What to Remember When You Don't Meet Your Goals

Writers put a lot of emphasis on goals. We should. If we don’t, we’ll end up staring at a blank document for hours while drinking coffee and wondering what it’ll be like when our books hit a bestseller list. I’m pretty sure most writers have some experience with that.

But what happens when you don’t meet those goals?

We’re almost done with the first month of our fall writing bootcamp and so many have already accomplished the goals they set for themselves for this month. Others haven’t. Whether life got in the way, or other responsibilities took away from it, some goals have been put off.

And that’s okay.

I’m big on conquering goals. If I set a deadline, Things. Will. Get. Done. So it bugs me when I miss a deadline, even if I’m only a day late. I had plans to edit a full book this month and another one in October, but between life and work and mentoring in Pitch Wars, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. I’ll most likely be tearing my hair out during edits in October, when I should really begin planning for NaNoWriMo, and contemplating letting the edits go until December.

But that’s life, and things get in the way. Things happen that derail our goals, or even seem to completely obliterate them. If you’re struggling to meet a goal by your deadline, remember this:

You haven’t failed

You’re just in a setback. Maybe you didn’t edit as many pages as you wanted to or you can’t seem to write those last 500 words for the day. On days like that, I try to find the time to double up my daily word count or editing goal. Sometimes that doesn’t happen for a few days, and I fall even more behind. During NaNoWriMo of 2015, I was so behind I had to write 8,000 words in a day to reach the daily goal. Just remember, if you don’t reach your goal when you want to, it doesn’t mean you never will.


Personal deadlines can be moved

If you’re working on a book for a publishing house or for your agent, you don’t always have the option of asking your editor for a little extra time. But if you’re working on your own book, whether you want to query or self-publish, your deadlines can be rearranged. You won’t get in trouble if you don’t complete that book by the time you set for it. Not reaching your goals by the deadline doesn’t make you less of a writer. In fact, we’ll probably pop some champagne and welcome you to the club because we’ve all been there.


Keep going forward

I tend to get frustrated with myself when I miss a goal. I’ve come to realize a lot of writers do it. The goal seems so easy and obtainable when I make it for myself, and then editing projects come in and my critique partners need help and I need to make money. Suddenly, the goal that looked so pretty and obtainable at the beginning of the month just mocks me while I keep putting it off to do other things.

And when you miss your goal, it’s easy to give up on it. Tuck the manuscript away where you don’t have to look at it and be reminded of your “failure.” But that’s one of the worst things you can ever do. No traditionally or self-published writer has ever gotten where they are today by giving up, and I’m sure plenty of them missed some of their goals along the way. I’m sure I’ll miss a ton of goals and personal deadlines the longer I write. We all will. And when it happens, remember it’s okay to readjust them.

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What are your tips for reaching your goals? Share in the comments!