When You Forget Why You Started

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

On Fridays, I receive Hope Clark’s newsletter, Funds for Writers. Here’s a thought-provoking essay from a recent email:

When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure.” – British economist Charles Goodhart (Goodhart’s law)

This quote says that basically, when you set a goal, and you become hard focused in meeting that goal, you can easily forget what drove you to set the goal in the first place. The measure, so to speak, becomes the details in the goals instead of the original mission.

Metrics, for instance. When you set goals in terms of hours, dollars, sales, hits, reviews, and followers, and that’s what you get up in the morning to which to give your attention, you begin chasing the metrics. Your original goal turns murky.

In another instance, you may notice what’s popular and think, I can do that. That applies not just to books but also to short pieces, even journalism. You see what is getting attention, say on sites like Medium.com or popular blogs. Or in terms of books, you see the best-selling genres and shift gears to write those instead of what you originally started writing.

You are chasing success. You are trying to find the easier road, or at least the road someone else has cut out ahead of you.

My first mystery series is The Carolina Slade Mysteries. Many New York agents replied saying nobody wanted to read about an amateur sleuth like her, especially from the South, especially rural. Good writing, they said, but they didn’t like the protagonist enough nor her setting. I, however, loved her. I developed her, fleshed her out, and eventually I sold her, quickly learning that strong female mystery protagonists were my thing.

I’m so glad I didn’t detour and write about vampires.

Sign up to receive Hope Clark’s newsletter here.

2 responses to “When You Forget Why You Started

  1. Oh yeah, great points! I myself am all about the process and not the goals. I mean, goals are important to show us where to go, but it’s the daily process that gets me to my destination. Great points. Thanks for sharing!

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