January 28, 2019

How to Be Creatively Successful

By Lindsey Brackett

Success is an impossible word to define. Like political boundaries, its rhetoric keeps shifting with the times.

Success is doing what you love.
Success is making a lot of money.
Success is stewarding the money you do have.
Success is raising a family.
Success is a long career.

But I’ve come to learn, as I embrace my publishing journey, it doesn’t matter how I—or the world—defines success. What matters is how I define it for me.

I believe there’s really only one thing I need to be a successful creative. It’s not hoards of social media followers. It’s not an eye for graphic design. It’s not even a bank account padded by royalty checks. It’s not Amazon sales reviews or Goodreads shelvings or bookstore space.

It’s motivation.

The thing I need to be successful comes from me. I am motivated by what matters most to me.

Once you have motivation, you can establish focus. Start simply by asking yourself, “What about publishing matters to me? Sales? Connections? Storytelling?”

While these things are all interrelated, often with strong connections leading to strong sales, you cannot tackle everything at once. Your focus cannot be growing your social media platform while writing the next great American novel. Honestly, how often do you think Anthony Doerr updates his Facebook page? (Answer: Not often because he posted in September that he was busy writing another book.)

Focus will help you narrow your choices in this ever-changing industry. Once you’re focused, you can create a manageable, attainable goal. Remember, in publishing, we control next to nothing. (There’s a life lesson in that, and even indies will tell you, you can’t control sales.) But you do get to control the goals you set for yourself.

Right now, my goal is simple. I’m writing a new book and I want it finished and ready to pitch at a conference next spring. The end. That’s it. If I pick up some social media followers along the way, that’s great. But I can’t put my energy into crafting posts across platforms 1-3 times a day because all my creativity is laser focused on a new story.

For me, creative success is all about accepting the things I cannot change—and being motivated to change the things I can. I can’t make people like me. But I can make myself learn to write better, deeper, and stronger.

Tell me about your creative success in the comments!
Lindsey P. Brackett writes southern fiction infused with her rural Georgia upbringing and Lowcountry roots. Her debut novel, Still Waters, inspired by family summers at Edisto Beach, released in 2017. Called “a brilliant debut” with “exquisite writing,” Still Waters received 4-stars from Romantic Times and was named 2018 Selah Book of the Year. Connect with Lindsey and get her free newsletter at or on Instagram and Facebook: @lindseypbrackett.

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