There I said it. Out loud and proud, too.
A while ago a couple friends shared a blog post with me by Kristen Lamb. It was a great post, and hell, here’s a link. I’ll wait while you go read it. The post said a bunch of great things. Including: tooting your own horn (a personal favorite of mine), own who you are and what you do, don’t be afraid to fail, and the biggest ‘go after your dream’.
I want to expand on that post and say that you can go after your dream all you want but without structure, short term goals, and long term goals the dream has a lot of potential to fall apart.
As an author I’ve learned I need a career plan, just like any other job. Publishers, like bosses, expect you to have some idea of where you are going or at least where you want to go. It shows commitment, thought, and determination.
Real World Example *squirrel*– I’ve worked at my current company for 7 years. I started the same day as two other, wonderful ladies did. One of them is now a Vice President and the other is a Senior Director. I, just two weeks ago, finally got a management position. My yearly reviews reflected the perfect reasons for not getting promoted – Landra is “INSERT AWESOME COMMENT HERE”. I’m a team player, believer in doing what’s right for the company, an go-getter, a advocate for my job, and passionate about what I do. Yep, I got all the high praise, which equals bupkis, much like the college degrees I have hidden in a drawer somewhere. Why no promotion? I always waffled when some asked me what I wanted to do. I pulled my hair over my face and maintained status quo with no plan nor any idea on where I saw myself in the years to come. So when the job openings came and went no boss volunteered my name, or believed I gave a tiddly-winks about the other opportunities. It took a lot of work to break through the stigma attached to my error, 3 years of work.
Back to the point, if you just want to write books, whatever genre or story comes to mind, then you’re not ready. Do it, but go back to the drawing board and come up with what that looks like down the road. What do you love to write? What do you hate to read? What does your favorite book look like? Is it niche market, is it unique/new? Define it, define the plan.
“Having just the vision’s no solution; everything depends on execution.” – Stephen Sondheim
You got the vision… the plan is in a Word document, a journal, or on the back of the McDonald’s bag you forget to throw away after last night’s dinner.
You have to show up. Half the battle is getting to the computer every day and working. Putting down the words, critiquing another author’s work, receiving critiques back, and editing those piece of crap scenes/chapters/stories that make you want to pull your hair out and possibly give up before your finished.
If anyone reads Chuck Wendig’s blog then you know this part… finishing what you started, is the next piece of the puzzle. Forcing yourself to spill out words that release you from the creativity prison in which your story bleeds, pukes, or defecates onto the page. It’s not pretty, nor easy. I’m currently dragging 1k out of my fingers per day or at least trying to.
From there it’s edits. Oh the fine art of ripping apart everything you’ve accomplished and tearing a new hole in your ego as well. But that’s a tale for another time.
Bottom Line: Plans are important. There are some things you can’t pants (I say that and I’m sure there’s someone out there who can prove me wrong). So plan, finish, rinse and repeat.
What say you?