A Writer’s Definition of Success

A Writer's Definition of Success by Kate Larking. Read more on AnxietyInk.com

I have been thinking a lot about what my definition of success should be, as a writer. After all, last week I outlined a whole bunch of goals for 2017. And while I want to meet those goals and produce toward those goals, I need to figure out what my definition of success is.

I’ve struggled with success metrics before.

When I was in school, I did as I was told to meet the criteria I needed to get a mark. That being said, I didn’t feel fulfilled by the grade I got.

This came to a head in university when I got a test mark back that sucked–by my standards. This class was one of the notorious 3 for my degree, dubbed a “weeder class”. Basically, they were taught in such a way that made the testing convoluted and difficult. As a result, many students performed poorly. This was my first encounter with a weeder class.

I, frustrated and stressed, looking for some grounding, decided to walk home from the university to help process this mark. At the halfway point home, I asked myself, “Okay, well, what do good marks mean to me?”

I stopped in my tracks. Nothing.

I started to cry. Because I could think of nothing. No reason that grades were important to me. Just this big blank in my mind. If I was going to find a single reason, it was so that other people could have proof that I was test-smart, book smart.

What a shitty reason.

I won’t lie: figuring out this issue in my first semester of second year made years 2-5 difficult.

And now, for my writing.

So now, out of university (you know, minus working there), why am I putting myself through the hard work of writing and self-publishing.

The reasons:

  • Because I value my characters as shards of myself and my struggles.
  • Because I love creating art.
  • Because I want to impact someone, let them know we all struggle.
  • Because I love books and the publishing industry.
  • Because I don’t want my stories to die with me.

So, after listening to one too many podcasts with Seth Godin as a guest (not too many, really. I will continue to hunt out some more to listen to), I realized I should figure out what defines my success before I become too entrenched in measurements.

I know that I do not want my success as a writer to be defined by:

  1. Sales
  2. Blog or website stats
  3. Social media stats
  4. Email newsletter subscribers

Really, the list of things I don’t want to be measured by goes on and on. These measures don’t define my worth as a writer or artist. They would define my success at outreach, marketing, social media algorithms and engagement… not my writing.

My definition of writerly success. Are you ready?

So, I want to outline my writer’s definition of success:

  • I want to feel proud of my work so that I want to send it out on submission.
  • I want to like my story and characters so much that I want to commission art for covers on my self-publishing projects.
  • I want at least one person I don’t know to let me know that they viscerally like my stories. That it speaks to them in a way that stories I love speak to me.
  • I want to enjoy the process of writing more than I dread it (because sometimes it’s hard and it would be ignorant of me to not acknowledge that fact).
  • I want to complete some stories and let them go into the world.

The most important aspect of these goals? That I want them. How I define my success is up to me. How you define your success is up to you. So live it proudly.


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  1. It’s funny to think about this sort of thing and how we keep changing the goalposts on ourselves. Ten years ago, I would have said that success was having something published and getting paid for it. But that’s happened and I’m not there. For now, I’m measuring success in time spent writing and the number of submissions I send out. The last couple years haven’t been so great in either department…

    This is an awesome post. I love it! Thank you ♥

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