Over at the 5 Buck Forum we’ve been kicking around what our dreams are for our writing.
With a couple of exceptions, the dreams aren’t too surprising.
Make a living at writing is probably top, followed by make a better living.
More than one person admitted to having a yen to writing novels and getting them sold.
A book of poetry showed up a couple of times.
Residual income was mentioned, as were ebooks, self-publishing and trade publishing.
Every one of these dreams is a worthy one. Unfortunately many of them will never be realize, for one of two reasons.
The dreams aren’t really important
In some cases they will go unrealized because they truly aren’t very important to the person dreaming. That’s totally okay, as long as you recognize and accept that.
It’s kind of like back in the day when I would tell people I planned to go back to college. At some point I realized I really didn’t want to complete a formal education; I was only saying I would because I thought I should. Recognizing I really wasn’t going to go back to college to get a degree actually freed me up to pursue all sorts of education in an informal manner that works for me.
Another example: several weeks ago I finally recognized that I don’t want to write a mystery novel, I want to have written one. That’s a huge and important distinction. I suspect it was accepting that I don’t want to write a mystery novel after all actually freed up energy to begin a book of Zen-type poetry called gathas.
The dreams aren’t backed up by goals and action plans
Many of our dreams go unrealized however because we never set up goals and action plans.
In my experience, if you don’t have goals and action plans you won’t get where you want to go.
Goals, including writing goals, can be thought of as a self-generated road map that helps us see where we want to go and let’s us measure our progress or lack of it along the way.
An action plan is simply our plan for getting there.
Note that plans change along the way – they should. We are resourceful and flexible creatures and when operating well, respond to our life in wonderfully creative ways.
How to turn a dream into a goal
Goal setting isn’t difficult really. Take a single dream, like make a living writing,or write a novel
Define what you mean by it. If it’s making a living, how much do you actually want to earn; if it’s a novel, open a file and at least begin, then set a date you want it completed by, or describe the novel you want to write.
In other words, name the goal, define it and determine the date you want to accomplish it by.
Create an action plan
Obviously to get from here to accomplishing your goal lots of stuff has to happen. The place to map out all that stuff is your Action Plan.
An Action Plan is a listing of the steps you need, or think you need, to take to accomplish the goal.
I start such a plan with a list of items. For example, when Lori and I agreed to create the 5 Buck Forum the initial action list looked like this:
get a domain name
set up a blog
decide on a price
set up the membership plug in
set up the forum plug in
design a banner
start an interest list
develop a written agreement between us
You probably can’t tell, but this isn’t in the order it actually happened and in this example I’m not showing the dates. The Word file, and now shared Google Document files are a table with two or three columns. The first column is the task and the right most column is the date the task is accomplished.
Know your plan and even your goal will change
As important as it is to set goals and action plans to realize your dreams, it’s critical that as your work toward them your plan and maybe even your goals will change. The goal and the plan are meant to be useful tools, not tyrants you create for yourself. You’ll meet some of your deadlines and miss others, both of which will inform you about your process.
It’s been said by others that a rocket ship to the moon is off course something close to 99 percent of the time – it’s the constant correction that allows it to land on target. It’s the same with our dreams, goals and action plans.
Go easy with yourself; increase your odds by turning at least some of your writing dreams into goals.
What writing dream will you turn into a goal and an action plan?