Welcome to the monthly Insecure Writer’s Support Group post. This month’s question is the following:
The 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?
“Success” has had many definitions over the course of my writing life, depending on a wide and constantly changing variety of circumstances, and also my experiences in life (generally) and with the literary world (specifically).
“Make a living as a writer” was probably my first goal, and likely the one most popular with beginning writers.
“Become a famous author” was the next goal, and it is not at all the same as the first definition.
“Publish a book” was next, and by now you can probably see a trend in the targets at which I have aimed.
“Complete a final draft” could have been a goal, but it must necessarily follow “complete a first draft,” which I have yet to do. And no, I don’t consider my output from NaNoWriMo to be first draft material.
Here in September 2021, well into the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic and with a significant uptick in cases thanks to the Delta variant and the nihilistic arrogance of people who think it Won’t Happen To Them, I define success as writing for at least a few minutes every day, no matter what form that writing takes.
To that end, I have been moderately, well, successful. Eight months into 2021, I have written about three dozen poems, created rough outlines for half a dozen short stories, and jotted down rudimentary notes for three novels. I write in my journals every day. I update this blog at least once a week. And yesterday I started planning out what I am going to work on during NaNoWriMo, which starts two months from today (egads!)
Success as a writer depends on prior successes, whether or not you define them as such. Effect follows cause. You can’t have a final draft without first having a first draft. And in order to do that, you need to, you know, write.
As we like to say in tai chi class, “If it was easy, everyone would do it.”
And a side note, because we are 20 months into a pandemic with no end in sight: It’s okay to be exhausted. It’s okay to be burned out and frustrated, and to not be able to focus on your writing. The world is a stressful place in the best of times, and these are far from the best of times. Be gentle with yourself.
The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
is a community dedicated to encouraging
and supporting insecure writers
in all phases of their careers.