With all the normal January buzz about goals and resolutions going on, I find that this is a time of year that I have to remind myself what success is for me. If I don't, I wind up too influenced by outside sources, and I get easily discouraged.
What do I mean by outside sources? Let me use a non-writing example. Perusing Pottery Barn Kids can be fun, same as dreaming of book tours and bestsellers lists can be fun, but if I do it for too long, I start thinking crazy things like, "My 5-year-old daughter NEEDS that canopy bed. Her room is so uncoordinated! What kind of mother am I?"
Writing can be that way too. I see other authors' cool writing stuff (book deals and signings) and I start feeling like to be successful, I too need that cool writing stuff. My writing stuff isn't nearly as cool. What kind of a writer am I?
But if I've learned anything about writing journeys, it's that they're all different, and they're meant to be that way. And the only way that I can consider myself a successful writer is if I'm being faithful to my calling and to my path. Which may or may not look successful to others.
My Aunt Penny loved to write. She respected her craft enough to keep these well-used books in her bedroom:
|After my aunt passed away at age 59, my uncle was kind enough to let me have these for my office.|
Maybe you don't want to be published. Maybe like my aunt. you write for you or for your family. Don't let others tell you you're less of a writer for that.
If you do want to be published, one of these days you'll likely have to answer the question, "Do I want to write the stories of my heart, or do I want to write something that will be easier to sell and market?" And often you can find a way to compromise the two, but it's an issue that presses on many of the working writers I know.
Even after you're published, you'll struggle with what success is. Because not only will there always be more that you could do (another round of revisions, another school visit, another Tweet about your new release) there will always be another writer is doing more. (What's really aggravating is when you're promoting twice as hard as they are, but yet they're selling twice the amount of books.)
When you define success for yourself, rather than letting others pin their version of success on you, you become a much healthier writer. You still might fall into compare-and-compete moments, but they'll be just that - moments. And then you can put your blinders back on and focus on your writing path.
This year, as you make goals and dream dreams, remember you don't need this to be a successful writer:
|A Fancy Office|
|Signing my first book contract|
All you need is to be true to your unique journey. That is what makes you successful.
What are the unique parts of your journey? Is it a genre? A theme? A desire to publish?