Originally called Write Your Own Reality Business Plans for Writers this guest article by Devon Ellington is a great way to start to shape your goals and planning.
Focus. Commitment. Desire. These are the three touchstones necessary for success as a working writer.
But what is the definition of “success”? How do you cut through the “have-tos” of life, both personal and professional, to leave room for the “want-tos”?
To one person, “success” means hitting The New York TimesBestseller List. To someone else, it means paying the bills. To a third person, it means a story published in a literary magazine that pays in contributor copies. There’s room for every definition of success – but the individual has to make their own, singular definition. How? Write your definition down!.
Plan Your Writing Business for Success
A business plan is vital, but to get to the business plan, it’s necessary to ask questions that affect the practical, the emotional, and the spiritual.
That’s where a list of questions to evaluate one’s goals, dreams and resolutions is useful. The need to create a focused plan for the coming year, to sort out projects and priorities, and to have something more definite to work towards than just “making a living as a writer” fashioned the questions below to act as a catalyst for reflection and an aid to define the coming year. To me, a goal is different from a dream, which is different from a resolution. How often do we make New Year’s Resolutions only to break them within a few days? By itemizing what we desire, we can write them into reality. A ”goal” is a practical, tangible objective I wish to achieve. A “dream” is something that seems farther away and is more ambiguous. A “resolution” is a way to live my life that will help bring the dream closer into focus as a goal.
Starting Point for Writing Dreams
The following questions are a starting point to help formulate goals, dreams, and resolutions. Feel free to add or subtract other ideas relevant to your own life.
- Where do you want to be with your writing in the long-term?
- Where are you with your writing now?
- What project did you leave unfinished last year that you need to finish for your own peace of mind?
- What creative goals do you want to achieve over the next year?
- What financial goals do you want to achieve over the next year? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? (Note: Feel free to keep this number private, but you should set one).
- What steps do you see necessary in your life to achieve these goals?
- What will make you refer to yourself, first and foremost, as “writer”?
- What steps do you need to take on the technical front to achieve your goals (such as improving spelling, grammar, and a general widening of skills)?
- What steps do you need to take on the creative front to achieve your goals?
- What changes do you need to make in your daily life (interaction with friends, family, job) to make this work?
- What marketing steps do you need to achieve your goals?
- How much time each day do you vow to devote to your writing?
- With what new type of writing will you experiment in the coming year?
- What new non-writing interest do you wish to add to your life this year?
Take your time with these questions. Wrestle with them. There’s nothing wrong with coming up with a series of widely different answers and then narrowing them down to what you really want and need.
From the information discovered in the process, you can make a list for yourself of your resolutions – ways to live your life as an all-around person that will support your desires. You can list your dreams – long-term desires that might not have completely formulated yet. And you can list your goals – the daily work that will bring you closer to the resolutions and the dreams.
As life is a work in progress, so is this process. Revisit it often during the year. Reward yourself for your achievements. Re-evaluate and see where your life has changed. Perhaps there are things on the initial list that are no longer of value. It’s okay to cross something off or decide that something you thought you wanted is no longer important. That’s not failure – it’s intelligence. And remember to build in activities that are removed from writing and bring other joys. Why be a freelance writer on your own schedule if you’re going to build yourself into the same box as if you worked for a corporation? Freedom, creativity and discipline are the foundations of a freelance life. Think of the questions as a guidebook of possibilities to make your journey as joyful as your destination.
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