You Gotta Have a Plan
Plans come in all shapes and sizes, from what do I intend to be doing five years from now, to what am I going to write when I hit the pages tomorrow morning.
I love plans. I'm sure it's no mistake that two of my books ended up with the word plan in the title because many of my characters end up having plans as well. When I was in 7th grade,
I started working my plan for what I would do to ensure I would get into college. (I was the first person in my family to go to college.)
Goal setting is one of the best ways to increase your productivity. It allows you to hold yourself accountable and gives you something specific to work towards. The way you go about this and the level to which you take it will depend entirely on you. You have to do what works for you.
One size does not fit all for any of this.
My friend author Holly Jacobs is one of the most productive people I know. She has goals and plans, but I'd be willing to bet (I'm going to go ask her!) that she doesn't write them down. She doesn't have to. That doesn't work for her.
It works for me. From a 5 year plan, to a 3 Act Structure chart outlining the basics of my novel, I like the act of planning in advance, of charting a course and writing it down.
Holly keeps her plans in her head.
Of course I'm all getting to the stage in life where writing things down helps prevent forgetting. And now that we can take notes that are searchable on our technology, make notes on a smartphone whenever and wherever, it's even better. (That prevents the frantic search of the desk, kitchen table, etc., while muttering, “I know I wrote that down. Where the hell did I put that piece of paper?” It also prevents a computer monitor covered in Post It notes that become an invisible forest.)
There are even free tools now like Asana where you can break plans down into small, manageable tasks and check them off as you complete them. You can set deadlines and due dates as well.
“I'm going to write and sell a book” is a big goal. First you have to write the book. That means the subtask of writing every day. Depending on your personal preference, it may mean meeting with a critique partner or group on a regular basis. There are things to learn and prepare for as to what you're going to do with the book when it's finished. Is it just for you? Do you want to traditionally publish it? If so, who publishes the type of book you're writing? How do you approach them? Do you need an agent? If so how do you get one of those? Who are the reputable players in the field?
I'm always boggled at the number of writers who don't do any homework at all. The internet is your friend. You can find all sorts of information out here. Life is much easier for writers now than ever before. There are writing groups out there of all shapes and sizes and genres, filled with writers who are willing to share their knowledge. Conferences abound.
But you gotta have a plan. And working your plan requires...well, work. A plan is not a wish, or a dream. A plan is how you make a dream reality.
So what's your dream? (I want to visit Montana.) Change that dream into a goal and start taking steps to make it reality. Write it down. Put a deadline on it. (By summer of 2018.)
Now get to work.