7 Essential Lessons About Writing You Can Learn From Elon Musk

Elon tells you what to do to become a great writer

Elon Musk knows about success. Given a problem, he’ll analyze it until he comes up with a solution. If his fix doesn’t work, he will approach the problem again, but from a different angle.

As writers, we look for problems. And, like Elon Musk, we seek solutions. We ask ourselves, could I write the article I read better? What if I approached the topic from a different angle? Is there a unique twist to the story that will reach more readers?

Elon Musk has a passion to solve problems. His quotes apply to manufacturing cars. But they are also essential lessons about writing.

Discover what’s important then write about it

“When something is important enough, you do it even if the odds are not in your favor.”

When looking at what you want to write, don’t discard it because you feel it won’t make a lot of money or get a wide readership. Ask yourself if the story is important enough to write regardless of the outcome. If the answer is “yes”, then write it.

Unless forced to give up on your writing, don’t

“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.”

If you want to be a writer, you will need to develop an attitude of persistence. So unless someone or something forces you to quit, you will keep writing to achieve your goal.

is one of the most successful bloggers in the world. His articles are insightful, and millions of people read them. He’s traveled, lived in another country, and he’s a multimillionaire. What may surprise you is he can only move his face. The inability to move arms, hands, feet, legs, or body would force most people to quit. But Jon found a passion for writing, and he persisted in it despite his disease.

Never give up on writing.

Be hell-bent on making your writing work

“We’re going to make it happen. As God is my bloody witness, I’m hell-bent on making it work.”

If persistence is important, so is determination. No matter where you are in your writing career have a determination to make your writing work. Keep learning to write better. Study writers you admire. And study authors who you feel are bad. What makes one writer great and the other a failure?

Persistence will keep you writing. Being hell-bent on making your writing the best will keep you learning. Perfecting your skills will make you great.

Establish the possibility that you can write, then be a writer

“The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”

Call it faith, positive thinking, or something else. Once you believe within yourself that you can write, all that’s left for you to do is write.

Being an author isn’t a “now and again” process. Writers write, and they write a lot. They are persistent and consistent. Getting you through the tough times is knowing you can write. All that’s waiting is for the world to discover you.

Anyone can write so chose to be an extraordinary writer

“I think it is possible for ordinary people to choose to be extraordinary.”

You can be an extraordinary writer, but you have to choose to be one. What that means is you are willing to learn the craft, one story at a time. If a story gets rejected, try again with another publisher. If it’s rejected a second time, go through the story and make it better. Extraordinary writers aren’t born that way. They work at improving their writing every day. By writing and rewriting, they choose to be extraordinary writers.

Dwell on being a better writer and question why you aren’t

“Constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.”

When you’ve finished a story, and before you send it to a publisher, ask yourself one question. Is there anything I can do to make the story better? If something in the story doesn’t read right, feels stilted, or confusing, rewrite it. Question yourself. Why did you write the article? Who is your audience? Why did you write the story the way you did? Your readers expect the best you can give. If you aren’t giving your all to the story, ask yourself, why not?

Be passionate in your writing and your readers will be happy

“People should pursue what they’re passionate about. That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.”

People have written, “if you write for money or fame, it will be visible to the reader.” When I read these type comments, I ask myself, “Is the author writing as a hobby, or is the writer writing to make money?” I’m may be cynical, but most professional writers want to tell a story and get paid for it. Readers will detect, though, the writer's lack of passion.

So it’s ok to write for money, or fame, or any other reason, but you must have passion about your topic. And your readers will feel your passion.

Final thoughts

Elon Musk is an innovative thinker who happens to make cars and spaceships. Along the way, he’s learned a lot of valuable lessons. He’s discovered that doing what’s important is worth the risk of failure. He understands that persistence and never giving up are vital to success. And being extraordinary at anything is a choice.

Underlying it all is passion. When writing find your passion.

As Elon Musk says, “That will make them happier than pretty much anything else.”

Published in The Ascent, The Writing Cooperative, Illumination-curated, Writers’ Blokke.

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