As writers, we make many goals for ourselves:
- Finish a new manuscript this year.
- Sign with an agent by my birthday in September.
- Write 50,000 words in November.
- Send out 10 queries this week.
- Show my editor the proposal for my next work.
- Hit the New York Times Bestsellers list.
- Win a Printz or a Newbury.
- Make a new friend at the upcoming writers’ conference.
- Get J.K. Rowling to blurb my book.
Those are all goals. But some of them are attainable goals, goals that are within your control to achieve, and others are pipe dream goals, goals that are not easily within your control. Lately I have seen many newly agented authors and upcoming debuts tweet about desperately wanting to hit the NYT bestseller list, which is a wonderful aspiration. But just remember to set goals within reach, too, because there’s no faster way to get discouraged than to focus only on external achievements whose parameters depend on luck, timing, the market, etc.
Let’s take that list above again and distinguish between the two types:
- Finish a new manuscript this year. Attainable goal
- Sign with an agent by my birthday in September. Pipe dream goal
- Write 50,000 words in November. Attainable goal
- Send out 10 queries this week. Attainable goal
- Show my editor the proposal for my next work. Attainable goal
- Hit the New York Times Bestsellers list. Pipe dream goal
- Win a Printz or a Newbury. Pipe dream goal
- Make a new friend at the upcoming writers’ conference. Attainable goal
- Get J.K. Rowling to blurb my book. Pipe dream goal
It is important to have both kinds of goals: pipe dream goals give you something high to reach for, while attainable goals help you feel accomplished and encouraged because they are within easier reach.
If you haven’t already, take a piece of paper and draw a line right down the middle. On the left, write your pipe dream goals, and on the right, scribble down your attainable goals for 2018. Enjoy crossing out the list on the right and let the list on the left motivate you every time you see it!
What are some of my goals?
- Pipe Dream Goals
- Be THE keynote speaker at a conference
- Sell to more foreign territories one day
- To see a film/TV adaptation of one of my books
- To go on an international tour
- Attainable Goals
- Draft the third book in my contract before summer
- Draft another fun project before summer
- Make the writing workshop I’m teaching fun and informative
- Promote as many diverse 2018 authors and books as I can
Now it’s your turn! (If you’re comfortable sharing, that is.)
What are some of your pipe dream goals? What are some of your attainable goals?