Here’s another article I wrote a few years ago I thought I’d dust off and share. 🙂 I hope it helps you become more organized, or consider it. 🙂 I can speak from personal experience that by setting annual goals, then breaking those goals down into weekly goals is helping me immensely in moving forward and growing as a writer. 🙂
Have you ever met someone so passionate about something you can hear the intensity in their voice and words, and see it in their eyes? They absolutely love what they’re talking about. But have you ever really sat down with someone who wanted to be a writer but just couldn’t get past the idea of talking about writing—the craft, the business, what their writer friends are doing, and where they’re at in their careers? These people love the idea of what it is to be a writer.
Call me a snob if you must, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned (and it’s a very simple thing, mind you), it’s that if you want to be a writer, you have to write. Many writers have either stated these exact words, or paraphrased them in some manner, so what I’m advising here is nothing new.
I’ve met and known people who have developed their own “method” of writing, one which leads to not writing at all in the end. They use up too much energy being frustrated and worried about what others are doing, what they’re not doing. They allow their own fears to get in the way of going from unpublished to published. Or they wait for the muse to shoot some creativity their way instead of working on without her.
If you want to be a serious writer and build a career, you can’t rely on your muse. You have to put that butt in a chair or couch—wherever you’re most comfortable writing—and just do it. Writing isn’t just about creating stories, it’s a business.
It takes both discipline and consistency and yes, in my case, strategic planning regarding where I’m at, where I want to be, and how I’ll get there. I’m aspiring big, but starting small. You can do the same, but the only way it’ll work is if you stick to it.
There are, of course, no guarantees in life. Sometimes our best-laid plans go awry, but if we do everything humanly possible to stay the course as writers, we’ll always be moving closer to meeting our goals and reaching all we aspire to.
Not exactly sure where you want to be in a year or two, five or even ten? Or how you’ll get there? Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of where to even begin? Sit down at your computer or grab a pen and paper, and brainstorm for five or ten minutes. Write down every idea you have, no matter how simple it seems.
Here are some ideas:
Write three books, get an agent, obtain RWA Pro status, get a website, build a social network by creating a MySpace, Twitter, FaceBook page, get a post office box, make business cards, create book trailers for your books along with other promotional items. Write for your dream publisher; hit the New York Times, USA Today or other major bestseller lists; start a blog, join a critique group, enter writing contests, judge writing contests, learn and understand the specific publishing models, and determine which is best for you. Get published. Study up on craft and the business of publishing. Sign up for online workshops each month, read books on writing. Read and dissect books from publishers you plan on targeting, familiarize yourself with the legal side of the writing business, and how to interact professionally with editors and agents. Learn how to research agents and publishers. Network with other authors. Attend book signings of friends; attend the RWA National conference, the Romantic Times Convention, or other smaller writing conferences. Design a workshop of your own to present, volunteer in your local RWA chapter or online chapters, and join any other chapters, and Yahoo groups to network with even more authors and potential readers.
Then, once you’ve written down all of your ideas, decide which ones are the most important now. Which goals do you need to accomplish before you begin tackling the others on your list? Do you really need a P.O. Box before you’re published? Order your goals by importance and divide them up into 3-month segments. Some goals might take longer than others, so be reasonable when allocating the amount of time to achieve them.
Break down your writing goals and decide where they fit in your big plan. Can you really write an 80,000 word manuscript in three months? Depending on your writing style, whether you’re a plotter or seat-of-the-pants writer, and if you’re a busy parent with family, kids, day job, you’ll know how to answer this. Be reasonable. You won’t meet your goals if you don’t make them achievable and give yourself enough time. You’ll only end up discouraging yourself.
If you don’t meet a goal as you planned, just move your deadline back by another three months. Even if you don’t meet all of your annual goals, save them for the next year. You’ll have other goals you’ll want to add as you move forward.
Keep your goals in a place where you can view them frequently. Review them often, and be proud of yourself when you cross one of them out. You met it and you’re on your way to success.