Wednesday, August 14, 2013

on goals and writing

I am a woman of many goals. Ever since I graduated from college I've had this time-to-get-down-to-bizness sense of urgency shaping the way I spend my time. As a creative soul, there are so many things I want to try, but none I've really excelled in. I want to dabble in watercolor, get better at photography, figure out this blogging thing, learn to cook (heh.), learn to play my ukulele, decorate my apartment. And I've dabbled in a little of each this year, but I haven't whole-heartedly pursued any one thing.

I'm beginning to accept that I don't have to do it all. Not all at once anyway. It's time to really hone in on that one thing that I don't think I could live without (dramatic much?) And for me that is writing. I've been flirting with an idea for a book for over a year now but, well, as my dating record would tell you I'm not all that good at flirting.

I tried several times to write the thing. Each time I wrote, the story changed shape until it didn't at all resemble what I originally dreamed up. And I liked that. I liked watching it evolve and become something bigger than I imagined. As I've been in and out of temp jobs recently, I've had a lot of time to dedicate to this little story in my head. But the sitting down to write part? It was tough, miserable at first. Have any of you tried to write a book? Gosh, it's awful.

I always insisted that I was not an outliner, that I would fly by the seat of my pants because that's the artsy way to do it. And I would get a few chapters in and get stuck. And become suddenly so interested in scrubbing the bathtub instead.

But this time has been different. I've grown attatched to these characters and I'm determined to get their story written down. So I've forced myself to outline the whole dang book. Two or more pages of an outline for each chapter. And the one thing I always I said I would never do is actually working. For once, my hand is flying across the page and I don't want to stop. The story is taking shape and I'm pretty tickled about it. This is happening.

I don't know why I'm writing about this. Maybe you are so not into writing and this is boring the pants off of you. That's a saying, right? Actually, maybe not since that makes zero sense. Well. Here's what I'm trying to say: if you are stuck, frustrated that you haven't accomplished any of your 2013 goals, maybe it's time to approach it in a different way. Even if it's a way you insisted would never work for you. Look at it with a fresh perspective and begin to strategize a little.

I've had to learn the hard way that these things don't just happen on their own, no matter how badly I want them to. They require work and planning, which may not sound too fun, but it makes it all so much easier in the long run.

Here are my practical goals for the next two months:

- Finish the entire outline of the story
- Complete the first draft of the first 15 chapters

So that's me. What are you (still) dreaming of accomplishing this year?

Linking up with Jenny Highsmisth today (and for the next few weeks) for her goals series.

Jenny Highsmith


  1. First off, I wanted to introduce myself: I'm Tawnie. I started writing a comment and was talking a lot and thought it would be best to start with my name. :)

    I'm like you when it comes to wanting to accomplish things...sometimes I just need to focus on one and go for it!

    I absolutely love your goal. I'm a writer too, but have recently fallen away from writing. I was an English, creative writing fiction major in college, and really enjoy reading working pieces! I'd love to read some of your stuff if/when you'd like someone to! (I know that can be a bit intimate, so I understand if you don't want to have readers yet, just thought I'd let you know I'd be more than happy to!)

    Anyways, good luck with your goal, and I can't wait to follow along with the process!

  2. You seriously are my favorite blogger, I'm 17 and I look up to you. You're so young and so determined such as myself. I want to also be a writer. My last blog post was actually inspired in a way by you. Keep up the amazing work, you're going to go so far.

  3. Sometimes work and planning seem like such horrible words, until you realise that they actually work haha. Praying that you stay motivated xo

  4. this is so great, heather! after graduating from college, my learning and creativity totally slumped besides the occassional DIY project. i missed learning new things and i missed making something worthwhile. afterall, i was a graphic design turned interior design major. i needed to create! i saw jenny's post on saturday and was so excited because my goal for the next few months is to learn more about photoshop (i'm going to post about this), but i'm wanting to open a print shop, so i'm teaching myself a couple new tricks each week in photoshop. i may not be awesome at it, but that's okay. i'm doing something i enjoy and it feels good. :)

  5. Oh goodness, do I ever know that, "Hey, yeah, I'll sit down and write a book! That'll go great!" feeling . . . shortly followed by "How did anyone give me an English degree? I fail at life! Stick me in a boring bank job and never let me look back!"

    I love outlines, but I've come to realize that if I ever actually write something book-length, it'll be creative non-fiction, some sort of creative essay or memoir. I love fiction, but I can never get the feel of the characters to come across on the page.

    But enough about me! YAY for you and your writing and your future bestselling novel!

  6. Like you, when I wrote my first book, I went into it thinking it would all just come. I didn't want to outline or anything because it didn't seem creative and inspired. But...outlines are your best friend! I honestly don't think I would have finished my book if I hadn't outlined it. I had sheets and sheets of bullet points--and because it was historical fiction, I even printed an accurate calendar of summer 1944 and filled in the dates with every chapter/scene/event in my book. It was tedious. It was not the most fun. But great things do take time, patience, and good planning, even writing a book :) I know you will reach your goals! And I can't wait to read it when it's finished ;)

  7. So stinking exciting girl!!! You will do great! :)

  8. Wow! A book!?!? That's so exciting! I hope there's a way for all of us to read it when it is finished. I love the way you write - it's so beautiful - and I would love to read a whole book from you!

  9. Ah! I've attempted at writing a book about a zillion times over the last ten years... I am beyond excited for you! I'll be following along throughout the next 8 weeks... good luck, dear!

  10. I'm so excited to follow along with you through this!! Thanks for joining in :)

  11. i've always loved your style of writing here. you will do great! and hope you will share some excerpts here and there. i was just thinking about my goals on my painting for this year. here we are ending august and nothing has gotten accomplished. but i'm hoping to stay focused these last four months. well three and 1/4. :)


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