The terms we define ourselves with matter, but they are slippery. One could argue that in the past a GOOD writer was a SUCCESSFUL writer. Not true today, and maybe never was.
Today, a successful writer has one of two meanings:
- Is paid well for writing.
- Has accomplished a goal, completing a story well.
A good writer also has two meanings.
- Skilled in all aspects of writing.
- A decent human being who also happens to be a writer.
We all strive for the first definitions (well, not all; there are some strange people who write fan-fiction, which they cannot be paid for… I cannot fathom them), but we might settle for the second definitions.
It used to be that successful writers were well paid and skilled in writing… maybe. They might be good plotters and could get the words on the page, allowing a skilled editor to do the final draft. Others are pretty darn good but still need an editor (that’s most of us).
Today, successful and skilled can be two very different camps. I’m reminded of the uber-prolific writer I mentioned before on this blog, who wrote three new novels each MONTH, has published hundreds and is well-paid, but her books are terrible. Two of the biggest books last decade were Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey, neither of which are in any way or definition “good.”
I’ve met many great writers and all but a couple were wonderful people (they were under stress and still kind; they might be monsters elsewhere but I doubt it).
I would set my goals on the second definitions and my aspirations on the first definitions.
Today, successful writers are actually successful marketers. They sell, sell, sell.
Strive to be successful and good. Really strive to be successful and great.
But let me tell you a secret. If you’re a good writer without a ton of sales, you are still changing lives… just not as many of them.
A good book is an oasis. It pulls you away from the seas of life and lets you camp in awe and wonder. A good book calms you down as well as amping you up. It delights you and maybe scares you, and in the play of emotions epiphany trembles waiting to be discovered.
If you tell a story and tell it well, you’re successful. The uber-prolific writer will point out that many good books will build a faster audience of size but let me recommend that 3 books a month is too many. One book a month is too many. One a year is great, two is phenomenal.
My blogger authors will remind you that a good, focused blog can also build an audience for your books. Let me point out that marketing is required, but if you have many books, the reader that loves one book will buy the others, too.
So keep cracking the double-tailed whip of GOOD and PLENTY (not the candy).