Defining Creative Success

By Lindsey Brackett, @lindsbrac

I majored in theater. Actually, I majored in Interdisciplinary Studies, which is a fancy way of saying I couldn’t make up my mind between theater, English, and education. So I studied all three and called it a secondary drama teacher’s major.

I’ve never taught high school drama.

Somehow I let my desire to merely be creative trump my desire to actually get a job when I graduated. Of course, being a thespian, I was used to the old joke, “Once an actor, always a waiter.”

I suppose the same could be true for writers. Or artists. Or violinists. Or anyone who pursues a creative art as their first and foremost passion and holds out hope that someday, this endeavor will not only enrich and encourage people’s lives—but it will actually pay the bills.

What does it really mean to be a successful creative?

I think we all have different versions and expectations for success. Perhaps you define it as that first book contract. Perhaps your critique partner defines it as the first royalty check that makes the car payment. Perhaps your favorite blogger defines success in social media stats or post shares.

It doesn’t matter how you define success. What matters is you do.

The one thing you need to be a successful creative?

It’s not hoards of followers on Instagram (fastest growing social media platform). It’s not an eye for graphic design so you can promote your work yourself (embrace Canva). It’s not even a bank account being filled monthly with paychecks from writing (though that’s pretty nice, too). It’s not Amazon sales reviews and Goodreads shelvings (but those do help us get found).

You need motivation. Which starts when you define success for you.

I’ve defined my “success” for my debut novel as a combination of strong sales and reader interaction. I finally have some numbers and stats I can put to that statement, but those don’t matter near as much as the statement itself.

Because once you have motivation, you have focus.

Focus will help you narrow your field. Want to grow as a social media influencer but don’t know how? Focus will help you define your brand. Like sports and politics? Tweet up a storm and have fun doing it. Love pretty images and micro-blogging? Instagram is your sweet spot. Enjoy engaging with readers and writers in groups? Facebook is still king of that.

The point is, once you’re focused, you can then create a manageable, attainable goal. Remember, in this industry, we control next to nothing. (There’s a life lesson in that.) But you do get to control what type of goal you set for yourself.

Right now, mine is simple. I want to grow my Instagram platform and email subscriber list so I can connect better with other busy creatives and readers. By design, this will inevitably help me sell more books. Not because I have hundreds (or thousands!) of followers or subscribers, but because a handful of those might tell a friend who tells a friend who tells a friend.

Because that, my friends, is how I am learning to define my creative success—by accepting the things I cannot change and being motivated to change the things I can.

Award-winning writer Lindsey P. Brackett once taught middle grades literature, but now she writes her own works in the midst of motherhood. Her debut novel, Still Waters, influenced by her family ties to the South Carolina Lowcountry, is a story about the power of family and forgiveness. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters also received 4-stars from Romantic Times.

A blogger since 2010, Lindsey has published articles and short stories in a variety of print and online publications including Southern Writers Magazine Best Short Fiction (2015 and 2017).  Her popular column appears in local North Georgia newspapers weekly. Currently, Lindsey is a general editor with Firefly Southern Fiction, an imprint of LPC Books, and she freelances as a writing coach. Previously, Lindsey served as Editor of Web Content for the Splickety Publishing Group where she wrote and edited flash fiction.

A Georgia native, Lindsey makes her home—full of wet towels, lost library books, and strong coffee—at the foothills of Appalachia with her patient husband and their four rowdy children. Connect with her at or on Facebook: Lindsey P. Brackett, Instagram: @lindseypbrackett, or Twitter: @lindsbrac.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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2 thoughts on “Defining Creative Success

  1. I love that success can mean different things for different people. I believe you are correct in the idea that to know what success is to you helps you focus in your writing. Your post was not only a great reminder of this, but it also helped me (a person who struggles to figure out how to use social media in my writing) think about the use of social media in a more practical and understandable way. Thank you.