I talk a lot about goals when I talk to the writer-students that I mentor or work with. A lot of time these goals they create are beautiful, concrete, actionable steps.
Write 500 words every day.
Revise two chapters this month.
Submit to five agents before July.
And today I found this post from June 2007 where I had the least specific goals ever.
I’m pasting it in here:
Last night in a massive spasm of insomnia I wrote out my lifetime writing goals in the dark.
The first one is: Write a book that means something to someone other than me.
The second one is: Write a book that’s just fun.
Do you all have writing goals? Are they sales-based (as in selling a book, or making a best-seller list?) Are they different than that?
Sometimes I feel like I’m crouching down at the edge of this great, big cavern, looking, looking, looking for meaning down there, and the clouds are looking with me, trying to figure out where the stories are, where the meaning is, in the world.
Sometimes I feel like I should get some good sleep.
Me in 2007 obviously a little depressed
And I realized that my goals haven’t changed. Only now I want to help other people get those goals too.
Also, I still can’t sleep, but that’s because I’m a bit worried about my friends, about the world, about you.
WHERE TO FIND OUR PODCAST, DOGS ARE SMARTER THAN PEOPLE.
I’m currently super medicated thanks to surgery, and my inability to metabolically react to even simple drugs well. So, I decided rather than try to be coherent or babble incessantly about how I hurt, I would share this podcast from January.
I don’t trust my medicated self
One of my writing students needs to hear it.
Although this is from New Years, a lot of us think of New Years as fall, or we’re about to start National Novel Writing Month and it still pertains.
Did I mention that medicated thing?
So here goes.
Sometimes it’s hard to be super positive when you’re starting s project or thinking about new beginnings and a new year.
That’s because it’s all about goals and new starts. And you know, every day should be about that, right? And then you’re like, “Crap, I failed in my goals. Crap, I need new goals. Crap, why is this New Year’s party boring? Crap, should my new goal to be to never attend a party?”
And so on.
But that pressure? To be Instagram-worthy, to be super achiever goal person, to be extra? That’s what makes New Years suck. At this house, we like to just celebrate that we’re still alive, not bankrupt, and not in jail. It’s way better that way because there’s not as much pressure.
A long time ago – back in the 1980s – this guy Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi was studying happiness. He gave people pagers. Remember this was in the 1980s. Then he and his research assistants would send the people messages at random times and ask how they were doing, feeling, what they were doing, etc. It sounds a bit like when your mom texts you, honestly.
And he discovered flow. People were happy when they were super engaged in the task they were doing. People weren’t happy when they were doing nothing. They were happy when they were involved in something.
Minds were blown.
When people were in the ‘flow,’ they forgot about time, space, all the other detritus in their lives. They were focused on the now, on what they were doing. What they were doing might be writing, sports, hanging out with other humans, art, and so on… But for them the involvement was so intense that they became engaged and absorbed into it and were happy.
Writing should do that for you.
THE NETHERLANDS IS AWESOME
Steve Wedel and I wrote a super creepy book a few years back called After Obsession and it’s making a big freaking splash in the amazing Netherlands thanks to Dutch Venture Publishing and its leader Jen Minkman.
Check out this spread in a Dutch magazine. I met a whole bunch of Dutch readers last Friday and let me tell you? They are the best.
LEARN WITH ME AT THE WRITING BARN!
The Write. Submit. Support. format is designed to embrace all aspects of the literary life. This six-month course will offer structure and support not only to our writing lives but also to the roller coaster ride of submissions: whether that be submitting to agents or, if agented, weathering the submissions to editors. We will discuss passes that come in, submissions requests, feedback we aren’t sure about, where we are feeling directed to go in our writing lives, and more. Learn more here!
“Carrie’s feedback is specific, insightful and extremely helpful. She is truly invested in helping each of us move forward to make our manuscripts the best they can be.”
“Carrie just happens to be one of those rare cases of extreme talent and excellent coaching.”
It’s with Steve Wedel. It’s scary and one of Publisher’s Weekly’s Buzz Books for Summer 2019. There’s an excerpt of it there and everything! But even cooler (for me) they’ve deemed it buzz worthy! Buzz worthy seems like an awesome thing to be deemed!
You can order this bad boy, which might make it have a sequel. The sequel would be amazing. Believe me, I know. It features caves and monsters and love. Because doesn’t every story?
