Even if you don't love football, it's hard to avoid it at the moment. The concept of the game, like all the best games, is easy to understand – you score the most goals, you win the game, you win the most games you win the league. Simple. But achieving that is far from easy – a strange mixture of science, talent, hard-work, luck, a huge amount of cash, and some alchemy are required to take a team to the top, the next level, the knock-out stages, or whatever the current goal is – still, you always know what you have to achieve. I sometimes I envy those football managers their clarity of purpose.
Writing a novel requires the same amount of ill-defined ingredients but the goals are not so clear, no-one is there to tell you what the rules are, there is no system by which to gauge your success. People have tried, but no-one is buying it, there is no World Cup of Writing.
No-one can argue who's won a football match, everybody can disagree on whether a book is good or not. We've all struggled to wade through Booker winners, laughed at atrocities on the bestseller lists.
So it's easy to get wishy-washy with writing – you could send this draft out now, or spend another 10 years rewriting it; you could work the synopsis, or crack-on with the WIP, you could churn out a thousand words, or get down the pub to 'gather material.' Or you could just go and watch the World Cup.
The point being, we have to set ourselves goals – they can be small or big, short-term or long-term, but they must be three things: clear, achievable and within our power to attain. Getting published isn't within your control, but getting a scintillating submission pack together is; getting on the bestseller list is not something you can make happen, but writing a story worthy of it is.
Keep the goals simple, keep them sensible, and keep them real – that's the way to win in writing.
Come on, England.