A few years ago, I got into the car and headed for Los Angeles and the SCBWI conference. Because of previous obligations, I was a day late and driving alone. Since I didn’t have my friend Marge in the passenger seat (Marge can find any destination in the world), I had to depend in mapquest.com. I have news for you. Mapquest does not always send drivers on the most direct route to reach their goals. I took some scenic, gas-guzzling tours through several neighborhoods before arriving at the end of my journey.
Because I was at a writing conference, I began to think how this experience could be applied to me as a writer. Did I plan each project so that I could finish it with the least amount of detouring? Did I take a lot of wrong turns before I found the direction of my plot? Was I a creative gas-guzzler, idling instead of getting myself to the computer? Was I in such a hurry to get where I was going that I didn’t take time to write in my journal, sit in the shade with a cup of tea, ask for guidance in daily devotions?
It came as a shock to realize that my writing life was not guided by a reliable map or by an estimated time of arrival. I needed some goal-setting strategies! After a good deal of soul searching, I came up with the idea of creating a “Goal Notebook.”
I bought a small (1 1/2 inch spine) three-ring notebook and filled it with paper. I used dividers with tabs to separate the categories: meditation, long-term goals, short-term goals, progress diary, journaling ideas, images.
Meditation: This is where I do a little searching each morning and copy a Bible verse or other quotation that is meaningful to me. I like to do this in my back garden where violets grow beneath the roses. But in bad weather the kitchen table does nicely, for a bird bath sits beneath the window and our resident towhee likes to visit.
I write a few thoughts about the verse, then thank God for the sunshine warm on my back — or for the rain that keeps our hillsides green. Then I ask for guidance for that day.
Would you like to know more about my Goal Notebook? About long-term and short-term goals? Keeping a progress diary? Recording Journaling ideas? Or that intriguing word — images? Tune in two weeks from today, and I’ll tell you how my search for goals began to expand into some serious writing.
Contributed by Marilyn Donahue