The very first thing I do when I start creating a new protagonist is to think about their goals. What do they want? What are they going to spend the duration of the book working toward? Of course, I then need to figure out why they want that goal and what’s stopping them from achieving it. It’s that GMC (Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) that will actually be the story I’m writing. Of course, I write romance so I do this for both of my protagonists and then intertwine their GMCs to create the book. It’s loads of fun and can sometimes get pretty complicated, but again, that’s the fun of it.
But let’s turn this around and point our deep question of GMC back at ourselves and our writing career. What do you want? Why? And what’s stopping you from getting it?
Hah! That’s not as easy as creating a goal, motivation, and conflict for a fictional character, now is it?
There are so many possible writing and career goals that we can have:
- Do you want to earn money?
- Become famous?
- Make it to the NYT bestseller list, or even just an Amazon bestseller list?
- Or do you simply want to share your stories?
I’ve mentioned on this blog before the words of wisdom from one of my writing heroes, Cathy Maxwell, who said that there are many much easier and much more lucrative ways to earn money than to be a writer. So, if the first thing that enters your mind is number one above, you might consider trying something else. Sorry…
If you want to become famous… well, go for it! Write well and work that social media presence. It’s possible (not likely, but definitely possible).
Want to make it to a list? You’ve not only got to write well and work the social media circus but write in a popular genre and market your work really well. Get that word out there. Be strategic in your marketing and social media. Hype that pre-order and you can do it. Again, it’s going to be difficult, but if you’ve got the chops, I will be here cheering you on!
Me? I’m going for number four. I know the limits of my abilities. Marketing and social media are not my strengths. I write in a popular genre (Regency romance), but I write in a less popular subset of the genre (clean, sweet romance, no sex) and sometimes I throw in some magic and blend in fantasy elements just because it’s fun and I can.
Now, what about that motivation?
Do you need to earn money to live and pay bills? Again, there are better and easier ways to earn that. Do you want to become famous for the recognition of your hard work? I totally get that! Same with those lists you might be determined to see your name on.
I’ve got stories to tell. I’ve got a message to get across. That’s my motivation. Now, while it’s true that if I became famous or got my books on a list I would reach a lot more people with my message, but I’m small potatoes and I’m okay with that. If I can make one person’s life a little happier with one of my books, I’ll consider myself a success. If I can make ten people’s lives happier, I’ll consider myself a mega-success. I’m good with that. Yes, the more the better, but I’m determined to put more of my energy into writing good books than into marketing—which leads me to that conflict.
What’s stopping you from attaining your goal? Is it, like in my case, the marketing? I know that I just don’t have a flair for that. I’ve tried a number of different things and have never gotten very far with them, certainly nothing worth the effort and money I put in. I continue to try different things because if I didn’t my books wouldn’t sell at all, but I don’t expect fantastic results.
Do you need to work on your writing craft to make your books the best they can be? There are books and courses galore to help you get there. They are well worth the money and effort you put in and will move you by leaps and bounds closer to that goal of being famous or a best seller.
What else is stopping you from attaining your goals?
There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to be a New York Times bestselling author. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be famous and earn a lot of money. Go for it. Reach for those stars. Don’t let me or anyone else tell you that you can’t do what you want because it does happen. Make those goals, know why you want them and what’s standing in your way and then figure out how to get your happily ever after.