Before I left for the writing retreat, I set the goal of reaching 65,000 words in my novel. Just because.
And I reached it.
A few days before I left, I told my friend, the Friend-who-cannot-be-Nicknamed (Believe me, I've tried to find a good, SHORT, blog moniker for her and so far, it cannot be done), "I've decided not to set any goals for my time in Montana.”
FWCBN smiled and said, “I think that's a really good idea. You are the goaliest person I know right now.”
“Me too! I've never set goals like I have in the past six months, but it's working for me, so I keep doing it.”
It's a really good thing I didn't set goals for my time in Montana because I would have been unable to achieve them. It was wonderful to just let each day greet me and to welcome what it had in store for me from moment to moment. It was an intense five days and my energy was zapped.
A few weeks after I returned and my functional use of words returned, I was talking all things writing with Mantra Friend. “You know you're building a writing career, don't you?”
“Yes, I actually do realize that.”
“Well, have you set your goals for what you want to achieve?”
I got a little feisty when I answered. “I want to get published, Mantra Friend. That's the goal. But how do you set a goal for something you cannot control???”
More conversation ensued, and I finally agreed to think about some writing-specific goals. What worked was taking getting published off the table entirely and thinking about the things I could control.
I can't control getting published, but I can control how much work I submit. I can't submit anything if I am not writing.
Once I got those things straight, the goal setting became much easier.
After a few days of contemplation, this is what I came up with:
Objectives: To Build my Portfolio, Platform, and Freelance Opportunities
Under one year:
1. Retool my LinkedIn profile into a writer's profile.
2. Publish at least two blog posts per week.
3. Meet with other writers monthly.
Within 18 months:
1. Complete second draft of Astrid's story.
2. Apply to Haven II in Montana.
3. Write a new short story per month.
Within 3 years:
1. Begin second book project using Camp Nanonwrimo online.
2. Submit a piece of writing for publication or contest per month including www.fullgrownpeople.com.
3. Register for Washington University Summer Writers Institute Fiction Track.
These goals are stretchy and attainable. They are centered on building my practice of writing rather than focusing on the results of my writing. It feels liberating and exhilarating to have these goals spelled out.
“You're going to be a writing machine,” Mantra Friend exclaimed when he read my list of goals.
“That's sorta the point,” I said.
Writing machine. I like the sound of that.