When we keep our goals a secret…
This is sort of a continuation of Monday’s post about the importance of writer friends–but it’s more about why we don’t always seek out those relationships. Or why we might not even breathe a word about our writing for the first while (or possibly forever).
I bet you can guess where I’m going with this: The reason we keep our writing–or any art or goal (from a training for a 5K to learning to sew)–a secret is because we fear rejection.
But, unlike Monday when I urged you to go out and find writer friends or a solid CP, I’m not going to urge you to tell your secret.
Why? Because I have my own.
Yep. That’s right! I have my own little secret project that I don’t tell anyone about because I’m downright terrified of failure. The only reason my husband knows about this hobby is because he caught me redhanded. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have even told him.
Normally, I’m all about conquering fears and kicking them when their down, but sometimes, I think a little fear of failure is healthy. And I think keeping it secret is healthy too–I think that sometimes our secrecy is the only thing that will keep us working toward our new goal. Sometimes our dreams are so new and so fragile, that even a little failure at the start will cause us to quit. And so…
…when we know the only people who might see us fail is ourselves, then when we stumble, we’re more likely to dust off our hands and start over again.
Now to explain: I once read a study that said people receive the same amount of emotional satisfaction from talking about a new goal as they do from actually achieving the goal. In other words, the more you talk about a goal, the less you might actually reach it since you’re gaining all the happiness without actually lifting a finger. Guys, I am SO GUILTY OF THIS.
Here’s an exmaple: there was a period a few years back when my husband and I were obsessed with South Korea–the food, the TV, the pop music, the culture–and I told everyone that we wanted to move there. We did want to move there…but actually making that happen was nigh impossible. So soon enough, that dream faded and all I have is the embarrassing realization that I sounded like an idiot.
I have so many other goals that fell off the track as soon as I talked about them too much: getting my black belt in karate (I only reached purple before I moved towns and never found a new dojo. SIGH.), painting (I picked that hobby up when we first moved to Germany–those Alps are just so inspirational!–but I also quit shortly thereafter), singing (I KEEP saying how I’ll get back into musicals…This has obviously yet to happen), and the list goes on.
When it comes to my secret projects, though, I find I’m more likely to follow through. When I first got into kettlebells, I didn’t tell anyone–I’m such a skinny twerp, and I didn’t want people to see me fail. I worked at it in the privacy of my own home until I felt strong and proud. Then I shared my new skill with everyone (and probably annoyed everyone too).
My current Top Secret Project is going well so far, but I’m not going to breathe a word of it to anyone until I know it’ll be as good as I want it to be. And who knows? It might take years to meet my standards, but I’m willing to keep working until the day I finally get there.
You tell me: do you have any secret goals? From eating healthy to writing a novel? You don’t have to tell me the goal, but I’d love to know if I’m alone in acting like this!
May 23, 2012 @ 1:15 pm
I think everyone has a secret goal. This is a bit childish, but maybe deep down, the reason people keep from talking about it aloud is because they’re afraid they’ll jinx it. If you think about it, a goal is like a wish– one you have to work for, but still something that you want to happen. If wishes are meant to be kept secret for them to come true, maybe goals abide by the same rules too.
May 23, 2012 @ 1:19 pm
Ooh, really good point, Rae. I think I definitely keep things secret if I don’t want to jinx them–or to also keep from getting my hopes (or others’ hopes) up if I fail. 🙂
May 23, 2012 @ 1:34 pm
Oh yeah, I hate people knowing stuff but family, work friends etc, are always blurting stuff to people. It’s a horrible balancing act because I work part time and I don’t want people to percieve me as a bum in my “time off”. Plus, if I keep it too secret, then nobody knows I’ve done anything and nobody will read it. I find that VERY hard. Especially today – I’ve just had a flash fiction piece published on a website and ordinarily I would keep quiet, but I’m making sure I tweet, facebook and blog about it. Getting the word out – whether they like it or not, is their opinion (of course I’m hoping most will like it 🙂 )
May 23, 2012 @ 1:58 pm
First off: CONGRATS on having your flash piece published!! That’s awesome!
Second: I know what you mean about the blurting stuff. My husband is really good about it, but family? Not so much. They mean well, but they don’t seem to get how much I *hate* being the center of attention like that. Sigh.
Good luck spreading the word about your flash fiction! Is it still up? Do you want me to share/tweet the link?
May 23, 2012 @ 2:14 pm
Could you be any more amazing?
First, I couldn’t help but smile when you mentioned South Korea (because, um, I’m part Korean by my mother). lol. I hope you at least get to visit the country some day. It’s pretty awesome (and the food, as you said, is amazing!)
Second, about writer friends and failure: I’m not necessarily the kind of person to go out and meet friends. I tend to let them find me. Which isn’t bad, but not always the best. I likely missed out on a number of good friends because I didn’t extend my hand first. And I have yet to truly “connect” with another writer. Perhaps the biggest reason for this is not just my fear of failure, but my fear that they will be better than me. That ought to motivate me, but more often than not, it doesn’t. It’s a matter of perspective, I guess. Because I’ve never REALLY had a writer friend, I’ve never experienced the coinciding encouragement that comes with with that kind of relationship.
I just see the possible risk and run.
More and more, though, I see the value and need for friends and critique partners that can support your writing and make it even better. Writing is not a one man (or woman) thing.
