What Does “Success” Look Like?

Posted: October 26, 2016 in Writing
Tags: , , , , ,


Here’s the thing about being a writer with a goal of becoming a published author: the target keeps moving.

Okay, sure — the prize is always to get your book published.  But there are lots of steps along the way.  And not all of them are baby steps; some of them are ginormous steps.

  • Coming up with a novel-worthy plot and compelling characters.
  • Finishing a complete manuscript.
  • Learning how to give and take useful criticism.
  • Nailing a killer beginning.
  • Learning to get comfortable killing your darlings in the revision process.
  • Writing a 2 page synopsis of your entire novel.
  • Writing a 2 paragraph synopsis of your entire novel.
  • Writing a 2 sentence synopsis of your entire novel.
  • Sending out your first query.
  • Receiving your first rejection.
  • Taking the plunge and entering a pitch contest.

Every time you hit one of these milestones, you’ve accomplished something big in your career as a writer.  Each of these milestones is something you can build on to help you get to the next one.  Like way points on a long mountain-climbing expedition.

Here’s another thing about being a writer with a goal of becoming a published author: you have to know you might never actually get there.  Yet, for every published author, this did not deter them along the way.

So, what does “success” look like?

Have you ever climbed a mountain?  No, me either.  But I’ve seen a lot of movies and stuff.  It seems to me that along the way up the mountain, when you stop on those scenic way points and put down your pack, you can take a moment to look over the vista from your new vantage point.  Look back on where you came from and all you have passed through to get to where you are.  Assess your progress.

That is what success looks like.

  1. Deb R.H. says:

    That’ll preach.


  2. Sandra Coopersmith says:

    John, these suggestions that you make during your journey are really great and so well written. You might consider submitting an article incorporating your thoughts and experiences to a publication such as Writer’s Digest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. kathryneann says:

    No you are not a hack, John. I’d take Sandra’s advice and submit the article. I have accomplished four of the stages on your list and can relate! It feels wonderful to be 70% through editing revisions of my first non-fiction manuscript. I’m taking note of my progress, evaluating how far I’ve come and enjoying the process. Soldier on, John.


  4. Barbara says:

    Thanks for writing this and listing so clearly what it takes to get published. A nice way to check against mileposts when needed!

    Liked by 1 person

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