From The Rooftops

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 eventsΒ  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.)

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Publicly owning your dream is empowering. It makes you shiny.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

16 Responses to From The Rooftops
  1. @boonieschick
    Twitter: fearofwriting
    December 27, 2010 | 9:15 AM

    I love your five points! And perfect timing, j. Until about a month ago, I was a secretive worker/writer/goal-setter. When I was writing my first screenplay I kept everything about it top-secret, including the title. Now I’ve decided to do the opposite. Like you, I’ve been shouting my dreams and goals from the rooftops of my own blogs, OP’s blogs and Twitter. It’s very different for me, and sometimes I feel like a fake. But every day I say my j-mantra: Act how you want to feel.

    Here are some of the other β€œact bold till you feel it” actions I’m taking:

    * On Christmas Eve I started a new Twitter account devoted to my screenwriting self

    * On Christmas day I rearranged my office to put my screenwriting materials front and center;

    * Today I’m starting a new schedule where I’ll devote my afternoons (1 – 5 p.m.) to all things screenwriting.

    This rooftop shouting feels better than caffeine πŸ˜‰

    • j
      December 27, 2010 | 12:26 PM

      I’m also a strong believer in listening to what your soul wants. Yours is definitely singing to you. You go, Milli!

  2. Lois
    December 27, 2010 | 10:13 AM

    I couldn’t agree with you more! πŸ˜€

    And to get into the spirit of things, I’m announcing right here and now that I will begin working on my screenplay rewrite / edit today! I’ll begin by reading it through and taking notes. I’m done sitting around and twiddling my fingers. It’s time to work! πŸ˜€

    Thank you for this!

    • j
      December 27, 2010 | 12:28 PM

      YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You just made my day. You should see my big grin, Lois! I think we’ll be amazed at where we can ride our forward momentum. *joins hands* πŸ˜‰

      • @boonieschick
        Twitter: fearofwriting
        December 27, 2010 | 12:39 PM

        j ~ You said the big YAY! for both of us! I was so excited when I saw this comment from Lois, I just had to Tweet about it. *adds a hand to the pile* πŸ˜€

        • Lois
          December 27, 2010 | 4:50 PM

          Milli, I’m glad you’re still excited about my screenplay! πŸ˜€ My excitement over it has been on again off again, mainly because I’ve had so many other things I’ve been doing. Now I’m ready to make some headway with it. I’ve done my first read through, and tomorrow I’ll jump in and start editing! πŸ˜€

          • @boonieschick
            Twitter: fearofwriting
            December 27, 2010 | 5:06 PM

            Lois ~ Don’t forget about the book Your Screenplay Sucks! by William M. Akers. I found it invaluable while I was rewriting Ghost Train. (Click on my comment ID if you want to read my book review for it.) Best of luck and keep me updated on your progress!!

            • Lois
              December 27, 2010 | 7:53 PM

              Thanks, Milli. πŸ™‚ I have that book on my laptop. I read it in Kindle. I loved it too, and you can bet I’ll be referring to it when I edit my screenplay.

      • Lois
        December 27, 2010 | 4:49 PM

        Hahaha! I just did the first read through, and though it needs a lot of work, I look forward to starting it tomorrow. πŸ™‚

  3. Kellie Walker (aka YourLifeInGear)
    December 27, 2010 | 1:15 PM

    As soon as I can get the snow off my rooftop, I’m heading up there!

    Until then, I’ll do my shouting from here. This week I am writing all sorts of content for the upcoming launch of my website.

    Blog posts
    Workshop copy
    About pages
    Blog posts (I know I said this already, but there are so many to write!)

    Bring on the sparkles. I’m ready!

    • j
      December 27, 2010 | 5:10 PM

      I am very excited about your launch. Did I tell you I love your logo? I do. (And I just “liked” you on FB which I think means we’re married in some third world countries. Or something.) Fly, Kellie!

      • Kellie Walker (aka YourLifeInGear)
        December 27, 2010 | 5:22 PM

        Aw. Thanks!

        You did tell me you love my logo – just now. πŸ™‚ I give full credit to Melea Seward (aka @boardofus on Twitter) and Kurt Bigenho (aka @KurtforHire on Twitter). Melea’s been helping me find me identity (messaging, tone, style, etc.) and introduced me to Kurt for the branding and web design. Such talent and creativity between the two of them!!

        Laughing about your FB comment. So glad you “liked” me. I think I’m blushing!! πŸ˜‰

        Wings are stretching and getting ready for flight. Thanks so much for your support. It means more than I can say!

        • j
          December 29, 2010 | 2:54 AM

          Support-wise… I get back what I give and more. Thank you back!

  4. jane, candid
    December 28, 2010 | 1:02 PM

    It does not matter how long I am away, somehow I check in on the day that you write something to change my life for the better, j. Time for me to get back on the roof. Thank you!

    • j
      December 29, 2010 | 2:53 AM

      Awww. You’re welcome and yes it is, my talented friend. (I hate the long away part… just for the record.)

  5. […] inspirational, kick-ass blogger known as j wrote about the importance of telling our goals to more people than ourselves on the Fear of Writing blog. Sometimes saying or writing something makes it happen. I tried it with […]

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?