What is Your Writing Goal for Today, for This Project, for Your Life?

what are you aiming for?A subtle theme, more a motif, runs through my conversations with authors. When they talk about their writing, there’s one thing they don’t mention:

When it will be done.

There’s a reason this site is named Someday Box. A reason I chose Getting Your Book Out of the Someday Box as the title for that book.

“Someday” is not a goal. Someday is a dream, a vague notion. Sir Ken Robinson tells the story of chatting with a brilliant pianist whose name I can’t remember. Robinson said “I wish I could play like that.”

The pianist said something like, “No, you like the idea of playing like that. If you really wished you could, you’d be doing something about it.”

Do you want to be a writer or do you just like the idea?

Are you willing to work at it, or is this just a hobby, something you do for fun, but only when it’s fun?

Hobbies need no deadline, no SMART goals, no process. If you spend the rest of your life hand carving a wooden wind chime from a single piece of koa, it doesn’t matter; it’s just a hobby.

If writing is your hobby, same thing: do it when the mood strikes, because if you never finish, what difference does it make? You’re not trying to do anything serious with it, right?

If that irks you just a bit, consider whether you’re being honest with yourself.

If you are called to be a writer; if it’s your vocation (albeit unpaid) then why don’t you have firm goals in mind, commitments to move forward?

I’m a huge fan of Rosanne Bane‘s concept: commit, absolutely, to 15 minutes a day. When you want to do more, set goals, which are places you want to go but which carry no negative repercussions or baggage if you don’t get there. The concept is to develop habits by making commitments you can keep religiously, not by trying to force efforts which won’t ever become regular. Read more about it in her excellent Around the Writer’s Block.

If writing is just your hobby, the truth is that while you might enjoy my commentary here, it’s not aimed at you. It won’t always apply to your efforts, and frankly (do I love that word, or hate it?) the marketing stuff will always be a waste of your time.

If writing is your calling, your vocation, then what are your goals?

Are you going to start writing something, showing up 15 minutes a day? Even 5 minutes a day?

What are you going to finish this month?

When is your novel going to be ready to ship off to the editor?

Writing as a hobby is a beautiful thing.

If you’re aiming for something else, your actions should speak to that.

4 thoughts on “What is Your Writing Goal for Today, for This Project, for Your Life?

  1. Absolutely true. We all need to remind ourselves that unless we are working toward our goals, specific goals that we can visualize and with a tangible time frame, we shouldn’t expect to get there.

    Dreams yield visions of what we can achieve; goal setting established practical steps and the doing makes it happen.

  2. This month, I challenged myself to not just “try to write everyday”, but to sit at my desk and write at least 30 minutes everyday.

    So far, it’s going well! I’m even looking forward to my writing time each day.

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