Earlier this month, we highlighted a piece by Euny Hong on keeping your goals to yourself while you work on major projects, such as writing a book. We then asked: in this world of blog posts, social media updates, and constant sharing, is staying silent even possible?
“Talking about my novel in progress does seem to satisfy some of the urge to work without actually getting the work done,” said Sonia G. Medeiros, a fantasy, sci-fi, and horror writer. “At the same time, a little talk lights a fire under my behind.”
Readers shared a mix of opinions — we sifted through the comments and compiled some of your responses.
Silence is golden
With three completed novels and three more in progress, silence helps. It keeps the story brewing in my mind. Encouragement and ideas for revisions from readers and editors was critical during revision, but during the drafting stage (which is the slow part for me), keeping the story close, with a strong internal dialogue (constant, even when I sleep), helps me maintain the stamina I need to finish.
If there is one thing I have learned, it is to under-promise and over-deliver! Getting on with it is infinitely more productive than talking about it.
Talking is motivation
I’ve noticed that in many cases, whether it is quitting smoking or writing a book, just speaking the words aloud help cement the idea in a stronger form.
As humans we have a need to share — especially things we are excited about.
Keeping the main goal to yourself is probably best, but I think talking about it here and there with close family and friends to get advice, feedback, and support is a great idea. That way you can shape your goal to perfection from the support and experience of others, too.
Talk to the right people
The problem is not telling people, but the kind of people you tell.
There are no better friends, in my honest opinion, than those who will push you to your absolute best version of yourself, and who will help you realize your dreams, even at the expense of their own time and energy.
I believe you need to talk out loud about it so you can get it out of your head and begin to speak it into existence. Some people need to hear themselves talk about something to analyze that thought and act on it. In addition, when you talk about it to people you will quickly ascertain who believes in you and who doesn’t, and that’s a good thing. Why? Because then you will learn that you need to seek out a group of like-minded individuals who will believe in you, help you, and hold you accountable.
Set small goals to reach the big one
Talking or not talking about it doesn’t impact the execution of your ideas. Believe me — I had plenty and failed following through on lots of them. You need to micro-manage yourself — the best way to succeed. Wanna write a book? Set a DAILY goal of how many words you wanna write. And force yourself to stick with it without fail.
Look at it a different way
I personally prefer to post “look, I did this thing!” rather than “look at this goal I have that I may or may not accomplish.”
That said, a happy middle would be posting progress once the project is underway (“it’s been two weeks since my last cigarette” versus “I’m going to quit smoking for New Year’s”). You’re already well on your way to succeeding, plus you get a boost of encouragement to get you all the way to your goal.
It’s all part of the writer’s journey
If one’s main motivation is “to show the world” that one is “a real writer” (or something), then, perhaps, it could it be a relevant problem. But if one’s motivation has mostly to do with one’s own creative power, one’s intrinsic longing for artistic expression, then I don’t see any problem.
For real artists in the writing arena, opening up and letting other people in long before “the milestone” may serve them very well. Not only is it fun to interact with an appreciative audience, (some of) their criticism may also help.
A slightly different take on this is to think in terms of “deadline” vs. “journey.” Some people are so attached to the idea of a “deadline” (together with the potential for money, fame, etc.) that they forget about smelling the roses along the way. I am of the opinion that one must like smelling roses more than deadlines. Much more.
Ultimately, believe in yourself
I feel that when others live in a state of fear and don’t have dreams for themselves, or lack depth, they are intimidated by individuals who do. Other people are creating perceived value in themselves by telling you not to achieve a lot.
Any related topics you’d love to see discussed here? Let us know in the comments.