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Six questions to ask yourself about success in writing

May 18, 2012

There’s a video floating around the Interwebs about success. The upshot is that if you want to succeed, you have to want that success as badly as you want breathe when you’re drowning.

So the question for you is how much do you want to succeed as a writer? Is it as much as you want to take your next breath?

Well, prolly not.

Me, either. I have a day job and kids and a wife. Personal fitness is important to me. It’s nice to grab a ball game on TV every now and again. I believe in balance in life. Not everything can be job one. Not everything worth doing is worth doing well. Sometimes life demands compromises.

That having been said, there’s value to the story about the old man and the young man he almost drown as an object lesson. Maybe you’re working a stressful job and acting as caregiver for a loved one. Maybe your kids are a full-time job on their own, what with their needs and extracirriculars. Maybe you’re on the verge of economic disaster and you have to work two jobs just to keep the electricity on. And maybe that precious moment of downtime is the only thing standing between you and a padded room.

So maybe you can’t want it as bad as you want to breathe right now, because all of that energy is dedicated to things that are more important.

So what can you do?

  • Can you write about the experiences that are making your schedule hectic? Caregivers, for instance, can use all the support they can get, even if it’s just a blog that says you feel their pain.
  • Can you find creative ways to fit the writing into your daily life? E-reader tablets are relatively inexpensive and include word processing apps you can download for less than ten dollars. A spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen are substantially less. Can you squeeze in a chapter while you’re waiting for practice to end?
  • Can you get by on half an hour less sleep a night? What about every other night? Every third night?
  • Can you proclaim a social media fast? Sure that game of Farmville might be fun, but is it adding to your life? Would writing be something you could fit in instead? (I ask this with the understanding that even the guy in the video needs some downtime periodically.)
  • Can you be less of a perfectionist in some area of your life? Maybe the house won’t look like it’s ready for a magazine. Maybe dinner could be sandwiches and canned soup one night a week. Maybe the lawn gets mowed twice every three weeks instead of each weekend.
  • Can you say no to things that aren’t as important as breathing to you? (Full disclosure: I am horrible at this.)

Ultimately, your success isn’t up to luck or change or God’s will (absent your help in shaping that will). It’s up to you. It’s the residue of your design.

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