Craft Book

Goal-setting in Creative Writing: Tip #6

Creative Writing GoalsCONTEXT

Not all action is appropriate under all circumstances, and not all outcomes are wanted in all contexts. When you set a goal, be aware of how the expected change might fit, or conflict with, a specific time, person, place or activity. Sometimes, the behavior we’re about to change may be more appropriate in some contexts than the desired behavior.

Goal-setting needs to fit the CONTEXT

The pros and cons of goals should be considered carefully. Test your goal by applying it to various contexts, and don’t hesitate to readjust your plan until all the variables have been considered and you’re confident it’s the right thing to do—ask yourself the following questions:

  • Define the context within which the outcome is appropriate.
  • Specifically when, where, and with whom would you like to have this outcome?
  • Define the context within which the outcome would not be appropriate.
  • Could there be any negative results to resolving your issue, either for yourself or for others who are important to you?

According to NLP life coaching, if you state your outcome in the form of an “absolute” or “universal quantifier” (all, always, everyone, everyday), you imply that the outcome is wanted in all contexts and under all circumstances.

Goal-setting for WRITERS

Take care to never willy-nilly substitute one habit for another, or to eliminate certain responses or behavior in every respect. Rather, always strive to increase your choices to create a wide variety of problem-solving and personal development options.

  • Do you think it’s realistic to get up an hour earlier every morning for the rest of your life to increase your creative writing output?
  • Do you think it’s wise to query every agent under the sun for as long as it takes to get an acceptance of your manuscript?
  • Do you think it’s fair to your family to give up your day job to become a full-time writer without first discussing it with them?
  • Do you think it’s a good idea to completely ignore the importance of building a social media platform in advance of your book’s publication date?

Goal-setting is also a LITERARY concept

Not only do goals motivate WRITERS to be productive and creative but they inspire the actions of STORY CHARACTERS too—on the flip side, however, their actions may lead to the breakdown of their goals.

I suggest you look at the value of context in creative writing as it pertains to character development through a study of Lionel’s Shriver’s novel: So Much For That. You might want to refer to the introduction as well as #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 of this series for a recap of the book description before continuing with this part of the discussion.

When Glynis questions Shep’s reason for “getting on a plane to fly to an island you’ve never been to, where you’ll spend the rest of your life,” what do you surmise from his rationale for choosing Pemba as an ideal destination for ‘The Afterlife?’ He says, “I picked Pemba precisely because we haven’t been there. That means you can’t have already come up with a zillion reasons why yet another option is off the table.” Do you think his plan for an early retirement is appropriate irrespective of the timing, or destination, or his wife’s approval?

Thank you for following my blog to learn more about CREATIVE WRITING as well as the dynamics of BEHAVIOR CHANGE and CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT and how to implement these concepts in storytelling. Please watch out for the publication of my creative writing guide (title and publication date TBA soon), which will offer a more comprehensive discussion on Story and Character Development based on a Life Coaching Model.

10 thoughts on “Goal-setting in Creative Writing: Tip #6

  1. Priceless! We were on a road trip in Utah; I’m so glad my husband took the photo. Thanks for stopping by; we haven’t interacted in a while, so I just swung by your blog – great photos there too :)

  2. I already get up at about 5 AM every morning so I don’t think I’ll be intentionally getting up an hour earlier to write. I certainly am not neglecting my social media platform but I have cut back considerably.

    Tossing It Out

  3. Hi Lee, it’s great having you visit my blog again. I’m impressed with your writing schedule. There’s a lot of talk amongst members of my networks about cutting back on social media; and as for sharing links – it becomes a mindless regurgitation of the same information … something’s gotta give.

  4. Great point about considering goals within the larger context of our lives. I’m in the middle of setting some career goals that definitely would effect my family and our income levels. I’m proceeding with care.
    In novels, drama and tension ensue when characters like Shep don’t consider their context. Makes for a good read but probably not for a good life.

  5. People often move forward without thinking and truly ignorant of the consequences of their actions; it’s just human. That said, awareness is King, so I applaud your careful approach. Shep is actually a really great guy – kind and responsible; but he’s got his blind spots, as we all do. Good luck with your plans, Jagoda.

  6. HI Belinda, I’m back! It has been interesting reading SO MUCH FOR THAT with your creative writing goal-setting tips in mind. Though I haven’t finished the book yet, I can feel Shep’s frustrations over his lofty goal of living a simple life being thwarted from every direction. His strong and compassionate character really does come through. In real life I tend to over think/analyze my options so in a way, his adventuresome spirit appeals to me and keeps me reading. Will his goal be met? and if so how? Thanks for stretching my mind with your lessons!

  7. Kathy, it’s wonderful having you back. It looks like you had a wonderful time in Italy. Isn’t Pompeii just amazing? I don’t know how many photos you’ve posted, but I’ve seen some of them. I’m really glad you’re finding value in these concepts. This is the end of this series, so I’d love to know what you think of So Much For That when you’re done.

  8. Thanks, Pat. It’s not really about the techniques and concepts but about the mental programs that explain behavior – those principles are as true for story characters as they are in real life. Thanks for stopping by; enjoy the rest of your week.

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