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SMART Goals and SWOT analysis for writers

4 min read

So, yea, it’s true. I was once obsessed with productivity books and business self-help literature. For many things I do today I still use methods and ideas that I learned from those books.

But I repurposed and reimagined many things to make them mine or not to feel sick whenever I heard those jargon words.

I wanna do the same about two interesting productivity tools and use them for writing.

The first one is…

SMART Goals

As you may know, if you set S.M.A.R.T. goals, you amplify your chances to achieve them. SMART means Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

But if we use that for writing a story, I would like those letters to mean: Storytelling, Metric, Amusement, Relatability, and Timing.

  • STORYTELLING. Write your stories with a purpose in a way your reader can identify the elements of it and get hooked. A character, a goal or desire, a conflict, and a resolution, or at least the attempt of achieving that goal.
  • METRIC. If you master the size of your sentences and scenes to give them rhythm and elicit a specific effect in your reader’s senses, you’ll master the art of storytelling. I’m telling you. You’ll hook your reader from beginning to end, you’ll tell your reader how to breathe when to gasp when to laugh, and when to cry just by mastering metric.
  • AMUSEMENT. We get carried away, I know. Sometimes, we just keep writing, and we forget that we’re writing a story to another person, an ideal reader, and they must feel amused, or they’re simply not going to finish the story. Make it amusing, entertaining, informative (if you will), make your scenes meaningful.
  • RELATABILITY. That’s a tough one. And we could use “Remarkable Characters” there too, they both go in the same direction. Your story has to touch your ideal reader in a way they understand the characters’ motives and struggle, and they root for them. No matter if they root for the villain or the protagonist, aim for relatability, aim for making your characters or story remarkable.
  • THREATENS. Finally, this is where you’re gonna find weaknesses that may or may not kill your story. It all depends on how high are the risks. You know what I mean. When you touch delicate subjects, when you express in a way that is not very clear, you can drive the reader to judge you or the purpose of the story. Be aware of those elements and if you think you’re not willing to take the risk of being misunderstood, cut it out or rewrite that part.

SWOT analysis

Now, SWOT analysis. The good old chart with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Have you ever seen one of those? I wanna puke every time I see shortsighted people using that at work. Really, I love SMART goals but I hate SWOT to my guts.

HOWEVER, if we repurpose it to editing our story, here’s what we got:

  • STRENGTHS. When you reread your draft, you will find some very strong sentences, scenes, and plot points. Mark them. Keep them and check if they’re in the right position (timing).
  • WEAKNESSES. Weaknesses here mean the parts where you didn’t achieve your goal with your ideal reader. Like I said, we get carried away when we’re writing and we forgot about the other side listening or reading our story. Weak points are what we need to rewrite.
  • OPPORTUNITIES. I love this part. You had an outline and idea for your story. But when you read it again, you find something new or something you could improve. An opportunity. It can be a point where you may want to add a flashback or change the rhythm or add something. A moment in your scene where you could address a specific theme you didn’t plan before. Take note, it may enrich your story.

that’s it…

Use SMART GOALS as a checklist for your story, where your goal is to think like a Storyteller who uses a well-thought metric for sentences and scenes and make your story Amusing for your ideal reader and Relatable to them, and don’t you lose the sense of Timing.

And SWOT turns into an editing style or problems to solve in your final draft: What’s strong in the story? What doesn’t work? What are the opportunities to improve? And what threatens your story (and how can you fix it)?

Now, what do you think about that? You can share your thoughts here in my post today @beardbetweenthelines. Also, do you know any productivity or business-like tip repurposed for writing? Let me know.

Best,
João

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