If you’re a writer, you either have good intentions or goals. There is a difference between the two. The good intention is a goal camouflaged by fluffy goodness, like a piece of angel food cake laden with whipped cream. It sounds good, even tastes good, as the words pass your lips, but it’s not quite the same as saying I will do XXX by XXX.
If goals are not set, the days pile up behind you with nothing to show but good intentions. These uncompleted intentions turn into raging guilt monsters whose sole purpose is to disrupt the creative nymphs dancing merrily in the mind’s green pastures. The creative spirit is fragile. It prefers flights of fancy, to two-head dragons jutting smoke from flared nostrils. If left to the creative within, there would never be empty pages, only stories and journal entries, of places and people you’d like to know, or have known.
Think about this for a minute, maybe three. When the reality of life is blowing a gale, what do your creative pixies do for you? They take you out of your world of darkness and transport you, the writer and wounded life warrior, to a higher ground. They let you soar. They give you back a reason to believe in the possibility of something beyond where you are currently hiding in fear from the harsh mistress, called life.
We all have minutia to deal with everyday. The laundry, the backed up toilet, and forgotten Irish cheddar cheese bought at Safeway now growing mold because it got tucked in behind the box of fine wine. What dress to wear on the date with the new beau, the divorce papers you wish you didn’t have to sign, the dirty dishes, the flat tire on the SUV that needs repair, or the new school clothes and shoes needed before Labor Day. As Rosanna Dana said, it’s always something. There is always something that can be put ahead of you and your writing, or whatever ever your passionate pursuit happens to be. Thus, the need to set a goal that involves you sitting squarely in the middle. It should be something stronger than a good intention, which slips all too easily off your lips like a white lie.
A goal involves definition, as well as prescribed length of time to reach. I set all sorts of goals for myself:
- If I walk three miles, I can have two glasses of wine.
- If I take care of my body and mind, I can have an extra glass of wine I will live longer.
- If I nurture my soul, I can have an extra glasses of wine and a chocolate kiss, I’ll soar on the empty page
All kidding aside, in the past, I’d start the day with grand intentions of reaching a word limit I might have set, a query letter I wanted to send, a number of blogs to read, an idea to flush out, or an entry in my journal of heartaches and secret love letters. Since my day regularly takes on a personality of its own, it ends up trampling on my good intentions. At night, I’d inventory the wasted hours, and vow to start afresh the following day, but come sunset the following day I would be no further along. Both my passion and me, would once again be short-changed by the harsh mistress, life. Yet the list of daily something’s (moldy cheese and dirty dishes) rarely went unattended. Why is that?
It’s not a one-size fits all answer. I liken it to the elusive socks in the dryer. Two socks go into the dryer but only one comes out, the other never to be found. The creative’s day starts with twenty-four hours, but at the end of the day, 11.5 cannot be accounted for, ever. All I know, and what I have painstakingly learned, if I, the owner of the creative nymphs and green pastures, wants something to happen, I have to set a goal and not a willowy and illusive good intention.
Postscript: Last night when all I wanted to do was climb into my bed and sleep, I remembered my goal-finish the draft of the WIP by August. To reach my goal requires achieving a daily word count. I howled in agony. I had 900 words to go before reaching my daily goal. I didn’t think I had it in me but once my fingers kissed the keyboard they couldn’t stop. I crawled into bed an hour later, exhausted but overjoyed that I had honored myself by keeping the daily word count goal.