How Do You Define Success as a Writer?


We creative types have a tendency to dream big, and why not? If we want something badly enough, the sky’s the limit. Unfortunately, when we begin the hard work that is involved the get there we can feel as if we’ve been hit with the ice bucket challenge. This can be an especially daunting time for unpublished writers, like myself, yet we have an advantage over those already published – time.

During my university studies, one of the first subjects I undertook was on publishing and editing. One of the required readings stuck a chord with me and has remained ever since. It demonstrated the hard work that is required if we wish to succeed as authors (admittedly, though, some of it was rather extreme). This particular author did not discover fame, rewards or find himself upon the road to riches. He was, however, an extremely productive writer.

Born in 1907, Gordon Clive Bleeck is a relatively unknown author, yet he was one of the most prolific and successful fiction writers Australia has produced. He wrote in multiple genres, including crime thrillers, romance and science fiction. As well as writing under his own name, he also wrote under a number of pseudonyms – believed to number at around twenty-two (I told you that was extreme)! Some of these include ‘Brad Cordell’ for westerns and ‘Belli Luigi’ for thrillers and horror stories. In total, he wrote 250 novels or novellas – 150 of these were westerns, which were produced every month for nine years. What is also remarkable about Bleeck is that all this output was produced while working full time.

Admittedly, he may well have had a particular formula for some of his books, like the westerns for example, but so does Mills & Boon and we all know how successful they have been over the years. Regardless, it is still an extraordinary achievement and clearly he had an audience for his work.

As unpublished writers, we not only have time on our side, but we need to make sure that the writer’s life is for us. It’s not going to be easy, no matter which road we take, so we need to be prepared to be in it for the long haul. We become writers because we love stories, and like any other art, it pleases us when we see other people enjoy our work. To me, to become a successful author means writing my stories, getting them published and finding an audience that love what I do. If I’m extremely productive in this process, I’ll be very happy indeed.

How do you define success as a writer? Are you prepared to do what it takes? Are you making the most of your time as a ‘pre-published’ author?

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6 thoughts on “How Do You Define Success as a Writer?

  1. To me it’s putting one word down after another. 🙂

    Here’s my link if you’d like to drop by 🙂

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

    1. Debbie Johansson 05/03/2015 — 10:23 pm

      Hi Anna. You make a valid point – getting the words written down is important. Thanks for the link! 🙂

  2. I define my success by acceptances and by feedback from readers. I don’t focus so much on time spent writing because everyone’s process is different. My time is very limited due to a full time job and a master’s degree work. I’ve worked hard and seen little success for how much time I have put into it by my standards. Although others would completely disagree and say I have had much success. I do write for myself, but of course I want my work to be enjoyed by others.

    1. Debbie Johansson 11/03/2015 — 3:55 am

      Hi Savannah. I hope you’re not being too hard on yourself, you deserve to glory in your achievements. I applaud what you’ve managed to achieve so far, with the limited time you have. I know I couldn’t do it! 🙂

      1. Thank you Debbie. I am often told I am too hard on myself but it might be what I need to make mountains move. 🙂

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