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What Defines Success as a Published Author? It Takes More than Talent!
by Susan Violante, coManaging Editor Reader Views
Many people begin writing because they have a talent for it, which is sometimes discovered by accident. I began writing when my mother gave me a diary for my thirteenth birthday. However, it wasn’t until I was 24 that I realized I was not bad! That is when I did my major thesis, which scored A+. By that time, I had been doing technical writing as an intern for over a year, but my creative writing had never been shared as I had never regarded myself as a talented writer. Once I got validation on my professional writing, I felt confident enough to come out of my comfort zone and shared some of my poetry. It was at that moment that I realized that talent would not be enough to make it to publication. Below are a few things I discovered I needed to master during my writing and publication journey.
We need to be humble to better ourselves. Our writing becomes writing to make possible for others to read our messages, stories, concepts. But that does not mean that our messages, stories, and concepts are for everyone! By humbling ourselves, we will be able to receive all negative feedback without resentment, which will allow us to grow and perfect our craft. We will also be able to accept praise without letting it go to our heads, which will allow us to connect with fans and create lasting relationships with media and other peers in the industry.
If we want a long career as published authors, we must keep our work current and relevant. We must evolve with the audience and the common language of the time we live in, and we write for. The way we express ourselves evolves through time. Spoken English today sounds different from the 80s, 70s… etc. If your writing doesn’t evolve with the language and culture, you will be limiting your audience to the older generations, even though your topic could be relevant to younger adults. Same goes with teens and other age groups. We need to update in the same way that technology, fashion, music update through time for a sustainable career.
Keeping your focus on the end goal while having a day job and going through the mundane tasks of daily life is essential to stay on track. Most authors started writing on the side. I would do it late at night or very early in the morning, when everyone was sleeping, and the house was quiet. Finding a balance between your life and your writing is essential and will be extremely useful when you decide to publish.
Persistence and Resilience
I truly believe that persistence and resilience are the key to success in life. Achieving goals does not happen overnight, and most of us that achieve any long-term goal credit it to never abandoning the desire of doing what you set up to accomplish through time.
In the end, we are the masters of our future. By being focused, educated, humble and persistent, we place ourselves and our projects on the right path to the finish line.
How do you define success?
Hi Bruce! This wonderful article was written by my business partner, Susan Violante, my start was much less exciting, lol! You are truly an inspiration to others, your book “How To Be Happy on Monday” is a testatment to your dedication to helping others. It just proves what one of our commentors below, Melvin, had to say about loving what you do! Thank you for sharing. Best, Sheri
Hello, this is a wonderful article but I think it’s slightly misnamed. It’s not really about how different people define success; it’s more about how to be successful if you want a long-term writing career. The article by Melvin is closer to this concept of how individuals define success. It sounds like for Melvin, the answer is to enjoy the experience of actually putting words to paper.
From the beginning of my writing career, I have struggled with my goal. And success is meeting the goal. As I prepare to close my writing days, the issue of my nebulous goal has. become even more important. Have I met it? Do I feel good about what I’ve done or inadequate? The answers to those questions depends on how I defined success from the beginning.
As I work through the answers, I realize that I have seen few articles on how to end a career, or leave an interest. What are the practical things we need to think about in closing? How do we make peace with it? How do we let it go?
Nearly every article on writing is about -don’t give up, here is how to succeed, etc. The implication is that giving up is quitting, and quitting is bad. But, it’s not always bad. If we accept that it’s OK to have vague or ever-changing goals, and that in the end we have mostly enjoyed the ride, then we can rest easy. Nan
Thanks for writing. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how to end a career or leave an interest. Sounds like a great article a lot of people might benefit from when winding down one area of your life in order to pursue another or simply move to the next stage of your journey. Best, Sheri Hoyte
I have published the following article that I believe defines cues for me.
Vincent Van Gogh, Lawrence Kolhberg, Ludwig Boltzmann, James Dean, Galileo, Emily Dickinson, El Greco, Edgar Allen Poe, and many others. What do they have in common? They all achieved success and recognition after their deaths.
Van Gogh never sold a painting in his life. Today, they are worth millions.
Ludwig Boltzmann discovered his famous second law, of thermodynamics, also known as the law of entropy. He committed suicide while on vacation after scientists rejected his theories. Yet today, the Boltzmann Equations serve as a foundational basis of science.
Lawrence Kolhberg, a professor of ethics at Harvard, walked into the ocean after Carol Gilligan refuted his theory of moral and ethical development. Her replicated research demonstrated that Kolhberg’s theories weren’t applicable to women, only to men. His body was found near the end of a runway at Logan Airport. Today, every psychology student knows of Kolhberg’s theories.
The point I want to make is that success may not always come in our lifetime. I am a writer; I am an educator. I love writing my stories and articles. I also know many other writers who are indie (independent) writers. We all love the craft of composing a well-written story or essay. We love expressing our ideas. Will any of us make the New York Times best seller list. Most likely, not. Yet we write anyway.
Most of us indies hate marketing. Yet marketing is usually necessary to achieve financial and recognitional success. So the question that occupies my mind is “why?” Why engage in an activity like marketing that we hate? The answer (for me) is that engaging in activities that take the joy out of our lives is a waste of time and energy.
Recognition may or may not come in this lifetime. It may never come. Pursuing something that is as fickle and elusive as fame and fortune is frustrating and depressing; that way lies madness. Why not spend our few short years following our joy and ignoring the things that we hate? Ignore marketing; ignore seeking to make the NYTs best seller list. If we, against all odds, achieve fame and fortune, great! If not, at least our time and energy are spent in more fulfilling, joyful and productive ways.
So. Paint your picture. Compose your music. Write your story. Build your widget. You may not make much money. You may not achieve fame, fortune and recognition. But you will be happy. I guarantee it.
Perhaps Joseph Campbell was right when he said, “Follow your bliss.”