One of the many hats I wear is that of a certified life coach where I assist clients in reaching certain goals (e.g. losing weight, changing careers, finding a partner). I've had several clients whose goals were to publish a book and thought I'd share how general coaching tips apply to this specific goal.
1) Break down your goal into smaller, manageable steps. I
like to use the metaphor of mountain climbing--when you stare up at the
top of the mountain from the bottom, it can seem like it will take
forever to get there and you might be too intimidated to even try. If
you focus instead of taking "x steps at a time," you will soon find
yourself halfway up the mountain and feel more empowered and confident
that you will reach the top. To relate this to writing, if your stated
goal is only "Write a novel," you may not know where to start and feel overwhelmed, so the key is to break the large goal into smaller steps.
Better goal: Write 1,000 words per day (or one chapter per week, etc.)
important thing is to make the goal manageable for you in order to set
yourself up for success, and to always include a time frame to push you
to reach the goal. When I'm doing a first draft, I set a minimum goal
per day which helps me to crank it out.
2) Focus on what you can control. Say you have a goal of
wanting to lose weight and your only stated goal is to lose 25 pounds.
So many things can impact your daily weight that this goal leaves a lot
out of your control, but if you focus on what is within your
control, you might come up with a goal of exercising 5 times per week
and cutting out refined sugar (NOTE: this goal also incorporates step
1). With writing, your goal might be to "Get an agent" or get
published but that is also (sadly) not under your control. What is in
your control is writing the best query and book you can, and then
researching the industry.
Better goal: Submit 5 queries per week to agents that represent my genre.
3) Surround yourself with supportive people. I once worked
with a client who was trying to lose weight, and she complained about
a friend who kept pushing french fries at her. This "friend" was not
supportive of her goals and frequently attempted to sabotage her. You
are more likely to succeed in anything if you have a supportive person
at your side. For writers, this might be your critique group, blog
friends, spouse, family, etc. If someone is telling you that writing
isn't a "real" job or puts down your goals, run away as fast as you
I'm also a motivational quote nut and hand out a
sheet of my favorites to clients at their first session, so I'll leave
you with one of my favorite quotes:
"Whether a man thinks he can, or thinks he cannot--he is right." - Henry Ford
Have you tried any of these yourself? Any other tips that you've found helpful with your writing goals?