IWSG 9: What Defines Success?


[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]


I used to be the jealous little sister.

Watching from the sidelines with pudgy cheeks and wide glittering eyes, hoping for one second that I could pick up a soccer ball, a tennis racket, a baseball bat or even a pen, paper and calculator to perform a task the very first time exactly the way it should have been – perfect.

I’d try. I’d fail and fail again. The gifts I had in me just wouldn’t do. That was my first definition of success.

Want + Try = Perfect the first time.

I once believed writing was just that way too.

When I finished my very first draft of my very first manuscript I thought, “this is really something.” Someone’s going to see my passion, and sign me up. I’ll get an agent, a published book, and I just couldn’t see the big picture any other way. My family cheered me on and my friends did too.

That was eight years ago. Recently I looked back on that first draft of my very first manuscript and I get now why it had been rejected. I wasn’t ready. My writing wasn’t strong enough. And a writing platform? What was that?

Then the formula shifted: Want + Try + Perform + Try Again = Possibility.

I reached a goal back in 2013. I did get published. But it was a short story competition I entered. It was a friend who told me to shift gears. I had two weeks to write and scheme up an answer to a theme. I thought, “What the hell do I have to lose?”

I’m writing this post today, as part insecure and part encourager.

I think there are those lucky ones out there, who make it the first time they try and submit, just like my brother did. That’s awesome. It really is, but for others of us, I think there’s a tad bit harder ladder to climb.

I found a great blog post called copyblogger. Ironically, it was written at the same time I started seriously searching out the path of publishing and writing. I’ve pulled a few thoughts from the post and added a few of my own:

  1. Patience is a necessary virtue. (This one is mine) I don’t have much of it. I’m not wired to wait, except when it come to my kids. Each day is an adventure and it doesn’t always work out like the picture you saw in your head. And in writing, I’ve grown some through the years and gained patience thanks to the coaching of point number two …
  2. A mentor: someone who loves to read the things you do. Who writes the things you do so when they critique and read your work, their helpful shifts in your dialogue, or their character cues may be spot on with what your audience needs and wants to see, too.
  1. Structure. This is the one I had to learn. The structure of writing a novel, the arc of the character, and creating all the backstories for each and every character. Where is the villain in every chapter? What makes them tick as they do?
  1. Marketing and networking. When I started, I had no clue how to do this. It was so fuzzy and vague, but now, eight years later, I see the importance of twitter, blogging and putting oneself out there in public to do everything you can to get the book seen.
  1. Lastly, and the one tip I’m trying to push through as I finished up draft four in my eight year long journey with the character and the story, is letting go of the fear. I need to find those glittery eyes again and believe, even through time, that someday, if I keep plugging away and doing what I really want to do because I love it, someday, someone else will love it too.

Here’s the blog I visited:


Here’s a couple of great quotes I found poking around the internet:

Go back a little to leap further.” -John Clarke

“To dare is to lose one’s footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself.” -Soren Kierkegaard

And thank you to the co-hosts this month for spending so much time in helping all of us 🙂

Murees Dupe
Alexia Chamberlynn
Chemist Ken
Heather Gardner

Happy June 1st! If you have a formula for success, I’d love to hear it.

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on June 1, 2016, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. joycebarrett2014

    Hope we can talk!

  2. Finishing a piece of writing is a success in itself…and then the hard work really starts 😜

  3. I was pretty starry-eyed about my first novel too. Success as come at small baby steps, but that’s okay. Isn’t is about the journey anyway?

  4. Patience is one of my strong points, fortunately. That, and an almost child-like ability to ignore obstacles. Sounds like you’re well on your journey. Good Luck.

  5. Loni Townsend

    I know when I did my first novel, it was horrible. I also didn’t know where to start or what to look at in order to improve. Thankfully, my craft has slowly gotten better, but yes, you’ve definitely got that formula correct. Gotta keep trying to get the possibility.

  6. I can definitely relate. I never get anything right the first, second or third time. It always feels like I find the long way around everything. But it truly did make me stronger. Though, it might be nice to get something easy every now and then:) I also know about being all starry eyed. I even had the guts to send in a 145 000 word paranormal romance. It didn’t go well, but I definitely learned something. I hope you never give up Erika and just keep at it. Thank you so much for your kind words on my blog.

  7. Yes! I love your thoughts on this! I’m sure that someone else will love your story. Take courage!
    I think I need a mentor – especially on the days when the writing just seems to run into a wall over and over – but I do have IWSG, and that helps.
    Happy writing!

  8. Such good advice. Copyblogger is wonderful. Beware: You can get lost in their archives. There is so much great material.

  9. I’m a perfectionist, so letting go of that was difficult.
    I think somewhere in the formula there needs to be personal satisfaction. I think that’s an important aspect of success.

  10. OMG, I felt the exactly same way when I finished my first manuscript back in 1990. Before you were born! I still want more from my writing. That motivation will never leave me. I have been a mentor to young or new writers and I have to say it is a thrill. Especially when you see that light go on in their eyes. What a feeling.

  11. Man that brings back memories–not just the first time, but many times after, writing that manuscript and thinking it was gold, then later finding out it wasn’t. But the more we try, the better we get!

  12. I see a lot of similarities to my journey, here. When I first started writing Book 1 as a hobby thirty-odd years ago, I knew so little about the craft of writing. But I didn’t know that there was so much I didn’t know, so I had those same starry eyes. Many years and revisions later, I finally published it. Along the way I learned about the craft and all the other things I’d been missing earlier. I never stopped believing in myself or my story.
    Never lose faith in yourself. Yes, it may take a ton of hard work, but you’ll get there. If you love your story and pour your heart into it, someone else out there will love it, too. 🙂

  13. I’ve signed up 😀 I was that chubby little kid too. I still struggle with the first try not being perfect. It takes ten years to become a master of a skill. I’m on my second year of my apprenticeship. I’ve enjoyed my journey so far, even with the sobbing in the corner moments. I love writers because everyone is willing to help everyone else, even though it is extremely competitive. Thank you for the great post!

  14. I still hope a little that the “Want + Try = Perfect the first time” will come true eventually, but until then, we have to keep trying. 🙂

  15. Patience is most definitely a virtue in writing…maybe the most important one!!

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