Read through your list and look for bigger themes. Are there several goals that fit into a similar area of focus, like platform building or writing improvement? Grab some highlighters and group these together. Then, choose a name or tag line that summarizes each theme or area of focus. Now that your goals are organized into different focus areas themes , step back and look at the big picture.
Based on where you are now, which areas are the highest priority? Likewise, if you are winning notable contests and trusted critique partners are hard-pressed to see how you can improve, likely you should make getting your work in front of agents and editors a priority. This step involves soul-searching and honesty. To be objective, set emotion aside. Ask yourself hard questions about what your career really needs.
If it helps, pretend you are advising a writer friend. If they were in your shoes, what important things would you suggest they work on to get ahead? Now comes the hard part: Which two areas of focus did you mark as being the most critical? Pick specific goals that will help you most in these areas. Once you choose a goal, think about the steps you must take to achieve it. For inspiration, look at the highlighted lists you made. Do the same exercise as above and list out tasks action items that must be carried out to achieve this goal.
When making these decisions, think carefully about your time. We all have roles and commitments outside of writing, and these things require a lot of energy. Stick to your plan by setting timelines that fit your schedule. Becca and I chose a seasonal timeline, so we knew which goal to pursue at which time of the year. This helped us meet completion dates. If you are unsure how much time a certain task will require, set a deadline with a fallback date.
A visual helps when it comes to following a business plan. By condensing your plan on one page, it will force you to be succinct in what must be accomplished to meet each goal. You can use a spreadsheet or table to do this Excel, Google spreadsheet, a piece of paper, etc or download this template. When your spreadsheet is filled out, print and display it where you write.
This will remind you of what you should be doing and help you make good use of your time. Once your plan is complete, stick to it. When new opportunities come up, see if they fit your plan. Before you print your business plan, type this statement in bold at the bottom: Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: Her books are available in six languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world.
Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers , as well as One Stop for Writers , an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling. Find her on Facebook , Twitter , and Instagram. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.
Great post and I love your books Angela. They continue to help me hone my craft. Good step-by-step guide to create an overview of goals and an action plan for writers. And this is a good time of the year to focus on goals and new beginnings! Thank you so much Jane for having me here today. Thanks so much for the great summary of the shifting writing landscape.
Angela, This is an well-thought-out and doable plan. I love that you included plans to get training where needed as well as being open to traditional and self-publishing. Your post made me remember that I have taken many webinars and workshops over the years.
Before I take another one I need to go back and review all the content on marketing, building a platform, etc. And how nice to be married to a business consultant, right? Thanks for all the tips. So practical and thoughtful!
Makes great sense, and I can implement it immediately. I appreciate the clear language and straightforward style in this post as well. I had to giggle because I wrote on the exact same topic just yesterday on my blog! They need a good map, and a business plan is just that, with concrete and quantifiable goals broken down into action steps to get them where they want to go. Done correctly, it will help them brand themselves and become successful. This was a hugely important endeavor for us; […].
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