Two Vital Questions to Ask Yourself About Writing

Thought for the dayWe are all looking for our path to success, but our paths are drastically different. We all don’t get to success the same way, and we don’t all identify success in the same manner.

In my years of reading about marketing and writing, the same questions pop up, and by answering these two questions, it makes us better able to plan our writing careers. In fact, the answers to these two questions are vital in making important decisions in our publishing journeys.

Last week, I posed these two questions to members in my writers’ group. They have a month to think over the answers, but I’ve been thinking about my answers for much longer.

The two questions every writer must ask themselves are:

  1. What do you want out of your writing?
  2. How do you define writing and publishing success?

The answer to the first question may look like this: I want to…

  • write stories and read them to my kids.
  • share my stories with family and friends and give my books away as gifts.
  • give others the opportunities to read my stories.
  • write stories I’ve always wanted to read.
  • sell books at local markets because it might be fun.
  • write one story because that’s all I’ve got.
  • record a history for the organisation I volunteer with.
  • sell books internationally.
  • make enough money to support my hobby.
  • make enough money to support me as a writer, so I can quit my full-time job.
  • make millions of dollars to buy a castle on an island.

The person who wants to write stories only for their children will approach writing differently than the person who wants to support themselves financially and become a full-time writer.

Answers to the second question might look like this. Success to me is…

  • finishing a story from start to finish.
  • having my stories published in book form, so I can see them on my shelf.
  • my friends and family reading my books and enjoying them.
  • selling a few eBooks on Amazon.
  • selling paperback books at markets.
  • selling one book.
  • selling 100 books.
  • giving away my eBooks to thousands of readers.
  • being a better writer than I was last year.
  • being published by a major publishing house.
  • being published by a small press.
  • publishing my own books.
  • having my book turned into a movie.
  • selling more books than I did last year.
  • selling a few books a year.
  • selling more books than Stephen King.
  • being interviewed on TV and local newspapers.
  • being a famous author.
  • making enough money to financially support me as a full-time writer.
  • selling a million books.
  • winning writing awards.
  • getting my book in the Oprah Reading Club.

The Pledge short story fantasyAgain, how you define success for yourself will help you plan your writing goals.

Although there may be more than one answer to these questions, there is usually one answer that stands out amongst the rest, the level you want to reach. Yes, I’d like my family to enjoy my books and I write the stories I want to read, but I write because I want to be a full-time writer. To do that, I must make enough money to support this career path. This desire comes from the love I have for writing. If I didn’t love writing, I wouldn’t write books; it’s a journey not worth taking without the passion for it.

I also want to be a better writer than I was last year, but I will call my writing a success when it can fully support me financially. There are little successes along the way: each time I publish a new book, selling more books this month than I did last month, someone telling me they enjoyed my book…Yet, I don’t care if I’m famous or if I win an award. That’s not important to me.

I believe in goal setting, and to do it properly, I need to know my targets. Answering these questions honestly allows me to set goals that are rewarding both financially and personally.

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10 thoughts on “Two Vital Questions to Ask Yourself About Writing

    • It’s only natural for our goals to change as we see new opportunities and meet old goals. If life were static, how boring would that be. Change is empowering.

      Thanks for visiting, Peter, and for leaving a comment.

    • That is a great goal. My mother can no longer read either due to her poor eye sight. If this goal doesn’t happen fast enough, you could always record it with your own voice, so she could listen. Time is vital when it comes to elderly parents. We never know the day they’ll write their last chapter.

      • Luckily, my mom is only 60 and in (other than the sight) good health. Right now I can afford to wait, but I am planning on self recording as a backup. Part of me wants to guarantee some level of quality, since I don’t want her listening to just be something I enjoy. I want to be confident that she’s not wasting her time doing ‘work’ when she should be retired, haha.

        • Yes, you have time — or I hope you have lots of time. My mother is 90, so we are living on borrowed time with her as Alzheimer’s grip tightens. Definitely aim for quality; do the best you can do but don’t wait forever. You can only learn and grow so much from a project. You’ll learn more and grow further with the next project. They are stepping stones to learning and getting better. Even the best writers couldn’t perfect their craft with just one story; it takes dozens.

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