Setting Writerly Goals

Yes, I know. It’s summer. You are lounging on a beach, or hiking in the mountains, or fishing a great creek, or…or…anything except writing. Goals are not on your mind.

I’m not here to jerk you away from a much-needed rest! I’m just here to inspire you so that when September rolls around (and it will) you’ll be ready to tackle those dormant writing plans.

a serene scene to help with goals

A serene scene to help with goals

Here are a few exercises that will hopefully get you started. Some of them are actually ideal summertime activities – expressing yourself artistically when you are playful is a great way to reinvigorate your brain.

1. Freewriting. Allow yourself to write by hand – by hand is important – for fifteen minutes without stopping to correct or think. Let your hand and brain run as fast as possible.

2. “Dreamstorming”. Rather than trying to brainstorm ideas, dream them. As you fall asleep, plant your story/sticking point in your mind and let your subconscious go to work while you sleep.

3. Try your hand at any other art expression. Draw, doodle, craft, play music – these other expressions will liberate the right side of the brain because you have nothing invested in them.

4. Read fairy tales, and Greek, Roman, Norse, and Native American myths and legends. Read Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces. These tales form the basis of our oral traditions, and often contain repeating imagery and symbolism, much of which has been incorporated into our everyday subtext. Become familiar with them so you can consciously incorporate them into your work.

And here are a few books to set your goals in motion:

Lewis Hyde, The Gift
Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk
Jane Yolen, Take Joy
Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones
Natalie Goldberg, Thunder and Lightning
Bruce Ballenger & Barry Lane, Discovering the Writer Within
David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear
Eric Maisel, Fearless Creating
Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
Julia Cameron, The Vein of Gold
Bernard Selling, Writing From Within
Robert Olen Butler, From Where You Dream
Jeff Vandermeer, Wonderbook

So don’t feel pressured. Just gather yourself into a fresh place, so come fall, your goals will be in place and your soul will be ready.

6 Responses to “Setting Writerly Goals”

  1. Kiri Jorgensen

    Thanks Janet! This is great. My left brain has been rampant lately, and you’re right – I need to give my right brain a chance to flow without investment. Nice!

  2. Linda W

    Thanks for this great list, Janet. I’m especially happy to see number 4. I love fairy tales!
    I’ve been very undisciplined lately, so I’d like to get back into poetry writing and drawing. I think I’ll take my sketchbook outside and draw.

    • Janet

      Great idea, Linda!! I find it’s so easy to be overwhelmed by all the “to-dos” and forget to just play. I’m happy this helped!

  3. Gwen

    Wow, what a loving, giving person, Janet, to share with others. I just stumbled on this site today. The song is true, “what the world needs now …” Thanks April 25, 2018

    • Janet

      Oh, Gwen – thank you so much. I’m so happy to have you here!