When writing, goals are crucial.  There’s this silly myth floating around that when you write, you just put words down, and then that’s that.  If you know a friend who can draw, and you have a cool idea for a book, then you can be an author, too!  Your friend will do the pictures for you.


In most cases, it doesn’t work like that.  It drives me bananas when people I know say, “I have this great idea for a book!  It’s about XYZ! YOU should illustrate it!”

I want scream back, “Illustrate your IDEA? Your ONE idea?”  Then, my face would turn red and I would go on to say, “You have ONE GREAT IDEA that you’ve had for YEARS?  You aren’t a writer! Give me a break!  I have a file with over ONE HUNDRED IDEAS!”

But that’s not who I am.  I usually give a little, soft laugh, avoid eye contact and try to change the subject.

Being a writer is serious work.  It’s not one story.  It’s a lifetime of them.  It’s about discipline and voice, which only comes in time.  It’s about knowing how to put words and images and phrases together to create a piece of word art.  Good writing isn’t long-winded, like most teachers expect their student’s writings to be (don’t say “said” – how dare you! Use something catchier!  … Gimme a break.  They SAID it.  I’m using SAID.  But that’s another rant that will go on my teaching blog).  Good writing is necessary writing: a story that needs to be told, in the amount of words that are required to tell it.  Fluff it up and you’re out.  Writing takes patience.  It takes years, in some cases.  It takes planning and plotting – just enough – so that there is a framework to write around.  Then, only then, for me at least, the story can flow naturally.  Then, only then, for me at least, it becomes exciting.

So, today I am not setting goals for my own writing – I’ve already done that.  I have a steady writing block that I follow to the minute; I have a list of stories waiting to be written.  Today, my goals are going to be for the business side of things.  I’m going to set some goals for finding the right agent, for beefing up my understanding of the industry (which is pretty good in some regards, but lacking in others), and I’ll even set a goal for getting published.  Because, as the secret suggests, if I don’t put it out into the universe, it’s not going to happen.  And I can’t let that happen (or not happen, depending on how you’re reading this sentence).

Have you set any goals lately?



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3 responses to “Goals

  1. Laurie Young

    Thank you for not turning your head and changing the subject with me… we have put together such a beautiful book… Thanks again Patrick!!!

    • We were lucky to be in that special situation with the publisher! 🙂 I’m more referring to the people who have “an idea” that they’ve had “for so long!” but have never written an actual thing in their lives. Or wrote one story once and call themselves writers.

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