How should writers measure success? How should non-writers measure the success of writers? Should writers pay attention to what non-writers think about success? Should writers pay attention to how other writers define success?
Can the success of a writer be measured objectively? In judging your own success are there specific metrics that matter to you? The number of fans you have? The amount of money you make? The number of awards you receive? The nature of the awards you receive?
Are all award-winning writers successful? Can a writer be successful without winning awards?
If you make money as a writer are you successful? Is your measure of success tied to how much money you make? Can you be successful as a writer if you don’t make money writing?
If you never win an award and you never make any money but you have devoted fans are you successful? If you don’t think you’re successful does that make your fans wrong?
Are subjective measures of success more or less valid than objective measures? Is that true for all writers?
Is your definition of a successful writer fixed or does it change over time? Is your sense of your own success fixed or does it change over time?
Do you measure success relative to your writing or how your writing is received? Both? If you write something you don’t respect and it makes a lot of money or wins a lot of awards or pleases the public, have you been successful? What if you write something that garners no interest but you believe to be your best work? Is that success? Failure?
Is it possible to objectively prove some writers are good and some writers are bad? Do you believe good writers eventually succeed and bad writers inevitably fail?
Is there such thing as a failed writer? Is that something writers decide about themselves or something non-writers say about writers? Is a failed writer someone who failed at the craft of writing? Someone who failed to make money writing? Someone who failed to turn writing into a career?
Does writing itself sustain you, or do you need feedback from others? Are you driven by the process of writing or the outcome? Both? If you could choose only one, which would you choose?
When it comes to defining success as a writer you get to choose what success means to you. Choose carefully.
— Mark Barrett