How To Keep Writing When There's No Finish Line

When people give advice about goal setting, they often say to make sure to set a definite time-frame in which the goal will be accomplished. This makes sense. It's easier to push through something when you know it won't last forever.

But for those of us who hope to be traditionally (or even indie) published, it's not always realistic. Our goals are dependent on factors outside of our control.

Maybe the publishing market isn't where it needs to be for our books right at the moment.

Maybe we haven't yet located the right agent or publisher for our stories yet.

Or maybe we'll hope to indie publish at a certain time, only to get feedback that shows we have way more work than we originally thought.

It's somewhat unrealistic to say that we want to be published by the end of the year or within two years because we can't guarantee it. We can't control other people.

And with all these things up in the air, it may often be difficult to find the motivation to write when we realize our work may never end. We don't have a finish line.

That can often discourage us from pressing on. Why should we keep going if our efforts never pay off? What's in it for us? Why don't we just give up?

Today, I have three tips to help keep the end goal in focus while, hopefully, calming any discouragement from not knowing when you'll reach your goals.

~Know the steps~

Yes, we can't always guarantee that we'll reach our goals by a set time, but that doesn't mean we can't know what steps we need to take to get there. 

I'm preparing to go to Realm Makers, where I'll pitch my story. Will I get picked up by someone? Maybe. Maybe not. I don't know. 

But I know this is a step I need to take if I want my story published, so I am going to put in the work to do my best. 

Even if you don't know how long it will take to reach your goals, know the steps you need to take and work towards them. 

Does it mean revising your story more? Getting a first draft done? Pitching to agents and editors? 

Whatever it is, trust that they'll take you to the goal in mind. If you've done your research and put in the work, it's statistically unlikely that you'll never reach your goals. 

~Create Finish Lines~

Going hand-in-hand with the previous tip, creating your own finish lines is awesome. This could be super simple. 

For instance, if you know that you need to do more revisions, you can say that you'll finish another round of edits by a set date. You'll have a date that you're shooting for, giving you a box to check off when you've finished. Even if it's still not perfect, you've made one huge step towards your goal!

Or maybe you are pitching/querying. Perhaps you might say that you'll query five agents/editors a month. That's a set time-frame and quantity, helping you feel accomplished even if you're not picked up by any of them. 

By breaking up your goal into smaller steps that you can control, you are able to create time-frames to get work done. 

Camp NaNo is great for this, as you only have 30-31 days to work. And it can be any goal you'd like. Want to focus on querying? Maybe set a time goal of say 600 minutes (about 20 minutes a day) where you'll spend that time researching five agents or editors, compiling the things you need for your query, then querying to them. And, at the end of 30 days, you'll have accomplished one more step towards your goal.

Even if you might not be able to determine a time-frame for your big goals, you can make time-frames for your smaller goals. These add up, getting you to the end goal when it's the right time. 

~Know your why~

Why do you want your goal?

Do you want to get traditionally published? Why is that? Is there a particular audience you want to reach and going through a publishing house will help you reach them? A publishing house where you believe in their mission? Are there parts of the publishing life that you need help with and know you'll want to the aid of the publishing team?

Do you want to indie publish? Why? Again, do you have an audience to reach that you might not reach through trad. publishing? A story that's begging to be put out in the world? A part of the process you're eager to work on besides the writing?

Remembering why you're doing the work in the first place is a great way to motivate yourself to keep pressing on when it seems like it will never end. It's a thing to hold onto, even when you have nothing else. A reason. A purpose. An answer when you start questioning everything you're doing.

I hope that was helpful/encouraging. Never give up on your dreams! You will reach them. Don't forget your why.

Now onto y'all! What are things you do when you don't have a determined finish line? What keeps you going when you think you'll never reach your goals? Are any of you going to RM? Participating in Camp NaNo? What are things you're doing to prepare for either one? Let me know down below!!


  1. This is great!! Especially as I prepare for RM. Like, that an obvious deadline, but still...I have a feeling I'll be doing a few things out of last-minute-panic.

    1. Oh, I'll definitely be doing a bunch of last minutes things. AHHHHH!!

  2. Best of luck with pitching! I don't have anything prepared sadly, but I'll hopefully learn a lot anyway.

  3. This is a great post! Very encouraging. :) Good luck pitching! There have been more than a few times when I've thought why do I even bother? What's the point...? I'm never going to go anywhere, there's no end in sight. But then I always come back to my why. Why am I doing this? Because I love it. Because writing is what I want to do with my life. Because all this hard work and frustration and doubt is worth it to even have one person in the world read and love my book.

    1. YES!! Getting back to our why is so important!! I'm glad it's helped you through the sticky places in your writing life!

  4. I'm late, but this was super nice to read! :)

    As a perfectionist, I tend to set too-large goals. And it stresses me out trying to get them finished. I'm constantly have to downsize on my goals and figure out that working on bite size bits is actually OK!

    I almost always determine a finish line, so I don't know...I'm pretty driven as far as goals go. will, I guess? I feel like I'm obliged to reach my goal, even if I'm not "Feeling it", or otherwise liking the process. That's probably why I get stressed, LOL, I push myself into things even if I don't like them.
    I would LOVE to go to RM, but sadly I can't. And sadly, I haven't been able to get the brakes on life long enough to participate in Camp Nano yet, either! :/ Maybe next time, though!

    Anyway, fun post! :)

    ~ Lily Cat (Boots) |

  5. A commenter is never late. Nor are they early. They comment precisely when they mean to.

    Downsizing goals into bite sized pieces it an awesome thing to do!!

    Girl, I feel ya. Pushing ourselves is usually a great thing, but if it's causing us undue stress, it's totally cool to put the brakes on a little and relax. I've definitely had to work on that during my RM prep.

    *pouts* I'm sad you won't be able to make it. I hope you're able to make it next year!!


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