Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Accidental Artist

I did it, people. I achieved my summer goals. And the funny thing is, I wouldn't even have known about it, if Franki at A Year of Reading hadn't blogged the question: So how did those Summer Goals go?

For those of you who missed my comment to that post, here's what I said:

Oh, my...you reminded me to go back and look at what I posted on my website as goals.

And I am SHOCKED. I actually did ALL of them. And this is me, who doesn't even bother to do New Year's Resolutions because I'm so sure I won't keep them. What happened? Was it the public nature of the posting? I'm thinking I may have to blog about this! And I'm thinking my new goals are going to be earn a million, travel to Bali, and have Lyle Lovett write a song to me.

(To Franki) I LOVED your self-check in. No waffling. Just NOPE where appropriate. I think it's important to acknowledge that sometimes we make goals for ourselves that just don't work.

As much as I want this post to be a funny riff on those imagined new goals---oh, please, Lyle...I'll even go motorcycle riding with you---I think I really should address that last sentence instead:

"Sometimes, we make goals for ourselves that just don't work."

I read once that we should always be clear about what standards we're holding ourselves to. If we don't, those unwritten standards (goals) are likely to be things like:

1. Write the most awesome children's book that has ever existed in all of time.

2. Love my work every second of every day and never doubt myself or wonder if I should be healing the sick or teaching or baking coma-inducing cappuccino muffins.

3. Be fabulous at everything, including public speaking, self-promotion, time-management, and rainmaking, but remain humble, lovable and sane through it all.

On the other hand, if we use our creative powers to come up with goals that are attainable right from the get-go, they just might motivate us. Remember the drawing class I blogged about? Well, I often panicked in that class because I wasn't any good. Here's how my brain dealt with that: I SUCK! I'M THE WORST ARTIST ON THE PLANET! I SHOULD GIVE UP AND DIE RIGHT NOW! But then I remembered my goals in taking that class:

1. To learn something new (Yes, yes, I was doing that.)

2. To experience the terror of trying something I knew I was bad at, to learn to deal with fear (Yes, yes, totally succeeding at that.)

3. To gain insight into my writing. (Um, well, I was running to my journal after each class, so yes, yes to this one, too.)

4. To enjoy myself. (No, not right at this second. But I can fix that.)

You see, nowhere in those goals was: be a great artist. Be the best drawer in the class. Have my own gallery show after a month. That would have been ridiculous. Except that in my writing life, I do this to myself all the time. I set goals in my head that are not attainable right from the start.

So, how low can your bar go?

1. Think about writing a novel at least once a day.

2. Pick up my notebook and hold it.

3. Enjoy walking to the mailbox to see if there's good news in it.

You think I'm kidding, don't you? But I'm not. Every one of your goals should be attainable. At least one of them should contain the word ENJOY. And none of them should make you feel like a failure.


  1. Fantastic, Sara! Boy, did I need this one today. Thank you!!!

  2. This is fabulous, Sara. Thank you. Looking at this pile on my desk with a whole new sane appreciation... grateful that I've created this much :)

  3. Thanks for the reminder!Love the great graphic, too :)!

  4. Good going girl! I was 5 for 10, maybe 5.5 for 10. Next year I'm aiming lower. (Not that your summer goals were aimed low, but I do like the idea of adding "think about writing a novel once a day.")

  5. I found your beautiful pages through Amy Hanek's blog(s) and love your attitude and insights. Rapunzel was always a mysterious person, and I look forwayd to your book! I once made a needlepoint pillow of Rapunzel in the tower with a free-hanging yellow yarn braid that hung way below the pillow. I gave it to a niece in the 1970's. She now has two darling children of her own.

  6. "Visualization through goal setting" - a classic case of great achievement. I've seen it before and it doesn't look good. You may be achieving your goals your entire life.

    Take two bows and call me in the morning!

  7. Welcome, ibby! I hope your niece still has that pillow. I still have a Christmas stocking that I made when I was about ten, and the gingerbread girl on it has yellow yarn braids. (Not that my hair was ever blond.)

  8. MotherReader: I dare you! Think about that novel once a day. And report back to me what happens.

    Oh, and one of my fall goals is: have lunch with MotherReader.

  9. "So, how low can your bar go?" This is good...I needed this shift in perspective. Thanks.

  10. hipwritermama: I'm rather fond of the goal: "Pick up my notebook and hold it." Maybe I should bump that up just a little and say: "hug it." That shouldn't be too difficult.

  11. Good job. I haven't formally set out any goals for this year, but I'm meeting them anyway! I've got a whopper of one that's actually out of my hands (I'll know by mid-October) but I'm thinking the good thought and planning a future that I previously only considered half-seriously.


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