For the last two years, I’ve made a practice of keeping a Bullet Journal. At the beginning of every month, I update it with a list of the things that I plan on doing by the month’s end. These goals have in the past been something that I easily lose sight of by the second week. By the third, I sometimes have forgotten that they exist entirely, other than the dull feeling at the back of my head that there’s something I was supposed to be doing.
This month, I decided to do things a little differently. I thought about the goals and only wrote down the ones that I had serious intention of meeting. I dropped the rest. This is supposed to be the point of the Bullet Journal, rather than blindly copying forward all of the unfinished things. It forces you to identify what’s still important every thirty days or so and realign your goals over time.
This is my second year keeping one, because it worked out really well for work the first year. This year I’m trying to incorporate in more of my writing life and personal life into it. This is to say that I am setting some tough deadlines on myself. The first July goal was to blog regularly, to make myself write faster for an audience. I begin blog posts all the time, but I take a very long time to edit things, because I have a hesitancy to put anything in print forever. The Internet isn’t quite that, but it’s close, and I get overwhelmed by making my words meaningful enough that other people should care about them. It’s not an easy objective in a world with an increasingly short attention span.
So, after I wrote down that I would actually hit publish here more frequently, I set myself the goal of sending some of my short fiction out into the world. This is a step that I have procrastinated for years, not out of a fear of rejection, but out of a fear of success. From my unpublished vantage point, it feels that once your fiction is out in the world that it is out there forever. Then, there are so many outlets for publication, which are fighting for smaller audiences than ever. Who am I to try to contribute to that, to fill up space that is being fought over by writers far more talented than I am? What if I look back at the work I’m doing now with mortification in a few years, as I continue to grow as a writer?
On the other hand, I have this portfolio of work that I’ve really polished over the last two years of graduate school and I know that my next step for growth as a writer is to share it publicly. My writing has always been well received in a classroom setting. I’ve won school writing contests and even earned a few shillings. But those were all relatively private venues, with a small audience that has certainly forgotten me already. The risks are smaller.
Change is a frightening thing. All the same, I was serious when I wrote my intentions at the beginning of the month. I’ve narrowed down my target publications and picked my stories. I haven’t spent the time this month that I wanted to in doing my final edits — there’s still a really problematic paragraph that I’ve been grappling with for over a week that needs to be solved — but I have made some serious forward movement.
This is where, in Bullet Journal land, you draw an arrow through your goal for July, then write it down again in your goal list for August. It is a goal that you still find worthy, a goal that is still worth meeting — a goal that’s going to get the attention that it deserves in the coming month.
I’d say wish me luck, but I’d rather you wish me bon courage.