In all honesty, other than “just do it,” there are no real secrets to achieving your goals. There’s no easy button to writing a book. This is why it’s so important to follow the following steps to achieve your writing goals.
Secret #1: Write It Down
A goal is worthless unless it’s written down. As Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers (the seventh largest trade book publishing company in the U.S.) said on his blog post, The Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting, “When you write something down, you are stating your intention and setting things in motion.”
Secret #2: Prioritize
In the Sesame Street song “Put Down the Duckie,” Ernie has a quandary. He wants to play the saxophone, but he can’t because every time he tries to play his duckie squeaks. The owl sings this song to him to help him with his problem and informs Ernie that he has to “put down the duckie” in order to accomplish his goal. You may end up with a dozen seemingly equally important goals. Each goal is a duckie you’re holding on to, and in order to accomplish one, you may need to set the others aside. Look at your list of writing goals and prioritize. Some may need completed first, before moving on to the next. For example, maybe you need to finish your outline of Part 1 before you start writing Chapter 1.
Look at the big picture—your end goal—and work your way backward. Your end goal is probably to have your book written and published. Before that you need to finish your first rough draft. For that you need to write the sections (parts, if applicable). To write the parts you need chapters. To write the chapters you have to know what they’re about—write a synopsis of each chapter. Then before you even write the synopses, you have to organize goes where—construct an outline. And before you create an outline you need to know what your topic is all about, who your audience is (who you’re writing to), etc. After you’ve worked your way all the way to the beginning, prioritize your writing goals on what needs to happen when.
Secret #3: Write Your Steps
When you get frustrated at your lack of progress, remember this quote: “Step by step and the thing is done.” (Charles Atlas) Take some time to analyze your writing goals. What exact steps do you need to take to achieve them? Every step to achieve each goal should be a goal of its own.
By chunking down your project’s manageable and attainable goals into simple step-by-steps, you’ll map out a plan of action that will be easy to follow and quickly implemented. You’ll be able to check things off your to-do list faster and feel more accomplished as you complete each step—no matter how minor that step may seem.
Secret #4: Make It a Habit
The more you set goals and take action on them, the more accustomed you’ll get to making your dreams happen. It takes 21 days of consistent activity to create a new habit. Think about a common habit like drinking coffee. Yes, there’s an addiction to caffeine involved, but it’s also a habit. If you’re accustomed to having that warm cup of coffee in your hand every morning, you’ll miss it if you can’t have it. Then again, if you go 21 days straight without coffee, you won’t miss it as much anymore and the thought of having it probably won’t even tempt you. The same is true of any habit you create or tear down.
Make your writing a habit. Do it often enough that you begin to crave it if you miss a day or two.
Secret #5: Be Accountable
A goal kept to yourself is easy to postpone. While I don’t recommend you share your writing goals with everyone (even some family members and friends may not be supportive), do share it with someone. Find someone of like mind and spirit who understands you and your goals—no matter how crazy they may seem. Then ask that person to hold you accountable to complete your goals on time.
While it does matter who you choose to share your goals with, what matters most is that you choose someone. You may be surprised—the person you choose is probably looking for someone to help them, too, so it will be a win-win for both of you!
Goal vs. Wish
There is a clear difference between setting a goal and making a wish. When you set a goal, you set it with the intent to do whatever it takes to reach that goal. When you make a wish, well, it may or may not come true and you may not try to do anything to help make it happen.
The fact is, if you want something bad enough, you’ll do anything it takes to get it, whether that’s raising the money to cover publishing costs or staying up late and getting up early to write. When was the last time you wanted something bad enough to do anything to get it? Is your book dream that big?
The key is to want it bad enough to make it into a goal. So go ahead, set your goal. Now I dare you to reach it.
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