I recently had an email discussion with a writing colleague about how he was discouraged by the relatively few “returns” on his writing “investment”. That got me thinking about writing goals again—I think a lot about writing goals. In this case, I think returns and goals are intertwined, and one can’t be consider without the other.
At the heart of the issue is the simple question: What do I want from my writing?
People write for many reasons. Most people who write will never make a living from their fiction—and by most I mean more than ninety-nine percent. I think most people realize the odds are stacked against them and don’t expect their fiction writing to turn into a career. Therefore, something else drives them to put words on the screen. Maybe it’s simply a need to tell a story. This isn’t a bad reason to write. If a writer doesn’t want to go the hard road of being a professional writer, no shame on him. I think it’s important to define goals appropriately—setting goals linked to publishing will likely result in a dump-truck full of disappointment and misery for the writer who holds few serious aspirations to publish in professional markets.
I don’t see this as low-balling your potential either . I see this as setting the correct goals for what you want, and ultimately, setting the correct goals is what should be done. Writing shouldn’t make you miserable—I’m not a big subscriber of the tortured writer myth. If it does, I think you’re doing something wrong. Maybe it’s the goals you’ve set, and thus the kind of returns you’re expecting.