Goal-setting guru Lara Casey recently joined hope*writers to offer words of wisdom and grace for the writer with big dreams and a fuzzy idea of how to make them happen. Lara is a three-time author, the creator of the PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner, and the founder and CEO of Cultivate What Matters.
She’s both a writer and an expert in grace-filled goal-setting of all kinds, so we asked her how we can apply her grace-filled goal-setting techniques to the writing life.
Lara shared three key tools that we can stick in our toolbox and use to structure our writing goals in a way that is both kind to ourselves and productive.
When she set out to write her first book, Make It Happen, Lara planned to write as much as one chapter a day. She soon realized this goal wasn’t realistic for her writing habits. Instead, she decided to embrace the power of little-by-little progress and adjusted her daily word count accordingly.
When you sit down at your desk and think about the work you’re about to do, lofty, chapter-length goals can leave you overwhelmed. If you adjust your expectations and decide to make small but regular progress, you will reach your goals. Setting attainable goals helps avoid overwhelm, and over time, those little pieces of imperfect progress really add up.
Intentional forethought is a fancy term for planning. Plan your writing days, plan your fifteen-minute chunks of writing time on non-writing days, plan your research days, your editing days, your meals, and your laundry days. Live with intention and purpose in both your writing life and your everyday life.
Lara recommends block scheduling: devoting blocks of time to specific tasks without allowing other tasks to intrude on that dedicated time. She recommends a do not disturb schedule for blocks of work that require deep, uninterrupted thought.
When you practice intentional forethought, your days won’t plan you; you will plan your days and make progress.
Perfectionism is one of the most common reasons writers avoid writing or sharing their work. Writers who make progress are writers who refuse to wait for their words to be perfect on the page. Imperfect words have value because they help you make tangible progress towards a goal, and, through practice, they lead you to the beautiful words you long to write.
Lara says, “You’ll come to the point, whether you’re writing a book or you’re writing a poem or writing a greeting card to someone, where you get even a couple words out that just feel so right . . . Stop in those moments and remember it wasn’t by accident. It was all that imperfect progress that added up.”
Goal-setting doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, but it often is, especially for the writer. Lara’s system of small, grace-filled goals enables writers to take their next steps without unrealistic timelines or the need to be perfect. Incremental progress, intentional planning, and imperfect work will help you accomplish more than you think.
To hear the golden question Lara asks herself daily to help bring clarity and focus, listen in on our conversation with our favorite goal-setting expert. Click here for free access to our entire conversation with Lara and take one step towards balancing the art of writing with the business of publishing.