Thursday, July 3, 2014

Goal Setting For Writers

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're well and happy. This week we look at goal-setting and how to generate enthusiasm for your future perfect life.

In order to be successful at anything, we need to make sure we are happy doing what we do every day. There's no point in wasting time and energy on activities that you don't love.

Life is too short for that.

Below there are suggestions on how to create an action plan that will motivate and engross you in the years to come.

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Keep writing! 

Goal Setting for Writers
Goal Setting for Writers

Knowing that anything is possible just because you want it might be a mind-expanding, and certainly thrilling, new experience for you. That's good. A positive feeling about something will carry you a long, long way.

But how does this knowledge help you in a pursuit of a writing career?

You need to get specific.

The following is a process I undertook a dozen years ago that helped me enormously, so much so that I never needed to do it again.

Make a list of all the ways you could make money writing in the future.

For instance:

Short stories
Children's Books
Nonfiction books
Making videos and movies
Giving seminars and talks
Letters to publications
Travel writing
Writing reviews
Advertising copy
Business reports
Ghost writing

Your list may be longer or shorter. It's up to you. Only write down what you think you'd like to do or that you will most likely find fun and fulfilling.

Don't bother with items you don't like the sound of because they won't fill you with anticipation and joy. Only list the things you could do that you believe will make you happy.

Examine the headings on your list, attaching mental images to each one, attaching emotions to each word, attaching significance in any way you can.

As Tony Robbins once said, give your motivation legs. Be lateral in your thinking: let your mind wander. Make connections to sounds, smells and images that the headings conjure, no matter how bizarre or trivial.

This part of the process ensures that the words are symbolic to you: they trigger sensations and emotions too.

Then, number the entire list in order of importance to you.

If novel writing is what you want to do more than anything else, make that your number one. And so on, all the way down the list.

Next, print out the list. Examine it. Pin it on your wall.

Let the list absorb your being for a while - for half an hour, for a week, or for a whole month, it's up to you. Let your list of future activities percolate in your mind for a good while.

Visualize what each heading on your list might mean to you on a regular basis, whether the images are good or bad, it doesn't matter.

Just 'live' with the list until it feels like the single most important document you've ever created, as if it's a definitive list of the things that make up 'who you are'.

When you're ready - and bear in mind this decision is up to you - start working on the list again.

Some people, most people in fact, will never get to this stage of the above process their entire lives, so it doesn't matter how long it takes you to get to this point and beyond. If you make it to working on the list again, you're already ahead of the game.

Under each of your numbered headings, write a few words about what you perceive to be the reality - and by this I mean your 'heightened, most optimistic, anything is possible' reality - for each particular item on your list.

For example, under your number one Novel Writing heading you might list how many books you will write in a year and how much your first publishing advance might be. (If you don't know, do some research. It won't be much these days, that's for sure!)

You might also state how many hours a day you're prepared to work on your novel - or simply how much time per week you have free to write. Also list all the things you will need to change about your daily life and routine in order to facilitate writing novels for a living. Things like: day job, kids, a lousy computer, your husband's resistance, TV shows you can't miss, social visits you can't get out of etc. List anything and everything that will impact on your future life as a novel writer.

Don't worry or fret. At this stage, you're just taking stock, examining your attitudes towards things, your current mindset and your perceptions, which may or may not be an accurate reflection of reality.

You may look back in five years, as I did, and wonder why so much seemed to be standing in the way of your dreams - so many things can become trivial from a future perspective.

No matter, the important thing is to take stock now - of the person you are, how you feel and what you imagine is possible.

Go through the same process for every other heading on the list.

If there's something you're not fussed about anymore, say so to yourself, and state your reasons. There are no right answers. This is your list and the only opinion that matters is your own.

Against other headings where you feel there are possibilities for enjoyment, list the pros and cons, state how much of the week you might want to spend on doing those activities too. You might think that having a blog may help your novel career, for instance, so then state that you'll spend two hours a week on your blog. Pick a day you'll work on it. List the reasons why this is important - or not - to you.

Keep going, then stop when you're bored of this process, no matter how far down the list you are.

If you're working on a computer, delete the headings you didn't feel like writing under. Remove those items from your thinking for the moment. There's no point attaching significance - or time or energy - to things that don't interest you - actually to anything that doesn't thrill or transport you.

We writers have enough to contend with - without filling our minds with useless material and/or irritating junk.

Next time we'll look at how to take your list of worthy goals and then work through them to prioritize your action plan. I'll show you how to create a plan for your goals, and then how to start implementing that plan.

Then, I'll show you how to stay on track.

Till next time,

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell

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