Breaking Down the Five-Year Plan

Last week I talked about the importance of a long term plan to accomplish my goal of turning my writing aspirations into a career as a published author. I’m still new at this weekly blogging thing, so forgive me. I thought last week’s post was way too long, so I’ll be much more to the point this week. I hear you should only blog if you have something important to say and I think it’s pretty obvious I’m of that opinion. J

So I have an idea where I want to be in five years. But it’s January 10th of the first year. How do I start breaking it down and getting stuff done now?

Here’s the high-level 2011 plan I showed you last week:

  1. Complete 1 single title and 2 category length novels to submissible stage
  2. Complete 1st draft on 1 single title novel
  3. Attend local chapter RWA conference in April
  4. Pitch single title to agent at conference
  5. Submit 1 ST to at least 30 agents and 2 CL to Harlequin
  6. Enter the Golden Heart
  7. Attend at least 5 local chapter RWA monthly meetings
  8. Study 3 published books
  9. Invest at least one hour a week learning about the publishing industry
  10. Blog 1x a week from predetermined list of topics

 The next step is to put some shorter term dates on these things and also start to look at the small tasks that will comprise the whole. For example, I’m not nearly brave (or stupid) enough to walk into a pitch session with a real live agent who is as savvy and successful as Lucienne Diver (YES! I HAVE AN APPOINTMENT WITH LUCIENNE DIVER!!! I’m only a little excited) without doing serious research. So instead of making that one of my goals, I just know that’s part and parcel of the larger task. Same goes with #5 – sub to at least 30 agents. When you do that, you have to have a truly awesome query letter. That means you gotta write one AND get some eyes on it, preferably someone not familiar with the plot of your book.

To expand on my high-level 2011 plan, I created an Excel spreadsheet which looks something like this:

   Writing Career    WEEKLY GOALS:
Jan Edit Single Title 1 Complete book analysis worksheet    Read the dictionary fifteen min a week
Feb Edit Single Title 1 and send to beta by EOM Agent spreadsheet and pitch prep/research    Invest one hour a week learning about the industry
Mar Work beta comments on ST1 1.Study published book 1
2.Agent spreadsheet and pitch prep/research
   Blog 1x a week and have a list of topics ready to go
Apr 1.Category 1 prework
2.FD Cat1
1.RWA local chap Conference and agent pitch
2.Submit ST1 to 30 agents
May Cat1 edit and send to beta Agent subs ST1      
Jun Work Cat1 beta comments 1.Agent subs ST1
2.Study published book 2
Jul Preplan Cat2 Sub Cat1      
Aug FD Cat2       YEAR END GOALS:
Sep Edit Cat2 and send to beta by EOM Study pub book 3    Stay on budget
Oct 1.Work beta comments on Cat2
2.Preplan Single Title 2
GH entry    Attend at least 5 RWA local chap meetings
Nov NaNo ST2 Sub Cat2      
Dec Edit ST2         

 Some things to observe about my more detailed plan:

  1. Some months are lighter than other months. This is because I took stuff into account like summer vacation and Christmas break.
  2. I’m not specifying which book I’m going to write (IE one of the thirty or so I have ideas for. I wish I was exaggerating) or which one I’m going to study, so I have leeway in case I change my mind.
  3. For tasks I know I want to do weekly, I stuck them in the WEEKLY GOALS column (duh) instead of trying to put them into the month slot since it didn’t really make sense that way. Same with yearly.
  4. I focus better when I separate actual words on the page and career-oriented tasks, which is why they’re um, separated. You don’t have to do it that way, but they are different skill-sets and use different parts of the brain. One’s creative and the other is more analytical.
  5. FD=fast draft, RWA=Romance Writers of America, NaNo=National Novel Writing Month, and GH=Golden Heart contest. Did I miss any acronyms or is anything else making you crazy because you don’t know what in the blazes I’m talking about?
  6. This more detailed than the five-year, but less detailed than the weekly plan I’m going to talk about next week. There are a LOOOOOOOT of steps in something simple sounding like “edit single title 1”. I have an editing spreadsheet checklist with forty-five items on it. No, I really don’t expect anyone to be shocked…

I promised to be short this time, so I’m stopping here. Any questions, observations, or recommendations for a nice loony bin? Is this kind of stuff helpful or too much for you to even contemplate?

6 thoughts on “Breaking Down the Five-Year Plan

  1. This is really great. I especially like how you have a set amount of time or effort for somethings (ie, blog once a week, study three titles). It’s so easy for some of these not writing things to eat up all of my could-be-writing time.

    • Thanks. 🙂 I do try hard to compartmentalize. I have a difficult time with “getting in the zone” in the first place but I’m also a stay at home mom and DH works from home, so there’s no *just me* time ever. I really have to focus on a task until it’s done or it doesn’t get done. And sometimes it doesn’t get done but one thing I’ve learned is to work on the writing first and let other stuff go, like workshops and career stuff. You gotta have a book worth selling before it matters if you’ve researched the industry. Thanks for stopping by!

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