There are large goals, such a completing a middle-grades novel, smaller goals, such a writing a 500-word story, and every once in a while, just getting out of bed in the morning is enough of a goal in itself!
Do you like to set goals for yourself? Do you find you work better within this kind of structure? I have always been a goal-oriented person, whether it’s household chores and errands, sewing for myself and my family (back in the day) and for the past 25 years, with my writing. I’ve known others who see goals as a kind of enemy. They prefer to “go with the flow,” and “see what happens.” For me, though, goals, large and small, are the way to get things done.
When I first began writing, my first goal, of course, was to get published. In addition, I had two major publishing goals. They were to appear in St. Anthony Messenger and Needlepoint News, both highly-regarded magazines in their respective fields (religion and needle arts.) I avidly read every word in both of them each month, simply because I enjoyed the publications. Meanwhile, I set smaller goals for myself and sold to various, not-quite-so-prestigious publications, and even a few larger ones. And, after a number of years, I eventually did reach my main goals. I’ve appeared in St. Anthony Messenger numerous times with researched non-fiction articles, fiction, and book reviews. Sadly, my appearance (with wonderful color illustrations) in Needlepoint News was in their last issue, after 20+ years of publication. But I had achieved my goals!
I believe part of that success was due to my “absorbing,” over the years, exactly the types of articles and stories these magazines wanted, their length, their focus, and the language they used—how they wanted a story told. So, when I was ready to submit to them, I felt at ease with writing the kind of work they published. And, I’m happy to say, in almost all instances (with these two magazines) there was very little editing done to the manuscripts I sent in.
One of my biggest, and also very satisfying, “goals” (one I never even dreamed of) was my acceptance as one of the regular writers for the Kids’ Reading Room page of the Los Angeles Times when that page ran from 2000-2007. Maybe there is something to “seeing what happens,” after all! And again, I believe my many years of reading the Times, prior to submitting material to the Kids’ page, helped me write in a style that would be acceptable to that editor.
For me, having goals is essential to accomplishment and success. And, I think that the first step on this road is to read everything a person possibly can, not only for enjoyment, but also to absorb different writing and editorial styles, which we can then incorporate into our own unique way of telling a story. We never know when something we read will spark an idea for another goal we can set for ourselves.
Contributed by Marjorie Flathers