October 10, 2019

How Can We Discover Our Vision and Goals?

Signpost with directions and mileage to cities worldwide with text: Do We Know Our Goals?

Those who follow my blog know that I’ve talked a lot over the years about how we need to determine our goals. The biggest reason I make such a big deal of the topic is because we tend to measure our success by whether we reach our goals. So if we don’t know what we’re reaching for, we might never feel successful.

In addition, knowing our goals can help us determine the right path for us:

In other words, if we don’t know our goals, we lessen our chances of success. Either we won’t have thought about how we define success to aim in the right direction or to celebrate our wins, or we won’t have made a plan to get us to that point.

But sometimes we might not know what to ask ourselves to reach that level of insight or understanding of what we want. How can we learn more about what matters to us? How can we get to know our vision and goals?

Option #1: Business Plan for Writers Worksheet

A few years ago, I created and shared the Business Plan for Writers worksheet. For writers who have (or need to get into) a business mindset, this is a great resource for helping us define various aspects of our writing goals:

  • description of our author business (summary of goals and plans)
  • operation of our author business (how we’ll get there)
  • product plan (what we expect to write)
  • marketing plan (our strategies)
  • competitive analysis (what we can learn from other authors)
  • development plan (our schedule and detailed plan for reaching our goals)

Option #2: Worksheet to Discover Our Goals

The Business Plan for Writers can help us see our writing from a business perspective. But those insights aren’t always going to help us fill in the blanks of what we want our writing career to look like. That’s why I’m always keeping an eye out for other tools. *smile*

A few days ago, Emma Copley Eisenberg shared a worksheet she got from Kelly Link (who worked off the original version by Holly Black). Kelly’s worksheet focuses more on the personal than the business side, with questions that prompt us to explore our goals from a different perspective:

Use the Worksheet to Understand Ourselves

Many of the questions on Kelly’s worksheet can lead us toward a better understanding of our goals, as well as our strengths and weaknesses and what we really want.

For example, knowing what writing-adjacent activities we enjoy might help us discover what tasks we will (and won’t) need help with during our career.

  • Do we enjoy the nitpicky work of formatting? Then if we self-publish, we could have a goal of learning how to do that task ourselves (and save money).
  • Do we enjoy or have talent for cover design? Then we could develop that skill to earn money to pay for the tasks we’re not good at.
  • Etc., etc.

Or we might discover a few contradictions… Do we say we want to be a big-name author but shudder at the thought of public events like book signings? Then maybe we want to refine our goals to better match what we really want — just a solid income? Or validation? Or…?

How can we better understand our goals? Click To TweetWhat blocks us? What motivates us? What does a happy and healthy life-balance look like to us? These are all valuable questions that help us get to know ourselves and what we want from our writing career.

Knowing what we want can help us with everything from deciding which story idea to write next to how we should brand ourselves. Without that understanding, we might flail randomly every time we need to make a career-related decision, and that can make it difficult to find happiness with our writing.

Bonus to Option #2: Download the Writers: Get to Know Yourself Worksheet

Kelly gave her blessing for me to share her sheet. But I know some of us might like a downloadable worksheet that we can fill out rather than just an image to look at. *raises hand*

So with thanks and credit to them, I created an MS Word version of Kelly and Holly’s worksheet for us to be able to download, save, and complete later:

If we download this worksheet, we can take the time to really dig into our answers. What are our trouble spots? (Should we have a goal to improve those related skills?) What mantra resonates with us and gives our career meaning or motivation? And so on.

We might discover that our external goals are too dependent on things outside of our control. Or we might discover hidden ways to motivate ourselves. All that understanding can help us reach our goals, no matter what they are. *smile*

Extra Stuff: Freebies and Reminders

Giveaway of 24 Free Ebooks

There’s a book fair of freebies going on right now on the new Bookish Giveaways site. The free books fall into several different genres:

  • fantasy & urban fantasy
  • contemporary romance & fiction
  • mystery & thriller
  • paranormal & sci-fi romance

Pumpkin and fall leaves background with text: Download 24 Free Ebooks & a giveaway - Bookish Giveaways

Reminder: Free Romance Writers Summit…Next Week!

