I first posted this article on lazy goal setting for writers back in 2007.
I've had many messages about its usefulness; so here it is again, updated for 2010.
This goal setting process has worked for me for many years, and it's worked for my writing students too.
It's the lazy person's way of goal setting; I prefer to let my subconscious mind work out the details. You'll find that using your imagination to set goals is much easier and more effective than using will-power. It's a right-brained process, so it's ideal for creative types. :-)
I set three kinds of goals for each year: creativity goals, productivity goals, and financial goals. You can set goals in any area of your life; these are the writing-related goals I set.
When you're following my lazy writer's process, setting your goals for the year takes around half an hour for the basic process.
The basic lazy writer's goal setting process - it's fun
You'll need a large sketch pad, pencils and pens.
Choose a time when you're alone; close the door and turn off the phone. Play some relaxing music. I like Early Music - that is, Medieval / Renaissance / Baroque music, so I put on a CD, and set the volume low.
Write "2010" as the title on a blank page in your sketch pad.
Now close your eyes, and imagine yourself on today's date in 2010. (You can lie down if you wish, so you can really relax.)
You're daydreaming, and reviewing what you've accomplished in 2010. Just let your mind drift. Take several deep breaths, and listen to your music.
Relax, and dream... It's today's date in 2010. Where are you? Are you at home? Somewhere else? Just follow wherever your imagination leads you. Perhaps you're having a conversation with your partner or a friend, and are discussing your writing achievements in 2010. Perhaps you're at a dinner party...
You may be surprised at what you hear. Just pay attention to what's happening in your imagination, listen to who's talking, and what they're saying about your writing successes in 2010.
Without breaking the connection to the scene you're imagining, draw balloons on your sketch paper, and write your accomplishments in the balloons - "completed my novel", "sold an article to X magazine", "my Web site attracts copywriting clients", "sold a nonfiction book proposal"...
Just relax, listen to your music, and let yourself imagine. The scenes may change several times; you're daydreaming. Just go with it - don't try to direct this process, just let yourself imagine.
After ten minutes or so, sit up and look at the balloons and read what you've written in them.
How do you feel? Are you inspired?
If you don't like what you see, turn to a new page in your sketchpad, and do the process again. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.
If you're feeling a little scared and excited at what you see in your balloons, that's great! That's what you're aiming for. Often what's in your balloons amazes you.
Next: write ABOUT your goals
Put your sketchpad aside for a few days. When you have time, look at your balloons again. This time, set some goals for 2010 based on your balloons.
Write each goal at the top of a sheet of letter paper, in this form - "I choose to__________"
* I choose to complete my novel in 2010
* I choose to write articles for X magazine in 2010
* I choose to sell my novel to a major publisher in 2010
* I choose to become a successful Web writer in 2010
For each goal, write 250 words about the benefits that achieving this goal will bring you. Don't censor yourself - write whatever comes to mind. As you're writing, you're imagining your achievements, and are making the goals real to yourself.
So there you have it: my lazy writer's guide to goal setting and writing success. Try it. It's very easy and it works.
Enjoy - you'll be amazed at how many of your goals you've achieved when you look back on 2010.
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