Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What are Your Writing Plans for 2012?

That's right. It's not halfway through 2011, and I'm asking what are your plans for your writing in 2012. If you worked as an entrepreneur in any other profession, you'd have that business/marketing plan already prepared.

Conferences, for instance, lock in their speakers a year ahead of time. I have a list of 15 or more conferences I'm corresponding with about speaking engagements. Some haven't had their 2011 conferences yet. However, I have a novel coming out in winter 2012. Waiting until then to line up events means missing the hot release period when a book is at its peak.

But whether you have a book or not, where do you see your writing in a year?

We tend to write when we can, or struggle over immediate deadlines, thinking that opportunity will fall in our lap as we go. Seriously, that's the business plan for the majority of writers. That's why we have such a huge rate of turnover - so many starting and giving up - coming and going - excited and demoralized.

We can't see the light at the end of the tunnel because we don't even see the tunnel. We're on a sideroad somewhere figuring we'll get there one day. We just don't know where "there" is.

Please, whether you intend to make money at this profession or not, find a way to focus. Plan your production and marketing, if not potential income, for each month for the next twelve. Be daring and take your plans to the end of 2012. Get excited about where you're headed.

Thinking ahead is energizing.

The problem for many of us is the lack of a boss. Yes, we become freelancers to be our own bosses. Then we don't know what to do with the power. That's because a  boss makes the plans and we do the work. Most want to write and not worry about the distribution. We are workers by nature, bosses by necessity.

But...when you prepare a plan, set goals, look for self-improvement via classes and conferences, enter new contests, finish drafts, create proposals, hire clients, all according to projected dates, we become so empowered it's crazy! That's what drives so many CEOs. No, they aren't getting their hands dirty, which drives the worker-bees and union folk crazy. But they are steering the ship.

As a freelancer, you steer and swab the deck. Friggin' hard work. But when you reach your planned port, it's success all on you, baby. You did it.

Let's say you work 20 hours per week as a writer. Adjust according to your situation. Anyway, take an hour a week to manage the business. Take another four hours to market. Some will say these numbers are too conservative. I see them as a minimum. You do with them what you will.

But that's 25 percent of your writing time! Welcome to being an entrepreneur. Look at it this way. If you worked for a boss, you'd get to write all the time. By choosing to be the boss, you sacrifice for the sake of the business.

That's 15 minutes out of every hour. During that time...

1. Network (that's right, it's part of business, not writing)
2. Record and categorize income and expenses
3. Plan your conference attendances
4. Plan books to purchase/read for self-improvement
5. Plan critique/writers group meetings
6. Organize the website/blog
7. Read informational blogs, magazines and articles about promoting yourself

So, now that you are thinking like an entrepreneur, what are your plans for 2012? Thinking like a boss on a more consistent basis makes you more apt to actually make money at this stuff.


Sioux Roslawski said...

I actually had lunch with writer friends on Saturday, and planned on listing the goals I want to accomplish this summer, when I have time off from teaching.

I guess I can extend those goals and expand upon them...

And everybody knows---if you "publish" your goals and make them public (on a blog, for example) you HAVE to make them come true, because your friends will nudge and prod you otherwise...

Unknown said...

These are great tips! As I'm self-employed at my day job in a private practice, organization and planning are vital to the business. Tax planning is an area where it really pays to keep organized throughout the year. Though I'm an unpublished author, weekly and monthly critique groups have helped keep me on task with personal goals. Thanks for the reminders. :)

Stella Jones Myers said...

When I read this, the Toby Keith song," If you don't where you're going" popped into my head. Part of the lyrics say," If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else." I have been ending up somewhere else and intend to make goals and timelines. Thanks again, for pushing. Stella Myers

Julie Burroughs said...

I recently found where I wrote out my "in 5 years" goals, two years ago. We have moved twice in the interim, so I had literally lost and forgotten about the single handwritten page in a spiral notebook. While interesting to see how I'm coming along, I wonder if perhaps I need to break it down into yearly steps.

For 2011 I created a Google Doc with my goals for the year, I shared it with my husband and I update comments on how things are going and "check off" progress.

Hope's post here makes me think: I need a happy medium between my two methods so far!