Success Is a Four-Letter Word #IWSG

I have a few many tons of posts about success. Fear of success. Lack of success. What is success. Blah, blah. But, the common theme running through these narratives is that I do not believe in a generic, blanket definition of success. I think the word (along with “should” and “balance”) needs to be banned. Alas, it is here to stay. And I will whine about it once more. You’re welcome.

Success is so freakin’ personal. It means something different to everyone.

So when someone says they’re happy to have a never-in-a-million-years-will-this-be-a-best-seller book…maybe, instead of saying, “You can’t think that!” Or “Everyone wants to have a best-selling book!” Or “You’re just saying that because you know it won’t sell.” Maybe just…I don’t know…be nice and believe them.

Some writers want ALL OF THE THINGS. A traditionally published book, a NYT best-selling book, a movie based on their series. Cool. Some want enough to pay the bills and quit their day job. Excellent goal, especially if you hate your day job and your boss is a jackass. Some just want to write. And that’s great, too.

Success is getting into Oxford University, making your first million, being cast as the NEXT BIG THING in some future Marvel movie. It’s also learning to tie your shoe, figuring out your cell phone, losing 5 lbs, catching a baseball. Success is dropping your kid off on his first day of school without crying.

For me, it’s complicated. I have dreams and goals and whatnot but I also have realistic expectations and the knowledge that, whether people believe me or not, I write for me. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Because it’s true.

I suppose, in the simplest terms, I define success (as a writer) by the quality of my books. Success is writing, editing, and publishing something I can be proud of.

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?

IWSG Question of the Month

September Prompt โ€“ How do you define success as a writer?

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IWSG (Insecure Writerโ€™s Support Group)

This post is part of IWSG , a monthly blog hop/prompt started by Alex J Cavanaugh. 

29 thoughts on “Success Is a Four-Letter Word #IWSG

  1. Hi Sarah, I thiynk about this a lot and you know, being a blockbuster author carries a lot of stress with it. For me, I define success by my level of happiness and satisfaction. I want to write and publish a book, and think I will, but the success factor for me will be more internal. Great topic.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Very true. ๐Ÿ˜Š I meant more turning into a blubbering mess in front of him before he enters the building so he starts his day like that. Success is remaining calm in front of your kid until he is out of the car. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The one I will always remember is putting our youngest (now 29 years old, was about 8 at the time) on a bus to go to summer camp for the first time. While waiting for the bus to pull out, I had to go hide behind the bushes because I was indeed a blubbering mess.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post. You’re right, success can mean so many different things. I’ve been working on re-defining it for myself, but I suppose just being proud of what I’ve done really is one measure of it. So thank you for that! ๐Ÿ™‚

    My kid will graduate from high school in May. OMG, I know I’ll cry like crazy. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Success is a word in a dictionary where everyone inserts their own definition. And then berates themselves because their definition doesn’t match someone else’s. I am so over that.

    Also, totally agree with you. WTF is this “balance” of which some speak? Unless they mean a glass of white wine in one hand, and red in the other, do not speak to me of this. ๐Ÿคฃ

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You should focus on balance, Sarah. (Hehe. I couldn’t resist.)
    Oh, for me, it’s just having a good day. On a scale of 1 to 10, that’s a 7 or above. If most days are 7+, that would be a successful life. Sometimes writing fits into that equation, and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m getting better at knowing the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Har har. (That really is a good one, I’ll admit.) Ah, the success of having a good day. This is my favorite definition so far. ๐Ÿฅฐ And I’m so glad you didn’t say a “10” is success. I’m with you on the “7”.

      Me recently: “On a scale of 1 to 10, I give this day an F.”

      Liked by 1 person

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