In the first week of the new year, people generally chat about the year ahead. Right now, there are a lot of posts about 2020: writers expressing desires, setting goals, and creating visions.
Will they start a business based around their writing? Will they start getting paid decent money for what they create?
Will they finally finish that novel?
I’m going to urge you here to forget about 2020 as a single year, seen in isolation.
This is the pattern that happens to many — it may be familiar to you:
Writers set out to establish a career as a writer. They define financial goals for themselves (‘By December, I want to be a earning £1,000 a month from my writing!’) They plan out how much of their novels they will get done each month.
By May, they find that, apart from downloading a few free guides on ‘how to set up a writing career’, they have made no progress towards establishing a business.
Around the same time, they look back and see that they have earned only a few pennies from their work, if that.
Progress on their novels has been patchy at best.
As the months go by, each writer rationalises the fact that they haven’t hit their goals by saying that they ‘didn’t have the time,’ or that ‘there was more to it than they expected.’
Recognise the pattern?
When you set your goals, did you consider the framework in which you were setting them?
Did you consider that perhaps you lacked confidence in your ability to write?
Did you secretly harbour the thought that ‘Writers just don’t ever earn that much money per month normally’?
You don’t need me to repeat that tired old maxim ‘You are your own worst enemy’. There is truth in it, but it can be turned around: you are also your greatest friend — greater than any external supporter, greater than any editor or publisher, greater than any reader of your work, even the ones that give you rave feedback.
You’re probably so used, as a writer, to thinking of yourself as the one that has failings, that chases opportunities offered by others, that travels from contact to contact, cap-in-hand, hoping for your Big Break. You probably make goals built on those foundations: ‘I’m flawed, lazy, a procrastinator who is only just learning how to write, and I have nothing to offer — it’s the editors and publishers who have all the money and power. I need their validation and their channels in order to be worth anything.’
Try saying this instead. Actually say it, out loud, when no one is listening:
‘I’m a genius, intense, a speaker of a profound, unified language, and I have much to offer — the editors and publishers have all the money, but I have what they need. They need my work in order for their business models to function at all.’
This isn’t about chanting mantras or becoming a positive thinker, though. It’s about practicalities. Here are some steps to take:
1. Create a vision for the next 5-10 years.
What does your life look like at that time? Who’s in your life? What have you created? How much revenue is your writing earning? What does a typical day in your life look like?
Get specific about this.
Then work backwards. ‘If I want to accomplish X in 5 years, I need to do Y in 3 years to ensure that I’m on the right path.’ And so on...
Here’s a sub-tip: a ten year plan like this means a LOT of writing will need to occur. Don’t put all your hopes on one or even two books — think ten or more.
2. Examine any limiting beliefs you hold (often things you learned as a child).
Parents are a big source of these. Did they think money was evil, or a huge problem? Did they think that a ‘proper job’ meant working 9 to 5 for someone else? Did they consider that writing was a hobby rather than a potential career? And so on…
You’ll find these negativities if you look deep enough. And yes, you’ll find plenty of actual evidence in your life thus far to confirm that these things must be ‘true’. That’s because your life thus far has been built on those beliefs.
3. Re-programme the beliefs that are holding you back from your fullest potential.
What qualities do you need to adopt in order to be the type of person who can accomplish and create your vision?
What do you need to know?
What do you need to practise?
What needs to be changed?
If you don’t do these things, what happens? Nothing. You’ll carry on making resolutions, year on year, and falling short of them. You’ll continue picturing Life as a ‘struggle’ with you as the loser most of the time. You won’t get to see the bigger picture or the massive impact you could create in the world; you won’t recognise the dragon’s hoard of treasure upon which you sit and sleep.
Try it. Try it superficially, even. You might surprise yourself.