Sunday, March 14, 2010


Okay. So you've established an effective, regular writing routine. You've made a habit of setting and achieving goals with your writing.

These two steps alone will put you in the top 10% of all aspiring writers.

But there's one more step you can take that will help you unlock your potential and help you achieve truly audacious writing accomplishments.

Enter the BHAG: The Big Hairy Audacious Goal.

Think of it as a stretch goal on steroids: an extremely ambitious, compelling and long term vision for your writing.

Although I first learned about BHAGs from reading the business book Built to Last, I believe the concept fits writers even better than it fits big corporations. It's the sort of goal-setting technique that can motivate a writer and give him or her an ambitious and clearly-defined long term purpose.

Here are some ideas you can consider for your own BHAG:
* Complete a draft of a novel in the next two years.
* Create a collection of twenty short stories and find a publisher in the next three years.
* Quit your job to become a full-time writer within five years.
* Replace half of your income with income from writing within the next five years.
* Over the next five years, self-publish your own collection of five e-books, and set up a website where you can sell those works.
* Establish a blog (on your subject of choice) and over the next three years, grow the traffic to 50,000 pageviews a month.

A well thought out BHAG should be specific, and it should be an aggressive goal that can be broken down into discrete, quantifiable steps. It should also be consistent with your core values and purpose, and it should be clearly and simply stated. Avoid pie-in-the-sky BHAGs that reflect bravado or narcissism (e.g.: "I will write ten novels in the next 10 years and become the greatest author in history").

Finally, a good BHAG will protect you from complacency. You have the potential to accomplish much more than you think with your writing, and you have exceptional talents and capabilities lying in wait inside of you. It's time to unlock them with some audacious goal-setting!

Have you ever used a BHAG? What was it, and was it effective for you?

PS: Just in case you were wondering, the correct pronunciation of BHAG is "BEE-hag."