Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Writer’s Journey to Success

We writers are an impatient lot. We want instant success but forget that success can come in many forms. We tend to look at the big picture and forget about the little victories we achieve along the way. Robert Collier wrote that “success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.”

We are in training, learning on the job. People don’t become doctors or hairstylists or star athletes overnight. These people worked hard and over a considerable amount of time. They continue to learn and improve in their fields. To become successful writers, we need to commit to the same time and effort. We need to continue to grow as writers, taking workshops and networking with others writers. We can’t let our writing skills stagnate or remain the same as when we first began to write.

We benefit every time we put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. Every time we read a book or research on the internet or at the library, we have triumphed. All these steps lead to greater achievements as writers. We need to pat ourselves on the back for the hard work we’ve done on this writing venture instead of berating ourselves for not achieving something bigger or quicker.

We all have our own definition of what the big success might be, but maybe we should ask ourselves instead what we want to accomplish as writers in more achievable time frames. How many words do we plan to write today? When do we plan to have the 1st draft of the synopsis done for our novel? What deadline have we given ourselves for chapter one? Chapter two? Have we given ourselves realistic deadlines or word counts?

One very important thing we need to remember to do for ourselves, both as writers and as individuals in what ever life we’re living: We need to be kind to ourselves.

Along our writing journeys, we will encounter failures – books and articles never finished or even written. We’ll also experience rejections. However, we cannot let the failures and rejections stop us from continuing in our quest for writing success, whatever that definition might be. Instead we need to learn from these setbacks. What can we take away from these experiences to improve our next story or our next query letter? As John Keats said, “Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success . . . every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.”

So go forth, learn from your mistakes, and learn from other writers’ mistakes too. Colin Powell said, “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.”

If you enjoy words, both reading and writing, continue to pursue your writing aspirations. The rest will come and your definition of success will adjust. And remember Albert Schweitzer’s words: “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”

This will be my last post with the Prairie Chicks for awhile. I've enjoyed my time with these great ladies and all the other readers who've stopped by. Beginning next Tuesday, there will be a trio of women taking their turns to share their thoughts about writing.

This may seem like an odd post for my last, but I'm not giving up on writing. I'm just taking some time to look after my health (nothing serious, just practicing self-care.)


Karen said...

Hey Suse,

Thanks so much for being such a valuable part of PCWR. It's been a true pleasure blogging with you and I look forward to seeing you back here periodically.

You're right, it's important to take the time to give one's self a pat on the back. I think we quite often forget to sit back and take the time to congratulate ourselves on small accomplishments. Setting realistic goals would give me an achievable objective and a opportunity to recognize that achievement.

Take care.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Suse,
We're going to miss you very much. Blogging with you has been great fun. I wish you all the best and hope you can join us from time to time.

Your blog hit a chord with me. I'm guilty of never being satisfied with my accomplishments. If I write 500 words, I berate myself for not writing 1000. I'm always pushing myself to finish projects, and I get down on myself when I don't finish them as quickly as I would have liked. Sometimes I wonder what it would take for me to actually be satisfied with what I've accomplished. Learning to take pleasure in the steps along the way is something I'm working on.

Thanks for another eloquent blog, Suse. Take care.


Janet C. said...

I'm going to sound like a parrot, but I, too, am going to miss you here on The Prairies. I have loved our time together - and our couple of MSN sessions with everyone typing at the same time, the excitement, the ideas :) I wish for you all the success you deserve in your writing and in life. Take care of yourself - hope to see you at one of the meetings, if not at the retreat in June.

And - great post. Very motivational. Thanks, Suse.


Suse said...

Hey Karen, thank you for your comments. I think we can easily miss the little things we are achieving along the way because we have this big goal in mind. And it's not bad to have a goal to work towards, but we have to remind ourselves that it takes many steps to get to that goal. Those steps are important. We can't get from A to Z without going through the rest of the alphabet first.

I think in the last little while, you've taken many steps. They will get you to where you want to go with your writing. Good luck.

Suse said...

Hi Jana, it has been a lot of fun blogging with you and the other Chicks, and I've certainly learned a lot.

I wonder what other profession, other than some type of artistry, has people who continually beat themselves up over not getting more done, or not doing a better job, etc. I certainly haven't seen that at any of the jobs I've worked at through the years. We really do need to be kinder to ourselves.

I don't think it's entirely bad to try to achieve more than we have, but we need to find the fine line between what we can realistically do more of compared to what we unrealistically think we should be accomplishing. It's easy to say, but tough to do.

I hope you find your happy medium soon.

Suse said...

Hi Janet, I still plan to come to some of the meetings (not March's though - hubby's 50th birthday party), but I hope to show up in April. The juries still out about the spring retreat. My nephew graduates that weekend.

I hope we can all celebrate our little successes for our own sakes, plus continue to support each other through the big and the small and everything in between.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Suse, I am going to miss you and your writing. The reason I'm not crying buckets is because I know where you live - literally. :) And because I'll be praying for you and your health.

Okay, your post is downright eerie. Has anyone been over to the eharl site lately?

You all know I'm a huge fan of Harlequin, right? Well, if you head over to http://community.eharlequin.com/
and look at the pic... no, not the one of the guy with abs... farther down... on the screen...
and there's my smiling mug! Yeah, can you believe it? I've been named eharl's Member of the Month!

And how does this tie in with Suse's post?

Because right beside my pic is my blog address and also:
Prairie Chicks Write Romance!

And it'll be posted there throughout the month of March.

Yippee!!! Talk about promotion for this blog! So even if we don't have a huge increase in comments, the Prairie Chick name will start to become familiar. :)

Anonymous said...

That's terrific, Anita. For you, of course, but also for the Chicks. I had to switch sites right on the spot to check it out.

Suse, I have enjoyed your blogs very much and will miss reading your weekly words of wisdom.

I agree we need to recognise that the small steps count; sometimes they add up more quickly than we expected. But if not, just remember that most overnight successes were preceded by many years of slogging it out in the trenches.

All the best, Suse!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Suse, I didn't mean for them to leave this site and go to eharl. I'm just trying to prove what your post said about networking and growing.

Three yrs ago, when I came back to writing, I didn't know another writer. Not a single one. And yet through networking on the 'net, at the conference, and through the SRW, I now know so many writers and industry professionals, it boggles my mind.

You know, Suse, your post is so optimistic and encouraging, just like you...

Suse said...

Congratulations Anita Mae on being named eHarl's Member of the Month! Hazel wasn't the only one who left this sight right away to check out your "smiling mug." This is fantastic news, and here is another "step" to celebrate. As you mentioned in your later post, you've come to know a lot of writers, and obviously a lot of writers have come to know you.

Thank you for keeping me in your prayers.

I hope I have finished my blogging with a positive and optimistic note. Good luck with your writing.

Suse said...

Hi Hazel, thank you for your kind comments. I enjoyed writing the blogs so I'll miss that; however, I am looking forward to reading your writing pearls.

It's amazing how many "overnight" successes there are. I wonder how many of them had self doubt and considered quitting.

Here's to many amazing small steps on this writing journey.

Suse said...

Hi All, check out this Writer's Digest blog for today, March 3, 2009: 3 Questions Writers Love to Ask (That Really Have No Concrete Answer). Take special note of the question "Is there any advice you can give me about confidence in my writing?" http://blog.writersdigest.com/norules/

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Suse, sneaking in a late-night reply. I'll miss your weekly insights, but I'm glad you're looking out for what's most important. I hope you'll still stop by and join the discussions.

Take care!