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Turn Your Writing Goals Into Writing Wishes

Struggling to meet your goals? Get rid of them.

5 min readJan 9, 2021


I’ve lost a few of you already, but hear me out.

As the title suggests, I’ve decided writing wishes are the way to go. No goals for me. Nope. That doesn’t mean stop writing. You should still have some kind of plan. Just don’t let your plan control you.

Writing is more than the end result.

The problem with goals is that they come with overwhelming feelings of failure when you don’t meet them. You start the month (or year, in this case) with these grandiose ideas of all the writing you’re going to do, knocking out the revisions you’ve been putting off, diving back into the Twitterness of it all, whatever goals you’ve set.

But the first week goes by. Then the second. And when you hit day 15 or thereabouts without victory, you think, well, I’ll try again next month.

You failed. And now that’s the only thing you can think about, instead of being proud of what you did accomplish, if anything. The end goal becomes the only part of the writing process that matters, and you’ve completely forgotten to enjoy the actual writing part of writing.

You set these expectations for yourself, which only create more opportunities to fail. And the more you fail, the less you’ll want to try again.

But imagine if you had made wishes instead. If you fail to make a wish come true, well, that’s to be expected, right? It’s not a failure at all, and you can approach the next month without feeling like you’re an unsuccessful, lazy wannabe.

And just think, if you do happen to finish a writing wish, then you, my friend, are doing amazingly well this month. Wishes rarely come true, after all.

Not sure if I’ve lost you yet. It all makes sense to me.

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It’s so easy to fail in almost every writing goal you set. Maybe your goals are simply too high. Maybe you’re feeling unmotivated. Maybe you spend too much time comparing yourself to others. Thanks, internet. Any little thing can affect your ambition to write. (Like seeing the Medium homepage flooded with stories of the “I Made 5k in 5 Seconds on Medium” variety, when you can’t even make five cents.

Or maybe you’re like me.

Fear often drives my bus. And sometimes I’m not even ON the bus. I’m down underneath in that storage place where they toss the suitcases. Know what I mean? And other times, I’m at the wrong bus stop, so I miss the bus entirely.

I spent months upon months querying my first novel with less than stellar results. My whole world revolved around querying and agents and data and mass revisions. When I was querying, I was afraid I’d suddenly realize my novel is crap, unfixable, and not worth spending any more time on.

Or I’d be caught in the never-ending loop of revisions.

Or I’d be stuck with this manuscript that I still stand by but that no one wants to read (my current situation, actually).

Image by moritz320 from Pixabay

What’s the point of having these fears? I’d made being published the ultimate goal. Having a tangible, finished product meant “I did it!” Because of this, and failing at this, I lost my passion for writing at all. Honestly, I’m still struggling with the whole idea of writing, and it’s tough to accept fate, since getting my book published was my finish line.

These days, though hard to accept, getting my novel published is a wish, not a goal.

Perhaps you’re hoping to give some short stories a home this year. I’ve been there too, and most of the above applies. Write the story you want, and then figure out where to send it. Or just be happy you wrote something at all.

You can also apply this philosophy to Medium. Now that I’m sharing some of my blog posts here, I’m writing — and reposting — because I want to. It’s fun. Obviously, I want people to read my writing, but I’m not sitting here mapping out the number of views each post much reach for me to feel successful. Once I hit the publish button, that post has done exactly what it was supposed to do. Exist.

Image by Sklorg from Pixabay

So my advice to you if you want to get anywhere with your writing this year is to throw your goals out of a moving train. It has to be moving, or else you’ll immediately regret what you’ve done, go outside to pick them up, and stuff them in your coat pockets, as miserable and burdened as you are right now.

Unpopular opinion, counterproductive, apathetic, I can see that, but it just may work for you.

(This will not work for everyone, though. Some writers need word count goals, and deadlines, and a checklist. I respect that, believe me. You do you. But for me, this keeps me sane. And more importantly, it keeps me writing.)

Without the pressure of goals weighing you down and the stress of struggling to meet them overshadowing every word, you can just write. Freely write. And wherever you end up, fantastic, now that you have literally nothing to lose.

Thanks for spending some time here. Go write! Or read! Or edit! No end goals in sight now, I mean it.

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Teach daily. Write often. Coffee always. Music & cats required. Aiming for laughs or tears. Hopefully both.