Friday, June 15, 2012

Who Defines Success?

It is not a trick question, just a tricky answer for many writers. When you picture yourself outside the role of  a writer, do you feel successful? Do you judge success by money, fame or recognition?

The reason I ask is that an e-mail touting how to be a successful writer made me think about my schooling, the newsletters and news magazines that I've produced and the newspapers in the past that carried my photos and articles. Then I moved on to my current attempts to master graphic and photography programs, and everything in my past, including the books, essays and poetry faded for a minute.

So bear with me as this post works to give some perspective to accepting each step we take on our creative journey as successes. This is the anti-monetary view of accomplishments, a top five reality check:

1. Acknowledge every word you have written, from that Mother's Day poem in kindergarten to the business letter that went out today without errors.
2. Specialize in recognizing what motivates you to write. Is it rhymes, poetry, scenery, caustic wit or visual gymnastics? If you are like most creatives, you can look around right now and find a whole list of specialties that you don't recognize for what they are: the stepping stones to writing "success."
3. If you have a blog, do it because it brings you joy or connects you to others who share your interests. The same goes for Tweets, Google+ and other social media outlets. Make it about what is possible, not building a platform. (That is unless you have a contract for a book and need to market it. Then build away!)
4.  Touch base with past and present accomplishments. These can be as simple as the notebook you bought this week that holds two pages of free-form writing, the bookcase you have filled with stories and articles or the ideas written on notes that you keep finding around the house in the strangest places.
5. Focus on the possibilities that you have made into reality.

Above all, recognize that every day you write is another day of success.

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