Follow Margo’s guidelines and you will find yourself setting goals that are concrete (finish a draft of my novel vs work on my novel). Your goals will also be within your ability to achieve (finish a draft of my novel vs find a publisher for my novel or win an award with my novel).
I’d like to add to Margo’s list by challenging you to do one more thing. Set a goal that is scary. Write your dream manuscript. For some of us it is one special manuscript. For others, it is a series or several unrelated stories that creep into our minds again and again.
The reasons that you aren’t working on your dream piece usually fits into one of these three areas.
- Fear. Sometimes you avoid your dream project out of fear, especially if writing this manuscript means baring your soul. While this manuscript is near to your heart and you believe people need to hear what you have to say, you also fear the criticism this project will bring. This was the case with a picture book on prayer that I noodled over for years. Instead of working on it, I turned to safer topics.
- Criticism. You might be avoiding your dream project because you overcame fear of the unknown long enough to write and get the work into the hands of trusted reviewers. Unfortunately, harsh words from someone you trust can bring you to a stop. When I drafted my picture book, I was surprised by the support I received until . . . let’s just say that one person can derail you completely.
- Market. The third reason that we abandon our dream projects is because of market trends. We go to a conference only to hear that fiction/nonfiction/memoir is no longer selling. If that is what you are working on, you aren’t going to find a home for your work unless it is amazing. And your work, says the critiquer, is adequate, not amazing. One woman in my critique group has abandoned her fiction after such a comment and now only writes nonfiction. While her nonfiction is fascinating, she has walked away from a story she just had to write.
No matter why you put aside your dream story, I’d like to challenge you. In 2014, recommit yourself to this project. Editors tell us that they want writing with passion. Passion doesn’t come from playing it safe. Passion doesn’t come from the sure sale. It comes from the story that we believe in and that won’t let us alone.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a picture book to rework according to my own unique vision.
Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.