Are you a writer who struggles to meet your goals no matter how hard you work? Maybe your goals are to blame.
Set goals for yourself, not others.
I read many writers’ blogs and see variations of this goal all the time: ”I will sell 25 copies of my book this month.”
A goal like this is a mistake. Selling a copy of a novel means someone needs to hear about it, wants to read it and decides to spend his or her money on it. In other words, the goal will only succeed if someone else does something.
Now compare that goal with this one: “I will ask ten people to review my book.”
The only person this new goal depends on is the author. It will also help to build an audience, which is where sales come from.
Smaller is better.
Reach for the stars, but start by going outside.
Asking people to review a book starts by finding reviewers. Also, most reviewers have a written “Review Policy,” something an author should always read before submitting a book. Then there’s actually sending the book along.
If you break the goal down, we get this:
- I will find ten people who might review my book.
- I will read their review policies.
- I will submit my book to each of them according to their policies.
These smaller goals are much easier to tackle. In fact, they look a lot like what most people would call tasks, which is exactly what good goals are: things to do.
Narrow-minded isn’t always bad.
Let’s say I’m building that list of reviewers. Once I’ve found one, I might want to give their prior reviews a look, just to get an idea of what I’m in for. Then maybe I decide to compare their reviews to what others have to say on other sites, just to see how their opinion matches up.
See what happened?
Instead of spending half an hour getting a list together, I’m spending an afternoon doing an in-depth study of reviewer opinions. You might never have fallen into this specific trap, but I bet you recognize the pattern.
Goals should give you focus, not opportunities for more distractions. Instead of “I will find ten people who might review my book,” write “I will collect the names and email addresses of ten people who review books in my genre.”
It’s a subtle difference, but the new version leaves a lot less room to go astray.
Go over the goals you have now. Do they rely on others? Are they bite-sized chunks you can swallow without choking? Will they help focus your effort? Unless you answered yes to everything, your next goal should be to re-consider the ones you have.
If you found these tips helpful, or would like to share your own, drop me a line in the comments. I’d love to hear about it.