Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


How Writers Should Set Goals

Filed under: setting goals,writers' goals,writing,writing goals — gator1965 @ 1:12 pm

Goal setting has never been my forte…BUT, I am working on it! Guess I need to set a goal to set better goals…At any rate, I read a great blog on GENREALITY by Bob Mayer that gives some sharp direction (what else would you expect from an ex-green beret) on setting strategic goals for writers and the tactical (or sub-) goals that lead to their accomplishment:

The Hierarchy of Goals

Overall Writing Goal. (Strategic)

Book goal. (Tactical)

Business goal (Tactical)

Shorter range/daily goals (Tactical)

So let’s talk about your strategic writing goal. It can be anything, but it’s important that you lock it down. Some broad examples:

I will be a NY Times best-selling thriller author in five years.

I will write my memoir for my grandchildren in the next three months.

I write part-time simply because it is a hobby and spend an hour a day on it.

I want to be published within 2 years by a major, traditional press.

I will have my book in print within 2 months via self-publishing.

I will write a book that will help people with —– and spend the next three years using it to bolster and complement my speaking career.

The Importance of Your Strategic Goal:

It starts your creative and practical process.

It determines your tactical goals.

Remembering it keeps you focused.

It is the core of your work regime.

It is the core of your marketing campaign.

All tactical goals must align with it in the hierarchy.

Tactical Goals.

The key to exactly knowing your strategic goal is that every tactical goal that follows is designed to support it. Thus, everyone’s path will be different based on having different strategic goals. Everything that you do and learn is filtered through your specific strategic goal. When you go to a writers’ conference, everything you hear is also filtered through your strategic goal. So two people attending the same session are going to walk out with two different impressions, each filtered through their point of view, which is shaped by their strategic goal.

What I have seen—and experienced—is that most writers do their first book blindly and don’t have a plan beyond finishing it and trying to sell it. Most writers spend too much time and effort trying to sell their first book, rather than moving on to a second and third manuscript. Rarely does a first manuscript sell. Most published authors I know sold somewhere around number two or three. At a daily level, many writers don’t have a plan for writing every day.

When you state your goals, they should be done in one sentence. The sentence should have a positive verb that indicates the action you want to use to achieve your goal. The verb must indicate an action you control—to an extent. In publishing, you control the writing and the way you approach the business. Beyond that, the publishing gods are fickle. I will become a NY Times Bestselling author in five years seems a bit lofty. But here’s the bottom line: if that’s what you want to achieve, then state it. And then develop a plan to do it. This greatly increases you odds of achieving the goal than the hit-or-miss method. I have listened to many successful authors and many of them set out with lofty goals, and then busted their butt to achieve those goals. As you will see shortly, once you have that strategic goal, it changes everything you do, because everything you do has to support that goal.

Your goal should have an external, visible outcome. Just as in your novel your character’s goal should be something concrete and external, so should yours.

You should have a time lock for achieving the goal, unless time is of no consequence to you. For most of us, time is the most valuable asset we have.


Here’s another thing about stating your goal: Putting it out there, verbally and in writing, is a form of making a commitment. I know many writers get some static from those around them about all the time and money they invest in writing when they are unpublished and there seems to be no payback. If all those around you see is you sitting in front of a computer staring into space and then going off to conferences, they might start to question what you are doing. Letting others know your goal is committing you to trying to achieve it and also lets others know you’re serious about what you are trying to achieve. Then showing your tactical goals such as how much time you allocate each day to writing, attending conferences, taking workshops, etc. will make sense in terms of the framework of the larger, long-term goal.

It also puts pressure on you to stick to your goals. I know many people who are afraid to clearly state their goals because by not doing so, they can slack off day after day. Also, some are afraid to state goals because they fear ridicule.

In 1987 Jim Carrey was 25 years old and a struggling comic. He drove his Toyota up Mulholland Drive in LA. Overlooking the city he wrote himself a check for $10 million. He dated it 1995 and noted it was “for acting services rendered”.

He was wrong. In 1995, his price for a movie was $20 million.

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