Scott Thompson Talks Success

When Can a Writer Consider Themselves Successful

Scott Thompson

Success is a personal thing, so as you read this post remember that you will judge success differently from me, or from other writers. Now that I’ve said that, I do think that success comes in stages. It’s not just a mountaintop that you reach and stop, but a ladder that continues. When you write your first story, you’re a success because you have created something. Don’t take this lightly, because artistic creation is a foundation of life. When you get your first story published, you are a success. When you write your first book, you have accomplished something few do and have continued your journey of success. When your first book is published, you’ve done something even fewer writers accomplish. You’re now an author.

Writing is deeply personal, and sharing what you’ve written is scary. I like to say it’s like skydiving naked. It might be fun, but you’ve also put it all out there for everyone to see, and if anything goes wrong, it will happen in full view. If you can overcome the fear of sharing, you are a success. If you can write something, then share it — even with a few people —you can claim success. For some, it’s enough to write a few short stories, and enjoy having others read those stories, but some want to continue climbing the ladder. If that’s you, I hope you’ll continue on the journey.

Writing a legitimate book takes an incredible amount of energy and discipline. My first full-length manuscript was a memoir. When I was finished, I knew I’d never publish that memoir, but I did learn that I had the discipline to complete a book project. I’ve written four books now, and I’m well on my way to completing my fifth. With a day job, a family with kids, a house, volunteering, and all the other hassles of life it sometimes feels impossible to find the time to write, but writing is important to me so I make the time. If you can manage life and finish a manuscript, you are a success.

But after you finish a book, you must overcome the fear of sharing. And, you must be able to stomach rejection, because there will be rejection. In fact, there will be more rejection than you’ve probably ever experienced. At least since 10th grade anyway. There will be rejections from agents and publishers. Then, when you finally get your book published, some readers will reject you. Everything isn’t for everyone, some people will hate what you write, and they’ll let you know with heartless reviews. But, and here’s what’s important, some will love what you write, and that’s why you must overcome the fear and rejection and share your work. Your words will help someone. Someone will laugh. Someone will cry. If you have been given the gift of creation, you must share your creations, because that gift wasn’t given to you to keep to yourself.

Most think writing success on a larger scale. We think of Stephen King or James Patterson. Maybe we think of an author like Terry Kay, who has done very well in my home state of Georgia. We have ideas in our mind of what our ultimate goal is, but let’s not forget that success is a journey, as the saying goes, not just one final goal. We should always continue to improve. We should always work on our craft. Enjoy the ladder and know that rung is success.