If you want to succeed, hang out with unsuccessful people. Er, am I remembering that right?

If you want to get somewhere, don’t ask for directions. Wait, that’s not how it goes.

If you want to master something, don’t learn from the mistakes of the masters. Hm. That just sounds wrong.

Because I don’t subscribe to the above philosophies, I’ve attended two of the Superstars Writing Seminars. I went there to hang out with some bestselling science fiction and fantasy authors to soak up their best advice about the business of writing. These events last three full days, and they’re chock full of great information.

I could never do justice to everything there is to learn from these seminars in one blog post, but here’s one thing I learned.

Successful writers don’t just write, they write their ____ off.

Brandon Sanderson writes a few books a year, making time to squeeze Wheel of Time tomes into his schedule. Kevin J. Anderson dictates his stories into a digital recorder while hiking the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. He also rents hotel rooms to get away from everyone (p.s. if my wife is reading this, I love you, Honey!) and write his ____ off. Eric Flint writes in binges that last for weeks and during those times, he is dead to the outside world.

Kevin J. Anderson says something obvious, but powerful: The top professionals in any respected field (medicine, law, you name it) WORK real, disciplined, long hours at their jobs, and then enjoy the fruits of their labor. When you have a ‘real job,’ you keep a schedule and you punch that clock. Serious writers shouldn’t expect to do any less. Kevin recently talked to the Writing Excuses guys about this very thing.

David Farland (Dave Wolverton) is also a Superstars’ presenter. In addition to hanging out with Dave at two Superstars seminars, I also attended his “Writer’s Death Camp” last November. What I’ve learned from Dave is hard to summarize in a flashy bullet point. I’ve learned from him so many fine points on the craft and business of writing, little things that can make all the difference. If you subscribe to his free Daily Kick emails, you’ll see what I mean.

A funny thing happened in one of Dave’s Daily Kick emails last week. Out of the blue, he said some exceedingly kind things about me and my work in his Daily Kick about “The Dangers of Self-Publishing.” Yep, this was a nice surprise. Now the following quote lives at the top of my ebook’s Amazon page:

“Moses is a fine writer and is deserving of success, and I think that it will follow … maybe his project will turn him into the next Amanda Hocking. Personally, I really enjoyed Moses’s work.”
–David Farland, NYT Bestselling author of The Runelords

Though this came as a surprise to me, this quote would’ve never happened had I not made a decision to hang out with some successful authors, to appreciate what they had to share with me (p.s. thanks, Dave), and to just be myself around them.

Here’s another cool thing I lucked into. At the end of the first Superstars seminar, I was hanging around the nearly empty conference room when I saw Brandon Sanderson reading the first few pages of someone’s manuscript. So I walked over to listen to the advice Brandon had for (someone who is now my friend) Joshua Essoe. Brandon asked if I had something he could read.

Uh. Yeah?

So he did. He gave me some great feedback on my first chapter, told me the story was strong enough that he’d continue reading if he was an editor, and then helped me with a technical issue I was struggling with at the time. I can’t tell you how how helpful his comments were.

Then at the second Superstars seminar, I got to sit and have dinner with Brandon and a handful of other seminar attendees. I got to pick his brain about which editors might be a good or a bad fit for me at different publishing houses, and again I learned a lot (thanks again, Brandon).

I also interviewed Brandon, Howard, and Dan from Writing Excuses at the recent conference, as well as Sherrilyn Kenyon (that interview will be up any day now at Adventures In SciFi Publishing), and I got to film a couple episodes of Writing Excuses (thanks, guys) that featured Mary Robinette Kowal and David Farland.

If there’s a takeaway from my ramblings, maybe it’s to spend time with writers you emulate, whether it’s at workshops, seminars, conferences, blogs, or even on Facebook and Twitter. Don’t do it with the mindset of getting anything from them, other than an education. Be yourself, be positive and grateful, and something–hopefully whatever you need most–will definitely rub off on you.

Oh yeah. And if you want to be a writer, write your ____ off.


