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5 Tips for Setting Goals for Your Writing Journey

2021 is HERE! And with it comes a whole new set of goals for the next 12 months. No one is unscathed from the frantic mental dash to write a list of everything they want to accomplish during this fresh start. As someone who has set a writing goal or two in the past that has not been accomplished, I'm here to offer you some advice that I am using to guide my creative journey this year.

1. Write it Down

You are the master of your own ideas and writing them down makes them real. If you want to think of yourself as a powerful sorceress or wizard, I am right there with you. Once the words exist on the physical plane and out of your headspace, you can begin to see how you may accomplish them and even add in some steps to do so.

2. Give Yourself Room to Fail (Learn)

"Fail" is a negative and scary word, isn't it? Let's substitute it with "learn." If you take only one piece of advice from this post it's: give yourself a break!

Here's what I mean:

I made a goal to get a short story published last year. Needless to say, I did not meet it, even though I put a lot of energy into it. The piece didn't even get close to the point where I felt comfortable sending it off anywhere.

You can't make a piece work by sheer force of will if it is not meant to be, even though there are things you may love about it.

Now read that again.

You can't make a piece work by sheer force of will if it is not meant to be, even though there are things you may love about it.

It can be a very hard truth to grasp, but it is actually what started my creative journey with comics!

I began thinking, I love comics, and novels and short stories just aren't working for me. It is okay to let them go for now and try something else. Now, I am learning a whole new method of storytelling and it feels much more rewarding to me. That being said, I wouldn't change a thing about my educational background. Just maybe what I would have chosen to focus on during my own time.

3. Depend on YOU

Only set goals for things you have control over. Comic artist Phillip Sevy has an amazing Twitter thread about this:

Couldn't have said it better myself!

4. Consume a Piece of Media Every Day That Inspires You

One thing I am not going to tell you to do is read 200 pages every day or analyze what works in a piece of storytelling and what doesn't. In my experience, this helps with craft, but not with motivation. You don't need to spend more than a few seconds a day experiencing something exciting. What fuels my creative goals is a desire to bring stories to life, and in doing so inciting strong emotions and truths in the audience. So I seek that out for myself.

Here are just a few examples of things I do:

  • Listen to a song that I have strong positive feelings about

  • Watch a movie (Did I need to watch the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for the 20th time last Sunday? Nope. But it makes me happy and pushes me to keep creating.)

  • Play a videogame

  • Look at pictures of my favorite places on earth

Obviously, there's no end to this list. Even if what you are consuming is not the same medium you are writing for, do what brings you joy!

5. Have Fun

I hope for most of us, our writing goals are things we want to accomplish, and not things we have to accomplish. I am coming from the want perspective. If the energy you put in to your piece doesn't remotely bring you joy, stop writing it. There's no rule that says you cannot go back and pick it up later. You just might not be feeling it, and that's okay. Writing is not easy, and no piece worth having created comes without hard work, but if you really hate it, let it go. If you are writing for yourself, the only pressure that exists is the pressure you put on yourself.

Happy goal setting!

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