I've been a full-time writer for nearly 20 years now. Every year I make a list of writing goals I want to achieve. And every year I fail to reach them all.
So at the end of 2012 I began to think about it at length and wondered why I never reach my goals.
And then slowly but surely it hit me.
The reason I fail to reach them all is because I make too many. Also I've not been enjoying all the type of writing I've been doing.
I also spend too much time listening to other people's advice about what I should be doing, what's the best way to write, what's the best way to make more money, how I should be writing my email, how many emails I should be sending, etc, etc.
And I was listening to it all and kept figuring "Yeah, these people are right because they've made it to where they are because they did these things so I should be doing it as well."
I'm not wrong that these people made it to where they are because they do the things they do, but I'm wrong to think that I should be doing them as well.
For instance, I was getting daily emails from master copywriter, Ben Settle, who sends an email to his subscribers every day and makes all his money from his emails. He kept talking again and again about using the "F" word in emails. F stands for Frequency because, he says, making money with emails depends on sending them out daily - not weekly or monthly - but daily.
And I thought Wow! He's so right. He makes a fortune with his emails so he must be right and I should do it too.
But then I realised that no, I shouldn't be doing it too.
Why? Because I would hate to have to write over 300 emails a year to each subscriber list.
And the same goes for other people I was listening too. Great bloggers tell me I should blog more and blog better, write longer posts, shorter posts, use images or don't use images. But I don't like having a blog.
Book authors say I should be trying to achieve writing at least 10,000 words a day. But what if I don't want to? Sure I SHOULD be doing it, but what if it's not what I want to do?
And organised writers tell me I should time block every hour of my day to get more done. But that's not how I work. I hate watching the clock while I'm writing. It completely stifles my creativity and makes me anxious.
My change of mind about all these things started when I upgraded my operating system on my Mac computer from Lion to the new Mountain Lion.
I used to receive blog feeds automatically by email in Lion, but the new Mountain Lion OS doesn't have this feature and so all my RSS feeds disappeared.
At first I was annoyed and even sent feedback to Apple telling them so. Then after I calmed down and accepted that I couldn't get these daily feeds anymore, I thought that perhaps it was for a reason. Maybe I was meant to stop reading all these blog posts about how I should be writing better, writing more and emailing daily.
The more I thought about it the more I realised that I'd been wasting my time.
While it is important to keep up to date with what's happening in the writing world, information overload can be a dangerous thing.
What's right for one person isn't right for everyone.
And I also realised that while I was busy reading about what others were doing, I wasn't getting my own writing done. I can't consume and create at the same time.
So I stopped worrying about what others were doing and decided to make 2013 my no-goal year.
This doesn't mean I won't be doing anything. On the contrary. In the last week of 2012 and the first week of 2013, I've been busy finishing off my new ebook, updating my websites and making extensive changes to the way I'll be working from now on.
I used to think that I needed a daily, weekly and monthly plan of what I'd be writing and when I'd finish. But all that ever did was make me feel rushed which had the opposite effect of what it was supposed to do. It was meant to help me write more, but instead it put me off.
I also decided to use a different payment processor for all my ebooks and shut down half of my websites. I have several niche sites and a lot of my time is taken up by updating them and writing articles and marketing them.
But when I was honest with myself, I hate doing that type of work so I'm not going to do it any more. So most of my niche sites have to go. I've made notes on my calendar as to when they're up for renewal and I plan to cancel them this year.
Naturally I'll be keeping my Writeaholics site and a few others, but only because I want to keep them, not because I feel that I should.
This will free up so much of my time.
And I plan to use my new free time to write more books because that is really what I want to do.
I came to all these decisions by asking myself this question; if time and money wasn't an issue, what would I be writing? The answer was books. I want to be an author of many books more than anything.
So that is what I'm going to do.
But I'm not going to make plans as to how many I'm going to write or how long each one will take me. I'm just going to do it, with no pressure, because what I have discovered in the past two weeks since I started using my no goal strategy, is that I get much more done than I used to by not having deadlines and plans for everything.
I'm not sure if that's because I feel less pressured to get things done, or because I'm enjoying what I do more.
Either way, it's working and I'm loving it.
So if you want to enjoy your writing more ask yourself the same question I did:
If time and money wasn't an issue, what would you be writing?
Be honest with yourself and answer with what you want to do and not what you feel you SHOULD be doing.
And then go do that.
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