Thursday, March 27, 2014

How do you define success in your writing? by Terry Burns

How do we know if we have succeeded in our writing goals if we haven't defined what success is to us?

When I wrote the novel Mysterious Ways, God obviously knew where He wanted it to go and He saw to it that it went there. As I said, I have no idea how that was accomplished. It wasn’t a large group, but it was where He intended it to go.

We all have to ask ourselves that question: What if the market God has in mind isn’t a large number, what if it is a smaller group?

What if it is only one?

What if that one is us?

Are we still willing to write in obedience if God has a very small audience in mind? I made the commitment long ago to do that. It’s something each of us needs to decide for ourselves.

We have to go through an exercise where we can really come to terms with what we deem to be success for our writing. Do we need the big sales to feel we have achieved success? Do we have to reach a certain group of people to feel that? For a secular writer, if they don’t sell thousands of copies, they aren’t considered a success. How many does a Christian writer have to reach to feel successful?

If I only sold one book and it led to a person finding salvation, it would be enough although I certainly want to reach out to more.

How do you define success?

Taken from our new book "Writing in Obedience" written  with Linda Yezak.

This book is for the new Christian writer or the writer looking to decide how God wants them to incorporate their faith into their writing. How do we know what the Lord wants us to do? Are we being called to write or do we want to write for Him as an offering? What is required of the author using their writing for the Lord and how do they go about it? What do we really want to achieve with our writing, and how do we define success?  Available for order here.


Diana said...

Terry, I agree- God is all about the one but then he usually has the many in mind as well. Great resource here.

Linda Glaz said...

For me, it's loving what I'm doing. And I wrote very happily for 20 years before getting pubbed. I wouldn't recommend that type of masochism for everyone, but it worked for me. I was happy writing whether or not I was published.

Terry Burns said...

I'm afraid I was a little spoiled. Outside of the school newspaper, the first time I ever tried to get published was in a state-wide poetry anthology open only to students and I got in. Having your very first submission accepted could give a guy some false expectations, but it didn't, I knew what to expect. It did make it easier to have hope though,

Crystal L Barnes said...

A wonderful post full of some very thought-provoking questions. Personally, I know when you're called to write doing anything else would bring nothing near happiness or success. Success is walking in obedience to God regardless of what the world has to say.

Thanks for sharing, Terry.

Linda Glaz said...

I was 'hooked' in 8th grade when we all had to write a novella of sorts. I wrote the absolute cheesiest story ever, but remember it to this day. Once I finished it, I was hooked. Got an A which also helped, but it was worse than Velveeta. Still and all, God def leads us even at an early age.

David B. Smith said...

For sure, success is: 1) pleasing God, 2) changing lives (the more the better), and 3) being personally fulfilled by the writing process. I'll never forget the thrill of randomly meeting some kids on the northern tip of Maui who had read all of my Bucky Stone books and said their lives were impacted. Awesome post, Terry.

Patricia Beal said...

Thank you for the post and also for A Writer's Survival Guide To Getting Published. You do indeed have the special gift of encouragement. I have a question. In the book, when you talk about the definition of success, you also talk about being called to write versus dedicating your writing as an offering. Do you believe both men and women get called to write? I haven't read Writing in Obedience yet, but I noticed that you wrote the Writing Under a Calling chapter, and Ms. Yezak wrote the A Lifetime of Offering chapter. For ladies, does it come down to our intended audience? Thank you.

Terry Burns said...

Of course both men and women get called to write and I believe what we write depends on whether it is a calling or an offering. If God has called us to write a specific book we need to be obedient to do it. If we have a message on our heart and a desire to reach out to a specific audience that that is what we need to do. We face these choices whether we are male or female.

Patricia Beal said...

Thank you, Mr. Burns.