During April, I received two blog awards: The Liebster Award
from Suze of Subliminal Coffee
, and the Very Inspiring Blog Award
from Mel Chelsy of Writings, Musings & Other Such Nonsense
. As part of the condition of accepting the awards, I'm supposed to answer a series of questions and share seven things about myself. As anyone who's been following me for any time will know, I'm a bit of a rebel when it comes to rules. Consequently I'll answer one of the questions and in the process share a little about myself. Suze asked the big question:
What are your goals?
When I first started writing seriously in my teens, my goal was to become a published author by seventeen. That age became twenty one. Then I gave up on age when that deadline slipped by as well. In my mind I became a failed writer. It didn't matter that I'd had short stories and art published in a variety of small magazines. It didn't even matter that I hadn't finished my manuscript. I thought I was serious about my writing and yet I hadn't achieved my goals.
Making manageable goals
So I changed my goals to something more manageable: Finish my manuscript. Before that point I'd been writing my manuscript off and on for seven years. It took me a further two years to finish it. My next goal was to get the wretched thing published. So without any industry knowledge, without the use of critique partners, and only one pass of editing, I sent it off to a total of nine publishers—all 600 pages of the thing (ah, the fearlessness of the ignorant). Not surprisingly I received only rejections and gave up.
All that glitters is not a goal
Many years later I came to realise that my goals weren't goals after all. They were wishes. A wish doesn't make things happen except in Never Never Land. Helpful goals are much like a business plan. Sounds boring, even painful, and lacks the magic of a wish, but a plan is far more effective.
Effective goals require a strategy
If I want [this] by [this date],
then I need to do [these] in [this] much time.
To write up a strategic set of manageable, measureable goals, I first needed to know what I wanted. I want
to get published. Sure, but how do I want to get published? Authors have so many options these days: traditional, small press, self-publishing, agented or unagented. Even if I want to keep my options open, there are some things I first needed to do:
1. learn about the industry
2. learn about the craft
3. write a sellable manuscript
4. write the killer query
5. nurture my online presence
6. relearn to be fearless and send those queries
7. keep writing.
Each of the above points can be broken down further into a manageable strategy to achieve completion. And each point is a milestone. For example, finishing an outline is a milestone worthy of much rejoicing. If you're anything like me, you'll need your milestones. They give a great sense of achievement and they tell me I'm another step closer to achieving my dreams.
This post is getting long, so I'll stop there with a mere taste of what a true strategic plan looks like. Perhaps I didn't answer Suze question after all that, but I'm sure she'll forgive me.
What is your dream? How have you planned to make that dream come true?
Mel's book Adversarius, Shadow of the Rose: Book One
is now available in paperback on Amazon