Edith, blissfully on a writing retreat at a convent getaway in Pennsylvania!
Maybe I should have made this post the first one in the month, but let’s riff on how we define success, for ourselves and our characters. What does it mean to succeed? Is it okay to set the bar real low simply to say you hopped over it? When do we aim high?
Barb: I do both–big goals, and then breaking the tasks I must achieve to reach those goals down into bitty chunks that I can accomplish in a defined amount of time. I need that sense of forward momentum and achievement to keep from getting discouraged. When I ran a software company I always said, “Goals should leave you green around the gills, but not actively puking.” Meaning goals should cause you to reach and grow, but if they are so high they are unreachable, you’ll give up.
Sherry: I have a half written blog about defining success. It’s different in our culture and often a success is defined by money instead of accomplishments. Of course almost every author wants to be a New York Times bestselling author, but really writing and finishing a book is a huge accomplishment. I think we should all celebrate the little things we do and not worry so much about the big ones.
Edith: For my characters, succeeding means surviving whatever menaces lie along the road to solving the mystery, and restoring harmony to their community in the end. For myself, it’s the same, if you define “menaces” as getting over the roadblocks of writing the middle of the book, an over-long to-do list, and the physical perils of sitting too much. Restoring harmony would be that lovely feeling of sending in a polished book I’m happy with.
Jessie: I tend to be a bit like Barb. I set big goals at the beginning of each year and then break them down to monthly, weekly and daily actions so I would say I set goals that are both audacious and easy. My sleuths, Beryl and Edwina are measuring success by figuring out how to move through a world so changed by The Great War. They may be making up some new rules for themselves as they go along but that is part of how they would define winning.
Liz: My tendency is to get really wrapped up in the “big” ideas of success, and I’ve been trying to take the same approach as Sherry – to celebrate everything instead of rushing to the next thing or feeling like whatever I just did isn’t good enough. Success really is how we define it, and I think it’s important not to let the outside world define it for us. I’m trying to remember all the ways I’m successful in every day life as well as writing and all the other things I’m doing, too.
Readers: How do you define success for yourself?