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Success—How Do You Measure Up?


What does ‘success’ mean to you? For some, success might be measured by the number of manuscripts that they finish in a month, by how many words they write a day, or how many rejections they get each year. Or it might be measured by how many manuscripts they sell or how much money they make. And for others it may be more personal.

Whatever means you use to measure your success, it needs to help you move forward in some way. And different things work for different people. Let’s look at a few ways used to measure success.

Amount of time spent writing each week. Whether you count the number of hours spent writing, or the number of words you write, you need to write to be a writer! The more you write, the better you get at it. Success comes with time spent writing.

Tip: Combine your time spent writing with time spent reading books in the genre that you write. You will increase your understanding of children’s books and writing them, and increase your success level.

Tip: Do what works best for you. Someone once said, “If you don’t write every day, you will never succeed as a writer.” Every piece of advice that I read said that you need to write every day. I rebelled! My family came first, and I would write when I could—and succeed!

Then I read something in a writing magazine that validated me as a writer. It said to compare how important your writing is to something else that you love to do. Then spend the same amount of time writing as you spend doing that other thing. I loved my job as a nurse. I was working two days a week. I knew that I could spend two days a week writing if I put it on the calendar. Once I started, I usually exceeded that. And if ‘life happened’ and I didn’t get those two days in, I didn’t let it get to me.

Number of manuscripts completed. A finished manuscript is a huge success! You’ve stuck with it! You’ve written a story with a beginning that catches the reader’s attention, an exciting middle, and you’ve tied everything up at the end. Success comes with following through, all the way to the end.

Tip: All manuscripts start with a first draft. Finish your first draft, all the way to the end, resisting the urge to go back and edit before you’re finished. Then pick the one(s) that you just can’t stop thinking about to polish and revise!

Tip: If you don’t already belong to a critique group, join one now! Having another pair of eyes and ears is invaluable, and you can learn from other’s experiences.

Number of rejections received. Some writers count success by the number of rejections they’ve received. Some even set a goal of getting so many rejections per year! Rejections mean that you’re sending your work out. They mean that you’ve been finishing what you’ve started!

Tip: Make a list of places to send your manuscript, so that when you receive a rejection, your manuscript won’t sit in the drawer until you decide where to send it next.

Tip: After a manuscript receives three to four rejections, take another look at it with fresh eyes. Is there some place where you can revise and make it better?

Manuscripts sold and money made. Some writers measure their success by the number of manuscripts they’ve sold or how much money they’ve made. It’s good to celebrate those accomplishments! But instead of celebrating each small success, some writers may feel disappointed that their success is not bigger. Having your work accepted by a magazine or a publisher is a huge success, no matter how big or small the sale! It validates what you do and encourages you to keep on!

Tip: Celebrate each success, big or small! Enjoy a day off with your family or friends. Or just have a piece of chocolate!

More Tips for Success:

*Set realistic goals. Start with something small. Starting with small, attainable goals will give you a sense of accomplishment, and keep you from getting discouraged.

*Don’t get discouraged if you fail to meet your goals. Do the best you can. Life happens. Just pick yourself up and start again!

* Celebrate! Once you’ve accomplished your goal, reward yourself with a small treat—a piece of candy, an outing with friends or family, or some time to yourself.

*Re-evaluate your goals and set the bar a little higher. Re-evaluating and setting higher goals along the way will give you a push to work toward that higher goal, and one day you’ll be celebrating that book acceptance!

Decide what ‘success’ means to you.
Some things that make me feel successful as an author are these:
When I see a child enjoying a book that I’ve written.
When I ‘connect’ with students at an author visit.
If another writer is encouraged by something that I said.

My favorite quote, and one that I truly believe in, is this:
Many years from now it will not matter what my worldly possessions had been. What will really matter is that I was important... in the life of a child.


Some definitions:
Success:
favorable or desired outcome
Success: achieving whatever in this life will bring you joy, satisfaction and meaning
Success: (insert your own definition here)

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