This blog post does not need to change the world. In fact, it does not need to change a single mind.
It need not promote a project meant to entertain. Nor must it entertain to promote a project.
It doesn’t have to anticipate and sate the needs of a precisely defined target audience.
It shouldn’t worry about being shared, indexed, or monetized. It can remain in blissful ignorance of its own lack of SEO.
This post, like the rest of my writing, doesn’t need to do a damn thing, other than serve as an outlet for what’s currently bouncing around my head and racing through my heart, no matter how profound or pedestrian.
Self-indulgent? Maybe. Self-defeating? I don’t think so. It’s like those yellow oxygen masks you hope to never see drop down from above your cramped coach seat. Before you can save others, you need to first make sure that you can breathe.
To let my writing breathe, I’ve been eliminating goals ruthlessly. From a once long and intimidating list, only three goals remain. And they’re all focused on process, not outcomes:
2. Be authentic.
3. Finish my projects, no matter where they lead.
I write this to remind myself, not to lecture anyone pursuing “bigger” writing goals. But I think maybe the best way to accomplish those other kinds of goals, the ones that include words like publish and sale and career and society, is not to think of them at all.
For a long time, I put so many expectations on what a story or a script or a film needed to mean – to me, to my career, to the world – that the weight of those expectations routinely crushed projects (and even simple writing riffs) before they saw the light of day. Who knows what they might have become had I not tried to pre-ordain their destinies with a baffling mix of deluded grandeur and overly harsh criticism?
You’ll often read advice about keeping your inner editor at bay until your inner writer has said his piece, as unvarnished as it may be. The inner editor can become a dictator, squashing creativity before the ink is even dry, as it searches for perfect sentence structure and mathematical alignment between artistic, psychological, and financial goals. This advice is wise, it is true, and I should have taken it to heart a long time ago.
So here’s me taking it to heart, at least for the moment. And if you happen to read this and you catch my drift, here’s hoping you can occasionally take it to heart, too.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to click Publish before my inner editor gets here. He’s got a lot of goals.