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Your “Success Identity” And How It Keeps You From Writing

by Jennifer on September 15, 2010

By Jennifer Blanchard

A “Success Identity” (SI) is a term created by blogger and launch coach, Dave Navarro. He defines it as:

“The little mental thermostat you set in your head that indicates what you think you deserve in life. It’s affected not only by your personal successes and failures, but by how you compare yourself to your competition.”

And according to Navarro, most people don’t set their Success Identity consciously.

“Instead, it’s at whatever setting you let it get smacked to based on how you react emotionally to victories, setbacks and fears,” Navarro says in his blog post, You Only Get Paid What You Think You’re Worth.

Don’t think this has anything to do with writing? Think again.

You’ve Set Your Writing Success Identity
Somewhere along the lines in your writing life, something happened. And that event caused you to set yourself somewhere on the writing success spectrum.

That spectrum includes:

  • Wannabe Writers—those who talk about writing or being a writer, but have never actually written anything.
  • Aspiring Writers—those who talk about writing or being a writer, but spend time reading and researching rather than writing.
  • Writers—those who talk about writing or being a writer and actually sit down to write from time to time.
  • Paid Writers—those who have talked so much about writing or being a writer that they actually wrote, put it out there and got someone to pay them for it (authors, screenwriters, playwrights, freelancers, etc., fit into this category).

You fall somewhere in this spectrum, and the reason for it is based on where you’ve set your writing Success Identity.

For example, if you think you don’t have what it takes to be a writer, you may set your Success Identity at “Aspiring Writer” or, worse, “Wannabe Writer.” And that setting may or may not actually be in alignment with what you’re capable of.

The reason why this happens is because you compare yourself to Writers and Paid Writers. You take a look at the accomplishments of others and because you haven’t yet done what they have, you set you Success Identity so low you’re not giving yourself the option of being successful.

You’re Responsible for Changing Your Writing Success Identity
Since you are in control of your Success Identity, and you are the one who set where it’s at currently, you are the only one who can change it.

First off, if you want to be a writer, you need to have confidence and faith in yourself. You need to believe that you can write whatever you want to write and reach whatever writing dreams you have.

You can’t spend your time comparing yourself to the best others can do.

Second off, you must have the desire to write. And I don’t mean desire like you read books and think, “I can do that,” or desire like you envy writers so much that you want to be like them.

I mean desire like a fire of passion inside you that has ignited and can only be put out by outputting words onto a page. That kind of desire is the kind that moves your Success Identity from “Wannabe” to “Paid Writer.”

It’s like you can’t not write. There’s just something in you that would die if you didn’t sit down and put pen to paper. You couldn’t survive without writing, period.

Other people are where they are on the writing spectrum because they’ve proactively set their writing Success Identity. They made a conscious choice. They decided where on the spectrum they wanted to land, and then they set their SI high enough to get them there.

So make a conscious choice to set your writing Success Identity where you know it deserves to be.

It’s Your Job to Defend Your Writing Success Identity
No matter how successful you become as a writer, you will still have an inner editor that will cause you to doubt yourself. You’ll begin to wonder if you can actually be as successful as you want to be or if you even have what it takes to reach your dreams.

While these feelings will never completely go away, you can maintain your confidence by doing the following:

  • Remind yourself you made a choice to move yourself up on the writing success spectrum–Moving yourself out of your comfort zone will always be met with resistance, at first. Just keep that in mind, take a deep breath and push forward.
  • Make a list of all the reasons you deserve your new Success Identity–As Navarro mentions in his post, remove emotion when you’re making your list. Focus on the proof that you deserve the success you want.

    For example, you spend 30 minutes every day writing and you don’t get up from your desk ’til you’ve written at least 500 words.

    Now, whenever your feel self-doubt popping up, pull out this list and reread it.

As soon as you realize you’re worth going after whatever setting on the writing success spectrum you want, you’ll be in a better place to make it happen.

Where are you on the writing success spectrum? What are you going to do to move yourself up a notch?

About the Author: Jennifer Blanchard is founder of Procrastinating Writers. For more great writing tips, articles and information, follow her on Twitter.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jonathan Browne September 16, 2010 at 11:18 am

Jennifer this is a fantastic post. I think the great part about this is that when you set your success identity higher by choosing to, your “talent” and skill grow accordingly. It all snowballs into a supercummalative effect once you make the decision.

I made a post to a similar effect on my blog.

2 jblan September 16, 2010 at 2:20 pm

@Jonathan Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. And you’re absolutely right—by setting your Success Identity higher, your writing talents will grow automatically. The first step is making the choice to move yourself higher up on the spectrum.

3 Adalia September 16, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I started a blog because my mentor told me I should. Writing is a challenge for me – wordiness, I was petrified of making spelling errors, run on sentences, grammatical errors, hanging this hanging that. Writing is definitely not my brilliance but I strive to get better because I enjoy this medium of communication. It’s comfortable making an “bleep” of yourself – when outward validation is not your intent.

4 Marc Vun Kannon September 17, 2010 at 4:10 pm

When I first started writing, I didn’t know enough about the work to think I couldn’t do it, I just did what made sense to me to do. Only years later did I find out that most of what i do shouldn’t or couldn’t be done, but I’ve got too many things published that way to stop now.

I succeeded because it never occured to me that I could fail. It was just a question of figuring out how to succeed.

Marc Vun Kannon

5 Katayoon (Kat) Zandvakili September 18, 2010 at 2:16 am

Wonderful post, Jennifer! It really is an inside job, making that conscious decision/choice to …stick with your guns and write full-out, or not. I worked on a memoir on and off for 14 years! (I’m not that old 🙂 and it’s thankfully with a good editor now. I’ve been painting up a storm and working on a screenplay and sometimes poetry since the manuscript left my hands. At first I worried I wasn’t a writer anymore, not in the way I thought of myself before as being a writer, because I have been so flowing into my paintings & then into this wonderful and organic experience of a screenplay (so different from anything else I’ve written). Guess what? I am enjoying myself more and more! I know my brain and spirit just needed a long vacation from my memoir, which is rather intense. Thank you for breaking these steps down in your article. It is a profound one. Yours in light & joy, Kat

6 andrew toynbee September 27, 2010 at 10:16 am

“…desire like a fire of passion inside you that has ignited and can only be put out by outputting words onto a page.”

My passion’s burning high – and it only grows higher as I output my words onto a page. The act of creating increases my confidence with every chapter.
Like Marc VK, I didn’t know enough about what not to write when I started out, so I didn’t get too discouraged, but as I’ve progressed, I’ve managed (I hope) to correct errors as I’ve gone along.

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