Third: I also have a “secret project”. And like you said, keeping secrets can be a good thing! I have a different reason for not talking to people about my project, though: if I think (or talk) about my story too much, it gets easier to find its faults. By keeping it a secret, I manage to bottle up that excitement I have until I can at least get the idea onto paper (or computer). If I ever want my writing to grow, though, my work can’t be kept a secret forever. I know this now.
Thanks, Susan, for two very awesome posts! And sorry for writing this massive reply. >.<
May 23, 2012 @ 2:38 pm
Yeah…me too. lol It’s funny though how certain projects take you by the throat and refuse to be talked about. I actually have a project…well, it’s another book, but I have been SO TERRIFIED of telling people about the premise. And it’s not the worry of the idea being taken or whatever, but just exactly what you say about it losing its value because I’ve talked about it too much! So my mouth is shut. lol Great post, Sooz.
May 23, 2012 @ 8:21 pm
I love your posts. The last few have been exceptionally kick-butt, here and on PubCrawl (haha, or maybe it’s because they feel particularly relevant to me at this point of my life).
But, I guess… writing is my *secret* hobby. Well, not-so-secret, since I’m typing it here for all the world to see… but it’s more of a hobby that I share on the internet… and not so much in real-life.
Best of luck in your secret-project endeavors!!!
May 23, 2012 @ 8:42 pm
I am a huge secret goal-keeper. (Hmm, secret goal-keeper sounds like I should be moonlighting on a soccer team.) My mom likes to say that trying to get information from me is like trying to get info from the CIA. I hate when you tell someone about a goal or plan, then they ask about it later and you have to admit that nothing else has come of it. Usually I just share when I have good, definitive news. And I think there’s something good about knowing that a goal or plan is all yours. You don’t need to share it with other people to make it real.
May 24, 2012 @ 12:41 am
Like anyone, I’ve set many goals and succeeded with some, and failed at others. Just like you said, not only do you feel like you’ve let yourself down when you don’t succeed with a certain goal, but you feel like you’ve let down others as well. For me, it’s harder to feel like I’ve failed other’s expectations than it is for myself. So, that’s why I really don’t tell anyone when I set a new goal for myself. I know there’s a chance I’ll not get to that goal. But when/if I do, then it’s a special treat for me that I can share with everyone else. So, it’s just been easier to keep secrets than to share everything I’m doing before it’s completed. This way, no one, but myself, has expectations for me.
May 24, 2012 @ 1:12 am
My secret project is writing in general. Admittedly, I suppose that my family must have figured out that I couldn’t be watching Sherlock THAT often on my laptop, but I haven’t told anyone about my current WIP, or my plans for a trilogy, or how excited I am about writing this summer…You’re right- fear of rejection is a huge part of it.
I really like this post. I think it’s because it’s helped me justify to myself WHY I need to keep writing such a secret, so thanks for that. 🙂
[Of course, Monday’s post helped too- once I figure out a good way to do it, I’ll find myself a crit partner. You know…probably. ;)]
May 24, 2012 @ 3:37 am
erk. I made the mistake of telling everyone about my WIP. now I feel like I have to deliver and the pressure’s killing me. I vowed to myself NEVER AGAIN will I tell a single soul about a new project. it seems to work for Kat, so why not me? wish I’d known this before telling everyone about the WIP though…
May 24, 2012 @ 4:14 am
IT IS LIKE MAGIC. 😉
May 24, 2012 @ 4:21 am
Hey (hope you don’t mind me commenting) but the exact same thing happened to me a little while ago. I actually showed my first draft of the beginning to my best friend at the time…who called it boring. I didn’t end up picking it up again.
To be honest, though, that pressure never really goes away. Even though no one knows about my WIP, I still am troubled by the thought of wanting to show it to them, because I’m proud of my work, but scared of what they might think later.
What’s worked for me so far is by telling myself that I’ll never let anyone read it…but not ruling out the fact that might change in the future, with revisions and whatnot. It works because it gives me encouragement to keep going, and the odds are most people will buy the excuse. 😉
May 24, 2012 @ 4:13 am
This is why I don’t talk about my books while I’m working on the first draft. I don’t even like to mention that I’m writing it, even without saying what it’s about. I’ve found that I only tend to finish the ones that are super sekrit.
So yeah, feel you here, lady. Very interesting point about the happiness of talking about our goals, too! I wonder if that’s the culprit…
November 15, 2012 @ 9:23 pm
I’ve always kept my goals a secret until I hit my mid-to-late 20’s and jumped on the whole “touchy-feely” wagon of sharing with others and teamwork..blah..blah..blah. haha. After, that I noticed a strange twist to my life and personality. On the upside, I had tons more friends or rather I felt closer to them because we shared all of our woes but 2) I suddenly became preoccupied with sharing too much, commiserating (under the cover of ‘socializing’) and sharing irrelevant things, and I got FAR less done in my life. I’m also very introverted so this was abnormal for me, and FELT abnormal doing it the whole time. Anyways, it’s true; as soon as I “discussed” a major dream in life or my goals (which I won’t mention here!), I let them slide for months and even years. I’m going to start going back to the way I was before, when I felt more comfortable moving forward with my goals before consulting the planet, and thanks to your post, I just made a major step towards one of my “secret” goals. Thanks!!!