The Writer’s Life, Chapter 24: Don’t Set a Time Limit for Your Success

In a world driven by deadlines, it’s only natural to set a date for everything, including our success as writers. How you define success is up to you, but I’ll bet you’ve set a deadline for it. Am I right?

Nothing wrong with goals but be careful how you define success, and how long you give yourself to attain it. Why? When we’re obsessed with the clock, we compromise the work. And it’s the work, the writing, the pure love of writing, which initially compelled us to this life, remember?  Don’t let your self-proclaimed time limit for success stifle your work, question your confidence, or jeopardize your journey. Writing, good writing, takes time. Sweat. Endurance.

This craft we all feel called to, or compelled to, is grueling work. It’s cerebral, sedentary and performed in isolation. It’s very fulfilling, but not for the faint of heart. You’re either all in or all out. And your ultimate success lies somewhere down the road. The question is, how long is the road? Not sure. But I am sure that there is likely a proverbial bend in the road—so you’ll never see success coming. It will find you—on its timetable, not yours.

I blog on this topic to encourage you and to confess that I’m guilty of this mistake. I have learned that the more I strive for success, the more it eludes me. I’ve experienced the peril of tying success to a timetable. It’s a recipe for failure, or at the very least, grave disappointment.

I just finished watching the World Series with the rest of America and enjoyed how, in baseball, there is no time limit. No clock. No two-minute warning. Just innings and however long a team can stretch them. Tie score at the end of nine innings? No problem, just add another one. So, there’s time to do your best work. The clock is not a factor.

As writers, we need to focus on doing our best work. Sure, it’s fine to set realistic goals and deadlines, but remove the clock from your definition of success. Does that mean you will be set adrift? No, it means you will be set free; free to write your best work.

Enjoy the ride.


The Writer’s Refuge blog is a place for writers, like you, to break away from your

daily routine and for just a few minutes find insight, inspiration or simply a word of

encouragement. Blog entries are posted once a week on Thursday.

You may contact me at:

Published in: on November 3, 2011 at 6:02 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. I love your comparison to baseball. Writing needs to take as long as it takes. Thanks for the reminder.

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