Dear Andy,

I’m a writer working on my first novel (a trilogy series) and my publisher recommended using OKRs to help me stay on track. Do you think this is a good idea? Would OKRs be a good thing to use for writing a trilogy novel series? If so, what would be a good way to write the objective?

Sincerely,
Jason

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Hi Jason!
Thanks for writing in! As a fellow writer I know how intimidating the blank page can be, so I’m thrilled you’re using OKRs to help you along the way. It’s a common misconception that OKRs only work for tech and finance, but we’ve seen them utilized beautifully for artistically minded folks time and time again. Whether you’re writing a novel, changing the way the world uses healthcare, or attempting to put a man on the moon, OKRs are the perfect tool to get specific about how you’re going to achieve your big, hairy, audacious goals (or BHAGs, as we like to call them).

There are multiple ways you can implement OKRs in writing a book-or three! What is your biggest hurdle at the moment? What’s the most important thing you need to accomplish in order for your trilogy to be successful? If you are struggling to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys, rather), perhaps you could use OKRs to help keep you on track:

o
O: Make writing a priority
kr1
10% increase in pages written each month
kr2
First draft to editor by the end of 2022
kr3
50% less time on distracting activities

Writing a trilogy novel series requires consistency and attention to detail—how would you quantify success in that area? Are there any literary traps you want to avoid? If so, you could write an OKR like this:

o
O: Story has a strong and consistent through-line
kr1
Zero plot holes
kr2
Zero unresolved plot branches
kr3
25% fewer notes from editor each draft

Is the series’ financial success important to you? Many writers define success as ‘making a living’—what does ‘a living’ look like to you?

o
O: Make a living as a writer
kr1
Royalties from novel makes up X% of total income
kr2
Pay off $X of student loans by the end of 2022
kr3
Be ables to take x less shifts/month at survival job

Or, let’s say you’re an established writer. Success of this trilogy might look very different. Is there another trilogy series out there that you’d like to either compare to?? What metrics tell you whether your series is a hit?

o
Write a smash hit trilogy series
kr1
Each book sells 30% more than the previous
kr2
80% of reader reviews are positive
kr3
Make 10 prestige best-seller lists
kr4
3 studio offers for film adaption

Once you cut through the scary business jargon, you’ll see that the ability to articulate goals in a clear, concise, and emotionally-provocative way is crucial to writing good OKRs. So you, as a writer, are probably far better suited to them than you may think.

Thanks for writing in, Jason, and best of luck to you.

Sincerely,
Billy from the What Matters Team

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