Something I learned way back when I decided to be a serious, career-minded writer was that there are dreams and there are goals.
You can dream as high as you want. Imagine yourself on the New York Times Bestseller list. Picture yourself on stage at RWA National (or conference of your choice) accepting the golden statue of Rita (or accolade of your choice). Dream of getting an agent or editor of your choice who gushes over your book proclaiming it the greatest novel ever written and they must have it NOW!!
Dreams are good. They get us through the bad writing days. They give us an apex to achieve toward. But you can’t control them. Bestseller lists are out of your hands. As is getting an award or the person who can make your published-author status a reality.
Goals are what you do to try to reach your dreams. Want to be on that best-selling list? Write the best damn book you can. That is all you have control over. Write the damn book. Want that award? Write a great book and put it up for awards. That is all you can do. The judges do the rest. You can’t control whether they like your book or not. Want that dream agent? Send out a brilliant submission. Send out dozens. Follow the steps to the letter. That is what YOU control. Putting your best foot forward. That is it. You can’t make them like it. You can only give them reasons to like it.
If self-publishing is your goal you can’t make it move up the lists, or make a list, or catch fire. But the more you publish this year (a goal) the more chances you have to catch fire! (a dream)
Make your goals realistic, but dream big.
A couple of years ago a great friend gave me a Wish Pot. Inside is a scroll of paper. Make your wishes concrete. Write them down, put them in the pot and forget them. Let the magic work. I was feeling down on myself this New Year’s. I’d fallen down on the job and only published one short story. I took the pot down from the mantel and opened it up. I had totally forgotten what I had written, but lo, and behold, all my wishes had come to pass!!
Wish big. Dream Big. Make your goals happen.
Jill James, writer of contemporary and paranormal romance