Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Writing Goals vs. Writing Dreams

In the process of downsizing, I recently came across a greeting card my husband gave me upon the release of my debut middle grade novel LEAVING GEE'S BEND, back in 2010. The front has a rainbow and says, "Celebrating Your Achievement." Inside it says, "Congratulations on making your dream come true."

Getting a book published -- with a real New York publisher (Penguin!) -- was definitely a dream of mine. For many years it was also a goal. Which means I went to conferences and churned out words and went to a critique group and sent my work out. I did MY part in making the dream come true. When it happened, it was glorious wonderful amazing!

But then things got confusing. There were sales goals and number-of-reviews-on-Amazon goals and "likes" goals and awards list goals. After I read a book on the power of affirmations, I had one I said in the shower each morning. "I will win a Newbery Award." And guess what? That hasn't happened. Because that's not an achievable goal, that's a DREAM. No one can will themselves onto the NYT Bestseller list or a Best-of List or win a Newbery. Those things are beyond our control, and no matter how much we do all the right things -- social media, conferences, promotional videos, etc. -- ultimately the only thing we writers can control is the quantity of words we put on the page.

And then there are no guarantees those words will become a book that will sell and/or win awards/hit the NYT Bestseller list. Which in some ways is disheartening -- until you remember that the other side of "no control" is FREEDOM. Freedom to write what you want when you want. The only way one of those dreams will ever come true is if we keep writing. Writing the words is our only part in the "success" equation.

My latest (#6) release in the
children's market.
So. My writing goal for 2018 is to write every day, as I have for the past several years. That practice has brought me more than a dozen book sales and at least that many completed projects that have failed (so far!) to find publishing homes.

As I continue my writing practice, I want to think less, and feel more. To write what is meaningful to me. To channel Ray Bradbury:

"Love. Fall in love and stay in love. Write only what you love, and love what you write. The key word is love. You have to get up in the morning and write something you love, something to live for." - Ray Bradbury

Best of luck as you work toward your 2018 goals. May all your dreams come true.
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IreneLatham is the author of more than a dozen current and forthcoming books, including two novels for children Leaving Gee's Bend and Don't Feed the Boy. Winner of the 2016 ILA Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, her poetry books for children include Dear Wandering Wildebeest, When the Sun Shines on Antarctica, Fresh Delicious and Can I Touch Your Hair? (with Charles Waters). Irene lives in Alabama with her family where she does her best to “live her poem” every single day by laughing, playing the cello, and walking in the woods. 

3 comments:

  1. I am committing to writing every day. It's all the other stuff that's hard...submitting and such.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, yes, YES! There is a difference between a goal and a dream.

    ReplyDelete