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  • Writer's pictureAdelyn Sterling

Change the Way You Think About Success

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

When I started pursuing a career in writing, I got a picture in my head of what success as a writer and author would look like. Now, I am a firm believer in striving for excellence. I believe in doing my absolute best, so I am always looking to develop and grow as a writer.  This shouldn't be mistaken for perfectionism, but I always want to push myself and know I put my very best work out that I can.

*She says into the mirror every morning (humbly)*

So once you've done your best and you're ready to put your work out there, I would encourage you to start by redefining your view of success for that novel. As a writer, I have often given myself too narrow a view of success. For me it looked like this:

A superstar agent pics up my project and then sells that project to a big five publisher. That publisher puts out the book and it's an instant bestseller that hits the New York Time's list. The words "Instant Classic" are thrown around and the book is optioned for film. The film is made and I finally get to meet Chris Pine at the premiere.

We've all thought this, right? It happens to some writers and TBH it could happen to any of us... if we get really really lucky. Here's the thing, we've all dreamed something like this classic authorly success story, and there's nothing wrong with dreaming. But a huge part of this industry is luck. The stars align and the right project at just the right time clicks with the perfect agent and editor for the project, and yes this does happen for a small percentage of us, but it doesn't happen this way for everyone.

This is why I encourage you to redefine success, or rather broaden your idea of success. If you don't, you risk missing out on celebrating a whole lot of success that doesn't fall into that limited narrative that writers seem to lock themselves into, myself included.

I'll use my own story as an example. Wattpad submitted my work to Hachette Audio, a big five imprint, who ultimately bought the audio rights to "The Prince's Guide to True Love's Kiss." That audiobook was completed and published in March of 2018. I learned so much from that experience, but aside from industry experience, I can now say I'm a published author. That story looks nothing like the story above, but it is very much a success to me. I have a book for sale that's brought to life by some seriously talented voice actors! That deserves a shimmy!

Now, you may not be quite to the "published" stage or you may be working to get an agent and follow that traditional route to publishing. That's cool. I get it. That's kind of what I'm pursuing with my second novel, so here are two things I'm trying to keep in mind:

1. Keep your mind open to other options. The traditional way isn't the only way. There are so many indie authors out there who have found success on their own. There is an audience for every book, and you don't always need a traditional publisher to find that audience. If this is your story, feel free to message me! I would love to share that story in an interview.

2. Celebrate the little successes along the way. There are so many ups and downs on the way to being published, that if you don't focus on the ups, you'll burn yourself out and really struggle through this process. 

What are some small successes you've celebrated recently? Share them in the comments!

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