IWSG: Success

Logo for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Picture of a lighthouse with text reading "THE INSECURE WRITER'S SUPPORT GROUP"

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!


The awesome co-hosts for the September 1 posting of the IWSG are Rebecca Douglass, T. Powell Coltrin @Journaling Woman, Natalie Aguirre, Karen Lynn, and C. Lee McKenzie!

September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?

I’m trying to avoid defining capital S Success as a final destination. Don’t get me wrong. I’d love to make a million billion dollars and see cosplayers dressed up as my characters at Halloween. (If you do that, send me pictures, though.) And to be honest, I wouldn’t mind seeing my books remade as blockbuster movies, either.

There are really only two problems with that kind of an outlook.

The first one is that if I sit here, and compare everything that I am doing right now to hitting the New York Times Bestseller list or my inevitable invitation to Paint David Niven Blue Day at MGM, it makes the things I should be celebrating now seem a little flat.

And the second–not that I’m there, yet–is what happens when you hit the end of the road? You’ve checked off all the boxes, and done all the things… And then, what? Do you just sit around knitting for the rest of your life? Success? Yeah. Been there, done that. I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.

I think it’s healthier all around to think in terms of successes. What am I doing, right now? What steps have I taken already? What’s that mile marker I just passed?

Successes include the now, and the gee, someday, and the what happens after that? It’s more… career as the ultimate roadtrip, rather than a destination. Because, sometimes, you just have to pull over, and stretch your legs, and admire the world’s largest Adirondack chair. There are places out there you don’t wanna miss, just because you envision “traveling” as going to Paris and seeing the Eiffel Tower. Maybe successes more like a scrapbook that you keep adding pages to than a trophy you pick up at the end of the day.

The moment you print out the first draft of your first ever novel? Success! Managing to revise that whole darn thing? Also success. You collect more and more successes as you go along. From time to time, I run into things to celebrate that never even occurred to me, until I saw them. The first time you’re working on your website, and you realize there is someone else here, reading my work. Success! Or that moment when your readers start talking to each other. Success! My most recent one? I’m going to be in Tales to Terrify… I have… a narrator. **brag, brag** Or maybe… learning that a really good answer to How are you? Is “Great! Sold a short story.” Gotta tell you, talking about my writing in the real world is still tough for me.

Maybe success is celebrating where you’ve been what’s happening right now, without losing track of where you want to go next.

So, how’s life? Any successes you want to tell the whole world about?


  1. Reply

    Absolutely – successes are better than success. I agree with your idea of successes. Love the humour too. Happy IWSG day.

  2. nancygideon


    Right on the money, Karen! YES to all your points. “Success” is a fluid measure of daily triumphs. I can’t image that point where I’ll say, “This is it. I’ve found success. Now I can quit trying to improve or learn.” Thanks for co-hosting this month!!

    • Reply

      But I bet you can imagine looking back at all the amazing things you got to do and being glad that you did the work to get there.

  3. Reply

    The smallest things can be defined as success and it’s all so subjective and personal anyway, which is what makes it wonderful and mysterious. If I get my IWSG post written and posted, THAT’S success!

  4. Reply

    This is a great answer! I used to think of success as some sort of end goal, or a destination, or what have you. But then what? I’ve known people who’ve achieved their goals, exactly as they envisioned them, and then had their lives totally fall apart because they weren’t sure what to do next. Your mindset is, I think, healthier.

  5. Reply

    What an insightful post, Karen! I love the “career as the ultimate roadtrip, rather than a destination” quote. I truly agree. Thanks for co-hosting this month’s question. All best to you!

  6. helenmatheyhornbooks


    Where would we all go if we achieve our goals? Every day is something new, and goals can (and should?) change. Thank you for your answer; it is grounding.

  7. Reply

    Loved this, Karen Lynn! I’m with you in having many successes! Thanks for co-hosting today. I hope that you have lots of fun visiting around today. Wishing you many, many successes in the future!

    • Reply

      As long as you feel you’re better off because you write, I’d say that’s successful. Happy IWSG Day

  8. Reply

    Yes to celebrating the What-You’re-Doing-Now!

    But don’t knock knitting. That big blanket was made one stitch at a time,…much like writing.

