Your Writing Career: How To Achieve Your Writing Goals (Finally)

“I’ve given up on my writing career,” a young writer told me recently.

Jeff wrote and self-published two fantasy novels. Both won good reviews from beta readers. However, he said: “They’re not selling. I’ve tried getting more reviews and I’ve spent a lot on advertising, but I don’t want to do more. I think I’m wasting my time and my money.”

He wasn’t giving himself credit. Writing two novels is a big achievement.

I suggested that before trashing the novels and his hard work, he use the WOOP process to set some fresh goals for his writing career. WOOP is a science-backed goal-setting process which takes obstacles into account.

Boost your writing career: use WOOP to set goals

The WOOP process goes beyond most goal-setting processes and positive thinking. And it works.

So, what’s WOOP?

Here’s a description of WOOP from its helpful website:

“WOOP is a science-based mental strategy that people can use to find and fulfill their wishes, set preferences, and change their habits.”

The originator of WOOP, Gabriele Oettingen, wrote a book: Rethinking Positive Thinking Inside The New Science of Motivation to describe the process in full. She’s a motivational psychologist at two universities and has done 20 years of research into the science of human motivation.

The WOOP process is simplicity itself.

WOOP is an acronym, for:

  • Wish
  • Outcome
  • Obstacles
  • Plans

Let’s look at how the process works. I’ve tried it and recommend it to my students.

Wish: set a goal. What do you want to achieve?

A wish is a goal. After some discussion and encouragement, Jeff decided that his wish was for a career as a full-time author. He was hesitant, because in the face of the “failure” of his two novels, he felt that it was a foolish wish.

Describe your goal in a couple of sentences. (Write it down.)

Outcome: what does achievement look like?

The next step is to imagine the outcome when you get your wish.

Describe the outcome; write a brief description.

Jeff wrote a description of how his life would change if he were a full-time author.

Obstacles: what’s standing in your way?

You’re looking for internal obstacles, rather than external ones.

From the WOOP website:

“When we look for obstacles within us, we are better able to control and to overcome them. We often have limited power to change our environment.”

Jeff decided that his biggest obstacle was his lack of belief in himself as an author. He was looking at the sales of his novels as validation that he could develop a writing career.

As soon as he wrote down that he didn’t believe in himself, Jeff suddenly realized that he doesn’t need the validation of sales. After all, with two published novels and readers, he’s an author already.

Plans: make a plan

Jeff made a plan to start work on his third novel.

The last time we spoke, he was motivated and inspired. He’s eager to start writing the novel. He’s just published a short story set in the world of his first novel. He told me: “I’ve started writing again. It’s as if the realization that I’m already an author released something. I’ve made a plan to write two novels this year.”

Your writing career: try the WOOP process

Jeff spent around 30 minutes on the WOOP process and it’s changed his outlook completely. Rather than giving up his writing career, he’s determined to keep writing and publishing until he succeeds.

That’s the big benefit of the WOOP process: you identify the obstacles standing in the way of achieving your goals. And you make a plan to overcome those obstacles.

Jeff’s well on his way to the writing career he wants.


Sell more books: develop your self-publishing strategy for fiction

It’s easier than it’s ever been to make a great living writing fiction. If you choose, you can quit your day job knowing you have millions of fans waiting to buy your writing.

But… Why is it so HARD for most authors?

If you want to sell books, you need a self-publishing strategy for fiction.


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