It’s been a while since I did one of these sorts of posts, but I think this is a good time to bring it up. Again. See, I do mention this every now and then.
But then, writers need reminding of this every so often. I’m especially looking at you guys who (like me) have big goals and things to achieve.
See, goals are a good thing. I truly believe they are. They give us something to work towards, which gives us purpose. This purpose gives us determination and determination (and quite a bit of dumb luck) is what sees us through.
All very good things.
However goals can become millstones around our necks. They weigh us down with the sheer amount of measurable things we did not achieve. Or make us highly aware of how far we are from where we’ve seen ourselves at the end of some arbitrarily chosen moment. (End of the year, at the end of five years, etc.)
This millstone effect affects most people, but for writers and other artists, there’s an extra danger: It can and does kill our creativity.
Everyone’s motivation for writing differs a little bit. Often, we write for a variety of reasons. Maybe just because you like reading and thought it would be fun to write and it was. Maybe you have this huge drive to produce something, anything or your life just doesn’t feel complete. Or you need to write to process your emotions. And so on.
A lot of us find that, even if there are all these wonderful reasons to write, we just never seem to spend enough time on actually doing it. TV creeps in. Facebook sucks up time. All those million little distractions gang up on us and if we’re not careful, whole days go by without us writing. Which isn’t good.
Goal setting with accountability makes us careful with out time. We want to have something to show those we are accountable to, so we start building habits of carving out writing time for ourselves. See? It is a good thing.
But the flip side is that sometimes, through no fault of our own, we just can’t make those goals. Usually, it takes only a short moment of introspection to recognize when that’s happened. You don’t say “I wanted to write, but those crazy cat pictures took over my life and I just couldn’t.” But when things higher up on your priority list comes up (e.g. in matters of survival, or family issues, health issues etc.), there will be times when you. just. can’t.
This is perfectly fine, but those goals still loom and suddenly, people are asking: “Oh, what’s the point?”
And then they’re miserable. Because suddenly, nothing they’ve done is good enough. Now nothing they’ve written gets them anywhere and writing becomes this pointless cause of self flagellation until we’re not even sure we like being writers anymore.
So. Because I’ve been seeing a lot of you guys talking about this lately, I decided to be awesome and answer your question…