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.
- 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:
- Blog or website stats
- Social media stats
- 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.