Why you should have a bucket list

I’ve long wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail. Walking the 2,178-mile footpath is on my bucket list — my list of things I want to do in my lifetime (before I kick the bucket).

It’s more than a list of my goals — it’s a compilation of my dreams. We often work toward our goals, but leave our dreams to the wayside, hoping they might happen on their own. But you have to work toward your dreams just like you work toward your goals. You have to make those dreams happen.

That’s why it’s so important to have a bucket list. Writing those dreams on paper turns them into goals, makes them attainable, tangible, doable — aspirations to work toward, instead of pipe dreams that might eventually happen.

What does this have to do with writing? Everything. Writing a book, a travel memoir specifically, has been on my bucket list for years. (So was backpacking through Africa.)

My list keeps me moving forward. It’s a reminder of what I have to look forward to, as well as what I’ve accomplished. (The author of a blog I read regularly, Starfish Envy, has a bucket list, too!)

So what’s on my bucket list? Here’s a sampling:

Write a book
Backpack through Africa
Teach a class
Go bungee jumping
Get paid to play piano on a cruise ship
Run a marathon
Coach a softball team
Backpack through Latin America
Learn Spanish
See more of the world (this has its own list)
Earn a master’s degree
Research my family’s genealogy
Lead a Girl Scout troop
Hike the Appalachian Trail
Have kids

What’s on your bucket list? More importantly, what’s keeping you from crossing off those items?

Writers’ Roundup

Lots of little bits of progress this week. My base daily goal is 1,000 new words on the manuscript (“new” words because in addition to that I often revise already-written scenes), and I’m keeping track of those goals via #writegoal on Twitter. If I tweet it, I will meet it!

A handful of cool links about writing, including two specific to memoir:

* Jane Friedman, who blogs at Writer’s Digest, explains Five Common Flaws in Memoir Projects.

* Eve Brown-Waite, author of First Comes Love, Then Comes Malaria (which is on my must-read list) tells us what it’s like to write a memoir on one of my favorite book-review blogs, Devourer of Books. I can relate to this: “The more I got into the writing process, the more I actually learned about what I had experienced,” she writes. “Things that hadn’t made sense at the time began to make sense. Events that had seemed insignificant finally revealed their meanings. I began to see connections and finally get the lessons of what I had been through.”

* The New York Times book section has a piece about spinoff titles. After reading this, I was convinced for an evening I should call my book Running With Machetes. I’ve since decided otherwise.

* Before You Hire a Literary Agent, you should call their references, says Michael Hyatt, who heads up a large publishing company.

* The Creative Penn just began a series on blogging for authors. Her first post: 10 reasons authors should have a blog.

* Just for fun: A favorite journo-turned-MFA-student is learning Spanish in Guatemala, so Sarah Viren’s Cornfed is doubling as a travel blog. Feed your wanderlust!

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