Choosing the goal beyond the goal is the best way to keep your productivity going indefinitely. I've been thinking lately why it is that so many second novels or other books tend to fall short of the success and critical acclaim of the first. Then again, there are some authors who continue to improve with every successive book. What does this exclusive latter category have that the former does not. I think that the answer must lie in the goal beyond the goal.
Creating a master work, or just a work in general, is typically the result of a goal. You set out this desire to finish a project and to make it the best you can. You put all of your heart and soul into it and often you come up with something incredible; something that a past version of you never would have believed could be attributed to you. After all of that work, those tears, that blood, you have finished something you set out to do and there is no better feeling in the world. But what happens next? If you have a great success commercially, the obvious next step is to try to create something just as good if not better. You worry about whether or not you'll be able to duplicate the same skill and heart when you put so much into your first work. These authors will often try and fail to recreate what made them successful in the first place when they should be trying to create the goal beyond the goal.
The first book wasn't the result of some magical gift from above or a one time burst of inspiration. Perhaps that's where the idea came from, but the book itself was created due to a lot of hard work in the effort to achieve a goal. The trick is that you need to come up with a new goal and begin working on it as soon as you complete the first one. It's having a new goal lined up that allows us to quickly renew our hard work and to put as much joy as possible into it. This goal should not take the form of "a book that's just as good as the first one" or something like that. It needs to be something you care about. For instance I want to create "a book in the young adult genre that is humorous and refuses to insult the intelligence of the readers." Add a deadline to the goal and some additional specifics and I'm good to go.
Even if you have yet to create something that you're proud of, setting goals and the goal beyond the goal, will help you to achieve great work that will continue to get better and better. Give a small goal (and one beyond that) a shot to ensure increased effectiveness.
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