Last week, I wrote about making a formal plan for your writing business. Today I would like to go into some ways to use this plan to set goals. Like last week, the three sections we’ll discuss are the Purpose Statement, Marketing Information, and the Financial Statement. We’ll start with longer-term and work down to weekly and daily goals.
Long term goals: If you wrote that Purpose Statement then you’ve already done this part. Mine was to write 2-4 marketable novel length, marketable paranormal and contemporary romance manuscripts. What is yours? Got it? Okay now we know where we’re going, so how do we get there?
Yearly Goals: To fulfill my Purpose Statement, I need to figure out the pages I’ll need to write in the 365 days of a year. Assuming approximately 100,000 words per manuscript, that’s 200,000 to 400,000 words per year; or 17000-34000 words per month, plus time for revision/polishing. Don’t forget that "marketable" part either. Time has to be built into the schedule for online classes, conferences, reading craft books and articles, writers groups, critique groups or buddies (and time to critique their work in return).
Now let’s look at how Marketing Information relates to your yearly goals. Making your work the best it can be with all the classes and study time mentioned above is one thing you can do to make your work more marketable. Also reading books in your genre/sub-genre to see what’s selling tells you what your competition is—and how you can make your work unique and competitive. In my case, paranormals are hot, BUT erotic paranormals are what’s selling. Mine are not erotic. So I’ll need to find something else to make my work special enough to sell. Contemporary generally isn’t selling well right now, but my research tells me that there are publishers who are looking for contemporaries. Those publishers are my market, and I need to figure out the best way to fit into that niche. To do that, I’ll likely need an agent, so I’ll need to research and query agents. That needs to be worked into my schedule. (I’m not even touching on the marketing of published books to the general public. However, that too must be worked into the schedule if you’ve at that stage of your career.)
Then there is the Financial Information. How many conferences can you afford to go to? How many online classes? Magazines, craft books, books in your genre can you afford to buy? How much time does your day job, family, and other responsibilities allow you to write? Taking all this into consideration can help you make better choices. For example, if see a conference blurb you think sounds good, but you really want to go to another one in the fall. Can you afford both? What about the time cost? Would going to both actually help you reach your long-term goals better than just one or the other? But don’t feel guilty about spending money on your business!
Monthly goals: Divide your yearly goals into 12 sections. (For example, my word count should be 3900-7700 words per month just for first draft.) Remember to include revision, and study, and critique groups, and all the other things I mentioned earlier.
Keep in mind, these don’t have to be equal sections. Maybe some months will be better for you than others. For example, most people don’t get as much done in November and December. Maybe you have a seasonally intense job. Or maybe the kids being out in the summer slows you down. Take that into consideration when you plan your goals. But do try to do SOMETHING every month, every week, and most days. If you don’t, you’ll lose momentum and make things harder on yourself. Trust me, I learned this the hard way.
Weekly and daily goals: When you get to weekly and daily goals, you’ll need to keep in mind specifically what it is you need to do that particular month and break that down into doable goals. Just don’t make your "to do" list too long. Focus! Two solid goals will get you farther than ten things you feel you "should" do. Get your word count done if nothing else. That’s THE MOST IMPORTANT THING. If you don’t write, you can’t be a writer. The rest has to fit in between those writing sessions.
And don’t forget to do things to make your muse happy (also known as "filling the well"). We can’t be creative without playing sometimes. But then, my muse is a dragon. Quill will breathe fire on me if I cross her.