Goals: How They Can Help Your Writing

I’m on Day 5 of my writing retreat, and I’m sad that my week off has come to an end. Never has a Friday made me so sad! But, it’s a good time to focus on the future.

Whether you want to write as a hobby or a career, it’s good to have goals. It can keep you from letting a project languish in a file on your computer unfinished, get you published, or just keep you happy with the work you’re putting out.

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Now, I’m really type A and I love goal-setting. If you like to be passionate about goals, I’d recommend picking up “Goals!” by Brian Tracy. However, if you aren’t passionate about goals, there’s hope. Read on.

Before you go out and start setting them, it’s good to really brainstorm why you want to set goals.

What do you want to accomplish? Why are these your dreams? And then, how do we get there?

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Anthony Robbins

Now, we both already know you like to write, so let’s put those skills to good use. Sit down with a notebook (I’m always partial to writing by hand, but in this case,  I really do insist, because there’s a better mind-body connection with a more emotional task when you write by hand) and think about your biggest dreams as a writer. Limit it to three. More than that, and it can get overwhelming.

However, if you aren’t sure you really have a solid dream yet, for a set amount of time (I recommend at least a week, but a month is ideal), write out your dreams. Brian Tracy talks about this method in his book “Goals!”. Every day, sit down with a notebook and list your top ten dreams or goals, and these don’t need to be writing-specific. The next day, without looking at the previous day’s list, write them out again (they don’t need to be the same ones). Keep going. By the end of the exercise, you’ll have a lot more visibility into what really makes you tick. Now, narrow it down to your top three.

Here are mine: I want to be a published author. I want to be able to make a livable income off my work. I want to be an author fulltime.

Mine are all rather interlinked. And that’s fine. Pick the one that really sticks out to you. For me, I think making a livable income off my work is the biggest dream here, and it links up with the other two dreams well. If it’s not the case for you, don’t worry. You can always come back to the other ones later.

Let’s dig deeper. Why do I want to make a livable income off my work? Keep asking “why” until you have a real reason why you want to do that thing. It gets you closer to the root of it, and you become more tied to it emotionally. I think this really gives good motivation to achieve a goal. But, because we don’t have action steps yet, this is still a dream and not yet a goal.

The exercise will look something like this:

External Self: Why do you want to make a livable income off your writing?

Internal Self: Because I want to be able to write full-time without worrying about bills.

ES: Why?

IS: Because I want to feel like I’ve “made it” as a writer.

ES: Why?

IS: Because I hate all the naysayers who say you can’t make a living as an indie author.

ES: Why?

IS: Because it makes me doubt myself, my abilities, and the possibilities.

ES: Why?

IS: Because I don’t feel like there’s a clear, guaranteed path.

ES: Why?

IS: Because it seems so few people accomplish it, and I want to be one of the people that does, and it scares me.

ES: Why?

IS: Because I feel like I have stories to tell, and I want to share those with people and feel that people enjoy those stories, to be validated as a writer.

Now, going into why I need validation is another thing unto itself, but you can see how I’ve unlocked some additional questions here that we can put actions to. For example, what amount would be “livable” for me? What amount of work would this require? How can I make it feel like there is a clear, guaranteed path? How can I take actions to address my fears and insecurities? I want to find my power, the emotional base to my dream, so I can keep the momentum going once I have my action steps in place.

In my next post, we will break apart those questions, which may be similar to the ones you’re facing since we’re both writers, and make small, actionable steps so that these big goals and steps don’t seem so big.

What questions did you uncover in this exercise? Let me know in the comments!

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