You can get exclusive content, early podcasts, videos, art and listen (or read) never-to-be-officially published writings of Carrie on her Patreon. Levels go from $1 to $100 (That one includes writing coaching and editing for you wealthy peeps).
A lot of you might be new to Patreon and not get how it works. That’s totally cool. New things can be scary, but there’s a cool primer HERE that explains how it works. The short of it is this: You give Patreon your paypal or credit card # and they charge you whatever you level you choose at the end of each month. That money supports me sharing my writing and art and podcasts and weirdness with you.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!
Writer Sara Zarr once gave a brilliant speech about how it is the process of writing that should give you the love feeling, not if you make it on a bestseller list or get a Printz Award – Because honestly, they only give one of those out a year, so the odds of getting one is pretty rare.
I was okay with that, sort of, because I LOVE THE PROCESS OF WRITING.
But, let’s face it: Even though I’m not a perfectionist, I am a goal-oriented writer and human. So, I’m going to share my top five writing goals and life goals and if you could please, please share yours in the comments? That would make me ridiculously happy.
This is Gabby, Carrie’s dog, asking you to please do this. Carrie gives more treats when she is happy.
Warning: My goals are weird. They aren’t the nice MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE or BE A GOOD PERSON goals cause those are sort of givens, right? Right. (I love when I answer myself).
Five WRITING GOALS (also known as “I will feel successful if this happens” goals):
1. To meet Chris Evans and not have him pepper spray me but be like, “Hey, Carrie. You would look good in a tiara. Your dogs are so cute. Let’s make your book Girl, Hero into a movie.”
2. To write a really good poem that I can actually memorize myself. This is a big deal because I can never remember my own poems but I can ramble off Anne Sexton poems like a wild woman.
3. To actually have a rock group make a song about my book that isn’t a parody. Weird Al and SNL skits do not count. It has to be cool and not satire…. Like THE ALARM did with Stephen King’s THE STAND. Do you not love their 1980s hair? Peter Gabriel also wrote a song based on an Anne Sexton poem.
The hair is awesome sauce. You know it is!
4. To go on book tour in Europe because …. um… .EUROPE! There are croissants there. Real croissants. Not supermarket kind. Plus, I am sort of in love with all my European fans/readers.
5. To be one of those cool writer people who makes enough money to buy a second home someplace warm where you do not have to shovel snow. Or, um, just have someone update the Wikipedia entry on me so it’s accurate. It’s not currently accurate, but I feel weird going in there and fixing it myself.
FIVE CONCRETE LIFE GOALS (also known as “This isn’t a bucket list because I’m not dying soon” goals):
1. To not fall in the slushy grocery store parking lot or get hit by a car for two years in a row. Cars tend to hit me, luckily this is always at super low speeds and in parking lots.
2. To not go bankrupt because that would be poopy. But honestly? Not end of the world.
3. To sing karaoke because even though I used to get PAID to sing, I still cannot do karaoke.
4. To be able to say things like, “Yes, my books are bestsellers” and not feel like a noodle, but strong and confident.
5. To be in a Dr. Who episode because I am a geek like that. And she is cute. Or just having a teleport would be okay.
DO GOOD WEDNESDAY
So, I’ve been spending this past week amplifying the fact that the Abbe Museum’s Indian Market is happening in my town (Bar Harbor) this week from May 18-20. It’s our first one. There will be 70 artists and performers. There will be a film festival. There will be comedians at the Criterion Theatre.
Why have I been so incessant about this?
There are a couple of reasons.
I’m super pumped about the market happening because it’s going to be amazing. It’s 70 artists and performers and it will be downtown and that’s a lovely economic driver for our town, but more importantly it’s good for the artists.
The art of people who have been oppressed matters and systemic oppression of art is still happening. Native American Art won’t even be in the American wing of the Met in NYC until later this year. Yeah. It’s been in The Met’s Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas.
Amplifying artists is good. Art is good. Shouting out goodness is pretty freaking good.
So, I’m not going to talk about my own writing news in this post. Instead I’m going to share a couple pictures of some of the amazing artists coming to Bar Harbor this week.
And if you want to do good this Wednesday, you can give a shout-out to people who deserve one and whose voices might not be amplified right now. Amplify them. Spread the love. Spread the knowledge.
Share this if you want and also because it would be super nice of you!