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The Literary Rants: Unrealistic Writing Goals

January 2, 2017
(image via Wikimedia)

Maybe this author needs to adjust his goals.  (image via Wikimedia)

When it comes to writing, the wrong goal can be a killer.  Last year, a blogger I follow stated that her writing goal was to publish a blog post every day for the entire year.  Sometime in March, she suddenly burned out and stopped writing.  At least, I think she stopped writing because of burn-out.  It’s easy to burn out if you set your goals too high.

Another blogger wrote a goal to gain ___ followers in a given year.  Despite being a really good writer, the blog didn’t get many new followers that year, and the writer quit blogging, I think out of frustration.  You can control the quality of your writing, but you can’t control the number of followers you get.

When I set goals, I try to make it something I control.  It would be nice to get ____ followers, but I’m too much of a control freak to set a specific number and then get frustrated when other people don’t cooperate.

I’ve done a lot of writing over the last five years since I started blogging.  I haven’t written as much as some other writers (especially James Patterson) but my production hasn’t been bad for a married guy with kids and a full-time job that has nothing to do with writing.

In order to write a blog about reading and writing, I’ve had to set up routines and realistic goals that keep me from burning out.

 I only finish books I want to finish.

If I’m going to be a writer, I have to be a reader too.  At least, that’s what most writers say.  But I don’t want to waste time with books I don’t enjoy.  I’m not a student anymore.  Nobody can force me to read any books, even if the book is on a MUST-READ list.  So to encourage me to read, I only read books that I’m enthusiastic about.  Out of the 20 books I start, I probably finish only one.

 When I stare at the computer screen for more than 10 seconds, I quit writing.

There’s always something else to do besides writing, such as errands to run or chores to complete or books to read.  I usually get my best ideas when I’m in a situation where I can’t write, so doing something else can keep me creative.  Plus, getting chores and errands done gives me time to write later on when the right ideas/words come back to me.

 I sit for only 15 minutes at a time.

Sitting too long is bad for my back, so I get up and move around.  I don’t set a timer or anything like that, but I can just feel when I’ve been sitting too long.  This applies to reading, writing, and even watching football.  There are a lot of things to get done, and moving around helps me get things done while still giving me time to read and write.

 I  need to get enough sleep.

I’d rather have a little time to write and be rested than to have of lot of time to write while I’m tired.  I don’t know about other aspiring writers, but I have to be alert in order to write.

If I follow my routines, I might not get as much reading/writing done as I want, but I know I’ll get something accomplished, and I know I won’t burn out.  And that’s what I want to do ; follow my routines and accomplish something without burning out.


What do you think?  What realistic writing goals do you have now?  What unrealistic goals have frustrated you in the past?


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  1. I agree! Setting too high and out-of-your-control goals can make one really frustrated. I always try to be realistic with my goals, but I must admit some forced deadlines (for me I have to get my thesis written before Sep. 2017) can be just as overwhelming. A good routine would be a great help.
    PS. I also only finish the books I enjoy, no matter how great and must-read other people say it is.
    Good Luck with your goals, and happy new year.

  2. High goals can be killers. Being realistic and sticking to things you have a chance of controlling is always a wiser decision. I share your goal about getting enough sleep, I’m terrible at that.

  3. My goal is usually to get a certain number of rejections on queries and short story submissions a year. That way when I’m failing, I’m actually succeeding. Suck on that, cruel writing world!

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