Choose Some Squishy Writing Goals

It can’t be June already!  Yet it is.  That means it’s time to check our progress against all those goals we set back when the year was fresh and young.

For me, the writing workshop series I’m doing with the local library is nearly complete.  We’ve had a lot of fun working our way from idea to launch party.  While none of us has finished our book, everyone who attended has made good progress.  These local writers are dedicated, intelligent, eager to learn, and to be published.  It’s been a joy to share these months with them.

On the personal side of writing, I dusted off a manuscript set aside a few years ago.  It took me that long to ponder how I wanted to approach a major rewrite of the first scene.  Not because I didn’t know where the story was going.  My hesitation was because the flow of events has to feel natural and real to the reader.  And there were so many ways to fail in establishing those most important moments of the hook chapter.

I’m rewriting the completed chapters and getting back on track with the whole concept.  It’s exciting to see the story begin to flow once again.

Putting my workshop series online came to a grinding halt when my internet service provider began slowing my access speeds. (Right about the time my contract came down to the final months of my “must-sign-up-for-two-years” contract).  I’m guessing they’re trying to force me to upgrade my package.  They’re going to be surprised in a few days when the clock ticks over that deadline.

When I look at what I wanted to do in the first six months of this year, and what I actually accomplished, I see too much effort spent on issues that wasted my time.  The last half of this year, I’ll be keeping a closer eye on anything that doesn’t help me meet my goals.  These situations have inspired me to find someone to help with the things I don’t enjoy doing.  One more item on the to-do list!

We can take another lesson from my mistakes in the first half of this year.  Goals don’t have to be set in stone.  They don’t have to show up in your life in a specific way in order to count.  Goals are merely points on a map, something to aim toward.

Say you decide this is the year you’re going to get the whole family together.  Your goal is a family reunion on the riverfront in Chicago in the middle of the summer.  Who wouldn’t love that?  The traffic, the heat!

You intend to drive from your home in Florida to where the relatives live in Chicago.  Your planned route jogs through Cincinnati, then over to Indianapolis before heading northwest.

But your car breaks down in Knoxville, Tennessee.  You sit there in the repair shop, not making any progress toward that family reunion you’ve been anticipating.  You give up because there’s no way to get to Chicago if you can’t drive your car.  You beat yourself up for not having the car serviced before you left home, and you don’t speak to your spouse for 24 hours because if he or she hadn’t hit that pothole at 85mph the axle would have been fine.  You tell yourself, “Well, what did you expect?  You know it was crazy to think we could all get together and have a good time.  I give up.  We’re going home as soon as the axle is replaced.”  You give up on your goal.

Or, you could rent a car and drop two days off your journey by skipping the detour through Ohio.  You still meet your goal.

If you don’t want to drive any longer, you could hop on a plane and skip all the in-between places, arriving in Chicago within a few hours.  You still meet your goal.

On the other hand, you could call your relatives, give them the news about the new axle you’re waiting for, ask them to meet you in Knoxville, and promise them a week of fun at the zoo, the state park, and the World’s Fair Park.  You could sweeten the deal with an offer to treat them to a side trip to Pigeon Forge to take in a few music shows—if they drive.

You still enjoy family time—which was your real goal.  You just reach it in a different way than you expected.

If you look at your 2015 writing goals and think you haven’t made any progress, take another look at how you can get there.  When you carve your goals in granite, you’re likely to be disappointed.  But if you make them malleable and squishy, you might surprise yourself with how the results show up in your life.

Embrace a few squishy goals for the next six months.  Relax and enjoy the journey.