From Small Village to Bestselling Author

Sep 12, 2023
Caroline Mitchell, bestselling author, write your book, plotting a book, how to plot a book, authors, goals, how to write, inspirational author stories

From a Small Village to Bestselling Author

Hi, I'm Caroline Mitchell. Today, I'm a bestselling author featured in The New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today with over 1.8 million books sold and 15 translations worldwide. But my life wasn't always like this. I grew up in a tiny Irish village, where my school report card always stated that I had the potential to do well, if only I'd stop daydreaming. Many years later, I was working as a police officer in Essex, struggling to make ends meet as I raised a young family, and living from payday to payday. Can you relate?


The Moment That Changed Everything

One day, my colleagues and I were discussing "golden handcuffs"—those long-term benefits that make it hard to leave a job even when it's sucking the life out of you. I declared, "I won't reach ten years in the police." They laughed, because at the time there was no way I could afford to give up my job. But I made a pact with myself. Then, the universe intervened: a colleague introduced me to "The Secret," a DVD about the law of attraction and positive thinking. That was the turning point.


The Power of Positive Thinking and Goal Setting

It's important to say at this stage that positive thinking alone won't write your book. It takes serious dedication and well-defined goals to turn your daydreams into published pages. Let's get into how to set goals that make sense for aspiring authors.

Specific Goals Are the Key
You wouldn't get into a taxi and tell the driver to vaguely take you somewhere at some point in time. Equally, saying "I want to write a book" won't get you far. Make your goal specific, like "I want to write a 50,000-word romance novel." Then you can get to work on plotting out your book.

Track Your Progress
Utilize word counts or deadlines as metrics. This will keep you accountable.

Aim High, But Be Realistic
Writing deadlines create a sense of urgency and demolish procrastination. But don't set yourself up for failure with unrealistic expectations.

Tools for Success

I've created some resources that can help guide you through your writing journey. Check out my 'Plot Your Book in 14 Days Workbook' and 'The Ultimate Author Goal Planner' on my website. These resources are packed with techniques that have been proven to work.

Small Steps, Big Wins
Start with micro-goals if setting a huge target feels overwhelming. Maybe aim for a daily goal of two hundred words. Remember, consistency beats intensity. Your Future Readers Are Waiting!

Think of writing as self-care for your soul. If you can commit even 15 minutes a day to writing, you're on your way to a completed manuscript. Make it non-negotiable.


Millionaire Goals

The use of goal-setting among millionaires and billionaires is a subject that's been well-documented. I’ve uncovered some interesting facts about how these high-achievers employ goal-setting in their lives:

Many millionaires and billionaires swear by the SMART goal framework—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound. If you’re anything like me, you switch off when you hear acronyms. But SMART goals actually fit in quite well for authors, which is why I included them in my free author guide which is available on my site.

Another millionaire goal setting tactic is the 5/25 Rule: Warren Buffett is worth in the region of 121 billion dollars. He recommends writing down 25 career goals, then prioritizing the top 5. According to him, focusing on those top 5 priorities and ignoring the other 20 is a key to success. You can make this work for other goals, but make sure that writing that book is number one. 

Have you heard of Vision Boards? Oprah Winfrey swears by them and I find them great fun. Vision boards are basically a visual representation of goals, to manifest your ambitions into reality. It can be as simple as a Pinterest board and I’ll be covering them in more detail on my author academy course. You can pin your dream home, car, holiday destination, and it works better if you keep it where you can see it every day.

80/20 Principle: Several affluent people, including Richard Branson, follow the Pareto Principle, focusing on the 20% of activities that are most important and will generate 80% of the results. I found this very interesting, although it took me a while to understand. Say 20% of your readers buy 80% of your books. Then it makes sense to focus your effort on the 20% that makes a difference, instead of the 80% that doesn’t add much.

 I’m also a fan of Long-Term Thinking. I’m always planning ahead. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is famous for this. His goal-setting often involves 5 to 7-year plans. 

On the other hand, Elon Musk is known to break his day into five-minute blocks to maximize productivity.

Buddying up with someone is also effective when you want to plot your book. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, had a business coach (his “accountability partner”) long before it was a trend. Zoom calls are a great way to chat with an accountability buddy, if you can’t meet them physically.

I was interested to read how Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, grew up with her father asking her how she failed each week. The goal was to destigmatize failure and see it as a learning experience—a different but effective form of goal-setting that works for writers too.


I’ve given you lots of examples. They vary, but the pattern is clear. Goal-setting isn’t just for the wealthy but you can use it as inspiration to keep you on track when planning and writing your book.

So, don't let procrastination or overwhelm keep you from telling your story. The world needs your unique voice and perspective. Your dream life as a paid author is closer than you think. Until next time, happy writing!


*Taken from my free podcast, The Motivated Author, now available on Spotify*


Feel free to share this post with a friend who might find it useful. Keep an eye out for my next episode, and in the meantime, download those free writing guides from my site. See you soon!

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