“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams
When I studied psychology and counselling I learnt how to find out who you were and wanted to be, then to make changes in your life to get there. I discovered the common sense principles of being able to state what you wanted to change; assessing whether or not the resources were available; then enlisting support. It was all excellent food for thought, which I have tried to apply to my writing life, however, the actual achievement of success always seemed to be elusive… Something practical or emotional always got in the way, or I just didn’t know how to move forward when I got stuck.
Reaching your blogging goals and dreams by making small changes, or taking small progressive steps, seems to work the best for most people. Trying to revolutionise our entire writing lives in one mammoth effort, risks leaving us tired and discouraged. Small changes are the ones that stick and are less likely to fizzle into failures and regrets. The more practical authors of self-help books advise us to change just one small facet of our lives at a time. If you change one small area successfully, they say, the rest will eventually follow. We all tend to overload ourselves with big plans and frantic activity, then fall down in an exhausted, disgruntled heap. Instead, slow down, build your confidence and get the hang of what you need to do to progress. Pick one aspect of your work or schedule you need to focus on; then work on it until it becomes a good habit, then add another.
“Wellness and Writing Connections” on Facebook made a great point about looking making goals. (http://www.facebook.com/WellnessWriting) To quote the page author, “Writing a list of the things we would like to see more of in our life is a common theme in resolutions. What if we also make a list of things we want to leave out?” What if your major goal was to resist too-personal blogging topics things that pull you down emotionally? That can make a massive change to the reward you get from writing your blog. You may come out feeling more positive and wanting to write more. Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is as important as knowing what you want.
This year, I have taken a new approach to setting writing goals for my blog. So far it’s working! I make an effort to write only two posts a week and instead of writing a list of goals, which I ultimately never get to fully achieve, I wrote a list of words which represented what I wanted to get out of my writing. Life has a habit of taking us places we never thought we’d be and I would like to be more consciously open to that. I still know what I want to achieve, but I am going to take my own advice and take it in small steps and make small changes that are manageable chunks. Plus I will try not to fret if it goes pear shaped in places! Sometimes the unexpected path turns out to be the most exciting!
One of the mistakes people make is focussing on the success or failure of their writing goals. While the outcome of your work is important, the greatest aspect of writing, and often the most enjoyable, is the process of discovery. The journey matters… That journey is the process of how you get where you want to go: the skills you apply; the multiple drafts you work with in trying to perfect and identify what you want; the mental processes of figuring out exactly what direction to take. That can be a lot of fun! You may find that aspect the most empowering part of working on your blog. The other aspect of any writer’s journey that takes bravery, is not to be scared of abandoning a goal, piece of work or idea which is not working, not what you wanted, or because you have found a better direction. It’s not necessarily the wrong thing to do. Great minds in history had many failures before they stumbled onto the right path. It’s part and parcel of crafting your skills.