It is a new year! New goals and new goals-in-the-making (dreams). If you are like me, you have made several resolutions for this year. It is the second month and time to reevaluate some of your resolutions. The key is that you want attainable, perhaps difficult to attain, goals. However, you do not want to overwhelm yourself with certain goals that hinder rather than help you progress as a writer.
4 Goals Not to Make
“I will make twenty writing resolutions.”
There have been times when I have made twenty resolutions – and those are the resolutions solely for writing. When I came up short (i.e. only met one or two resolutions), I felt like a failure. That feeling carried over into my work. I felt that since I had not achieved half of my list of goals, I had failed for the year. Instead of making a large amount of goals for your writing, make a few.
“I’m going to write 3,000 words per day.”
“I’m going to submit to 50 literary magazines.”
“I’m going to write three novels.”
At the time we make these goals, we feel superhuman. But making goals impossible, or near impossible, to attain evokes the same aforementioned feeling. Failure. This does not mean not to try. However, making a near unattainable goal is more feasible than making a near impossible goal. Near unattainable goals push you past your normal point. Near impossible goals are counterproductive. They feel so big that you do not work towards them. Then you feel bad about not working. Instead, think about your responsibilities and your free time. Decide what you can achieve, then set the goal a bit higher than that.
“I will publish everything I write this year.”
For writers, publications are very important. The key is to ensure you are publishing quality work and not quantity. Recently, I attended a talk by Edwidge Danticat (author of Krik Krack and Breathe, Eyes, Memory) and she spoke of how sometimes we, as writers, need to write for ourselves. Sometimes there are stories that we need to get out of us that are not necessarily meant for the public. You might need to write a story to get to the next story. However, you want to make sure you are proud of every piece that you release to the world.
“I will network as much as possible.”
As much as we hate to admit it, the writing world sometimes is about “who you know” rather than “what you know”. As a result, we try and focus on networking as much as possible. Instead of trying to meet every agent and every fellow writer, set yourself a goal of: “I will meet and build meaningful relationships with a couple of writers/agents/etc.” Spending time building a few significant relationships rather than several superficial relationships will be more beneficial in the end.
The key is to push yourself, but not to overwhelm yourself.