Writers Worth: Writing Success Your Way

There are few people in the freelance writing world I’ve known longer than Anne Wayman. Anne is a veteran writer who was the driving force behind About.com’s Freelance Writing website. There, Anne built a strong, cohesive community — one that is still pretty darned cohesive a decade and some years later.
She’s taught a lot of writers how to get up and running. She’s also taught just as many writers — this one included — how to be yourself and still run a business. This is Anne’s second post for this Writers Worth Month, and it’s a good one.
Writing Success Your Way
by Anne Wayman

There’s a lot of pressure in the society to equate success
with money. You know what I mean. You see ads almost every day promising you’ll
make hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions doing any number of
questionable things. Sure I’m sure somebody makes a million dollars with
network marketing, maybe several somebodies but it’s not what I want to do. How
do I know? Back in the day I tried it – in fact I tried it several times.
The truth is after the first blush of something new it bores
me to tears. I really don’t want to spend my working hours talking to people
about soap or vitamins or cell phones. When I finally figured out I didn’t like
it I restored myself to choice. I quit being dazzled by promises that might
even have come true at I’ve kept at it, and started being sure to myself. For
me that’s writing.
There are also plenty of ads aimed at writers that seem to
imply that if you’re not making six figures are more you’re not successful. Or
if you’re not getting a buck a word, you’re somehow not a good writer, or if
you’re not overwhelmed with new clients every week you’re doing something
wrong. Often these are coupled with ads offering a course or series that
promises you’ll earn at least six figures, or a dollar a word, or have to beat
clients off with a stick… if you only follow their instructions to the letter.
Over time I’ve taken some of these courses and I’ve always
learn something. Unfortunately the lesson has often been that I’ll make more
money selling courses them I will actually writing and marketing my writing.
Courses can be a good way to make money. That’s one reason I
offer webinars for writers. Although I promise to make some part of your
writing business easier or more effective, I have yet to promise you six figure
income. Don’t hold your breath for that class at least not from me. Giving a
webinar is a kick, although I’ll admit I sometimes drag my feet over the
marketing. But I know I’ve learned some things along the way about writing and
it’s fun to show that off to a group of people in an interactive way. That I
haven’t become a guru on the writing course market circuit does not mean I don’t
consider myself successful. I am successful, my way.
Success is such a movable feast. While I love getting a big
fat check for my writing, I also like taking a walk, spending time with my
grandchildren, sitting in meditation, reading a novel or any of the other
non-income producing things I do. That freedom is one of the things I love most
about freelance writing.
It really is up to me to decide if I’m a success today or
not. I grant you the same privilege.  While it’s interesting, sometimes,
to know what others are earning I’d really rather know what they enjoy and what
makes them feel successful. Sure I can always learn something more about my
writing and marketing my writing and so can you. Come to think about it I
consider being my being willing to learn as part of mice feeling of success you
certainly can’t measure it by money.
When I look back I realize that lots of things have made me
feel successful in my writing career. The day I actually sent off my first two
magazine queries was a day of triumph. When two printed rejection slips
came back in spite of being disappointed, I also realized I had cracked some
sort of barrier and felt successful as I posted both of them on my bedroom wall
in celebration of actually following through on a dream.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have several books published
and I published a few books myself. Each one of them made, and still makes me
feel successful in one way or another. My blogs delights me most of the time.
It gives me a chance to interact with other writers – what’s not to like?
I think one of the biggest gifts I stumbled onto for myself
is recognizing that how I define success is totally up to me. I remember my mom
telling me that “comparisons are odious.” It took me a long time to really
understand that rather old-fashioned saying. If I’m comparing your income with
mine for the purposes of feeling better about myself or worse about you in any
combination, something’s out with me. A six-figure income sounds delightful.
I’ve even experienced it one or two years or maybe even three or four or more.
I hope to again, as long as I don’t have to work my behind off to get there.
In terms of money my definition of success has come to mean
this: “I have enough money to meet my needs and some of my wants consistently.”
I also know from experience that thoughtlessly adopting
someone else’s definition of success usually leads to a sense of failure.
Instead take time to define success for yourself. Be willing to be surprised
and be willing for your definition of change over time.
Meanwhile, write well and often,

Anne Wayman is a freelance writer, writing coach, and
ghostwriter. Her professional site is www.annewayman.com
and her blog about writing is www.aboutfreelancewriting.com

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Comments

  • Sharon Hurley Hall May 29, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Love this, Anne. Deciding on our own definition of success is extremely liberating. I'm with you; there are days I could earn more, but I'd rather spend time with my family because in the long run, that's what matters most to me (oh, and reading). 🙂

    Reply
  • Lori Widmer May 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    As Sharon said, deciding your own level of success is liberating. I try not to judge people by what they make. Someone could be making $30K a year and have more than enough income, or they could be struggling even at the $100K level. There are just too many factors involved — lifestyle, cost of living in their area, expenses, etc.

    That's why I've never felt like $100K is anyone's true benchmark. It's someone's benchmark, certainly. But it shouldn't be held up as a goal post we must all run toward.

    Great post, Anne. Thank you, friend. 🙂

    Reply
  • Paula May 29, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Oh, Anne, you'll always be a writing guru to us.

    Reply
  • Anne Wayman May 29, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Paula, don't you dare turn me into a guru… oh, that's your decision, not mine isn't it. Thanks for the complement. Sharon maybe someday we'll disagree about something just for the heck of it. And Lori, you've always had my back and been fun too. Hugs all the way around.

    Reply
  • Paula May 29, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Just remember Anne, there's a BIG difference between a guru people turn to for great advice (like you) and one of those obnoxious self-promoting, self-proclaimed gurus.

    Reply
  • Ashley May 29, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    Love this, Anne! I have tried in my life, professional and personal, to surround myself with people who don't pressure me to reach a certain standard. I push myself toward my goals, and I don't need anyone else holding me to their goals and standards. I have the freedom to call myself a success (or failure, too, I suppose) when I reach the goals I've set for myself. I'm always trying to do better in every aspect of my life, not just income.

    Reply
  • Cathy Miller May 31, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Love this line ~ Success is such a movable feast ~ and love you, Anne. 😉 But, then you know that.

    Reply
  • Anne Wayman June 1, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Reading new ones and rereading original set of comments and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

    Reply
  • Alex Gazzola June 1, 2015 at 10:03 pm

    "It really is up to me to decide if I’m a success today or not. I grant you the same privilege." – I'm going to have to crib this magnificent thought and share it with those of my students who, essentially, aren't fully at peace with where they are in the writing business because they're guilty of occasionally comparing themselves unfavourably to others … Great stuff!

    Reply