I’m not going to lie: I had a whole post written about my writing goals for 2024 and I just trashed it. Doesn’t feel good, but I had a “That’s fine for Merlin” moment and realized that a lot of what I said didn’t align with how I feel. Over the past week, a couple of things changed my mind on goal-setting; let’s get into them.
First of all, I started back on stimulant medication for my ADHD. After a year lost to trying different non-stimulant options, it feels like a breath of fresh air to have my brain be able to focus and get things done again. I know stimulant medication doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s important to listen to your body and your experiences when you don’t feel like you’re at your best. I finished a book on Vyvanse (more on that later), and now I feel like I can write another one.
Speaking of ADHD, the wonderful Jessica McCabe of the YouTube channel How to ADHD posted a video which was really eye-opening for me.
In it, she suggested that perhaps neurodivergent people (i.e., people with ADHD and/or autism) might need to make bigger goals than neurotypical people do. Doing this, she says, keeps our brains engaged with our goals and keeps us on track when we stray off the path. This connected with me in ways that I did not expect. The story about the autistic man who wanted to be George Lucas’ accountant when he grew up and ended up as an accountant for Disney (who own Star Wars) was especially poignant.
I’ve been trying for years to make my dreams and goals smaller, more realistic, more SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound). Write X words a day, finish the book, publish the book. No mention of my dreams of having a fandom community, or of seeing fan art/fanfiction of my characters. Forget being a Big Name Author; aim for mid-list and expect to be lower than that (especially in self-publishing).
Enough. I want to prove that I can write with the best of them. I can build a community of dedicated readers who love my books enough to create their own spin on them. I can be a household name, at least in some houses.
This time, I’m shooting for the moon. If I fall short, then at least I tried.
Agile Goal Setting (With Rest!)
The final thing that affected me this week was the Wordmakers quarterly Plan-a-thon. This time, we did things a little differently (thanks to our fearless leader, Tasha L. Harrison), focusing on goals that play to our strengths, work on our challenges, takes advantage of our opportunities, and incorporates self-care to avoid burnout. In that Saturday planning session, I came up with three goals to help see me through the year:
- Publish a book
- Write a second book
- Stop putting yourself last
What do those goals look like in real life? #1 and #2 are easy: I will be publishing Boomtown this year (keep your eyes on the Books page for more information soon!) and will write its sequel by the end of the year. I am keeping dates intentionally vague in order to allow myself flexibility in that schedule. I have a lot on my plate this year, and while writing is the most important thing in my life it will occasionally have to sit out a game.
#3 is trickier to pin down. I am an inveterate people pleaser, and I’ve always put others before me. No more. To that end I will prioritize self-care such as taking a daily walk, setting firm boundaries with my friends and family, and take weekends off from writing business and household duties. I refuse to burn out on writing again, so letting my brain rest will be an important part of writing that second book in goal #2. I will take care of myself first, and others second. After all, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.
What About You?
What are your goals for 2024? I encourage you to dream big, play to your strengths, and remember self-care. If the goals you set on January 1st don’t work, you can always set new goals.