Once we know what we want, and why we want it, our next step is to determine how we’re going to get it. We do this by creating a writing action plan. By creating clear, actionable steps, our goals are within our reach.
Resolutions, goal setting, planning. They’re all great, useful tools, but unless we follow through, unless we stick to our resolution, act on our goals, and truly do.what we put in our planner or what we plan to do, they are pretty tools collecting dust in our tool-box.
And lets face it, we tend to give up on our resolutions, reject our goals, and ignore our plans if not right away, then fairly soon after. Because they aren’t realistic, achievable, they are too much work, life gets in the way, and more.
We forget that we made those resolutions, goals and plans because they will get us something we want, they represent what we love.
They also challenge us.
And it is a lot easier to do what is, well, easy, rather than step out of our comfort zone and push ourselves and take action, so we fall back into our autopilot routines.
I don’t want that for us, not just in a new year, or after a birthday marker, but ever.
Today, tomorrow, years from now, I want us–you and me–to be actively going after what we want.
It will feel a whole lot better in the end, than living our lives on autopilot.
This is Part 3 of a four-past series that will take us, one step at a time, out of autopilot, and ready to embrace the pursuit of goals and follow-through of plans. If you haven’t yet read it, you can find Part 1: What do you want? Here. And Part 2: Why do you want it? Here. I highly recommend going through those steps before continuing on with Part 3.
Part 3: How are you going to get it?
One of my favourite t-shirts is from TeeTurtle.com. It has a picture of a horse with a cone taped to its forehead to make it a unicorn and underneath the horse it says, “Don’t dream it, do it.”
Creating an action plan is great, but until we actually adhere to the plan and move forward on it, we are still just dreaming. What we want and why we want it should be strong enough to make us willing, eager even, to take that action. Having solid, manageable, achievable steps on that plan makes it easier for us to move out of autopilot and toward our goals.
The first thing to do is to brainstorm all the steps you need to take to achieve your big dream.
Let’s look at the example of becoming a New York Times Bestseller. There are a lot of steps to take along the way. In no particular order, they include:
- Write a marketable books
- Find an agent
- Get published
- Build a readership
- Improve my writing
Hardly an exhaustive list but there are some pretty big things on there.
If you want to be an indie-author who earns a good living off your writing, the list of steps may include:
- Write and publish a minimum of 4 books a year
- Master Facebook and Amazon Ads
- Get a Book-Bub deal
- Grow your readership through your email list
- Explore marketing opportunities.
Again, hardly and exhaustive list but with some big items on there.
Break the steps into action items
Once you’ve finished brainstorming the steps that will take you to your ultimate goal, it is time to break them down into actionable items.
What is the first item on your list that you need to achieve?
For our purposes today, we’ll look at the first one on each list: writing marketable books. If you’re going the traditional publishing route, you’re not going to need to write 4 books a year, but it likely won’t be your first book that gets on the New York Times Bestseller List. It happens, but not very often.
So. The first step we’re going to break down is writing those books.
Remember, this is a long game, the big, big dream. Think of it as climbing the corporate ladder. You don’t start at the top. It is going to take time and effort to get to where you want to be.
Books, plural, need to be written. What is the first step to achieving that? Writing one book. Totally achievable.
What is the step you need to take to get that book done? You need to write.
If you give yourself six months to write the first draft of your novel, break it down to 500 words a day or 3,500 words a week. To finish your first draft in three months, double it to 1,000 words a day or 7,000 words a week.
Now you know how many words you need to write each day, how long will it take you to reach that word count? Half-an-hour a day? An hour a day? Two hours? Saturday and Sunday mornings?
Keep in mind that some days it will be easier to write than others. The word count should average out, though. If you fall short one day, you start with a clean slate the next day. You don’t have to make up for those words. If you exceed your word count, you start with a clean slate the next day, there are no bonus words.
Layer in smaller action steps
Now that you have the action plan for your writing, you can layer in some of the smaller steps. Researching agents, improving your writing, seeking marketing opportunities, and growing your readership, can all be done while you’re writing.
Again, break them down into smaller steps.
Researching agents can be broken down into:
- find agent listings online
- follow agents on twitter
- check out the acknowledgements pages of your favourite authors to find out who their agents are
- find out how to write a query letter
Researching marketing opportunities could be broken down into:
- Finding Facebook groups for authors to share marketing information
- Deciding if you want to sell your books at conventions and other marketplaces
- Learning Facebook ads
Break down each of these steps into small actions that can be done once a week or once a month.
Your Turn to create your Writing Action Plan
Take your big dream from Part 1 and brainstorm all the steps you need to take to reach it. All of them. Don’t leave anything out.
What is the biggest step you need to take to get to where you need to go? Break that one down into steps that are small enough that you are confident that you can achieve them, daily or weekly.
Are there other, smaller goals that you can break down into small pieces you can layer throughout? Don’t do it if you don’t feel confident you can achieve them.
Write out your Writing Action Plan. Keep it next to you. Post it on the wall beside your computer so you can look at it.
Taking that first step toward your goal is the hardest. Once we get moving, once we have that momentum, we are unstoppable!
Part 4 is going to address timelines and deadlines.