You Need a Plan

I’m a big fan of outlines. Which is a little strange, because I really love flying by the seat of my pants. And as I spoke about earlier, going off the plan is really easy for me. It’s sort of my default mode.

Which is why I like outlines. They tell me where I am going and roughly where I hope to end up. If I get too far off track, all I have to do is look at my outline, point my compass in that direction, and usually it turns out okay. So far, I haven’t ended up being eaten by bears in the wilderness.

But I’m not here to talk about outlines today. Whoops. Just sitting here, pulling the tablecloth out from all the dishes. Don’t mind me. Nope, I’m here to talk about plans. As in, career plans.

I sat down the other day and laid out what amounts to a two-year plan. It’s what I want to accomplish in the next few years, where I see myself going. And then I put it in a spreadsheet because yes I am that nerdy.

Now that I know where I want to be going it, it kind of frees me up from having to really think about ‘is this the story I should be writing right now?’ Because now I know. That old adage that defining limits and making rules opens up the well of creativity really is true.

Here’s the plan. I know that if I really want to make a good go at turning my life into that of a self-sustaining writer, I need to accomplish a lot. I need a new something-or-other out every single month. For at least 18 months. Which that plan? That plan is really scary. Luckily, I love being afraid.

So I plotted out what is going to come out every month for the next two years, starting with this August. And it’s hefty. 3 novels, 5 novellas, and 10 short stories. Oh, and also one compilation of short stories. But that one is kind of a gimme. Whatever.

If I take the averages of minimum length for each, that gives me 330,000 words to write over the next year and a half. Which sounds like a lot. But really, I only need to produce about 18,400 words a month. Or, like, 600 words a day. Me? I eat 600 words for breakfast.

And I do mean that literally. On hardcore writing days, I don’t let myself eat breakfast until I hit a minimum word count. Usually around 500-800 words. Some people respond to carrots better. I know for a fact I need that stick.

My plan is doable. My plan is rigorous. My plan is probably going to suck at some point. But if I’m really doing this, it’s important I have it. I must be accountable.

Share your thoughts. Go on, do it.
  1. Judith says:

    This is wonderful, inspiring, terrifying and I’m not going to emulate you, at least, not in all your rigorous glory. I need the carrot. And my blankie. (Go ahead and roll your eyes, please know that I’m blushing.) But, if I want my plan a little looser, I do need a less loose plan and I am inspired by the commitment and dedication I read here and that I hope to emulate. I just need to feel my way places, sometimes and continually check, is this really where I need to be?

    Reply
  2. That is a very exciting plan! I look forward to watching you accomplish it! 🙂 You go girl!

    Reply
    • Wren Roberts says:

      Hopefully you’ll be watching the wild, blazing success version, and not the crash-and-burn scenario my entire family thinks I’m headed towards.

      Reply
      • I think this is where contingency plans come into play. Give yourself smaller goals to achieve along the way, and be ready to adjust your 18 month expectations if you’re not meeting those goals on time. E.g. 600 words a day is doable. However, if something happens and you end up facing 10,000 words a day to make your 18 month plan then it’s time to replan your end result.

        Stay honest with yourself and your support network. 🙂

        Reply
  3. Lisa Adams says:

    Sounds like a wonderfully frightening list. I myself have made something similar and have really succeeded! All the best of luck to you and keep us up to date on your successes!

    P.s. I completely agree with your outline theory. It’s the only way I write. Yes, an outline, no longer than a page long for whatever I’m writing. Sometimes I stay on track, sometimes I roam, but still end up finding my ending. Congrats!

    Lisa

    Reply

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