I believe it’s healthy to have goals. After all, having something to aim for can give us a sense of purpose, and can help us keep our efforts focused. We often hear of “the writer’s journey,” and I think it’s an apt metaphor, because this can turn into a VERY long trip. For those who manage to stay on the path, there are many milestones along the way – along with many hurdles.
While a writer might start out with a single goal (e.g., write the damn book), if that writer is serious about getting published, she might soon find herself adding multiple items to her to-do list. Armed with this list, off she goes on her journey!
And then, reality sets in.
For most – if not all – of us, it soon becomes apparent that this whole writing-and-publishing-a-book thing can take a while. Sometimes quite a while. Given how long it can take to get a writing career off the ground, a writer’s to-do list can start to resemble another list that has become popular in recent years: the “bucket list.”
Note: For those not familiar with the idiom, this is a list of things you want to accomplish before you kick the bucket. (And for those of you not familiar with what “kick the bucket” means, it’s a reference to an ancient – and anatomically challenging – romantic ritual involving a large bucket, three pairs of oversized steel-toed boots, 12 gallons of tapioca pudding, and 23 well-trained riverdancers, preferably double-jointed. Honest.)
For today’s post, I’ve attempted to assemble a typical bucket list for an aspiring writer, based on a combination of my own initial plans, accomplishments to date, and ongoing goals. As my journey has progressed, the items on this list have tended to shift and evolve – if you ask me next week, my list might look quite different. But for today at least, here’s my first stab at a bucket list for writers:
1. Finishing your manuscript
This is huge. Seriously, this could be the only item on your list, and it would still be a MAJOR accomplishment. By completing a manuscript, you’ve done something 99.999999% of the population hasn’t done.
Even more impressive, you’ve done something that probably 98% of the people who ever said “I should write a book” have never gotten around to actually doing. So if you have done it, you should congratulate yourself on a significant accomplishment, and celebrate it in whatever way you see fit. (Caveat: you might want to avoid celebratory activities that require a large bucket, three pairs of oversized steel-toed boots, 12 gallons of tapioca pudding, and 23 well-trained riverdancers – even if they’re double-jointed. I’m just looking out for your safety here.)
2. Signing with an agent
Okay, if you’re self-publishing, this won’t be on your list. But since I started my journey back when stone tablets were still more common than e-books, this represented a well-established rite of passage that I was eager and determined to complete. [Read more…]