Life, Writing Process

Creative Goals Aren’t Like Other Goals

We’ve all heard of SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). If you’ve spent any time in an office-setting or had self-assessments, you’ve had it drilled into your head that this is the best way to create a good, reliable goal. But, what happens when you’re told that in order to be creative you have to throw some of that out the window? Specifically, the time-bound piece.

But…I get nothing done without deadlines as it is (or so I’d convinced myself), how am I supposed to get my project done without ignoring my fake deadlines?

Well when the instructor looks the virtual class in the eye and says “NO DATES!” you’re a bit more inclined to listen.

Think Edna Mode from The Incredibles.

The reasoning is that you’re not dragging yourself toward some imaginary finish line, whining the whole way there. Creativity is not a burden, it’s a joy. You’re not supposed to feel like you’re waiting for it to end! Some of it might be less enjoyable, but most of it should be *gasp* fun.

So, instead of making SMART goals, we focused on making something better. Something, more fun! Something you race to finish, instead of one for which you find the need to set deadlines. Our goals are meant to entice us to move toward the next piece of the project, and the next.

My goal? Well…I haven’t quite figured that out yet.

Of course, I want to finish my novel, I want to publish it, I want to hold the finished work in my hand. But honestly, as ridiculous as it sounds, that’s not really exciting/enticing enough for me to put fingers to keys and spend the last hours I need to get it done. It seems inevitable. (hahaha oh Rachel how naive you are). What is a goal that’s emotional enough to get a work finished then?

Instead I’m thinking of what I want the book to do. The creation of it was to help me think through something, but now that I’m revising I thinking instead of how I want it to help somebody else. I want somebody to come to me and say that a certain line made them stop and think about a situation they’d been through, or maybe even just tugged at their heartstrings a little bit.

I was told to focus on the emotions of the goal. (You don’t hear that in SMART). Much like resistance to things when we’re not sure we’re ready for the next step or stage fright before giving a presentation, I’ll know that the goal is right when it gives me that jolt of jitters or worry that I might not pull it off. (That’s the critic getting ruffled).

I’m very close to figuring out what my goal is, but it’s not quite ready to share. I’m not even sure if I will share such a personal goal until I’m sure it can get me through a project.

Do any of you have a really exciting goal you use to pull or propel you through rough pieces of a project?

Happy Writing!


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