Writer’s Success: Not Goals—A Goal

“I finished reading Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days. I have AND will highly recommend it to anyone who dabbles in fiction. It’s one of the best “how to” books I’ve ever read.” ~~ Marsha Hubler, Director Montrose Christian Writers Conference

See more about Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days at the end of the post.

Does it seem like much of what you do as a writer goes nowhere? The writing. The submissions. The marketing. The published books that sit on Amazon with three reviews and low sales. You wonder if your efforts, and your dream itself, are worth the work and pressure.

Your blah writing career may have less to do with all your efforts and more with what you put your efforts into. Maybe your efforts are too scattered to make any one project’s results—be it a writing or marketing project—stand out.

A Choice

Michael Hyatt says in his book, Platform, “You, too, have a choice in the projects and dreams you pursue. You can hold out for wow, or you can settle for something less.”

Have you defined your writing goal? One goal. Do you understand what you want so well that you can write your goal into a sentence? What if you did only the tasks that moved you toward accomplishing that goal?

Michael Hyatt says, “You start out with one thing in mind and then, without consciously intending to do so, end up in an entirely different location. It is the power of the drift.”

Can you keep your focus on that one well-defined goal and fight the “power of drift”? 

If you have many writing related projects going, choosing one goal may seem like asking you to build only a castle instead of a kingdom. But compare the castle to the huts you’ve put in progress.

Wouldn’t you like to experience success in a great castle? Save other goals for after you’ve reached success in the current goal. But for now, focus on that one goal.

Creating a Castle

Michael Hyatts says, “Creating a wow experience begins with making a commitment. … It’s easy to ‘settle.’ … Stand for greatness. … Remind yourself what is at stake. … Ask ‘Why is this so important?'”

Table Projects and Limit Efforts

Once you’ve answered why your one goal is so important, ask what are you doing that doesn’t contribute toward your wow goal. 

Suppose your goal is to be an author in the top [number] Amazon author ranking in suspense novels. But you love car racing. You’ve written a book on the history of car racing. You have a weekly blog and speaking engagements with groups of race car fans. You also speak with reader groups and belong to Facebook suspense-books groups. You know the efforts of neither project contributes significantly to the other. If you put your creativity and efforts into one or the other, you’d have a castle instead of two huts.

Move projects that don’t contribute to your writing goal to the future or to another life area, such as fun and relaxation. Limit efforts that are time gobblers or don’t produce much return toward your goal. For example, move daily blog posts to weekly or monthly posts. Focus most speaking engagements to places you’ll reach readers. But don’t schedule so many that you’re not writing more of your wow books. 

James Scott Bell says in Marketing for Writers Who Hate Marketing, “Since the most important marketing tool is the quality of your books, becoming the best writer you can be is job #1. This is where the majority of your time should be spent. … Productivity as a writer is also a marketing tool. The more you write, with quality, the more you grow a “long tail” that has renewed life with each new book.”

What is your goal for your writing career?


Buy Link

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Zoe McCarthy’s book, Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days, is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their not-ready-for-publication and/or rejected manuscripts to a spit-polish finish. Writing is hard work, yes, but it doesn’t have to be difficult. —Eva Marie Everson, best-selling and multiple award-winning author, conference director, president of Word Weavers International, Inc.

If you want to increase your chance of hearing yes instead of sorry or not a fit for our list at this time, this book is for you. If you want to develop stronger story plots with characters that are hard to put down, this book is for you. Through McCarthy’s checklists and helpful exercises and corresponding examples, you will learn how to raise the tension, hone your voice, and polish your manuscript. I need this book for my clients and the many conferees I meet at writer’s conferences around the country. Thank you, Zoe. A huge, #thumbsup, for Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.  —Diana L. Flegal, literary agent, and freelance editor


Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript is a self-editing encyclopedia! Each chapter sets up the targeted technique, examples show what to look for in your manuscript, then proven actions are provided to take your writing to the next level. Whether you are a seasoned writer or a newbie, you need this book! —Sally Shupe, freelance editor, aspiring author

McCarthy crafted an amazing self-help book that will strengthen any writer, whether new or seasoned, with guidance and self-evaluation tools. —Erin Unger, author of Practicing Murder, releasing in 2019

Need to rework your book? Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling overwhelmed and wrangle your manuscript and into publishable shape in 30 days. Tailor Your Manuscript delivers a clear and comprehensive action plan. —Elizabeth Spann Craig, Twitteriffic owner, bestselling author of the Myrtle Clover Mysteries, the Southern Quilting Mysteries, and the Memphis Barbeque Mysteries http://elizabethspanncraig.com/blog/