    • Reply

      Hey, I’m allowed! Knitting tried to kill me when I was a little girl, and we’ve been arch enemies ever since. (There was a bright orange potholder involved. It was gruesome.)

  9. Reply

    Well…. talk about a positive and realistic outlook for success(es). I love the way you compiled and wrote this post, Karen. I should follow your advice and celebrate the small accomplishments in this writer’s journey (as, indeed, a journey it is instead of a destination, like you so correctly point out). So far, I have only celebrated the release of my first book. Everything else was “just a step” towards that goal and success. I should have celebrated a bit more, like after the first draft or after hitting one of those temporary Amazon #1 bestseller mentions or after selling a certain number of copies. But, as long as I haven’t made my “investment” back of hiring a professional editor and cover artist and the like, I feel like I still have a long way to go to reach that next “success.” Thank you for co-hosting this month!

  10. Reply

    Great post. I’ve been working on re-defining what success means. I suppose it hadn’t occurred to me to add them up instead. 🙂

    • Reply

      I get all kinds of experiences through writing that most people don’t get. I’m probably never buying a yacht, but at the same time… It’s a great community, and a nice set of experiences.

  11. Rebecca Douglass


    A sane and healthy response, and fits with what I just realized after the last post I read–real success is continuing to grow and improve as a writer. It’s in me and on me.

  12. Reply

    I think of success as a never ending ladder. We just keep climbing. Thank you for co-hosting IWSG this month!

  13. Reply

    Excellent post! I like your road trip analogy, especially since this summer’s road trips gobbled most of my writing time. Ah well, life intrudes. That I wrote at least a bit every day counts as a success, yes? I think so. Thanks for co-hosting.

  14. Lee Lowery


    I completely agree. Success is about the journey, not the final destination. Thanks for co-hosting today.

  15. Diane Burton


    What a great answer. Sometimes we’re so focus on the goal that we forget to enjoy the journey. Thanks for cohosting this month.

    • Reply

      I want to enjoy as much of the journey as I can. Even the part where I take a wrong turn, and wind up at the world’s largest ball of chewing gum. Thank you for stopping by.

  16. melissamaygrove


    My measure(s) of success have definitely evolved. Thanks for co-hosting.

    • Reply

      I enjoy hosting the IWSG! It’s worth it every time. Happy IWSG Day, and many successes for you, too.

  17. Reply

    This is so true! I love thinking about it in the plural like that. My most recent success would then be the relationships I’ve made through streaming. I have a few who come every time. That’s a success, even though the number is small. Thanks for sharing – that was very thought-provoking!

  18. T. Powell Coltrin


    Success changes as I age. I count it a success to get out of bed each morning and then stand up. 🙂 I have to do it, though, in order to write.


  19. Reply

    You know, I never look at the New York Times Bestseller List or the USA Today listing. In fact, I don’t usually look at any bestseller list. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them but I am very protective of how my heart sees me as a writer.
    Thank you so much for co-hosting and I’m sorry I am late. I was getting my submission ready for the anthology.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  20. Reply

    That’s a great post. And it reminded me that with all the work I’ve been doing to get the beta draft ready for my readers… I really should do something else. But right now, I’ve just been inspired to take just one more look through it, since I keep finding things to improve!
    Thanks for co-hosting. I keep seeing Pat commenting ‘sorry she’s late’. I’m pretty early this month, for me 🙂

    • Reply

      @patgarcia I have a whole bit on NYT Bestsellers. In the cutout bin. At the dollar store. Write your best story, worry later.

  21. Reply

    I just submitted my manuscript to my editor, so there’s another milestone passed. Too bad there’s a bunch more before my story is published.

    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

  22. Reply

    Thanks for hosting! You know I have about 6 short things that would have worked for the anthology but (gosh darn it) all my characters or side characters or somebody has potty mouth. I blame it on a career in the music biz.

  23. Pingback: Writing Update September 2021 – An Eventful Month – Roaming About

  24. Loni Townsend


    I like the concept of a path of many successes. It really does lead to a more satisfactory life.

  25. Reply

    Sorry for the late reply. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog.
    I like how you define success- milestones. Congrats on your short story.

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