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 at 11:59 am and is filed under My Work, On Authors, Passion for Writing, Publishing, Success Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

14 comments so far


I should write my what off? 😉

Speaking of getting away, I just took a writingcation last week. I checked into a Inn and spent a lot of quality time with my laptop and nothing/no one else. You don’t realize what a difference it makes to commit to that sort of focused writing until you do it. I highly recommend it.

Oh, and congrats on the great things you’re making happen for yourself!

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:12 pm

You are so my hero lately, Moses. I will continue to watch what you do and learn what to do right in this changing industry. I will also write my something or another off.
Charlie recently posted..Why Skunks Love Me – Part One

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:18 pm
Moses Siregar III

@Leah: That’s great and I’m buying it! My new thing is three-or-more focused hours every single day of the week. I’m more tortoise than hare, but maybe I should try a binge at a hotel for a couple days. Hm. Thanks for the suggestion.

@Charlie: I really appreciate you. I think one other thing I’ve done, especially with the Superstars guys, is I’ve just tried to give something back to them. So, for example, I offered to film some testimonials for them at the first conference and now those are on the site for their seminar.

I do that because anytime anyone gives me something, I always want to give back, and more than they gave me if I possibly can. That attitude probably had something to do with Dave mentioning me, though I can’t be sure. As you know, Dave’s just a cool guy.

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Sound advice, all around. And being yourself is always a sound strategy.

I would also add that one shouldn’t expect everyone to answer your questions right away or at all, especially those posted to social media. As indicated in this post, writers tend to be very busy writing, and may not have time to answer all questions.
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February 23rd, 2011 at 12:50 pm
Moses Siregar III

Good point, Griffin. I’ll admit, I got a little spoiled at this particular seminar because the presenters were so available to us. But I agree when it comes to social media, you can ask, but you can’t expect an answer. If you get one, cool. If not, cool.

February 23rd, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Sounds like it was a great conference, and congrats on a fantastic quote from Dave Farland! I bet you still get butterflies when you read it!

February 23rd, 2011 at 1:56 pm
Robert W. Leonard

Great collection of thoughts here. I think it’s awesome that you got such a great quote from David Farland. It’s no wonder you have such success when you are so active. Keep it up, it gives me hope. 🙂

February 23rd, 2011 at 11:48 pm
Moses Siregar III

Thank you, Jenny! The quote is very strange, but I’m working on getting used to it 🙂

Thank you, Robert. That’s really cool of you to say!

February 24th, 2011 at 10:21 am

Excellent post (as always). Now, to unplug from the interweb and get writing … !

February 24th, 2011 at 11:49 am

Great post. And I was laughing because I’m sitting here reading your blog while I’m usually writing my *** off!

Okay, back to that!
🙂 Bella

February 24th, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Ooo, I can’t tell you how jealous I am you attended that. I would have loved to be there!
Tara Maya recently posted..Cover Art for The Unfinished Song- Taboo

February 24th, 2011 at 12:42 pm

If by writing, I could reduce the size of my ass, I wouldn’t need to write anymore, I could market that skill and make a million selling ass-reducing diet books about writing! 😛

February 24th, 2011 at 4:05 pm
Moses Siregar III

Valmore, Amen.

Bella, watch out for that.

Tara, be jealous. Be very jealous.

Selena, you are wise.

February 24th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

GREAT post. And there’s a perfectly good point in here that I haven’t been doing lately.
So, I’m off to go write my ____ off.

Michelle Muto
The Book of Lost Souls
Michelle Muto recently posted..Quick Update

March 31st, 2011 at 8:50 am

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  1. Tweets that mention Some Things I’ve Learned from Superstars | Moses and Dionysus Walk Into a Bar ... -- Topsy.com    Feb 24 2011 / 10am:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Danyelle Leafty, Michael Robb Mathias, David Wisehart, Ryne Douglas Pearson, Moses Siregar III and others. Moses Siregar III said: Some Things I’ve Learned from Superstars #amwriting #scifi #ebooks http://bit.ly/hMAh54 […]

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