By Judy Clement Wall
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned the value of setting a goal and saying it aloud. To someone. (Or to lots of someones, if you have a blog.) I’ve used the technique to write (and then rewrite) a novel, submit stories to new markets, complete NaNoWriMo, try things I’ve never done before – like writing travel pieces, covering local events for an international media company, interviewing authors and publishing professionals – and I’ve undertaken quite a few wild and wonderful creative adventures.
All because I said I would.
Somewhere along the way I learned that if you let them, people will care about what you’re doing, they’ll encourage you and ask about your progress. Their attention, however loving and unassuming, will hold you accountable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say the easiest way to NOT reach your goals is to keep them secret, so that only you know when you’ve given in to fear, backed away from a dream.
It’s tempting to be quiet. Why subject yourself to public humiliation? My answer is simple. Public humiliation is a powerful motivator. But it’s more than that. Here are five reasons I encourage you to identify your writing goals and then state them, aloud, to someone. (Or here, to many someones.)
- Stating your intentions aloud helps clarify them. If you’re vague, people tend to ask incessant, probing questions. To avoid that, you’ll find yourself eliminating ambiguity. “Starting January 1st,” you’ll say, “I’m going to sit down and write three pages of my urban-goth, mystery-romance, werewolf-robot-ghost story every singe day until it’s done.” Your friends, family and fellow writers (especially your fellow writers) will be dazzled. “Ooooo, ahhhhhh,” they’ll say. And if they don’t, come here and tell me. I will respond in an appropriately dazzled fashion. I promise.
- Stating your intentions gets the universe involved. As I said, people care. If you let them, they will take an interest. Give the universe a chance to help you and see what happens.
- Publicly owning your dream is empowering. It makes you shiny.
- You will expose the naysayers. There is value in knowing who your dream-killers are. You may not be able to escape them, but you can learn to tune them out, while turning the rest of us – your own personal music makers – way up.
- You will find your people. Your community. Your champions. And they will feed your soul. When I decided to attempt NaNoWriMo, I told everyone. I shouted it from bloggy-twitter-Facebook rooftops. I wasn’t sure I could write 50,000 words in 30 days, but I was sure that I wouldn’t back down if everyone was watching. And the surprise of it, the amazing, awesome, magical thing I hadn’t counted on, was that there were so many others just like me. Writers every bit as crazy, determined and dream-filled as I was. We were a tribe. A pack, and I’d never have found them if I’d been too afraid to howl.
So… go ahead. Say it aloud. What will you write (revise, polish, submit, query, start, finish) next?
JUDY CLEMENT WALL (j) is a Course Presenter for the Fear of Writing Online Course. She’s also in charge of guest bloggers for the FoW blog, and she holds the same community-building vision for FoW that Milli does. j is putting the final touches on her novel, Beautiful Lives, and she blogs about the perils of life, love, writing and cheesecake at Zebra Sounds.