I like setting goals. I like to take a crisp, clean piece of paper and list them one by one. It’s a physical, visual reminder of something important to me and helps me work towards it when my mind and body aren’t on the same page. As a professional procrastinator, I’ve never been very good at the “starting” or “completing” of projects or ideas, without the help of setting goals. When a spark in my brain ignites a fire of enthusiasm, I’m rarely able to fuel it unless I see that black-inked bullet point on that clean, white stationary. It’s a mind game, a mental hurdle I can never seem to clear.
Over the years, I’ve learned to accept this idiosyncrasy and harness it for good instead of evil. Two years ago I decided to run the Baltimore Marathon, having not trained for nearly 6 months. 5 weeks prior to the race I set a goal to not only finish, but to set a personal best. 5 weeks later, I crossed the finish line 30 minutes faster than I had ever run it before. My wife would prefer I use this motivational technique on my inability to complete household projects; however testing has revealed that it simply doesn’t work on goals like “fix leaky faucet” or “hang new towel rack”. Don’t worry though honey, I’ve got the guys in the lab working on it.
A few weeks before my 29th birthday, I started this blog with an idea on a piece of paper and 30 bullet points awaiting my usually highly-motivated attention. I hit the ground running, with a commitment to reach every last goal scribbled on that loose-leaf. For awhile, things were moving along quite swimmingly (that’s right, I said swimmingly) until something changed; my goals. With the comments and encouragement of you guys, my loyal readers, along with the love and support of my wife and family, I’ve learned that those 30 goals no longer mean as much to me. In fact, I’m starting a new, crisp, clean sheet of paper with just one goal:
- Be a writer!
One sentence, that’s it. To some people, it’s simply three words, but to those who strive to achieve it, it’s as daunting a sentence as any that’s ever been written. Why is this goal so difficult? Because it’s so subjective. I could sit here now and tell you, “I write a blog, therefore I am a writer” and that would be accurate. I could then hold one of Steven King’s 34 best-selling novels in my hand and tell you, “Steven King is a writer” and that too would be true. The definition of a writer varies depending upon who you ask, and if you’re asking me, I’d say I’m far from it.
My friend, The Hack Novelist, recently wrote a post about self-doubt and why it seems so prevalent among writers. If you don’t subscribe to The Hack, here’s his post, check it out. My take on this subject is that writers, or those who strive to be called writers, tend to seek validation as a means of proving to themselves and others that they are worthy of the craft. This validation comes in many forms, from a simple “nice post” comment on a blog to seeing a leather-bound novel with your name on it. I believe I fall somewhere in between these two extremes.
While writing a best-selling novel is an outcome I certainly would not shy away from, I don’t believe it is the only outcome that will satisfy me. Creating this blog has opened my eyes to a world of writing; a world that houses infinite opportunities to showcase the talent that I feel I possess. Eventually, I believe those opportunities will lead to the validation I seek and one day, I’ll feel confident in telling people, “I am a writer.”
So today I type my blog’s 100th post, a milestone I never set out to achieve. It will be sent through an invisible web of connectivity to nearly 100 people, most of whom I’ve never met in person, another goal I never wrote down. Can these tent-poles serve as a measure of success for my little writing forum? I suppose. But instead of looking back on the first 99, I’d prefer to look ahead to the next 100 and the milestones I have yet to even think about. Thanks again to all of you for support and let’s continue on to see what might await us around the bend.