Friday, 3 December 2010

How Does A Writer Measure Success?

By Richard Jay Parker

Jeffrey Deaver said 'I'm an overnight success after twenty years.'

As a writer, it's very difficult to gauge the extent of your success. If you've written a book which you want to have published and you haven't had it published, do you consider yourself a failure?

To have written anything - whether it be a short story or a novel - is a great achievement. But we're always eager for the next stage.

Every writer I know, whatever stage they are in their career, wants that next thing. To be published, to write a screenplay, to have a better deal etc etc.

Even best selling authors who have a worldwide readership are looking for something else - I want to write something worthy, I don't want to be as commercial, I don't want to be pigeonholed etc etc

This isn't a writer thing, it's a human thing. It's our nature but sometimes it's good to focus on how far we've come rather than how much further we'd like to go. Look back one year. Whatever stage you're at - has your writing improved? Moreover, are you enjoying it?

If the answer is 'yes' then I think you can afford to stop beating yourself up - at least for a couple of minutes.

As the experienced can testify - it's a long, frustrating road. No need to kick yourself all the way along it.
Only a few days left to win a copy of Richard's novel. Go to (Foot of page)


  1. Thank you, Richard. This definitely something I needed to hear at this point.

  2. Jeffery told me that too, Richard! Trouble is, as I pointed out to him, that would make me... er... well, pretty ancient! I can't wait that long!!

  3. I've been writing for nearly thirty years, but only seriously started tarting myself about 18 months or so ago.

    Last year I got a book into the UK Amazon poetry bestseller's list at number 31.

    This year I am number two with the same book on this Amazon page and at number eight and number ten with my other two collections from the same series.

    But better than that I have established poets now reading my work and they are saying nice things!!! I'm being braver now and exposing more of my 'serious' poetry and that is turning out to be within my comfort zone now.

    I'm a small fish - but it shows that perseverance gets results.

  4. This is so true. Perseverance. Even though I'm published, I don't think that many people know it. A hundred maybe? But I have to keep going, it's the only way. For years I have dreamed of being published, now that I am the dream has changed...I want to become a best-selling author. I wonder if the dream will change again after that? I'll let you know!

  5. This is a great reminder. I just achieved a dream - submitted my screenplay treatment to be read by a producer - but I don't feel I can rest. Gotta do the next thing to prepare, in case they like it (or in case it's not a fit but they ask to see something else). So much work to do, so much industry-related reading, so many "ifs" and "buts." But I did take time to reread and savor my treatment with a cup of coffee the day after I sent it off . . . and enjoyed how it flowed.

  6. OMG- I think I <3 you. I soooo needed to hear this today!

    I do want to be 5 more paces down the road than I currently am, forgetting that I'm already 5 kilometres farther than when I started.

    Thank you for a dose of reality


  7. There's always the next bend in the road to get round, isn't there.

    I'm happy with what I've written so far (two full-length novels, two novelettes, and a third novel about to be published). I'm happy with sales.

    But what I want is to keep writing and keep publishing. Every time I write something new, that "Also by Margaret Lake" list gets longer and that's what I like to see.

    Margaret Lake

  8. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Danielle. Glad the blog gave you a boost.

    I think you're doing pretty well, Leigh, but I'm sure there are lots of new challenges you're looking forward to.

    Looks like you're doing exactly the right thing getting your work out there, Michele. The more people who read it the better.

    Let me know what happens, Glenn. Congratulations on being published.

    Thanks, fearofwriting (doesn't sound like an appropriate name now). It's a great sign that you don't want to rest on your laurels. Enjoyment is key.

    Thanks, Viv. So pleased my blog had such a positive effect. Happy writing and good luck with getting those five paces further.

    Thanks, Margaret. Sounds like you have a very healthy output. Must check out your books.