I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about success in writing. Not necessarily about the event itself (finishing a draft, getting an agent, signing a book deal, etc.) but about our reactions to it. A few weeks back, my writing group got together for a midsummer meet up. We discussed books we’d read recently, how our writing was going, struggles we were having with manuscripts, and other non-writing related topics as well. Toward the end of our time together, one of the ladies in our writing group modestly shared with us the terrific news that she’d just sold a story to a magazine. We whooped! We hollered! We were thrilled for her.
And then we asked her the question: Why did you wait so long to tell us? We’d been chatting for nearly two hours at this point. It would have been bursting out of us! We said.
Her response? This was not the first story she’d sold to a magazine, and she knew how hard we’d all been working on our writing. With a couple of us actively in the query trenches and all of us working intently on one manuscript or another, she felt badly. We hadn’t experienced the joys of seeing ourselves in print yet, or of knowing that soon we would, so she felt odd telling us that she’d sold another piece. Another story in print. “You guys deserve this, too,” she said.
Of course, we set her straight. You’ve got great news? You share it proudly! And that gets me to the point of my reflection. You must share your successes, from the itty bitty goals you meet to the major triumphs, with all the pride you can muster. Especially when you are part of a writer’s group and critique group. Why? Because your success is their success! They cheered you on. They encouraged you when you weren’t up to working on that manuscript. They critiqued your work and helped you get it submission-ready. When a writing colleague succeeds, so do we.
And let’s not forget, much of the success for a writer has nothing to do with being published. And hopefully, that’s not why you write. We all want to share our work with others, but we write because we can’t imagine not writing. A day that I’ve drafted a picture book story or added a few hundred words to a middle grade manuscript is a successful day. I have spent time doing something I love: writing. And that, in itself, is success.
So put pen to paper, or fingertips to keys, and write. Make each day a writing success story!
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