When you’re a freelance writer you get to define your own success. How you define it is totally up to you. Consider my own success definitions over time.
Way back when I was first submitting unsolicited manuscripts to magazines, my first definition of success was, believe it or not, rejection letters. I knew that getting rejected meant I’d actually completed the process of writing and submitting. Those first couple of rejections went on my bedroom wall – wish I’d kept ’em.
Next, not surprisingly, my next goal was to sell one an article to a magazine and get paid for it. After awhile, that happened to. It was, I think, a humorous essay to an Apple computer magazine that hasn’t been in existence for a very long time. But that sale made me officially a published writer – a real success in my mind.
Meanwhile I’d gotten a technical writing job which meant I was writing for a living – not freelancing, but writing.
A couple of things happened during that job that were really good for me. I got moved from the tech writing department to the editorial staff of the magazine, ProFiles – the magazine of all things for KayPro computers. (Goddess I date myself!) Now I was writing for a magazine full time.
Working on the magazine was the first time I’d actually worked around other writers. I discovered I was, for whatever reason, a faster writer than most. At first I thought it was a fluke, but after a while I checked with the editor and he confirmed my suspicion. Normally my speed worked in my favor and he actually agreed to let me do freelance work on the side provided I kept it mostly a secret. Of course, there was the time he came to me saying something like “Anne, re-read this one; I think you did it too fast.” He was right, it was a mess, but easy enough to fix.
The other thing that happened was an agent wandered in looking for people who could write third party software manuals, a big deal back then. I quickly formed a small group, me, a hardware guy and a software guy and we ended up with four contracts, four advances and writing two books before the other two were canceled.
It wasn’t all success there. When the editor quit and I applied word came down that the owner considered me too “wacky” to fulfill the gig. Looking back, I’m not even sure how he knew who I was. I also strongly suspect he couldn’t imagine a woman in that position.
My next success was editing another magazine, The Open Gate a publication of Terry Cole Whitaker’s ministry in San Diego. Again, I was making my living writing. That magazine won a Maggie Award – a success by any standard. That job also led to my first ghostwriting gig.
And so it’s gone for me. And I’ll bet I’m not alone.
I’ve defined writing success in all sorts of ways and still do.