While reviewing my old blog posts, I found that I’d written about success and definitions of success several times. It seems to be a topic I need to revisit often as my life changes and as I encounter other’s explanations for how they define success for themselves. Every time I ponder the topic, it seems fraught with great meanings which should bring about life-altering changes in my behavior or attitudes.
Alas, such changes never seem to be long lasting. Minutes may be their maximum life span. Again and again, I berate myself for not being as successful as I’d like in some aspect or other of my life. I find myself doing so now with regards to my writing. I should be published by now, I should at least have something completed and ready for submission, I should…I should….
I have been participating for the past month or so in Andi’s Facebook-based on-line writing community. Early each week, she asks us what our writing and reading goals are for the week, and at the end of the week, she checks in to see how well we did meeting those goals. So far, my writing goals have been modest: just 15 minutes a day on weekdays. I figure I can meet that goal, and once I start writing, I keep going for much longer. It’s getting started that’s hard for me.
Here’s where we get back to the defining success part. Okay, I wrote for 15, 20, even 45 minutes on a given day. Even the word counts were good: 750, 1,000, 1,600! Seems like straightforward success, right? Yeah, but…. Does the writing “count” if it was only a blog post instead of progress on a short story or essay? Does it count if I was journaling, not toiling away on a WIP? If all I was doing was babbling on paper, not making straightforward progress on a plot, does it count?
I suspect by now we’ve all heard the adage that we have to write a million words to be any good at what we do. There’s no qualification about which words “count”; they all do. Every one of those words will help us hone our craft, better understand how we work, and find our voices. Every word I put down on paper (or inscribe on the ether, as the case may be) is a small measure of success. They not only add up to sentences and paragraphs and pages that are each larger measures of success, but I am confident they will someday lead to the ultimate in success: publication.
Once again, I’ve managed to put into words another argument in the effort to convince myself I’m not a failure. All those little accomplishments really do mean I’m successful in some way. So are you, every time you sit down at your desk or coffee shop table or comfy armchair and call words into existence. Now, how do we maintain that vision of our successful selves tomorrow and the next day?
Somehow, I suspect tattooing “I am a success!” on my forearm might be overkill. But maybe a little sign on my computer that says, “Every word counts” would help.
What do you do to stay motivated, to remind yourself that you are a success? It’d be great if we all shared our sources of motivation. Thanks in advance for sharing yours.