Have you ever seen a dust devil? They're rather amusing to watch as you're driving across Texas. Dictionary.com says that a dust devil is a "strong miniature whirlwind that whips up dust, litter, leaves, etc into the air." I've seen quite a few of those in the last few weeks. We point and slow down and talk about it until the thing is out of sight.
Occasionally I feel like a little dust devil. I move very fast, and I stay quite busy, but I'm not sure that I'm doing much more than stirring up dust, litter and leaves. Whether my passion is writing or knitting scarves for shut-ins, I'd like to think I can be more productive than that. So what measure can we use to determine if we're making progress? After attending the RWA conference last month, where many of the best and brightest and MOST SUCCESSFUL in the industry were gathered, I came home and re-assessed. This is the list I came up with.
1) Is what I'm doing resulting in more sales? As artists, we often avoid this direct question, but I think it's a valid one. At RWA Nationals, I went to many workshops by where industry leaders challenged me to think like a business person. If I'm spending a lot of time and energy on things that don't really produce, then I need to re-assess.
2) Am I using my time effectively? I like to think that I have unlimited time, but of course I don't. I have the same amount of hours in my day as Nora Roberts. If I waste 90 minutes of mine on Facebook, that would be my mistake. Facebook is no doubt a great marketing tool, but I need to set a timer, and limit my minutes there.
3) Am I refining my craft? I went to a workshop by Deb Dixon and was astounded. I've taught writing at the college level for 12 years. I didn't really think I had anything to learn about point-of-view, but I'd heard so much about Deb that I stopped by anyway. My goodness was I surprised, and I have pages of notes to prove it. I saw quite a few bestselling authors in the audience as well, and I have no doubt that's part of the reason why they're bestselling authors.
My list is longer than this, and some of it is specific to me, but I want to challenge you to look at your passion and determine what you can do to move yourself forward. Success is defined in different ways for all of us, and I wish you the very best of success in whatever you choose to do.