Welcome to another round of Life List Club Fridays. Many of us are in the ho ho horror of the holiday stress load, and you should know, YOU ARE NOT ALONE. We’re all right there with ya! So if you’re struggling with your “big life plan” allow the wonderful Sonia Medeiros to help today! Then please pop over to the outrageous Jenny Hansen’s blog for my post about the 2012 To Be Read Pile Challenge! Reading is a great way to de-stress, so I think you’ll like this challenge. See you soon, but for now, here’s Sonia!
My Five Year Plan (Or Lack Thereof)
This is a little embarrassing for me to admit, being a Life List Club member and all but…I don’t have a five-year plan for writing and my one year plan seems to change all the time.
Truth is I’ve always struggled with setting long-term goals. Feels too much like getting tied down to one path. The pantser in me just can’t handle that. After all, there’s so many ways to get from A to B. Why spoil the fun of the discovery along the way?
But…I’ve also learned the value of plotting a story. Making an outline doesn’t lock me onto one path, it just gives me some guide posts along the way so I don’t get lost wandering around.
And ROW80 has taught me loads about setting reasonable goals. Because my previous MO was to set the bar way too high and then flip out when I couldn’t keep up. So I’ve learned to start small and adjust as needed. And that failing to meet a goal is not the end of the world but an opportunity to figure out why I failed and how to adjust the goal or my approach to it.
I’m flying along just fine with my writing goals week to week but, when it comes to planning out the next year or five, I choke.
I know where I fantasize about being in five years.
*begins daydreaming about seeing my name on the top of the NYT bestseller list, book signings, movie deals*
*comes back down to earth*
But figuring out how to get there? That’s where I come up short.
Part of it is that I’m not all that attached to fame and fortune. Oh sure, I wouldn’t toss ‘em out on their behinds but I don’t know if I need that to feel like a successful writer. Even if I had only a small readership…I think I’d still be pretty thrilled just to have folks reading my books.
But the biggest part seems to be that I just don’t know how long it takes me to actually finish a novel. I’m still working on my first. And, if I don’t know how long it takes me to write one novel, how can I know how many novels I can write in five years? Because I’m assuming I’ll need more than one book to build any kind of career as a novelist.
I know what I can do week-to-week. I can set a minimum number of scenes to write per week. And given the outline for my WIP, I can figure how many working days it might take me to finish a first draft.
But…my outline’s still not exactly right. The story’s evolved so much since I started writing it and it feels like there’s so much more I need to do (or maybe I just need to stop reading books on the writing craft because they keep sending me back to the drawing board). And no matter how many scenes I write, it feels like there’s so many more to do.
Then there’s the whole revising, beta reading and more revising.
My mind is shaking in its boots.
So maybe my fear of making a five-year plan really isn’t about the numbers at all. Maybe it’s just plain fear. Fear that I can’t cut it with this writing thing. That I can’t really finish a book after all. Fear that I’ve only got one book in me. Fear that even that one book is gonna suck. Fear that it won’t suck and I’ll have to not suck even more with the second one. And the third.
Hmmm…guess I better put on my big girl pants and make a five-year plan. Even if it means I have to revise the heck out of it each and every week.
What do you think? Have you got a five-year writing plan worked out? Were you able to figure it out before you finished your first book or are you still figuring it out? Did you have to battle any writing fears to make that five-year plan?
Sonia G Medeiros is a writer of fantasy, science fiction, and horror. She’s the author of more than a dozen short stories and flash fiction pieces, blogs at WordPress, and is working on her first novel, a dark fantasy. When she’s not wandering along the tangled paths of her wild imagination, she wrangles home life with one fabulous husband, two amazing, homeschooled children, three dogs, one frog and two cats who battle each other for world domination.
So happy to have you with me Sonia, I think you speak for a lot of us still learning what our own processes are. But I’m of a Kristen Lamb thought process where I’m wondering, what if your fear isn’t of the writing, like you said, but what if it’s fear of success? She’s talked before about the big dream to get a book published, and then challenged us as writers, “don’t you want to publish MORE than one book?” The answer for me is yes, but like you, I’d have a hard time pinpointing how long that dream will take me. I too am working on a first project, so my pace is slow and spotty cause I get stuck. I love that you said the discovery and learning along the way is just as important. That’s huge! Never lose focus of that. I have no doubt you’ll find success, just work at it each week like you said!
Cheers to your future, Sonia!
Thanks for having me here again, Jess! Fear of success is also big. Change is hard and success would bring big changes. Plus the expectation of keeping it up and gettin better. First step is admitting it though. Right? 😀
Let me first say.. that I love both of your blogs! Jess and Sonia – you two always keep me entertained with great posts.
wow – I would love to wake up one day and be a successfully published author with all my material dreams right in front of me.
But like you said, is it fear of success?
I wonder about that myself. What is holding me back?
Very thought provoking… 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
ALWAYS appreciate the kind comments Darlene! I don’t have a magic answer for you; I think we’re all battling that fear of success in the process of finding our dreams, but it’s a comfort to know we’re working together, supporting one another. And like Sonia said, the journey along the way is a fun process too!
Thank you! It’s always good to know we’re not alone in our fears. That we can talk each other down.
