I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a lot of goals this year, most of them involving my writing life and publishing goals.
I’ve talked about making writing goals before, and it’s something that, even if I don’t declare to the world or even write down, I often have a type of goal in my head at all times. But sometimes writing is overwhelming, and all too often it’s just too easy to quit. It’s difficult to think long term when long term goals are so big and overwhelming. After all, a novel wasn’t written in a day (well, I suppose it could be done, but most novels aren’t written that way).
But every year, people make the goal to finally finish that novel they have stashed away somewhere, and every year people quit somewhere along the way. Why is that? What is it about writing that makes it so hard to finish that novel? And what can you do to not give up?
Well, here are a few reasons I think people give up on their writing goals (and why you shouldn’t).
1) You got overwhelmed.
When you’re just starting out with writing goals or as a writer, it’s easy to get overwhelmed looking at all you want to accomplish. You want to be a successful published author, you want to write that 100K word manuscript, you want to write a best seller.
None of those are bad goals. But trying to tackle them all at once is probably not the best route you could take.
Instead, break those big goals down into manageable pieces.
Want to write 100K words this year? How many words would you have to write in one day to manage that in 365 days? If you look at it from that angle, you’re golden to have a completed manuscript by 2017. (Only 274 words a day, by the way.)
Want to be published? What is it going to take to get that done? Obviously you must write the novel, revise and edit it, then find an agent, editor, publisher, and not necessarily in that order. But Rome wasn’t built in day.
The solution: What people who reach their goals have in common is that they do something to push themselves toward their goals every single day. Could you find the name of an agent to submit to today? Could you write 500 words today? Could you research publishing companies? Research cover design if you’re self-publishing? A little step, five minutes here and there every day will march you toward your overall goal.
2) It’s too hard.
I’m not going to lie to you. Writing is hard work. It’s something that you do, alone, in your own little world, until at one point you’ve done all you can and you’re finally prepared to share it with the world.
It’s largely done in secret with little encouragement until your manuscript is completed and then when you do share it, it may not be well received.
Nope, writing is not a “hobby” that is often praised–unless you write the next best seller. Then maybe once you publish people will be proud of their writer friend.
But until then, you’re pretty much in it alone.
The solution: If writing doesn’t feel fun to you anymore, then maybe it’s best to look at why you’re writing or what you’re writing. Or look into finding a writing friend, one who can mentor you or one you can mentor. Experiment with genres, writing prompts, etc. Or, if you need to, take a break from writing.
3) You think you’re not good enough.
Every writer starts somewhere. As with any skill, everyone starts out as a beginner. You must learn the skill, learn how to put a story together, how to write good sentences. The proper way to use a metaphor, know story structure in order to properly hold up your story.
No one is good enough when they start writing. What does every writer has in common? They started writing.
The solution: We all must start somewhere. So put your perfectionist streak aside and put down one word after another. That’s how a story gets written anyway: one word at a time.
4) Because it’s not over once you write the story.
You have to then revise.
It often seems that revision takes a lot longer than writing the first draft. (Now isn’t that depressing?)
A lot of times looking at a first draft is overwhelming simply because of how much work it seems is needed to make it suitable for another’s eyes. (There’s no way I let people read any of my first drafts. People don’t get to read them until third or fourth or later drafts.)
The solution: The only way to get through that is break down your goal (a readable final draft) into smaller, more manageable pieces. You want a polished, publishable novel, you must work toward that. And to do that, you must tackle revisions.
5) You got tired of rejection.
Whether you’re seeking a traditional publishing deal or going it alone with self-publishing, you’re going to deal with rejection. Life constantly hands you rejection, it’s a matter of what you do with it that counts.
Every author (and book) has its fair share of haters. You can never please everyone. Just like one person will never be friends with everyone, a book cannot please everyone. Nor should you try. So don’t even bother. That’s not to say that you should not try to produce your best work, you absolutely should. But don’t be worried if someone doesn’t like it–because someone won’t.
The solution: You have to develop a rough skin. Look to others who dealt with years of rejection but believed so deeply in their stories that they kept putting it out there, despite being told that no one else would ever want to read it. Persevere. Because eventually, if you believe in it enough, chances are someone else will too.