The new year has come and gone, and we’re in the full throes of fresh starts, new goals, and updated resolutions. This has me thinking about the definition of success — and more specifically, defining real writing success.
Most authors would say success is selling thousands of books, which means reaching thousands of people. It’s a worthy goal and necessary if you want to write professionally, long-term. But lately, as I’ve considered the time and energy required from an author, I realize the importance of balance. I’ll explain.
The more contracts I sign, as speaking engagements multiply, and because I’m selling more books, I’ve gotten a glimpse of the future. And it can go in one of two ways.
I don’t struggle with self-discipline as some do; instead, lately I’ve noticed my struggle to relax. When I can’t unwind, it’s time to make a change.
I have a choice. I can pour even more of my time and energy into my writing and speaking career, and to a degree, I need to, but I must exercise caution. As a natural workaholic, I could slip into a regular routine of fourteen to seventeen-hour work days. Because of deadlines, commitments, and special opportunities, there are times when I need to pull a writing day like that, but if it becomes the norm, I’m in danger. There’s a fine line between protecting your writing/speaking time and neglecting your family and close friends.
Recently, I imagined what it might look like to work myself into a frenzy, reaching success as many would define it, only to realize I might stand alone at the top. If we don’t have friends and family to share and celebrate with, what are we working so hard for?
This epiphany has put me on a mission to usher some balance back into my life. I adore the days I get to sequester and write, but I equally love spending down time with my family and friends. Both are valued activities to me, and they deserve equal time.
My work ethics and integrity are intact, but I am choosing to slow down enough to breathe deeply, while on this crazy, thrilling, and daunting writing ride. To me, defining real writing success is simple.
I have goals to write and sell many more books, but part of my planning strategies now include more time set aside to enjoy walks with friends, cups of coffee with people I respect, and to laugh often with my family. I want to catch up on life, and I believe by doing so, I’ll have even more to write about. I don’t want to “make it” as a writer, only to look around and discover I’m perched in a precarious position — standing all alone.
How do you maintain balance between your writing and real life?