A Writer’s True Measure of Success

Girl on Writing

by Elizabeth Conte

I have to say I am blessed with a few people who have truly pushed me to write. They believe in me, and for that I am grateful.

This writing industry is hard….no brutally hard! You write, and write, and write only to be turned down, ignored, rejected, critiqued, and flat out told, “You suck!” (Or that is what we read between the lines.) When our measure of success is publication or financial reward, how can we possibly keep going when all we hear is “no?”

Why do we do this writing gig?

You try to stay motivated. You read other blogs that inspire you to continue. You copy quotes about believing in yourself. You try to surround yourself with other writers struggling as well, to know you are not swimming alone. The truth is, you can believe all you want that you are good, but if you don’t have validation it’s hard to maintain that “self awareness.” Where does one get the strength to continue to write in spite of it all?

Writing a whole novel is a long process. Then there is the editing, reader critiques, query letters, synopses, summaries, and tag lines, plus research and networking. It’s never-ending.

Meanwhile, no one is giving you a paycheck, a promotion, a better office with a window, or a bonus. It is just you writing. It is very isolated. No one else can do it for you and there is very little to show for it.

Job? Hobby? Indulgent Fantasy?

My husband will ask, “What did you accomplish today?”

“I wrote 3000 words,” I reply.

I might as well have said, “I accomplished nothing.” He thinks I am fooling around with a hobby.

My friends who work will ask, “What did you do all day?”

I answer, “I wrote.”

Their minds swirl with images of me sitting on a couch in pajamas with my laptop, watching games shows, and eating potato chips. To them, trying to become a writer isn’t a job, it’s equal to laying on your bed in a princess dress, indulging in fantasy. You have nothing to show for it…other than your words, thoughts, and imagination written down on a screen.

I am a Writer!

But the thing is, I am doing my job. The job that I was meant to do! I am a writer. I don’t want to become a writer. I don’t aspire to be one. I am one. I AM A WRITER! It isn’t a fantasy, or a long, far away dream. It’s who I am. And thus, I write. I write late at night. I write in between picking up the kids. I write when I should be cleaning the house, or billing a client. It may seem frivolous to most and a luxury to others. But to me it is my career identity. I am working all the time!

I know, I know. It doesn’t bring home a paycheck. So, it’s not a real job. But that’s just it…you can’t bring home a paycheck, until you write. Writing takes time, effort, and work. Did I mention time? It has so many roads to travel and hills to climb before the validation comes, in terms of money and notoriety — if it comes at all.

True Accomplishment

What can I say to the non-believers, the non-supporters, and the ones who don’t understand? Nothing. I can only speak to my support team who continual read my blog, comment on my FB, scroll through my tweets, and who ask me about my work. Thank you for believing that what I do matters. I need you. I appreciate you!

I may not make millions, be on the cover of a magazine, or even have a paycheck for my writing. I would love it if I did. But when someone comments on Facebook about my latest poem, or I have a new follower on Twitter, it makes my day. And for a brief moment in my doubt and insecurity, I realize I have accomplished my goal: someone has read my words!

The truth is, my goal as a writer is to have someone read my work, and eventually want to read more. That is the true measure of success. If publishing, money, speaking gigs, and blogging invitations come, then it’s all icing on the cake. But for now, I write. You read. Job accomplished!


Elizabeth Conte

Elizabeth Conte

When I am not writing books, tormented with poetry, or inspiring others with my blog at Writerdeeva.com, you can find some of my work published in Lost Coast Review and PennWriters, and I am a regular editor/contributor to Industry News for Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

4 thoughts on “A Writer’s True Measure of Success

  1. Elizabeth,

    Thanks for confirming that writers are people who write. When our words are read and cause readers to leave comments, we have been successful. We have joined in the big conversation that takes a writer and reader.

    Becoming a paid writer/author is a long game. It takes about ten years to become an overnight success. Those who don’t see the worth of your journey are probably the same people whose plan for getting wealthy is playing the lottery. How are they doing with that?

  2. May I quote you? You hit the nail on the head,” It takes about ten years to become an overnight success.” Thank you for our feedback. I am glad my words mean something to you. You made my day!

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