Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Goal Post

I got on board with the concept of goals long, long ago. The very name of this blog and a great deal of the posts on it concern one of my biggest goals. After a couple of decades of chasing goals and breaking promises and sucking balls, I have finally come to realize that goals are not the right way to motivate myself.

I didn't mention it to most of you, but about three months ago I decided I'd had enough of this writing thing. I was going to keep writing the Mango, but other than that, I was done. I was quitting for a number of reasons, one of which was that I had become a slave to The One-Thousand. The goal, not the blog. I was trying to crank out stories just because I had a time limit, not because I was excited about what I had to say. There was no point in that and, more importantly, there was no joy in that.

About a month after I quit and put it out of my head for a bit, I allowed some evil writing thoughts back in. They are, after all, insidious.

Well, okay, I wouldn't mind doing that particular writing related thing . . . 

Hmm, that would be a good idea for a book . . .

That sort of thing. You know.

Although I keep using the past tense as I speak of quitting, I can't bring myself to publicly say that I'm writing again until I actually finish something. Story 144 doesn't count because that was some rewriting for a thing I planned on finishing before I quit. But I am quite excited about some projects. And that may be a better motivator for me: Go do what you're worked up about. I'll still track the stories here. I'm just not tying myself into Windsor knots worrying about getting them done by a certain time. There was no fucking way I was meeting that goal with my current life situation anyway.

Quantified goals, like everything else, work for a lot of people, but they may not work for you. Don't spend decades wrestling with yourself over it. Drop it and move on.

Yeah, I'll change that jazz up at the top of the page eventually. When I get around to it.


JLeuze said...

I'm just glad to hear you're still writing, that's the most important thing!

But I think you could take one word out of your mission statement and meet your goal no problem:

"The One-Thousand is made up of stories that are aimed at publication in professional venues."

Without that pesky stipulation that your stories earn a paycheck, you're free to count every story you've had the guts to publish, including every Mango episode. That brings the total up to at least 340 stories. You're over a third of the way there!

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

Thanks, Josh! You're not the first person to suggest such a thing. The goal was made to motivate me to get stories into the hands of editors. Although I could certainly write a thousand unsalable stories by the time I'm fifty (and possibly already have), the end result wouldn't fulfill me in quite the same way.