The Struggling Writer

The chronicles of a freelance writer as he tries to make a living.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The obligatory "resolution" article

Angela Booth recently wrote about setting tiny writing goals. In this time of New Year's resolutions, it's easy to set grandiose goals that will do more harm than good. Although I understand the "Aim for the stars; settle for the moon" philosophy, it more often becomes "Aim for the stars; realize it's impossible and go back to bed".

I'm definitely a "tiny goal" kind of guy. I'm not making anywhere near the money I could be making, even this early in my career, and I'm fine with that. I'd rather ease into this, making sure I take on only what I can handle, and building to a solid career over time. I'm here for the long haul, not to win the lottery.

I'll add my own advice to goal setting.

It's OK to recognize a goal isn't going to work. Sometimes an idea that seems good at the time turns out to be unrealistic. Rather than futilely chasing rainbows and getting frustrated, get out the eraser, get rid of the goal and replace it with a new one. For example, one of my attempts at motivation was "Lock myself in my office X hours per day" hoping that I'd write out of boredom more than anything else. That worked fine...until I realized that the door wasn't actually locked and I could leave any time I wanted. I ditched that goal and replaced it with "do one thing every day", whether it's write an article, respond to an ad, research a magazine, or read a chapter in one of my writing books. That is working much better.

Use your own goals, not other peoples'. It's fine to use other people for inspiration, but everyone is different. A goal that works for one writer may not work for you. You know your personality, you know your strengths and weaknesses, and in the end you are the only one who can find realistic goals.

When you meet a goal, set a new goal. I know Angela already said that one, but it bears repeating. I see writers get stuck in a rut after meeting some moderate goal rather than improving themselves professionally. One of my goals is "Make more money each month than last month". That is really a path to the goal "Become self sufficient". When that happens, I will replace it with "Become self sufficient +X%" so that I can start building up my retirement. Even once I make enough money, that's still not the end because I can replace that with a goal like "Make the same money but work fewer hours" so that I can have more time for other things. This, of course, is all leading up to the goal "Be a millionaire working only five minutes a day" that so many not-a-scam-at-all businesses offer me.

Goals are not just for the new year. It's better to evaluate your progress regularly. I do a mental checklist about once a month and find that it keeps me on track. A set of shiny and new resolutions can be a great way to start the new year, but resolutions tarnish quite quickly and need constant care.


  • At 3:48 PM, Anonymous julie said…

    Great post. This is JulieB over at AW. Funny, I'm just adding a bunch of AW blogs to my reader so I can get started on my resolution to read more blogs!

  • At 9:37 AM, Blogger Andy said…

    Thanks, Julie.

    The recent top 10 awards brought a lot of new blogs to my attention, which is how I found Angela's. But they sure cut into writing time...


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