Goal setting has become a widespread practice for people in many careers, including nonfiction writing. However, the majority of people never achieve their goals. So, don’t set writing goals. Instead, get desired writing results by being someone who can move successfully from where you are now—Point A—to where you want to be in a year—Point B.
Point B may look like a goal. For instance, arriving at that destination might mean you have achieved the status of author, professional magazine writer, or essayist. But don’t think in terms of goals.
In the The Motivation Manifesto, Brendon Burchard writes, “Action is the yardstick of character.” Indeed, your consistent actions reveal the kind of person you are. And who you are “being”—your identity—creates your personal destiny.
However, you can change your destiny by intentionally changing your character. Be someone different now—someone capable of taking actions that get you from Point A to Point B. When your actions align with your new way of being, you will find it easier to arrive at your desired destination, like authorship.
12 Steps to Being a Person Who Gets Desired Writing Results
I developed a 12-step process that will help you become the person at Point B now. It asks you to decide where you want to be in six months or a year and who you need to be to ensure you get where you want to go in that time frame.
To go through the process, answer each of the following questions in a journal:
- What do your actions in the last 6 to 12 months say about you—who you were being (your identity) or your character—in relationship to writing and publishing? (Ex. I was being avoidant. I was being fearful. I was I was being focused and productive. I was being a writer. I was being courageous.)
- What would you like to do in the next 6 to 12 months that aligns with who you want to be as a writer? (These are the actions that define your character and which lead to the results you desire, which you could call goals. (Ex. I would like to write consistently daily and complete a book manuscript. I would like to submit five article queries a week to magazines. I would like to double my writing income. I would like to get three essays published in magazines.)
- Who do you have to be to get from Point A—where you find yourself right here and now—to Point B—where you want to be in 6 to 12 months? (Ex. I need to be productive. I need to be committed to the result I want to achieve. I need to be a consistent writer. I need to be courageous. I need to be a social media influencer.)
- Make a list of all your perceived writing or publishing failures from the last 6 to 12 months. Note: There are no failures, just lessons learned from life experiences. “Failure” is your interpretation of an outcome. (Ex. My book launch didn’t make my book an Amazon bestseller. I earned less money from my nonfiction writing than the year before. I didn’t keep up with my goal to write daily. I didn’t submit any queries to literary agents or magazine editors.)
- Who were you being when you experienced those perceived writing or publishing failures? Note: This is who you do not want to be in the new year. (Ex. I was being someone resistant to marketing. I was being lazy. I was being a procrastinator. I was being fearful. I was being someone who lacks self-integrity.)
- Make a list of all your writing and publishing successes from the last 6 to 12 months. (Ex. I landed five new paid magazine gigs. I doubled my writing income. I submitted 50 queries to literary agents. I received representation for my current book project. I wrote 500 words per day, six days per week all year.)
- Who were you being when you achieved those writing or publishing successes? Note: This is who you do want to be in the new year. (Ex. I was being a social media influencer. I was being a marketer. I was being courageous. I was being a writer. I was being proactive. I was being self-integral.)
- What lessons did you learn from your writing and publishing successes? (Ex. When I am visible on social media, I attract agents. I increase my income when I have a magazine submission strategy and carry it out. When I am self-integral, I write consistently. If I take bold action, my courage pays off.)
- Who do you need to be to get from Point A to Point B in the next 6 to 12 months? Note: You need to have the character of the person who is at Point B already or expand on the actions that made you successful in the past. Identify or describe who that person is—and remember who you were being when you achieved success. (Ex. I need to be a visible social media influencer. I need to be a good marketer. I need to be courageous. I need to be self-integral. I need to be a writer.)
- Were you the person at Point B in any situations in the last 6 to 12 months? If so, that means you already have that character or identity—even if not consistently. You now need to have that character, take those actions, or be that person more frequently and consistently. (You might refer to Step #7 at this point.)
- Identify three words that describe the person you will be (or need to be) at Point B. Then, explain why each of the words is important to being that person. Remember, the person at Point B is already taking the actions that allow them to get desired results. That’s how they got to Point B. And they have a character or identity based on their actions. (Ex. Courageous: To become an author, I need to take bold action every week, such as submitting query letters to agents or posting on social media. Committed: Writers write, so I need to be committed to writing daily and make that a priority. Tenacious: I can’t let rejection or criticism stop me from pursuing my dream of being a professional nonfiction writer and author.
- Use your three words as a daily reminder to be the person they describe. Put them on sticky notes or on your phone as reminders. When you see the notes around your home or the words pop up on your phone or computer, take a moment to ask yourself, “Am I being that person right now? Have I been that person during the day? Am I living as the person at Point B?” For instance, if your words are “courageous, committed, and tenacious,” you would ask yourself, “Am I being courageous right now? Was I courageous today? Did I keep my writing commitments today? Did I send out another query after I received that last rejection letter?”
If you currently do not embody those characteristics, it’s time to change your behavior or actions. As you do so, your character will change, and you will be that person more often. Your identity will change. Eventually, you will live as the person at Point B and achieve the writing and publishing results that person has the ability to create.
Why? Because you will be that person. You will be a successful nonfiction writer and author.
Have you ever focused on who to be as a writer or author and found that doing so makes it easier to get your desired writing results? Tell me in a comment below. And please share this post with a friend or on social media.
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Photo courtesy of Anna Tolipova