What is Successful Writing?

A recent post, titled Success is in Your Hands, on the HeSo Project site started me thinking. What is my definition of writing success?

Writing - hooks - starDo I want to be famous? Not really. I kind of value my privacy. I don’t think I want to be a household name like Duck-brand tape or Starbucks (both of which can become unhealthy addictions). I would like to make some money at it. I know it takes work and effort. Fame is fleeting. (It’s also the name of a T.V. show. You don’t remember it? See, told you so.)

Do I want to outsell Tom Clancy or perhaps Andy Andrews? It might be nice, but I am a different person. I would like to have enough to live and give. I want the opportunity to work hard and try again tomorrow.

Writing-Pens- Writing Success

Ok, Ok, so I do have a problem with collecting pens. How about you?

Do I want the ability to buy everything I see or desire? I believe the more stuff you have the more places you need to put it. And people to organize and manage it. I have learned to live with less. (I still have a not-so-smart phone sans apps). I look at cool, fascinating items all the time. They stretch my creativity, but I rarely buy them.

Do I want people to recognize me on the street? Once in a while it might be nice, but I don’t think I’d want it to happen all the time. If you see me someday, feel free to say hello. Recognition for what I’ve written is more important to me, because I know my words can make a difference. Words can live on after I’m gone. Not that I’m planning on going soon.

Computer hand typingAcceptance:
Do I want people to accept my point of view? Part of the reason I write is to get my thoughts out. I also hope that my concepts can compete in the arena of ideas. If you don’t agree with me, it’s ok. I’ll even listen attentively and consider your ideas too. I don’t want everyone to think like me. That might be kind of annoying.

I think this is the answer for my life and for my writing. I want to grow and be challenged. I want to earn a living and earn the respect of a few good friends. I’d like to look back on my life and realize I’ve done the best with what I have been given; the choices that I’ve made, the people I’ve helped and the life I enjoyed. That’s what I’d deem successful. How about you?

My next two to three weekly posts will be about the work of research in writing. There will be lots of valuable information and I hope you will check them out. Though information-heavy, I will still try to treat the subject with my usual clarity and levity. Until then, write on.

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14 comments on “What is Successful Writing?
  1. screenwrites says:

    This is fantastic – you have defined what success means for you with wit and humour. I wish you all the luck and a big thank you for liking my short film script Glass.

  2. I agree with you 100% on this! Your outlook is to the point and mirrors my own thoughts. However, now I have this urge to gather a few people, find you on the street and say, “Hello!” But that’s it. No stopping, no Starbuck’s talk…just a, “hey I know you.” hello. kinna like Improv everywhere. ~ call me crazy!

    ~ Stephy

  3. dmswriter says:

    Very good post. I agree with so many of your points! Yes, it might be nice to be recognized for my writing, too, but really, all I want is the same – to have done the best I can with what I’ve been given. I’m working on an article for a local magazine about a painter with wonderful talent. I interviewed another painter for a supporting quote, and he said, in part, that “one’s best and most sincere work is accomplished when the link between their personality and their art is made.” I think the same can be said of writing.

  4. Erica says:

    Some time last year, I read a similar post and I distinctly remember one particular writer’s comment: “I want to make enough money to keep me in coffee and books.”

    Exact credit lost to time and my post-it note memory, but I like that goal.

    Most of the time I feel like the Cathy Guisewite cartoon of writing. And as much as I’d like to envision myself as the Tomb Raider, being a Cathy cartoon and well-sustained bookworm is a happier version of me.

    Great post, Peter. As always. 🙂

  5. mcwoman says:

    I love the phrase “live and give.” I’ll use it. Thank you. And I will be “attending” at the research class as you present it. I can always use a good tip.

  6. dana mentink says:

    Great post! It’s important to know why we are pursuing writing, isn’t it?

  7. grassroots08 says:

    That was a nice bit of truth-telling and it fits you well. We won’t all have the opportunity of bumping into each other any time soon, but I would be honored to sip a cup of coffee and talk over the pleasures of writing with a fellow writer like yourself.

    I was blessed to have Mr. Michael St. John of floydthedog.com show up in Syracuse, N.Y. to spend a day with me, and then fly back to Portugal. I knew just what to impress him with. We joined each other for lunch at a popular local restaurant. Always on the menu each day was chicken and biscuits. He’d never had it before, and it was the house specialty. How could I lose? He LOVED it! “The tab is always picked up by the publisher,” he reminded me.

    As he left to go home, I told him he would be back, if only for the swell chicken dish. LOL

2 Pings/Trackbacks for "What is Successful Writing?"
  1. […] If I want my words to matter to someone else, I have to make sure that they’re more than monologues. Powerful and publishable works are transformed into dialogues. Imagine at least one person from your audience across the table discussing the same issues, turning the last page, or buying the items on your flyer. Solid writing is taking something that’s important to you and finding ways to make it important to the your readership. That’s success. […]

  2. […] what success means for you and then work towards it. Don’t focus on what someone else makes or how many books they sell. […]

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"A writer looks at a screen or piece of paper like a canvas. They see a country unexplored, a picture unpainted, a tale not told. They dare to venture into the barren land, explore its dark corners, and paint its pictures. Then they unveil the epic with the goal of compelling people to visit their newly discovered territory.”
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