Thursday, November 18, 2010

Planning for Later

I read blogs about bloggers. These bloggers have made a living blogging, which impresses the heck out of me. They write tight as a tick, spit out bullets like firecrackers, and bleed personality all over the screen. They combine creativity and business savvy in one package, and they make me green with envy.

So when one blogger at Problogger said he followed the advice of his multimillionaire uncle, I leaned forward in my chair. "You must always have a short-term source of income that pays the bills, two medium-term projects that supplement the income, and one long-term project that’s a year away from fruition. Always."

As much as I'd love to plagiarize that idea as my own, I didn't. However, over two decades as a loan/grant/financial person with the Feds reminded me that every business has short term, mid term and long term goals, which includes various methods of bringing in a dollar. It's called diversification.

"Don't put all your eggs in one basket" is a very elementary way of looking at it, but there's a creative message in here, too. That long term project is your heart. Just because you have to write tech pieces, columns, interviews, book reviews and features to pay the rent, doesn't mean you toss your dreams.

Personally, my example of this lesson would be:

-SHORT TERM- Write articles and editorials for immediate income.
-MID TERM - Seek larger markets for my income, expand my brand, write a nonfiction book or sequel to The Shy Writer: An Introvert's Guide to Writing Success
-LONG TERM - Publish my mystery novels.

Your goals might include non-writing ones:

-SHORT TERM - Work job and save ten percent for later, when you hope to jump ship and become a fulltime writer. Develop a blog. Take a creative writingn class at the university. Attend a conference.
-MID TERM - Publish in two markets a month. Blog five times a week. Write the first novel.
-LONG TERM - Quit the job. Earn $ xx per month. Publish the novel.

If you operated a business, you'd have goals for this month, this year, two years and five years from now. You are a business if someone pays you for your words. And diversity is key to being a viable business. With diligence, your mid term goals start becoming your short term, and your long term goal becomes more achieveable. You create more goals to fill in after those you accomplished. Oh my gosh, you realize you've become a writer with an honest-to-goodness income, a solid foundation, and a brand.

And it all started with a plan.


Linda Formichelli said...

Great post, Hope! I'm terrible about having goals...I just kind of float along and everything always turns out okay. But I love the idea of having bigger, longer-term goals to round out my "gotta make income now!" mindset. said...

Great post! Glad you're continuing to help people reach their goal of Writing Well.

Hope Clark said...

For some reason we are afraid to plan. Sometimes I wonder if we're afraid to place yet another obstacle before us, even it's of our own choosing. But it sure helps you focus to plan. In hindsight it's so productive.

Laura Townshend said...

I read this article, too. It resonates much wisdom. You're right about how corporations plan -- I think some of us forget that we are self employed...we are our brand...and we deserve putting the effort and time back into ourselves.

Thanks for the post and you are right on, as usual!

Linda Wisniewski said...

I like this way of looking at a writing career. I have all three types of writing going at once, and need to prioritize them and/or assign appropriate times for each.

J.A. Souders said...

This is a wonderful post! And gave me just the push I needed to start submitting those short stories that are festering on my hard drive, while my agent works her butt off subbing my novels. Thank you!

John Wiswell said...

Never thought of breaking it down into three time brackets like that. That's interesting. Food for thought.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the title of your book and became highly irritated. Being an introvert doesn't mean that a person is shy. People need to do more research before they decide to place labels. You might want to check out the Introvert Advantage if you decide to write more on the topic.

Hope Clark said...

Dear Anonymous-

If you cracked the book, you might see I preach just what you said - no, I rant about it. If you saw me in person about this topic, I'd be considered fanatical about it. There's an entire section on labels. An old adage comes to mind, "Don't judge a book by its cover." What do you think?

Joan Dempsey, Literary Living said...

Hi Hope, thanks for this! Since I finished my MFA I've been writing "writing life contracts" for myself every 6 months. They're like mini-business plans that include goals for writing, reading, the business of writing, life-balance stuff, etc. 3 writing friends and I share these and then hold each other accountable every month and do a 6-month review at the end of each contract. We'll be using this in the Literary Living program (, too - it's a great way to set goals and measure progress and I like the idea of a short-, medium- & long-term focus. Thanks for sharing the idea!

Kristi's Book Nook said...

Wow! You really laid it down on this one. I put my goals together at the beginning of the year and the only one that I didn't succeed in is being published locally. Now, the good news is I queried, they wanted the article, just have not heard anything yet. It could still happen by the end of this year. Thanks.