Do you remember the 2007 movie "The Bucket List" starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman? The title is derived from the slang term "kick the bucket" meaning "to die." In silent Western movies a character would fall down kicking over a bucket. That was the signal to the audience that he had died. Many people have written their personal bucket list of things to do before they die just like in the movie.
In recent weeks in the United States a young woman, Brittany Maynard, has made news by writing her personal bucket list. She has an untreatable, painful brain tumor and death is in the immediate future. She has moved to the state of Oregon where the right to die act is legally practiced. She has selected November 1 as her date of death. In the past few days, she checked off the last thing on her bucket list.... a trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. I wish her well in her journey.
A bucket list is different than a to-do list. The latter has things on it like: buy soap, return library books, buy gas, and register for writing class. It is meant as a reminder of tasks you wish to do today. A bucket list is a reminder of things to fulfill but on a grander scale (play at Carnegie Hall versus practice recital pieces). It includes goals you wish to accomplish, dreams you realistically want to fulfill and life experiences you desire before you die.
Writing a bucket list forces you to think what you really want. Some items may be materialistic but most are adventures or goals you set for yourself. It is a plan for your future. It is a blueprint for where you want to go and what you want to do. It gives clarity and focus to your life. To me, it makes me think about what I will work hard to make happen, places and people I want to see and challenges I want to tackle. It is realistic.
I know I will never be a ballerina (I am five feet tall and in the later part my 60th decade) but this doesn't diminish my desire to enjoy number four on my list: another performance of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet. The first time I saw them perform, I cried I enjoyed it so much. The BL solidifies my number three desire to spend two weeks in Paris. I do not want to play the piano at Carnegie Hall but I do want increase significantly my playing skills to better understand and enjoy music. These are legitimate items on my bucket list.
We, as writers, can benefit from a Bucket List aimed at our writing. Some goals for me to put down may be to finish the novel I started five years ago; send more query letters to different agents regarding my newly finished nonfiction book; learn to spin wool so I can write an article for the weaving magazine; refine what public libraries I want to visit to do research for a new idea I have for a different nonfiction book; and clean out my writing files! Thinking about what I want to accomplish versus what I have to accomplish gets me excited and motivated to check things off my BLW (Bucket List, Writing).
Your BLW is probably entirely different than mine. Yours may include finding a writers' retreat for the summer of 2016, winning a writing contest and trying your hand at Goth novels. Who knows? You know. You know what your heart is beating toward and where your brain is heading. Write down a BLW,frame it and put it on the wall in front of your computer. Put on the teakettle or coffee pot and get busy.
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