Just finished reading a blog that discusses setting attainable goals as opposed to setting yourself up for failure. It mentions a few writers' goals that are not achievable or are only achievable at the will of someone else. Specifically, this blogger states that setting a goal to win the Nicholl in a given year is unreasonable because it is not within the sole power of the writer to achieve. While I don't categorically disagree with this statement, I do think it merits deeper exploration.
Let's use the three points cited with regard to establishing goals. Goals should be: (1) achievable, (2) within your own power and (3) measurable. Okie doke. Now, let's use those criteria against the goal: Winning the Nicholl in 2006.
Okay, first, is it achievable? Somebody wins it every year so apparently so. Second, is it within my own power? Hmm. Well, yes and no. I have the ability to write a great script but judges make the final decision. Third, is it measurable? I have the "regretfully" letters from Greg Beal to prove it.
So based on the three criteria, because subjective judges are involved, nobody should ever set winning a Nicholl Fellowship as their goal.
Although I agree, in theory, with these three criteria for setting goals, every person who has ever won the Nicholl wanted to win it and probably set it as their goal.
Could we, instead, set a goal of "entering" the Nicholl? That's insane. Any moron can enter.
Could we, intead, set a goal of "advancing" in the Nicholl? Well, sure, but again, the goal is not within our sole power. Readers decide who advances.
So, what are we to do about it? Not dream big? Not aim high? Poppycock. Nothing about making films, not even writing one, is within anyone's sole power and films are only made when somebody dreams big, reaches seemingly impossible goals, and crashes through boundaries. Proof? Just try to get a film financed. Ask any producer if he didn't reach an impossible goal. Follow a director around a set for a few days and you'll wonder why his insides haven't exploded.
Verdict? Sure, set reasonable and attainable screenwriting goals, improve steadily and measure your progress. That's important. But set a few grandiose goals as well. Without them, you'll never leave Idaho.