2007, at the age of 37, I finally published my first book. I started writing when I was 12 and it took me 25 years to finally finish and publish a book. That’s a long time. I was ecstatic to complete my lifelong dream, but I still felt like a failure.
Almost a dozen books later, when I look back on what changed, it’s easy to point out, but it was the hardest thing I ever did. It’s just unfortunate I didn’t do it sooner. And, maybe this effects you, too.
In the comments, I’d love it if you would share with me your goals as a writer. What are they exactly? Have you defined them? Can you write them down?
I’m going to be honest here, setting goals was the hardest thing for me to do, and frankly, it’s the hardest thing for most people, especially writers. You and I, I’m willing to bet, we could compete for who is the best at procrastinating and it might end up in a tie, that is, if we ever reached the finish line.
Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.
–Tony Robbins (Source)
All joking aside, as writers we need to find ways to sit our butts down, do the work, and publish. The world needs your words, but if you never find a way to make things consistently happen, the world could miss out on what you have to offer and that would be a sad thing indeed.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
And, it shouldn’t.
But it’s not that easy. I sucked at setting goals and it cost me time and time again. I eventually had enough, I got so fed up with being late and never reaching my potential that I deliberately decided to do something about it. I found someone to help me. I couldn’t do it on my own.
Too many of us seem to think we’re in it alone or we need to hide our shortcomings, but the truth is, there’s help out there. Find it. Use it. Leverage it. Make your dreams reality by setting goals that you’ll keep time and time again. It’s the only way.
It’s also the way we all avoid the most. Let’s admit it. I mean, there’s a difference between those who do and those who don’t. Inherently, we know that. It’s painful.
But, like I said, it doesn’t have to be that way.
It’s not always easy to find help, but if you can, please, by all that the writing Gods are, do it.
In the meantime, allow me to describe the process I learned and followed:
1) I started creating daily routines. Basically, I set myself up to do the exact same things each morning, in the same order, even brushing my teeth. The routine resulted in me ending up with my butt in the chair and writing a minimum of 250 words. I did this every morning, before 8 am! And, I have ADHD. I can’t begin to tell you how hard creating a daily routine was, but I can tell you how rewarding it was to actually stick to it. My prolific work since then shows the results.
2) I practiced in public. By starting a blog, I published my daily work online for others to read –the good, the bad, and the oh-so-ugly. Grammar police, typo police, and anyone with a half-awake brain corrected me. But it paid off and I got better and better. To be honest, this is what ultimately took my fear of publishing away. If you can publish crap with online trolls ready to pounce, when the good stuff comes out of your fingers, even the trolls will let you know you’re improving. Everyone, consciously or not, admires persistence.
3) I set goals. (Not imaginary ones) Once I was set with routines and stayed tenacious, I began to see I could do it and I finally set goals. Goal setting and maintaining was the hardest part, let me tell you, but they made all the difference. I started small, I didn’t go crazy, and over time I created stretch goals and when I achieved those, I set more. When you have serious goals for serious writing you have the audacity necessary to be a writer.
Listen, it’s true setting goals is hard, perhaps the hardest thing to do as a writer, but when you do, and you start achieving them, it changes everything, and we realize we can do this writing and publishing thing! Heck, we can do this life thing!
You Can Do This!
Remember, create a daily routine, stick with it, practice in public, and start setting goals and working towards them.
I didn’t say it was easy because it’s actually pretty damn hard, but the rewards are phenomenal. I’m talking about the sense of accomplishment and living a life where you see the fruits of your labor and not just dream about them.
No regrets. So, let’s stop talking about it and start doing!
I know, easier said than done, but not impossible if it’s important to us enough. Some people can’t be bothered with this stuff (the old me), so good, there’s just that more room on the bestseller lists for us!
The Way To Get Started Is To Quit Talking And Begin Doing. (Click to Tweet)