As I mentioned last week, the Romance Writers Summit is a 5-day, online writers event with 20 expert interview videos breaking down the elements of powerful fiction. And although the focus is on romance, writers in every genre will benefit!

The topics are all about craft. No marketing or promotion, just insights into how to write great stories.

And it’s all free from October 14-18th! *grin*

Check out the line-up of Speakers. Or grab the free ebook that shares three vital keys to crafting powerful, page-turning, fan-building romance fiction.

And if you upgrade to the All Access Pass, you’ll get a bunch of fantastic bonuses, including a huge discount off my newest workshop, Between the Sheets. The cost of the All Access Pass will go up once the Summit starts on the 14th, so there are only a few days left to get the pre-Summit price. If you’re thinking about upgrading, now is the time to grab your pass.

Romance Writers Summit promo

Reminder: New Workshop on the Romance Beat Sheet

Last week I announced my newest workshop: Between the Sheets: Create a Deeper Romance with the Romance Beat Sheet.

Of course as luck would have it, my email program decided to stop working that very day, and all my newsletter subscribers didn’t get the notification until I caught the error yesterday. *sigh* So since that email didn’t go out at its usual time, I just want to mention the workshop again to make sure everyone saw the announcement.

I guess that screw-up is a good reminder that even when we know our goals and have our plans, sometimes things still don’t work out the way we want. *smile*

How well do you know your goals and what you want your writing life to look like? Do you struggle to define your goals or your vision for your writing career? Have you tried using the Business Plan for Writers worksheet? Do you think the questions on the Know Yourself worksheet will help? Do you have any questions about the Romance Writers Summit or my new workshop?

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Comments — What do you think?

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Elle Love
Elle Love

Hi Jami,
As always, this blog post is just what I needed right now.

I’m editing my first novel, blocked on my second, and just finished the first chapter of my third in the series. I’m researching marketing strategies for self publishing and realizing I really need an author’s web site, but I’m terrified of technology and I don’t like to blog, aka talk about myself. I’m uninteresting and disorganized and frustrated by my lack of knowledge and motivation.

This post will help me determine my goals and make a plan for my future. What would we writers do without you? Hope you are well and making progress on your next story.

All the best,

Deborah Makarios

Blogging doesn’t have to be talking about yourself. In fact, it’s probably better not to, because who wants to listen to someone talk endlessly about themselves?
Blog about whatever interests you – it’s a good bet you’re not the only one who shares that interest! You can put in a bit of personal stuff like Jami does, but it doesn’t have to be the main course.
I recommend WordPress for a user-friendly way to start blogging – you don’t even have to make it public until you’re ready.

Elle Love
Elle Love

Hi Deborah,
Thanks for your suggestions! I’ve only heard good things about WordPress. Now, I need to make a list of subjects my young teen audience would be interested in and write some posts.


Hey Jami, Long time no talk! Sorry for being so MIA lately. :/ My social life has gotten busier and busier. I’m an extrovert, but even I’m becoming overwhelmed and need more time alone, lol. The question of “what we really want”, is very important for us writers. I think often, we’re so concerned with the “how” (how do I write great dialogue? How do I write engaging characters? How do I use semicolons properly?), that we don’t think enough about the “why”. We may not be giving honest answers to questions, and may instead be giving answers to gain social approval. (I’m mostly talking about myself, because I often strive for approval and avoid disapproval from others, that sometimes I don’t realize what I really want until many years later.) This year, I’ve been thinking more deeply about what I truly want out of my writing, as opposed to what my friends think I should want. Over time, I’ve internalized the idea that I ought to publish, sell, and show others my stories. To do otherwise would be unthinkable. Nobody actually pushed this idea onto me (save a few people), but I grew to believe that if I wanted approval from my friends, I needed to be published and make money, no matter how little. I still want to publish, but only self-publishing, and just for the satisfaction of seeing it as a physical book, as well as an ebook on Amazon. However, what I most want, is to…  — Read More »

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