This week went pretty well. I had a few days with words in the double digits — for example, I wrote 21 words on Wednesday — but still making progress overall. This part of the story is difficult because I am trying to mix different things together that have already been written in a way that truly fits the new story, but also includes all the stuff I need to include. So, the process is a bit more painstaking than usual. But overall, still good progress, still moving forward.
Optional Monthly Question
How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
I love this question. It is really making me think. There are three things I want to discuss here, because I think they are all factors. 1) It depends on my emotional state, to be honest. What is a “success” one day, may be short of success another. 2) Because I am still writing new things, the goal posts are always changing. And perhaps most important 3) It would be better to have a more objective measurement.
In the end, no matter what goes on with any of those, what matters most is having a positive impact on the reader, knowing that they connected with my work and loved it. The problem is: how do we know this?
On fanfiction sites, and Amazon to a lesser extent, we can look at reviews. Having a positive review is clearly evidence of success with that particular reader. Kudos or star ratings without an accompanying review can also say so. But number of reads or buys… That I think is less indicative, even though that’s how we are paid. But all that tells us is that someone bought it or started to read it. We don’t know, from that number, whether they actually liked it. If the ONLY type of advertising was word-of-mouth, maybe because then it would mean that later buyers bought it because of other people who liked it… But in reality, there are so many other reasons someone might decide to take a chance on the book.
So yes, for me, real success is that connection with a reader.
But that’s not actually something I can control, so instead, I prefer to look at success based on what I have actually achieved — and I’m not doing so well there. My current goal is to finish my revision of Cipher, but I keep writing other things instead of revising. I’ve been stuck at this block (what I’m calling the revision block) for a long time now, and I haven’t found a good way to get past it.
The thing is, I do feel success every time I finish something, whether it is a short story, a novel first draft, etc. That is definitely a kind of success. But that’s an example of the goal posts changing. It used to be that finishing a first draft was the main goal. Once I achieved that, it became the revision. And so on. I think it is important for me to keep looking forward to the next goal, to see if I can succeed at that; and if I don’t, try again, as they say.
And despite my insecurity (hey, this is for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group!), I don’t actually feel like I have failed at writing. I have almost no sales, but I keep writing, and it keeps making me happy, and when I do share things, there are people who like it. And in the end, that is its own kind of success.
Would I like to make money? Yes, of course. I’d love to make enough that I could go down to 30 hours at my day job (to keep benefits) and have more time to write. But I don’t feel like a failure just because that hasn’t happened yet.
INSECURE WRITER’S SUPPORT GROUP
Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh
Twitter is @TheIWSG Hashtag: #IWSG
The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!
Marie Sexton says
Great post. This is definitely something I’ve been struggling with lately.
Karen Lynn says
I was writing every day, when I realized I’d gone over a year without a day off. Keep going, but don’t work yourself into the ground.
Thanks! That is definitely good advice.
Steven Arellano Rose says
Achieving success in writing, I’ve learned, is an ongoing process. We can always do better no matter how good our work is. And yes, it’s important to be happy with the success we have even as we strive for more.
Thanks! That’s exactly how I feel about it. I don’t want to stagnate, for sure, but I also don’t want to get overwhelmed or disheartened.