Set Authentic Writing Goals

Pedro Ribeiro Simões
Photo by Pedro Ribeiro Simões (CC BY 2.0)

As we continue to focus on dreams and goals, let’s think about exactly what it is we want to write.

  • What genre do you want to write?
  • What subject matters do you want to write about?
  • What lengths do you want to write?
  • When and how often do you want to write?
  • Where do you want it to appear?
  • Whom do you want to read your writing?

The answers might not be obvious. So much of what we think we want comes from what others are doing, what is trendy, what we assume we should want.

But what do you want to write? What kind of writing—poetry, fiction, non-fiction, creative non-fiction, journal writing, blogging—gives you joy? What aspects of writing—first drafts, revising, planning, plotting, publishing—put a smile on your face?

Of course, writing is often difficult and plodding for even the most fulfilled writer, but if it feels that way all of the time, you might be focusing on inauthentic goals.

No rule that says you have to publish a novel if what you really love to do is to write in your daily journal.

No law prohibits your writing both science fiction stories and spoken word poetry (or non-fiction and fiction).

Your best friend’s low opinion of self-publishing doesn’t mean that self-publishing can’t bring you immense satisfaction, if that’s what you want to do.

Just because every writing blog you read seems to support indie authorship doesn’t mean you should forego the process of submitting your work to agents and publishers, if that is what makes you happy.

In short, there is no need for you to follow anyone else’s path or adopt anyone else’s definition of writing success.

Creating a writing life based on our authentic desires, especially if those desires are outside the norm or go against others’ expectations, has an added benefit: We gain confidence. In The Confidence Code, authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman quote psychologist and author Caroline Adams Miller on the importance of willing to be different if we want to have more confidence:

“Confidence comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and working toward goals that come from your own values and needs, goals that aren’t determined by society.” (The Confidence Code, p. 131)

Of course, figuring out our authentic values and needs might be the hardest part (but well worth the effort and time).

What forms and aspects of writing give you joy?

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