I tend to set a lot of goals in life. I like to outline or make lists and then chart my progress. It helps me stay on task and keep a good pace. And there’s always that wonderful feeling when I cross out the last item on my list.
This compulsion of mine has been harder to fulfill when it comes to writing. Whereas other things in life have tangible means to reach the finish line, writing is more abstract. For example, if I enter a contest, isn’t the goal to win? Or at least place? Even if I work really hard, learn all I can, and follow all the rules, there’s no guarantee I’ll reach that goal. Not right away at least.
Which brings me to the first thing I’ve learned about writing and goals. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Personally, that suits me fine. I was never one of the fast kids in school, but I’ve always been stubborn about never quitting. Odds are that if a person keeps plugging away in this business of writing, one usually finds some measure of success with their goals.
But even then, do we ever get that satisfied feeling of breaking the tape as we cross the finish line before everyone else? My initial goal was to finish my 1st draft of Soul Yearning and send it to contests. When I met that goal and placed in a few, I set the bar higher. Next came winning a contest. When I finally won one, getting an agent or editor to request my manuscript became the next goal.
I remember driving in rush hour a few weeks ago and thinking, “Won’t it be awesome when I get that book deal someday and hold it in my hands?” Yet, that thought was immediately followed by this one: “I hope a lot of people read it.”
Do you see the problem? How many sold books is enough to give me that gratified feeling of reaching the finish line? Do writers really ever get to break that tape?
As I finished my 2nd draft of Soul Yearning a few days ago (about a week behind my goal), I was reminded of the second thing I’ve learned about writing and goals. My ultimate goal needs to be to write for the One who gave me the desire to write. “Whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31.
Ultimately, the only way to find satisfaction in a writing career is to write for an audience of One. Then I know that my hard work is worth it whether or not I reach some of my dreams. I still have dreams and I still set goals, but it’s much more rewarding to write with my chief goal to please Him then it is to write to please me.
So, what about you? Do you set goals? How do you handle setbacks? What’s your ultimate goal?