Kent Sanders | Unlock Your Creative Potential

Unlock Your Creative Potential

Reflections on 2017 and My Writing-Related Goals for 2018

This time of year, we naturally reflect on the previous year and look forward to the next one. In this post, I want to take a few moments to reflect on my previous year as a writer. In addition, I’ll share my writing-related goals for 2018.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

First, it’s important that we be honest about our successes and failures. We can all learn from one another. I hope that my reflections will prompt you to do the same as a writer and creative.

Second, I hope this post encourages you to consider your own goals for 2018. What’s even more important is that you take action to ensure that 2018 is your best writing year ever!

Reflections on 2017

If I were to characterize my life as a writer in 2017, it was a year of losing and finding my way.

Make no mistake, some good things happened this past year. I launched the “Born to Create” podcast, wrote a few dozen blog posts, and my freelance writing business LINK was busier than ever.

But by the middle of summer, I was burned out and felt like I had no clear direction for my writing. I took a break from the blog and podcast but never recovered my momentum.

Looking back, the problem was that I had no overall direction. Two things happened over the last few months to help resolve this issue.

First, I suffered a professional rejection. At the time, I thought it would have been a great creative opportunity. But in retrospect, I was honestly running toward something that felt safe and familiar instead of embracing the unknown.

I was scared that I didn’t have what it takes to be successful as a writer, so I was running away from it. Fortunately, the counsel of my ever-patient wife and a couple of great friends helped me see that this was not the right opportunity for me.

Second, I attended Jeff Goins’ Tribe Conference. This was a major shot in the arm, and exactly what I needed. It convinced me to stick with writing. Plus, I got to hang out with my great friend Jim Woods, who has been a major encouragement and support.

These two events, in addition to much soul-searching and journaling, helped me realize that I needed to focus on two things:

1. Writing my own stuff (blog, stories, books, etc.).

2. Helping other writers.

This is significant because up to this point, I have focused on the topic of creativity in general. Writing obviously involves creativity, but I had never focused just on writing. Now I have embraced this direction and feel a new sense of energy, momentum, and purpose.

My 2018 Theme & Goals

Right after Christmas, I sat down for a few hours to evaluate 2017 and work through my goals for 2018. As I was doing this, I looked over several index cards that I keep near my computer monitor in my home office. Anytime I come across a statement that is a “big life principle,” I write it down on one of these cards for handy reference.

A few months ago I wrote this phrase on one of the cards: “Embrace the unknown.” That jumped out at me as an appropriate theme for 2018. So many times, we let our fear of the unknown keep us from moving forward and accomplishing big things.

Instead of running from the unknown, I want to embrace it in 2018. These writing-related goals will help propel me in that direction.

I have broken down the goals into two categories: habit goals and achievement goals. This concept is taken from Michael Hyatt’s goal-setting system included in his Full Focus Planner, which I am currently using and highly recommend.

HABIT GOALS:

1. Establish a better morning and evening ritual.

After reading many articles on the importance of developing a morning and evening routine (such as this one), I have decided one of the best things I can do in 2018 is establish one for myself.

My morning routine includes getting up by 6 a.m., drinking a big glass of water, meditating, stretching, and writing 1,000 words (more on that below).

2. Track my calories and exercise 6x/week.

For the last few years, I’ve been trying to get some weight off but have mostly failed. I’ve recently realized that it’s probably because I have been focused on the goal rather than on developing better health habits.

3. Write 1,000 words a day.

When you read about successful writers, one habit almost all of them have in common is a daily writing habit. This article from Srini Rao convinced me this was the missing ingredient in my success.

My writing will ideally shift to the morning hours. Right now as I write this post, it’s 11:10 p.m. Not really a great to time write, but better late than never.

No matter when it gets done, I am committed to writing 1,000 words a day because I know that consistency is the most ingredient in my future success.

ACHIEVEMENT GOALS:

4. Read 50 books.

I have a lot of books, and I love to read. But I’ve never had a truly consistent reading routine. My goal is to set aside at least half an hour in the evenings just for reading. In this way, I should be able to read a 200-page book each week.

I also take a book with me everywhere I go so I can read in the spare minutes of the day between meetings or when I’m waiting for someone. I should be able to reach this goal by being more intentional.

5. Launch my book Born to Create.

Born to Create is a parable-type story about the principles of creativity. I’ve had a pretty difficult time getting my head around the story and figuring out how to structure it. Every time I have re-started this project I keep hearing a voice inside my head that says, “You’re not doing it right!”

So I’ve had to kick this voice to the curb and just dig in. This is by far the hardest project I’ve ever worked on. Like many things in my life, I’m probably making it harder than it needs to be.

6. Add 10,000 subscribers to my email list.

I currently have almost 400 subscribers on my email list. That is pitiful when you consider the fact that I’ve been blogging for several years. I haven’t done a lot of guest posting or other things to help increase my number of subscribers.

That must change this year because a healthy email list is the lifeblood of any online business (which includes author entrepreneurs).

7. Launch the “Just Write” podcast.

This will be my third podcast. My first podcast was called “The Artist’s Suitcase,” and I launched it in 2015. It lasted 37 episodes before I called it quits. As far as podcasts go, it was a big failure. But I also consider it a personal success because I learned a lot about podcasting.

My second podcast, “Born to Create,” launched just a year ago and lasted 50 episodes. This was an audio blog format, so the content was the same as my written blog posts. I continued to learn some important things about podcasting.

The lessons from those two failed shows will serve me well as I launch a writing-focused podcast this Spring. “Just Write” will be an interview-based show, and I’m excited to bring it to you in a few months.

8. Write the first draft of a novel.

This goal scares the living daylights out of me. The more that I learn about story structure and storytelling, the more I realize I’m way in over my head. However, I have what I believe is a compelling idea for a novel. It’s a story I want to tell, and by golly, I want to learn how to do it well.

What Are Your Goals?

Thanks for checking out this lengthy post. These are my writing-related goals for 2018, and I would love to hear yours.

How are you going to stretch, grow, and embrace the unknown in 2018?

About Kent Sanders

I help people unlock their God-given creative potential. I live with my wife and son in St. Peters, MO. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or YouTube.

  • Kent: I really resonate with so many of your goals for 2018. I’d love to team up with you to add subscribers. My list is pretty puny, and I would love to grow it. Would you be interested in checking in regularly to help each other and to hold each other accountable in this area?

    • Hi John — absolutely. My list is not that big at this point as well. I would love to help each other be successful with our email lists. Want to set up a time to chat and develop some action plans?

      • Kent – YES!!! I’ll send you an email or DM, so we can set up a time to chat. Let’s do this!