And now we come to the MORAL of this whole story: if your goals aren't working for you, change them.
And if you're struggling to change those goals, then dig into the reasons why. What belief systems are binding you to the goal?
I spent so much time making myself miserable because I thought I had to be fast in order to be a Real Runner.
And I spent YEARS making myself miserable because I thought I had to write everyday in order to be a Real Writer. I thought I had to fit into this mold of productivity (1000 words a day, no matter the quality! Write 2 books a year, no matter the quality!).
I also thought I had to sell X number of copies or make Y advance to be taken serious -- or get Z number of starred reviews. As if the mere fact that I have published multiple books wasn't enough. Or that I have even WRITTEN MULTIPLE books.
Do you know how many people will never write a book? Way, way more than those of us who have and will write even more.
We live in a world with a very specific idea of what productivity and success mean and what productivity and success look like for creative people. If you're not meeting those "standards," then you're probably lazy. Or you don't take your writing seriously.
But the fact is that we don't all create the same way. Some of us write in huge spurts then have long "dry spells" (raises hand). Some of us jump from project to project (raises hand again). Some of us write one day a week, and that's that. And then, of course, some of us do write everyday because that works best for us.
I realize that the nature of publishing is to require at least one book a year (and possibly more if you're hoping to be a full time writer). I realize that that sort of schedule means you can't just wait around for inspiration to strike -- you have to show up and put in the time.
But I also want to say that you can find a method that works best for you. Find the rhythm, the pace, the playlist that makes writing a pleasurable experience. That lets you work WITHN your creative cycles (or lines or curves or whatever) and not constantly fight against them to achieve some nonsense ideal established by corporations to make more money.
And lastly, I want to say for those of you who don't have a book deal or story sale or agent or a fancy award or a starred review: there is no rush, this is not a race, and the actual industry is completely out of your control.
Just as I can't control how fast other runners go in a race (or the damned Frenchman CIRCLING BACK EVERY TIME), you can't make an agent represent you or a publisher publish you or a reader enjoy your book. But that basic reality has no actual bearing on who you are or what you write.
I might have come in last place when I was thirteen, but you know what? I ran faster than all the kids who didn't even try.
And you have written more and written better than all the millions upon millions of people who have never built up the courage -- and never will! -- to stare at a blank page, summon words out of thin air, and eventually type The End.
So change your goals if they're not working for you, and even better, change the beliefs that actually inform them. You will be so much happier for it, and it might allow you to finally see how much you HAVE accomplished and produced.