Don’t Sweat It: We Each Need to Find our own Definition of Success

If sucess for you doesn’t look like success for me, don’t sweat it.
Photo by Andres Ayrton on

If I write about something here on my blog, such as writing work-for-hire, but it isn’t what you want to do? Don’t sweat it.

The reality is that there is no one way to succeed as a writer. You can write popular fiction and be a success. You can publish one poem and be a success. You can self-publish a book of short stories and be a success.

Success doesn’t look the same to each of us. I have a friend who self-publishes self-help and works the speakers circut. Her specialty? The Working Woman’s Survival Show and businesses.

I have another friend who self publishes sweet romances while her mysteries are through a small press. She and her brother self publish young adult mysteries together. She also writes for the school and education market. These books are work-for-hire meaning that she sells all rights.

Other writers write essays and creative nonfiction for literary journals. These journals don’t demand all rights but very few of them pay.

But all of these writers are successful. Why? Because there is no one way to be a successful writer. Each of these writers has different goals. If you want to publish essays in literary journals, you have to accept that literary journals seldom pay. If you want your writing in the hands of school children, you can sell your manuscript to an educational pubilsher. Or you can write for a packager like I do. Yes, it means I sell all rights but I’ve got 30 books in school libraries around the US. That’s one of my goals.

To meet your own goals, do these three things.

  1. Think about what success looks like to you. I love writing nonfiction. Work-for-hire for the school and library market is a great fit for me. I have friends who only want to write picture books or novels. Getting them published is their dream.
  2. Read up on the type of writing you want to do. Where are people publishing poetry? Essays? Creative nonfiction? Find out what the publishing conventions are. Learn what accepted practice is NOW, not ten years ago.
  3. Once you’ve learned about this, consider what is acceptable to you. It might make the difference between traditional publishing and self publishing. You may not care if you publish. You just want to finish that manuscript! Whatever. They’re your goals.

Once you know what your goal is and what success looks like to you, you are on your way to find your own path to writing success. If your path isn’t the same as mine, don’t sweat it! We each have our own definition of success.