WHAT MAKES A SUCCESS? • By Natascha Biebow


Are You
Successful? How can you tell?
Who is to say what SUCCESS looks like – your audience?
Your family or your friends? Readers, librarians, parents? YOU?


You are an ARTIST and you must make your ART.  You have no choice, because when you make
art, you feel fulfilled, joyful even;  when you do not, you feel as if an
art-shaped hole has opened up. But that little voice niggles – is there more?
Have I made it yet?


When weighing
up success, a children’s book creator’s narrative might go something like this:


By virtue of
its very meaning, success is the shifting sands of life. The word originates
from the late 14th century word ‘succeden, meaning "come next after, follow after another; take the
place of another . . .’


So, in words
sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, but which are likely also an
amalgamation of other earlier writings:


“Success is Not Final, Failure is Not Fatal:

It is the
Courage to Continue that Counts.”


When thinking
about whether you are successful as a creator, it is all too easy to look
around and compare yourself to others. FOMO can be paralysing!


For me, it’s
the authors who are prolific, who already have multiple book deals on the back
of their debuts and seem to be thriving, according to their social media posts.
Will I ever be like them?


It can be
paralysing, and make you breathless. Goals are always shifting –
you make one and when you reach it, there’s another goal and that’s the one that you feel you must
aim for. And so on . .  . You can feel
there should be something more, something is missing, sometimes even that perhaps you aren’t


External markers of success are everywhere, but there is a
key mindset shift we can choose that will make all the difference. Deep breath . . .


Don't Believe Everything You Think . . . You can change (and maybe even control)
Your Perceptions of What Success REALLY is!

Re-defining success:


Rather than looking at external markers, we can try to focus
instead on the internal meaning of
success. Consider: What does success mean for you personally, and what
connections can you make with your art and your audience?


ACCEPT: You’ll Never
Climb the Last Mountain – there will always be another goal.


When you accept that creating is a series of goals,
and when you’re prepared to redefine these as you
go along,
you can enjoy the process and celebrate each achievement.
This is success.


There will always be another mountain, another goal . . .

the World and Create Opportunities
: Try and fail and BE BRAVE!


When you try your best, even if it doesn’t result
in the end goal, you can feel proud of having tried. This is success.


Connect with others and share your work – whether
it’s a rough draft or storytime with an audience, this outreach will bring you
joy and fulfilment. This is success.


Give generously. When you help others, they will
want to help you. This is success.


Learn new things every day.


responsibility for creating opportunities by connecting with others, showing up
for your writing or illustrating and being pro-active at learning your craft -
you’ll find that you naturally become more successful.




When you remember your passion, WHY you make art, you
can tap into your talent and truth and be grateful for what you can create and
share with the world. That is success.



Saying no is part of establishing boundaries that
enable you to create successfully.


Having the courage to focus on yourself and to feed
your creativity through self-care (even if it means doing nothing), is an
important part of creating space to make meaningful art.


Celebrate small victories. Take time to appreciate
your efforts, no matter how small, and yourself. That is success.




Perseverance is a crucial part of success.  If you Believe You CAN, you are much more
likely to succeed.


If you tap into your passions – the reasons only YOU
can tell this story – the book you create will resonate with children and shine
beautifully. That is success.



Find joy in the things that
working, that you have in your life, rather than those that are missing.
If you view life through the eyes of
abundance, it will deliver success - perhaps in new, unexpected joyful ways.


Natascha Biebow, MBE, Author, Editor and Mentor

Natascha is the author of the award-winning The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons,
illustrated by Steven Salerno, winner of the Irma Black Award for
Excellence in Children's Books, and selected as a best STEM Book 2020.
Editor of numerous prize-winning books, she runs

Blue Elephant Storyshaping,
an editing, coaching and mentoring service aimed at empowering
writers and illustrators to fine-tune their work pre-submission, and is
the Editorial Director for Five Quills. Find out about her new picture book webinar courses!
She is Co-Regional
Advisor (Co-Chair) of SCBWI British Isles.
Find her at www.nataschabiebow.com

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