Writing has given me a lot of joy, but I won’t lie. More than once on my journey to write and publish my novels PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE, I considered abandoning my dream, taking a sledgehammer to my keyboard, and deleting every draft.
One of those discouraging times was about two years ago. After almost 15 years of writing, rewriting, editing, and rewriting some more, both of my novels were in the final draft stage. I started to research self-publishing and book marketing, thinking surely the hard part was over. After all, I’d succeeded in writing two novels. How challenging could publishing and marketing be?
At the time, I was a social networking novice. The more I researched, the more the list of indie must haves—Goodreads, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, a website, blog, newsletter/mailing list, platform, book trailer—nearly did me in.
Eventually my meltdown wore off and my persistence gene kicked in. After all, in spite of being clueless about how to craft a novel when I joined my first creative writing critique group, I had exceeded my life-long dream to write a book by writing not one novel, but two. It dawned on me that I could apply the same goal achievement tactics that helped me reach my writing goals to self-publishing and marketing.
The four sure-fire tips below were key to me reaching my goals. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, these simple tips can help you realize your goals, too.
#1: Put your goals in writing
“Are your goals written down?”
Experts say that unwritten goals are really just good intentions—written goals more than double your chances of success. According to psychologist and author Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. (http://www.heidigranthalvorson.com/) only 20-30% of unwritten goals are realized. That means 70 to 80% of the time intentions do not do it, you need to write your goals.
You can find a wealth of goal writing advice and tutorials online by Googling S.M.A.R.T goals to create goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound.
#2: Be specific
To get where you want to go, be precise about your destination.
For years I said, I want to write a book—a lofty goal but not very specific. Would it be fiction or non-fiction, romance or business, historical or contemporary? Until I knew the specifics, it was impossible to start.
It may help to think about it like this. If you are in New Jersey and want to visit your aunt in Maine, you don’t just program Maine into your GPS. You put in a specific city, street name, and address. It is exactly the same with writing specific goals. Eventually, I want to write a book became, “I want to write a contemporary women’s novel about family, relationships, and love.” That more specific goal gave me a place to start. More importantly, it gave me a clear destination.
# 3: Chunk it down and commit to timeframes
To achieve a goal, especially a lofty goal like writing and self-publishing a book, it helps to break the work down into manageable, concrete tasks.
Consider this: When Christopher Columbus stood on the shores of Spain and announced to Queen Isabella that he wanted to sail to America, he was still standing on the shores of Spain! To get to America he had to chunk it down into the nuts and bolts—buy lumber, build a boat, hire a crew—you get the picture.
I will build a platform is an intention not a time-bound plan. As you chunk-down your tasks and make them time-bound, you identify exactly what you will do and when you will do it.
As I stuck my toes into the self-publishing process, my chunked-down list included weekly commitments like:
- Research and follow at least two blogs about self-publishing
- Create a Facebook author page
- Meet with Richmond (a self-published author friend) and pick his brain about his self-pub process
- Create a Goodreads account
- Visit the Createspace homepage and research author services
- Build a blog page
Chunking it down makes the goal manageable and gives you small wins along the way. Those wins recharge your batteries to master the next week’s task.
# 4: Include the power of If/Then in your plan
If/then planning means deciding in advance what you will do when something derails your plan. Life is unpredictable. Although I consider my weekly self-publishing and book promo commitments sacred and non-negotiable, stuff happens. My if/then plan includes things like, if we have company for the weekend and I can’t be on the computer, then, I will get up a half-hour early all week to complete my tasks in the early morning.
Having an if/then plan, prevents you from feeling discouraged, resentful, or powerless when everyday life threatens to derail you.
Word by word, sentence by sentence, chapter by chapter, you might say PEACE BY PIECE (pun intended) these tips helped me write and self-publish my novels.
How about you? What is your goal? And which of these tips could help make this the year you attain your goal and hold your dream in your hands?
Find Carol at:
New York Journal of Books: http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/reviewer/carol-brill
Carol Fragale Brill is the author of two novels, PEACE BY PIECE and CAPE MAYBE. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Her fiction received recognition from Poets and Writers and was a reader’s favorite for The Best of Philadelphia Stories. Her works have also appeared in Wide Array, New York Journal of Books, the Press of Atlantic City, and various online e-zines and business journals. In her “day job” as a Leadership Coach and educator she frequently uses stories in training.