When the clock turns forward, we tend to think about what the next year will bring. Now personally I’m not one for making New Years resolutions, but I absolutely do think forward, solidifying what I want to accomplish, ways I want to change, and then I make a plan on how to do both.
Right now, a big change is going on behind the scenes (I apologize for being vague but I really can’t talk about it yet) and the stakes have raised. Becca and I had to make a decision, and we made it. Our path forward means doubling down in what we believe in and embracing risks that will greatly challenge our knowledge and abilities. It’s a bit scary. No, that’s the wrong word. It’s terrifying.
But if we have learned anything, it is that if we want something, the only way to get it is to turn intent into action. This means engaging in some deep thinking and planning, and then moving on to the hard work of doing.
If you want to accomplish big things as an author, ask yourself these questions. They will help you move from thinking, to planning, to DOING.
- ASK: As a writer, what do I want for myself in the coming year that is within my control to do, will bring me joy, and will leave me satisfied at year’s end?
- EVALUATE: How can I better steer my time and energy so I grow, improve, and move forward in ways I can measure?
- IDENTIFY: What stepping stones will help me get closer to my goals this next year?
- RESEARCH: What tools, information, education, communities, and opportunities will help me grow in the ways I need most?
- PRIORITIZE: How can I make it a priority to obtain these things?
- NAVIGATE: What tasks must I finish to ensure I make progress toward reasonable and achievable goals?
This is the hard part. We can think and plan, but unless we’re ready to do the hard work, we won’t succeed. So consider the following:
COMMIT: Reject excuses and change your habits. Better manage your writing time. Create a to-do list or set achievable mini-goals each day. If you have one, make choices that align to your business plan.
Why is this important? When more is getting done (revisions completed, new projects started, a book published, a website created, etc.) you can’t help but be motivated by your progress. Small successes lead to big ones, and each day that you choose action over inaction, you will see how YOU and YOUR CHOICES are shaping your future.
INVEST: Buy that course (or workshop, marketing guide, etc.) if you truly need it. Invest in the subscription that will give you access to knowledge and mentorship so you can achieve important stepping stones. Trade your time to work with critique partners so you can learn from each other.
Why is this important? I’m not trying to be flippant or cause anyone financial hardship. It’s not easy to spend time and money up front, especially when there are other things going on in our lives. We feel guilt, we worry. But like any other professional career, we writers need to invest in knowledge and a toolkit to do our best work. Be smart about it, but if you need something to succeed, make it a priority.
SACRIFICE: Decide what you are willing to let go of to get what you want. Trade a TV show for more writing time. Get up a bit earlier on the weekends to have more time to focus on your goals. Give up those fancy coffees and put the money toward a resource you know will make writing easier.
Why is this important? When you walk the walk, that’s powerful. It proves to your biggest critic (that’s YOU, by the way) that you will not be deterred, how this is important and meaningful, and you’re willing to do whatever it takes. So make sacrifices.
Don’t Be Afraid of a Business Plan
Years ago, Becca and I realized we needed to make a change if we wanted to get anywhere. Our career was overloaded with “all the things we felt we needed to juggle” to succeed. We decided to narrow our focus on what would help us reach specific goals and we created a business plan.
My gosh, the difference has been astounding! I wrote about our plan long ago at Jane Friedman’s blog and still have people asking for the template, so if it will help you, check it out. 🙂
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
I’ve done the thinking and planning, but the doing is hard. It’s not hard because I’m not willing to do the tasks (I am doing most of them), it’s hard because I doubt myself. I’m so afraid to move forward because I’m afraid my work still isn’t good enough. I’m trying to get over this feeling, but it’s a struggle.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I just read a book that actually helped me with this a bit. It’s an arc, but will be out soon. it’s called Boundless Creativity by the Plot Whisperer (Martha Alderson). You might want to check it out as this is something that we really need to fight our way free of. Hugs. https://amzn.to/2sTIFAP
Traci Kenworth says
I invested in a six month plan with WritersHelpingWriters.net. It will be a gift well cherished and used to help my toolkit grow. Thank you, Angela and Becca for a FANTASTIC tool in character-builder and more!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Traci, I hope you really find it useful. And I am glad you love the Character builder—I am so proud of that one. I love what I can do with it!
Deborah Makarios says
“How can I better steer my time and energy so I grow, improve, and move forward” – SUCH a good question! I feel like I’m just inching along with incremental improvements, but I look back to just a few years ago, and I’ve come so far. But there’s still so far to go…
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
This is exactly it, which is why we have to think about the small objectives and daily actions and stay focused on those. Small steps get us to where we are going! Worrying about big milestones too much can lead to fear and erode our self-belief. If we treat each day as an opportunity to get things done that matter, we end up where we need to be! 🙂
Jenny Hansen says
This is a perfect post for me right now. I am getting out from under a commitment that has been horrific this last year. It sucked up both my time and creative juice and gave very little back. So, I am pumped to double down on my writing! And excited to hear what’s on the horizon for you and Becca. 🙂
Now about this business plan template…I need that link please!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
I’m glad you were able to get away from the thing stealing your energy! As to the business plan, it’s linked in the post, but I’ll add the post here too: https://www.janefriedman.com/business-plans-for-writers/
Here’s to a better 2020 for all of us!