I’m sure everyone who starts writing a novel, defines success as topping the best-seller lists and having their book made into a movie. The sad reality is that most of us will never get there. Does that mean we’ll fail as writers?
If most of us won’t become the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, then why do we write? Because we love writing. Writing is what we do. We cannot NOT write. The voices in our heads won’t let us.
How do we measure success, then? I think it depends on the end goal. If all you want is to write a novel for yourself to enjoy, then your goal is different from someone who wants to publish their book. For most writers, however, I think the end goal is to find an audience for their book, no matter how small it is. Knowing that someone out there (other than family and friends) loves their book as much as they do. To me, just reaching one person would be enough.
But just because I’m not there yet, doesn’t mean I’m not a successful writer. The journey from idea to publication is long, and there are many obstacles along the way that will discourage you. That’s why we need to celebrate every step that brings us closer to our goal:
- Having a great idea after having writer’s block for a long period of time.
- Completing the first draft.
- Polishing your novel to the best of your ability and having a completed manuscript.
- Landing an agent – this is a big one for those of us going the traditional route. The agent is, in essence, our first fan.
- Selling your book to a publisher.
- Seeing your book in stores or online.
- That first positive review.
Right now I’m in the middle of revisions in order to resume querying. I got discouraged when I didn’t get any requests on my first rounds and paused for a year. Now I’m ready to keep going.
I should be proud of getting this far. Four years ago, the idea of writing a novel had never crossed my mind. Now, the story I’ve carried in my head for years is materialized on paper. I should celebrate my accomplishment, not be depressed about what I don’t have yet. My journey is just beginning.
I will keep working hard to achieve my goal. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing more books. I still have a lot of ideas in my head.
How do you measure success as a writer? Do you celebrate each small success along the way? How do you keep yourself motivated to keep going?