Sonia, we are soooo alike in this respect. I don’t know how many Life Listers have ever done the Myers-Briggs personality test, but I’m an INFP. That “p” basically stands for “I need flexibility! I like being spontaneous! I don’t like making decisions! I need to go with the flow! I’m the most easygoing person in the world, unless you try to make me stick to a schedule!” A little exaggeration maybe, but not much : ). I can see how a 5- year plan would help me and want to make one, but I get so flaked out at too much rigidity and structure that I never do. I like your thought of knowing you CAN revise it, daily if need be : ).
I would want some wiggle room too. I like a structure, but just a day by day one, not a full on, in place 5 year plan. I completely agree, allowing yourself revision is a good thing.
Amen on the wiggle room! LOL
I did the Myers-Briggs test, Pam, and it told me my personality type is “The Promoter.” I don’t know what the letters are but I remember thinking, “Dang it! Why can’t I have a profile that helps me get books done?!”
Sonia, remember your “Baby Steps” post? A 5-year plan is composed of baby steps, which I think makes it a little less scary. How many goals are accomplished exactly in the time frame planned? Life happens, schedules change, we add things to the list that are necessary. So..adjustments…yes, allow for them. But having some kind of plan (like having an outline) gives you direction. You won’t get halfway down the road and stop…wondering where it was you were going. Yes, I have a plan–it’s to write one novel per year and on short story per year, which allows me to have a life outside of that. I may sometimes write more than one, once I’ve learned the craft so well I don’t need to keep studying. Making a plan doesn’t mean no flexibility. It’s just a guideline and it helps you brainstorm the possibilities. You can do it!
Must you always be so wise, Marcia?! 😛
I like how you and Gene always smack me in the face when my goals start to get too grandiose, and then I read yours and realize, ahhh yes, that’s a better approach. In short, I dig your life plan.
You’re totally right. Thanks for reminding me. It’s amazing how easy it is to take a deep breath and look at things calmly. Plus the baby steps. 😀
I’m with you about the discovery thing! I don’t like to spoil it either! I have an idea of where I would like to be so I think if I just keep pushing forward I’ll get there someday no matter how long it takes!
You’ll be there in no time! Congrats on your NaNo success!
I definitely agree with the keep moving forward.
Hey Sonia, If it makes you feel any better, I don’t have a five-year plan either. You’ve got me beat since you have a one year plan! I have stuff I want to get done, but a cohesive plan? I guess I better start thinking about a plan for myself. Thanks for sharing and nudging us to think about a big picture in the long run.
Well, you do have a Life List plan. That’s a great start! Cause you know…we’re watching you. *cue JAWS music* LOL
LOL. I here the Jaws theme. *shudder*. I thought I was probably alone in the lack of a 5 year plan. Glad to know I’m not the only one. 😀
I’m with Gary, Sonia. Not even a one-year plan. And not not sure that’s all bad. Gary talked this morning about writing 500 words a day. Not a lofty goal, but one that will get you down the road. I like that. I set and missed so many goals in my sales career that it’s hard for me to look at lofty or long-term ones. I think I’m gonna try Gary’s method for a while. Then if I accidentally write 1000 one day, that’s okay, too.
Love love love Gary’s post cause I did that method and it worked. It also made setting aside time and getting to 1000 all the better. Hope to put that back in action.
Ooooh. I want to accidentally write a 1000 or maybe 2000. 😀
Sonia, I have trouble understanding how long it takes me to get ANYTHING done! It’s my biggest time issue – I just don’t know how long things will take so I don’t budget enough time and get stressed out. Hmmm, I think there’s a post in there for me somewhere. 🙂
It always seems like the time budgeting should be simple but it never is. Maybe someday. 😀
Hello, Jess. Hello, Sonia. Wow! Two cool ladies in one post!
Sonia, I spent 20 years dreaming about what might have been. When I realized the regret that I was going to feel at the end of my life, that was what it took to get me writing again. I revised my manuscript and simply stayed with it until it was completed. Only then did I worry about what might be next. Just finish the book, my friend. After that, whatever will be will be.
Excellent advice James. You should be a life lister!
It definitely doesn’t do much good to dwell on regrets. I had a hard time with that when I came back to writing after 15 years. But then again, I’ve learned so much in the last couple of years. Maybe I wouldn’t have been in a position to learn all that if I’d been writing all along. I don’t know. But yeah, just sticking with things makes a big difference. 😀
You know what? I say scratch the plan and just write. That’s the most important thing of all. Once you begin obsessing over outlines, word counts, length of time, follow-up projects you’re sucking the joy (and momentum) out of your current work. Then again, I’m a nontraditional novelist. Outline? What’s an outline?? LOL.
Just find a happy medium – whatever works for you – and devote all your time and energy toward that.
Somebody’s making jokes again! Does this mean you’re recovering from your surgery well?
That’s not bad advice. The obsessing over time and word counts does kinda put a damper on my creative flow. Being a worker bee maybe isn’t such a hot idea for the first draft.
How did I miss this great post? Love Sonia’s line about “big girl pants.” 🙂
I’m more of a by-the-seat-of-my-pants gal, but I do take direction seriously. I aim to move forward in a positive direction, regardless of where it takes me.
I hear ya August! I’m more boot camp than baby steps, but it doesn’t hurt to have a plan.
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