I often dream of being a successful writer. But often I ignore the writer part and focus on the successful part. What is it about success that draws us all in? It certainly isn’t the celebrity, at least for me. I’m notoriously shy. If you sit down to talk with me, within moments, I will have turned the conversation around to be about you (as far away from myself as possible). So why the allure of success?
I often dreamed of being that writer who could work from home (visions of nearly every Stephen King protagonist comes to mind). Just typing away every morning. Going on errands and then rushing back to the keyboard to pound out the latest inspiration. It was a wistful daydream.
Then the pandemic hit and there I was, stuck at home. I was lucky to be able to work from home and even set my own hours. So there it was, my daydream of a successful writer actualized. It was then that I realized what really made me happy was the writing (and having some time to do this). Don’t get me wrong, I know for a fact that this extra time will vanish come the fall and I have to step into my highly sanitized classroom to teach again. But the realization of how I can shift my wishes needs to stay with me.
I often find myself setting goals that rely on events completely out of my control. Years ago, I promised myself I’d finally upgrade my computer when I got my first novel published. How exactly was I going to make that happen? It wasn’t something I could accomplish through strength of determination or countless hours of trying. It was out of my hands.
Even when I did manage to get my novel into print (digital ebook, but still printed) I labored for a year to boost sales. Nothing really worked and I kept beating myself up about it. I was so focused on the selling of my book (and that ever decreasing Amazon sales rank) that I hardly wrote at all.
I recall that year, I had two stalled novel ideas that circled around and around and went nowhere.
The message here, set goals within your ability to accomplish. You can’t force someone to buy your book or give you a good review. But you can strive to finish that short story or learn how to play the pentatonic scales or even how to make those pesky water colors do what you want (all personal goals set recently). Then, if you feel you must have a reward at the end of the journey, at least its a journey you can complete under your own steam.
Shift your desires to what you can accomplish. You’ll be happier. And in the end, you create some great art.