How Do You Define Your Writing Success?

By on September 22, 2016
How Do You Define Your Writing Success? - Writer's

Are you a successful writer? Have you ever actually stopped to ask yourself that question?

What does success mean to you?

Would you consider yourself successful if you finished your first novel? If you got a publishing deal? If you self-published and 50 people bought your book, and you got 20 positive reviews, or would it have to hit the Amazon top 100 bestsellers list and propel you to author stardom before you would even consider giving yourself a pat on the back?

As writers, we each have our own definition of what successful means, and this undoubtedly changes over time. I remember when the very idea of someone, even a dear friend, reading my work would bring me out in a cold sweat. I thought that if someone, just one person who I believed knew what they were talking about, told me I had even an ounce of writing talent; I would feel like I had achieved something great!
Of course, when that happened, and I began to write more, to practice and to share my work more widely, my writing goals became different, and they continue to adapt and grow as I do as a writer.

This is both a great thing and a rather dangerous one.

While always pushing oneself and striving to achieve more is a beautiful thing, there is also the danger that in doing so we will keep nudging those goalposts ever further away, so we are never really satisfied with our success, and, despite achieving remarkable things, will always want that little bit more.

The best thing for any author to do is to try and set some firm goals for every piece of work they start. Write these goals down and make sure you acknowledge and reward yourself each time you reach one.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What is your idea of success for this particular piece of work?
How will you measure your success and keep track of your progress?
Once you have achieved a particular goal, or level of success, what is the next step, what do you intend to do with it?
Is there a bigger picture this piece of work feeds into?

If you feel at a loss why not take a look at some of these common writing goals and see if they resonate with you?

I want to write something I feel proud of.
I want to see my book for sale in a bookstore.
I want to change people's lives with my writing.
I want to get published.
I want to sell X amount of books.
I want to write every day.
I want to finish by book by X date.
I want to win a literary prize.
I want to become famous for my writing.
I want to quit my day job and write full-time.

Any of these sound familiar?

Try to make your writing goals specific, try to make them time bound, and try to combine little wins with your loftiest ambitions.

Once you have written down the goals that you believe will make you a successful writer, take the time to look at each of them one by one.

If you will only consider yourself successful if you become the next J.K.Rowling then try to understand what your motivations are. There is no harm in striving for fame and fortune, but if that is all you want and nothing else will satisfy you, you may be in for a very tough ride!

What are your writing ambitions? And how do you define your writing success? Let us know!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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