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Sunday, September 17, 2017

 

What's Your BHAG?

Not too long ago, Renee Roberson wrote a post about her bucket list of writing goals. In her reply to one of my comments, she claimed that everyone should have a BHAG--a big, hairy audacious goal.

I wholeheartedly agree.

Not surprisingly, my BHAG is the same as one of Renee's: publish a novel.


photo by pixabay
Notice I chose a scary-looking mountain--quite a formidable one--because
my BHAG is a bit scary...


I've been more successful as a writer than I previously predicted. Years ago, I figured my poems and stories would never see the light of day. Well, my poems are still only seen by my students (you're welcome!) but when it comes to my stories, I've gotten 16 of them published in different Chicken Soup for the Soul collections. I've done NaNoWriMo six different years and only crashed and burned during three of them. I wrote a horrid manuscript but it led to wonderful healing (of me). I wrote, side by side, next to my students every day for a whole month.

And now my BHAG is looming over me like a terrifying mountain.

I don't know what Renee is doing about her novel. Knowing her, she's probably not in a corner whining about what could have been and what should have been. Probably she's working on hiking up that mountain, a few steps at a time. If she's stopping at spots and camping out for a while, that's cool. Most people don't reach the peak of a BHAG through nonstop work. It helps to occasionally take a break, catch your breath and reorganize.

Right now I've spent too much time in my base tent... just gazing up at the snowy top of the mountain. I have a manuscript. The second draft is finished. Have I shared it with my students (like I promised)? No. Have I shared it with my writing critique group (like I want to)? No. The reasons behind my reluctance is something I’m still working through.

For some, their BHAG might be submitting (probably more than once) to a large market. A national magazine maybe. For others, it might be writing the difficult-to-tell memoir. For one writer I know, it’s the illustrations that are holding her back from reaching the peak of one of her goals. Lynn Obermoeller has written the text to a picture book. The pictures, along with the zentangled text, has caused her to reach an impasse. (I guess in this case it’s the way the text is displayed on the page, along with the illustrations, that has gotten her stuck.)

As writers, we have daily, weekly and monthly goals. Daily ones might include writing for at least thirty minutes every day. Weekly? Weekly goals might involve being prepared for a writing critique meeting. Submitting to a particular market that has a themed monthly call for submissions could be a goal of yours.

Those are fine goals, and when I can nail them, I’m thrilled. But when I’m just trudging along on a level surface, with those regular goals in my sights, I’m not using my full potential. To keep myself challenged and growing, my reach should exceed my grasp…

… which means I need to drag my fat rump out of my tent, sling my provisions into my pack and start climbing up that mountain of a BHAG.

What's your BHAG? And what are you doing as you hike toward achieving that goal? Or if you're making very little progress (like me) how big of a stick of dynamite do I need to light under your rear? Reluctant minds want to know...


Sioux Roslawski is a hiker of easy trails on flat ground. Recently (like right after finishing this post) she has decided to engage in more strenuous hiking. She's put on those pointy-bottomed things onto her shoes (see--she knows all the lingo), she's gotten some rope (it's around her waist--not around her neck), and she has a particular mountain peak in her sights. Sioux's evenings are spent working on drafting creative nonfiction and her days are usually taken up with teaching middle-schoolers how to write and how to appreciate great books; if you want to read more of her stuff, go to Sioux's blog.

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15 Comments:

Blogger Margo Dill said...

Gosh, this is a thought-provoking post--thanks to you and Renee.

I think my BHAG is blogging a book. I have always wanted to do that ever since I read Nina Amir's book on how to blog a book years ago.

Now the steps to it? THat's too taxing to think about on this lazy Sunday afternoon for me! :)

1:02 PM  
Blogger K9friend said...

Love the post, and the new word- BHAG. I'm going to remember that one and get in gear on a new historical novel I've been thinking about for close to a year.

Pat
www.patwahler.com

P.S. Thanks for putting this on FB. I need gentle reminders.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Val said...

My BHAG is empty right now, and I don't think there's a stick of dynamite big enough to get me going. Not only am I not hiking...I have wandered off the trail, and have decided to build a rudimentary shelter rather than put any effort into continuing my journey.

I hope you reach the summit, though!

6:58 PM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Margo--Blogging a book? I'm intrigued. I guess I will have to look that up this evening...

Pat--I was the conduit. Renee was the inspiring brain, so when your historical novel is published and wins prizes and accolades, thank Renee.

(And now if I can only figure out how to leave a comment on other people's FB page. :(

Val--Maybe I should ask Hick to get a mega-stick of TNT. He's quite resourceful.

3:01 AM  
Blogger Linda O'Connell said...

"My reach should exceed my grasp." With those motivational words how can a person go wrong? It is those inspirational nudges that make us try harder. Great post.

10:41 AM  
Blogger Renee Roberson said...

Sioux--thanks for the shout-out! If you've got a second draft already, that's awesome! Put that thing out there in some readers' hands for feedback! If you need a beta reader, I do love to read, hint hint.

Unfortunately, I'm not doing a whole lot to meet my BHAG goal right now. I think about one of my manuscript's constantly, and how I can make changes to it, but I haven't put red pen to paper yet. Thanks for the nudge. I think I'm going to start small and work on a piece for a short story contest I saw advertised in one of my trade magazines. I have an idea, and I'll see if I can flesh it out in 1,500 words. So I'll take baby steps for now to get to my BHAG.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Linda--I get lots of nudges from you and the other WWWPs. (And thanks.)

4:50 PM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Renee--Don't all trips up a mountain begin with small steps?

Thanks for the offer. (I'll think about it.)

4:58 PM  
Blogger Mary Horner said...

Great post, love the BHAG idea, mine is finishing my novel and getting it published!

8:07 PM  
Blogger Cathy C. Hall said...

You'll accomplish this BHAG, Sioux, I'm sure of it. Sure and steady wins the race...and maybe enjoying the journey as you go, too!

8:06 AM  
Blogger Lisa Ricard Claro said...

Well...there's a lot to think about here today! The truth is that I've been so focused on a few short term goals that I've neglected to create a plan for a BHAG. Guess I'd better get to work. Great post, Sioux. (I might not still be feeling that way tonight when I can't sleep because I'm too busy thinking about this.)

2:46 PM  
Blogger Donna Volkenannt said...

There is no doubt in my mind you'll accomplish your BHAG. You are smart and motivated, oh, and a great writer. I'm lookingforward to seeing you at the Indy author event next month.

9:49 PM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Mary--Maybe we can sing a duet about our BHAG?

Cathy--Oh, you mean I'm supposed to ENJOY writing? ;)

Lisa--You have a bunch of burners going, I imagine, so when a pot boils over or a pan is simmering so long, it's now empty... well, that's understandable.

And if you can't sleep, you can always go to the beach and take a nap the next day, right? (Just don't tell Linda O'Connell if you do that. She'd be too jealous.)

Donna--Thanks, and right back at ya. You'll get your most recent novel published because you're persistent and perseverant and--oh yeah, a talented writer. (I'm looking forward to the St. Charles authors' event as well. Maybe we can do a late lunch afterwards with the group?)

3:30 AM  
Blogger Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Fiction with chapters. I want to write a piece of fiction that is long enough to require chapters. I want to make is submission-worthy.

Progress? Well, see . . . I've got a two book contract for NONFICTION. So, I really have to work on that...

--SueBE

11:11 AM  
Blogger Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--You're one of the most prolific writers I know, so your BHAG is mighty A...

1:32 PM  

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