Written By: Alyssa Martino
I experienced a writing revelation. No, I didn’t overcome an artistic block, weeding through grocery lists and deadlines to craft the perfect transition. I didn’t visit the alps or the slums, and, stunned by intense beauty or poverty, commit to capturing these moments on paper.
In any profession, but particularly writing, it’s easy to get caught up in the number game. How many hits did my blog get today? How many pieces did I publish this year? How much money does X publication pay per word?
Quantifying our work can consume us. I believe in marketing and analytics to find best practices, but I also believe in writing as an end, not a means.
When I say human beings have control, I don’t mean we can magically stop the clouds from breaking open or snap our fingers and secure a New York Times byline (Sigh. If only…).
What we can do is self-determine our own attitude, thoughts and actions. To me, this means plotting out goals towards success not measured in financial gains or readership. After all, without a higher sense of personal achievement and worth, aren’t these numbers devoid of any real meaning?
By tactfully integrating non-quantifiable goals within our professional frameworks, we can become happier, more fulfilled writers. Here are a couple things to keep in mind while designing your new objectives:
1.) Reward yourself. Memorize this mantra. Pick a couple milestones for which you’ll pat yourself on the back accordingly. Anne Wayman of About Freelance Writing is a fan of this method. Did you edit a section you’ve been dreading? Did you find the perfect place to pitch that stewing topic? If so, you like totally deserve a double fudge brownie.
2.) Make investments…in YOU. One of the first things I did after my first freelance gig was ask blog readers how I should invest in myself. The result was a new website, which hugely boosted my confidence. Think about what you want, not what you need, when purchasing. It’s just as important to have muses–brightly colored pens or a rich, mahogany desk–as it is practical supplies. What’s more, these investments are a great reminder that you believe in yourself.
3.) Think long term. Another excellent piece of encouragement is implementing steps to improve your skills. Think about what will help you in the long run, while still being fun to pick up. Learning something new might involve buying “How To” books, signing up for an e-course, or even returning to school. Either way, looking down the road shows you’re committed for the long haul–an empowering notion in and of itself.
4.) Give yourself a break. This isn’t an easy climb. So, if you’re struggling to get published or even to finish a pitch, don’t be too hard on yourself. If you’re experiencing more rejection than acceptance, you’re not alone. Jane Friedman recently wrote on There Are No Rules that only 10% of writers keep plugging, and it’s they who, regardless of skills, flourish. The fact that so many writers quit is all the more reason not to get discouraged: it will only bring you further down.
5.) Have fun! Isn’t that why you began writing in the first place? You thought it’d be exciting, maybe even therapeutic? It should be! Just stop worrying so much about numbers. Make your goals work for you instead of against you. Set small, reachable benchmarks in addition to larger dreams–ones that allow you to enjoy the art of writing as much as the payoffs. Free write every morning. Start a food blog. Experiment with feng shui. Hell, buy a snuggie! Sometimes, we have to stop measuring to find success that’s truly immeasurable.
Alyssa Martino is a copywriter, editor, and freelancer. She loves stories that connect people, place and possibility. Go ahead and visit her site.