American entrepreneur Derek Sivers gave a TED talk about how sharing your goals with others gives the illusion that you’ve actually taken some action on them and thus can prevent you from sitting down to do the work. On the other hand, countless articles suggest finding a mentor, a writing partner, or a writing group to keep you accountable.
I’m an introvert and a generally reserved person, and though I understand the disadvantages of telling people what you’re working on, I still prefer speaking about it on my blog.
And it has proved to be a great decision. Here’s why (with some post ideas to get you started):
I found people who supported me
Around me, I don’t have anyone who is interested in writing. It’s something they don’t understand and so they move the conversation in other directions. They don’t understand why my writing streak is so important for me, the joy of getting published in a literary magazine and receiving positive feedback from readers, or the rush of energy that comes with NaNoWriMo.
So I talk about the pleasures and pains of the writing life on my blog. When I share my writing goals–such as getting published in 20 magazines in one year or receiving 100 rejections at the same time–they wish me good luck. Sometimes they tell me they have a similar goal. They share tips and celebrate my successes.
- Write about a goal you want to achieve in the coming month or year or are currently working on; such as finishing the first draft of your novel. Talk about your progress and how you plan to proceed.
- Introduce yourself to your readers. Write about why you love writing, how and when you got started, who inspires you.
- Write about what you love: your favorite books, resources, or bloggers.
I found the reasons behind my failures and stopped making excuses
It has not always been easy to work on my goals; life gets in the way. On those occasions, I write about my failure. Why I could not continue with pursuing 100 rejections that year, or why I’m giving up on a particular writing habit.
Talking about my failure helps me be honest with myself. If I’d kept my goals to myself, worked on them a bit and failed, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference to me. But when I wrote about it on my blog, I couldn’t just say “I quit,” and move on. If I had failed, or if I was giving up something, I had to explain why. In doing that, I found what held me back and created an obstacle, such as overestimating the time I had to do something every day or taking up something that was way too difficult for my skill set.
If I failed because I was making excuses, I could call myself out and hold myself accountable. No one likes excuses. And while one excuse a day doesn’t sound like much of a compromise on your goal, after a while you’ll realize what you’ve lost and how you could’ve been closer to your goals had you not made those excuses.
- Write about what rejection (or acceptance) taught you, or any tips and tricks that you used to survive NaNoWriMo/your first draft/a workshop.
- Write about your inability to write. Talk about the bad days and the writer’s block. Ask for advice.
I’ve learned several lessons by blogging about my writing goals and then reflecting on them. I don’t have a large audience–-only around 300 readers at the time of this writing–but there are 2 or 3 people among them who are regular readers. They comment on my blog and I feel a certain obligation towards them, even though the comments section is the only place we communicate. What will they think? I wonder. Not once have they shamed me for my failure. In fact, they have only encouraged me whenever I admitted to my mistakes and promised to do better.
So offline, when I remember my goals and another excuse is about to take hold of me, I think of those readers and how much they care about the goals of a young girl they’ve never met, and I get to work.