I’m really good at setting a goal and achieving it. Especially a writing goal. Last December I decided I wanted 2016 to be all about writing, actual writing, the act of writing. I wanted a more consistent practice because even when I don’t know what I’m writing exactly, I know good things come from my writing. Even when those good things seem to have nothing to do with writing.
I didn’t have a goal, per se. But I was committed AF.
While I’m great at goals, especially breaking up big goals into small pieces and then making lists and checking things off those lists, I am much less good at reflection. I have a borderline obsessive drive to just keep going. Goal after goal, check it off, move on down the list. And I’d like to change that. So today I spent some time looking through the notebooks I’ve filled this year. (Well, the one and a half notebooks.) What I found there in my notebooks, was gold.
I found a year’s worth of experiences, ideas (large and small), the initial thoughts for what has become one of my favorite things, Second Story Writer’s Workshop.
What I found on the 30 longhand written pages for a single month was startling. So. Much. Happened. In just one of the months in 2016. So much happens every day, but if I’m not consistent–if I’m not committed, then I’m not capturing the sensory details, the thoughts, the feelings, around any of it.
I scanned the many, many pages dedicated to that one essay that just won’t a) die, or b) come to a satisfying state of done-ness. It’s the essay from Hell honestly. I’m better off starting over. Better yet deleting it’s very digital existence, burning the pages, and moving on.
But I won’t because I’m a hoarder of shitty first, second, and thirty-second drafts.
The novel is there too. Always a novel, that’s the curse of most writers I know. My genius ideas are there, in January, and back again in November. But I really, really don’t want to want to write a novel right now. That’s a big goal I’m not committed to.
I dug up gold today. It’s not shiny yet, I’ve got work to do. But it’s there, all because I sat down most days for five minutes or ten minutes, or ***if you can believe it*** 15 WHOLE MINUTES to record what was happening around me, around my head.
Sometimes writing is about what gets written. Your voice can become something that changes the world. A speech (not mine, maybe yours), a call to action, a message that permeates your work in the world. Your voice can educate, inspire, and entertain. But only if you use it.
Goals are great for getting things written.
Sometimes writing is just about the writing. It feels good to get something out of your head, to make sense of the messy, to confront and consult yourself on the page. For some of us, writing things down is the only way to figure them out.
Commitment is great for getting your ass in the chair and watching what comes out.
So how do we set writing goals for 2017?
Maybe we don’t. Maybe we just write.
Goals are cheap. I’ve got lists on lists of goals.
Commitment is gold. When you’re committed you can achieve any goal.
Last year I committed to consistency, and with the help of some structure and some workshops, I developed a fairly good habit. Along the way I learned that Second Story Writer’s Workshop was not a fling. In 2017, I’m committed to working on how I want my voice to shine through to the all the writers, used-to-be writers, and wannabe writers I’ll meet this year.
I’ll have to log a lot of hours in my notebook to get there, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Cheers to a New Year filled with all your goals turning into the gold of commitment.
Second Story Writer’s Workshop offers structured individual and group writing experiences for anyone who wants to write. You don’t need to be published or serious or talented. All you need is a notebook and a pen. You could use a pencil, but it’ll smudge.