unboxed on 1/14/15.

When Therese asked if I’d like to scratch out an article for Writer Unboxed, I literally — in the most figurative sense of the word — stood up, turned around, and knocked the gold bricks out of my chair. Did I read her note correctly? Would I like to write an essay for the website I’ve worshipped for over three years, and — e’en if for a day, ere I’m shown the door fore’er — dispense Parker-esque aphorisms to the most respected minds in the industry, while at the same time, make a complete and utter fool of myself? Would I? Would I? I pounced on the keyboard: “Does a bear sh—?” Wait. Breathe. Backspace and delete. Respond as if it were as commonplace as “You want fries with that?”

“Why, yes, Therese, that would be lovely.” There you go. Classy. Mature. Professional. Kiss, kiss; hug, hug. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?

By dinnertime, my euphoric ride on the Cumulonimbus9 had ended with a belly-flop to earth, leaving me stranded in the middle of nowhere, dusting off rainbows and gnawing my thumbnail like a piece of beef jerky. “Mike, what in the world were you thinking?” Actually, if you really want to get down and velveteen about it, I used a much more colorful, less Hogwarts-friendly expression.

You see, that very morning, Sharon Bially had written a post listing six criteria for an impressive writer’s resumé, and according to the stats, I was batting zero. Even worse, I didn’t foresee three of the six items making my five-, ten-, or twenty-year plan. Her suggestions, in order of my probable attainment (from “most likely” to “you’ve got to be kidding”) included:


Read the full post on Writer Unboxed.


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