What Makes for a Successful Writer?

I was sitting and chatting with a group of writers the other day and one asked, “What makes for a successful writer?” People started to bubble up with definitions and dropping names on both sides of the question.

I raised my hand. “How do you define success?”?The silence was like what happens when someone belches at a fancy dinner. Is success programmed into our DNA??Or is success for a writer a whimsical gift distributed apparently without rhyme or reason by the fairy god-agent?

For me, success is doing what God has called me to do with full commitment and determination for as long as he calls me to do it.

Believe me, he and I have had several discussions about this, especially recently. Well, ‘discussion’ may not be the correct word. Discussion implies two or more people talking. My discussions with him are more like me yakking and complaining and begging and him sitting and smiling, waiting for me to finish my rant.

Then he would ask, “What did I call you to do?”

“Write and help other writers.”

“Are you doing that?”


“Then you’re a success in my eyes.”

And my “Yeah, but…” died unspoken.

He reminded me of one of the beta readers of my first novel, Journey to Riverbend. She asked me not to change a scene because it brought her closer to God. At the time, God told me that even if the book was never published, it accomplished his purpose, which was to bring her closer to him. Even unpublished, the book was a success in his eyes.

My definition of success was different than his. Mine was based on material evidence. Contracts, sales, etc.

His is based on obedience and faith and trust.

How do you define success?


4 Responses to What Makes for a Successful Writer?

  1. Janice C. Johnson January 25, 2018 at 9:23 pm #

    Thank you for these words of encouragement. This perspective has renewed my focus with regard to my work.

  2. Henry January 25, 2018 at 9:49 pm #

    Janice, I’m blessed I could help in some way. Thank you for sharing.

  3. Gayle Veitenheimer February 26, 2018 at 4:48 pm #

    Good words, Henry.

  4. Henry February 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm #

    Thank you, Gayle.

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