“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart...” –William Wordsworth
Being a writer is an amazing journey. Carving stories out of thin air, making substantial the dreams and speculations within our hearts. Yet most of us on the path of writing desire more. It’s not enough to doodle vague ideas onto paper. We yearn for accomplishment. To write not just a sentence but a complete story. To see that story magically bound with a glossy cover. To know that complete strangers read our words and are engaged, amused, entertained perhaps even... transformed.
Of course, this yearning now takes us beyond our original carefree imaginings and into the realm of practical endeavors.
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I'll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I'll give you a stock clerk.”--J.C. Penney
Whether the goal is to compose a single page or to commit to a set number of hours, to reach a desired word count or to flesh out a scene, to edit, revise or complete an outline, each and every goal we set matters. Without a destination in mind, we are merely wanderers.
There’s a saying by Lloyd Jones about failure and success that always appealed to me:
“Those who try to do something and fail are infinitely better than those who try to do nothing and succeed.”
Yet there’s more to striving than simply setting goals. We must push ourselves always to go a step beyond our comfort zone. Success is not defined by simply meeting a goal. If that were true, we could simply set a goal based on past accomplishments and feel satisfied. A toddler experiences a surge of triumph after mastering the tying of a shoe. Success is defined by reaching to accomplish what once seemed impossible.
Remember as a child, how even while playing the silliest of games we strove to better our past record? Hopscotch or jump rope, foursquare or dodge ball. Heck, even on the swings we always wanted to fly higher and higher. Our human instinct impels us to reach for the stars. As adults, and particularly as writers, we must vitalize this instinctive urge to best ourselves by continuously revising and expanding our definition of achievement.
“The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” –Michelangelo
As writers, we must strive to maintain a balance between pushing ourselves too much and not pushing ourselves enough. And the truth is, though we share a common goal we are each individuals. Part of your personal journey is to divine what motivates you. Some thrive with far-reaching goals that would make others blanch. Find your rhythm, discover your own theme song, tap into the inner dance that sets your heart afire and then crank up the energy and let those fingers fly!
“Failure is the path of least persistence.” –Anonymous
During the holiday season, time is at a premium. Few will have the extra minutes (much less hours) our hearts desire to pen a few words or to edit our WIP. Yet this is a lovely time to begin contemplating our future goals. The year is nearly at an end. A new one bursting with potential beckons from the wings.
For those who have the time and will to write this week, what are your goals?
For those whose plates are way too full take a moment to consider your future goals. Sometime between now and the new year, let’s set some Serious Goals for 2010.
Three more weeks left in 2009... Whatever we plan to accomplish in the New Year, we set the stage today. Action begets accomplishment. Let's keep that vision firmly in our mind and match our goals with energy and productivity. Here's to a week of writing and goal-setting!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas and Between the Lines.