Hitting goals can be difficult any time, but when your goals seem so small compared to world events it can feel impossible. My husband is currently working as a physiotherapist on COVID-19 wards, and hearing about what’s happening in hospitals on a day to day basis can make writing a novel made up of people who don’t exist feel pretty insignificant.
But it is not insignificant.
Getting up, brushing your teeth and making it through the day is an achievement. Learning how to cope with what was once an unimaginable world, is significant. I’m finding creating mini-goals for myself are giving me a drive and purpose to get through the days. Not that I always hit those goals (I’ve always being kind to myself with self-imposed deadlines. Please be kind to yourself too, there is literally no one watching).
The mini-goals aren’t always creative, but I’ve found that the thing I really look forward to, the thing that I can escape into, is writing, so that’s what I keep high on my list. If you can think of the things you look forward to doing and schedule it into your day, you might be able to create the little pockets of joy you need to keep you going.
Of course, challenges are different for each household, whether it’s living on your own, taking care of family while working from home, or doing the essential jobs that are keeping this country functioning (while also keeping yourself functioning). Which is why I think keeping goals ‘mini’ is key. Ten minutes of exercise is better than no minutes of exercise, twenty minutes of reading a book you’ve always wanted to read is better than no minutes of reading a book you’ve always wanted to read, and half an hour of writing/doing the thing you love doing, could possibly be the half an hour that keeps you sane. Completing one mini-goal (and then another, and then another) is helping me move through the storm that has currently taken over life. Maybe it could do the same for you.
This year I’m funding six entry fees for the SI Leeds Prize for BAME female writers. This was an award that, many years ago, helped me focus on my big goal of publishing a novel at a point when I felt like giving up on writing altogether. Getting my writing in for the deadline was an achievement. Getting shortlisted and reading out my work at Rich Mix and The Southbank Centre was a bigger achievement. Going to the awards ceremony and winning the prize was an achievement that I never imagined was possible. And then, when ‘The Things We Thought We Knew’ went on to be published, I found myself having achieved the big goal that had seemed like a fantasy daydream before I entered the prize.
So, if you’re a BAME female writer with a big goal, it might be worth trying to achieve the mini-goal of getting your work ready to send in for this prize, and the bigger goal of actually sending it in before the upcoming deadline (details below). And if you’re wondering if we need a prize for BAME female writers at all (because, surprisingly, there are always a few people who do), I’d recommend reading Spread the Word’s ‘Writing Future’ report which explains the publishing landscape for BAME writers in a far better way than I can here, and the article ‘Homme de Plume: What I Learned Sending My Novel Out Under a Male Name’ by Catherine Nichols. For me, the reason why funding places for low-income writers was so important was because I was one of those low-income writers. When hitting goals is difficult already, I hope by bringing down one barrier for the people who need it might encourage them to enter something they might have never considered before.
If you’d like to tell me about your mini-goals, then please let me know in the comments. You can also share this post on the links below. If you’ve found this post particularly useful you can also buy me a coffee (because I need my coffee. And notebooks. And pens. Lots of pens).
Happy mini-goal setting and remember to keep on finding the joy, in whatever small way you can.
The SI Leeds Prize deadline is 31st April 2020. If you’d like to apply for a free entry please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by 25th April. You can also follow SI Leeds Prize on twitter.