Words are powerful; use them to achieve your goals.
In this article, we’ll look at three tips to use writing to get what you want:
- Define your goal—make it clear to yourself;
- Ask questions, firstly of yourself, then of others;
- Communicate until you get what you want.
Writing is powerful. When Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote his play Cardinal Richelieu in 1839, he had Richelieu say: “the pen is mightier than the sword”. It’s been a popular saying ever since.
Words change lives—and history; words can be so powerful they’re read for centuries. Two thousand years after he wrote them, Roman statesman Cicero’s speeches are still being read today, as are the writings of his contemporary, Julius Caesar.
Cicero was a great believer in words and communication. His secretary Tiro developed the world’s first system of shorthand for Latin to keep up with him.
To enjoy the power of Cicero’s words, here’s a PDF of his First Speech against Catiline, delivered to the Roman Senate, in 63 BCE.
Much of what Cicero wrote is lost, but I love the following short quote. Not only is it amusing, it’s also essential advice for any writer:
Even if you have nothing to write, write and say so.
If you’re a writer, especially a freelance writer, or business writer, please take the advice to heart, and communicate. Your editors and clients will appreciate it more than you believe.
Now, your goals.
If you want to achieve your goals, why is it important to write them down?
Achieve your goals: start by putting your goals in writing
You’ve heard about SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Use the SMART goals strategy to define your goals, but don’t stop there. The more you write about your goals, the more real they will become to you, and the more ideas you’ll get to help you to achieve them.
Here’s an excellent quote to inspire you from motivational guru Denis Waitley:
The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don’t define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable.
Start by creating one major SMART goal.
Let’s look at our three tips to help you achieve your goals, via your writing, in more detail.
1. Define your goal—make a goal (and its implications for you) clear
If you want to achieve your goals, you need to invest time and energy in understanding a goal.
Let’s say you have a goal to: “write a bestselling novel this year.” That sounds like an excellent goal, if you’re a novelist. Before you turn it into a SMART goal, ask yourself why you want to write a bestselling novel. If you achieved the goal, how would your life change?
Next, use the WOOP process on the goal. WOOP is an acronym for: Wish, Outcome, Obstacles, and Plans.
Whenever I set a goal, I use the WOOP process, and I’ve found it immensely useful— especially the Obstacles. When you think about the obstacles you’re likely to face, you’ll develop plans to overcome them.
Questions are crucial.
2. Ask questions, firstly of yourself, then of others
Your brain loves questions, especially Socratic questions, which force us to look at assumptions we make. To achieve your goals, it’s vital that you check your assumptions.
Write down your assumptions. For example, if your goal is to “write a bestselling novel this year,” you may assume:
- Writing a bestselling novel is hard;
- It will take time—months. Even a year or more;
- You’ll need to rewrite your novel several times… Etc.
Take time to check each assumption you make. Regarding the time it takes to write a bestselling novel, you’ll find many examples of authors who wrote their bestsellers within days or weeks.
Keep asking questions.
Ask questions of others, as well as yourself. If you’re feeling a little shy, ask anyway. People can answer or not. Occasionally, you’ll receive powerful help, which will directly affect whether you achieve your goals.
Questions are part of communicating; communication is essential too.
3. Communicate until you get what you want
To continue with our example goal, “write a bestselling novel this year,” communications’ tactics might include:
- Keep writing until you achieve your goal;
- Contact research sources for information, whether at your local library, or somewhere else;
- Blog about your novel while it’s in progress, as writers like Kate Mosse have done;
- Write a blurb for your novel, and create a pre-order for it at Amazon;
- Build a mailing list and create a newsletter…
Communication is always essential.
You can achieve your goals: write, ask questions, and communicate
I found an article by Cris Trautner, You Can Learn Something from Louis L’Amour (one of my writing heroes), with this wonderful quote:
One has only so much time in this world, so devote it to the work and the people most important to you, to those you love and things that matter.
Clarify your goals and make them your own. The more you write about your goals, the more real they become to you. I wish you all success with every goal you set.
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Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.