The Great Blog Swap: Featuring…The Hack Novelist!

[Today, something exciting is happening at the Unsanity Files blog. Well, I’m excited anyway. Today this blog has its very first guest post by blogging wonder The Hack Novelist. Also, today my very first guest post goes up on Hack’s blog. Funny how things just happened to work themselves out like that eh? I would go on talking about Hack and what a hoopy frood he is, but if I talk too much I’ll end up writing a post of my own, so instead I’m just going to get out of the way, and let his words speak for themselves. Because, you know, that’s what words do. Enjoy.]

I edited 3 pages today. That’s how I start all of my posts. It keeps me honest. Knowing that I have to account for my daily progress helps motivate me to get out of bed and to my computer every morning. Call it an accountability system with a built-in alarm clock.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I should probably cover a couple basics:

First of all, I am not Albert Berg. If you were expecting him this morning, I both understand your disappointment and sincerely apologize for any trauma his absence or my presence might cause. I promise he will be back tomorrow.

Secondly, I’m not an expert in anything, unless you count catching peanut M&Ms in my mouth thrown from great distances. What follows are simply ponderings that have helped me in my quest to make this very short life significant. Take them as you will.

I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams and goals lately. I think people often confuse the two.

But Hack, aren’t dreams and goals synonymous?”

Yes, the words dream and goal are synonyms of one another. However, I would argue that they, although closely related, are two very distinct things, and knowing the difference between the two just might be the key to achieving both.

A goal is finite. It has a beginning and an end. For example, you might set a goal to lose twenty pounds in the next three months or to finish that novel you’ve been working on for the last five years. Whether or not you meet either goal is easily measured.


Dreams are different—less schematic and more sketch. I would define a dream as an abstract favorable condition in which you hope to someday find yourself.

Living a long, healthy life is a dream. Being free to write fiction full-time is a dream. Serving others overseas is a dream. When boiled down, most dreams deal with a longing for some form of freedom whether financial, temporal, or physical (usually a combination of the three).

So if I told you that I have a dream of winning the lottery, what I’m really saying is, “I have a dream of being free to do whatever I want, whenever I want for the rest of my life, and I believe having truckloads of money would allow me to do so.”

Okay, Hack, we get it. Why is this important?”

Good question. Clearly defining our dreams is the first step in making them a reality. If you don’t know what the condition in which you hope to someday find yourself is, how will you know if and when you’re knee-deep in it?

Okay, so where do goals come in?”

Goals are how you get from here, your starting point, to the horizon where your dreams live. Think of goals as road markers, destinations on a map that inch you closer and closer to that which you most desire.

Consider one of the examples I gave above: the dream to be free to write fiction full-time. Some reasonable goals to make that dream a reality might be: 1) write every single day, 2) network with agents, publishers and other writers, and 3) build an audience through a blog or other social media.

Within each of those goals, there will be sub-goals. For instance, you might commit to writing at least 500 words every time you sit down or to make at least one new publishing connection every week.

Your capacity for achieving your dreams is directly linked to your propensity for setting and meeting these goals, so BE DILIGENT. If you realize the goals you’ve set are physically, mentally, or emotionally out of your reach, then take a step back and reevaluate them. There’s no shame in that.

My final bit of advice is this: Don’t ever trade your dream for a goal. By definition, dreams are more about being than achieving. We as humans are achievers, which is why it is often tempting to abandon our dreams. Don’t settle. Once you meet a goal, set another one and then another and then another after that, until you wake up one day and find yourself in the condition you’ve always dreamed of. It will be well worth the journey.

You can read more from The Hack Novelist at www.thehacknovelist.com.

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6 responses to “The Great Blog Swap: Featuring…The Hack Novelist!

  1. A very helpful post. Yes, we always tend to mix up the two words while speaking as well as while thinking. I really admire the clarity with which you have explained these simple yet essential concepts. A dream is intangible – and that is why just dreaming without doing anything can be so disastrous. That is where we need practical goals, to move towards the dream.

  2. Smart advice. I’ve been on this same thinking path; if we want to be writers and make our living off of writing, then how we spend our time and make our goals to achieve that dream is crucial. Thanks for guest posting!

  3. nice post. I once read that if its not written down its not a goal its just a dream – since then I’ve always written out specific goals for things i want to accomplish

  4. Pingback: 3 Pages and the Great Blog Swap #1 « The Hack Novelist

  5. Good post as always! (P.S. I don’t want to worry you Hack but while you’ve been here we’ve all been having a party over at your blog…. Albert has made us take our shoes off though.)

  6. I love your advice… Don’t change dreams for a goal. 🙂 I love to dream.

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