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Developing Your Writing Plan for 2014 -- by Tony Dingwell

I have been auditor of financial statements and organizational performance for over 30 years and I can say that the people and organisations who make it, plan for success then follow their plans. I have seen many that fail and almost all either had no plans or had an unworkable plan.

As this year comes to a close, I thought I would share with you a simple strategy for developing a plan for success in 2014.

Setting Your Goal

Start with your end goal in mind. A goal is the specific desired result you wish to achieve over the next 3 or more years. A typical goal for a writer could be one of the following.

• Within 3 years to publish my novel

• Within 5 years to be making a living from writing

• Within 7 years to be a best-selling author

Selecting Your Indicators of Progress

According to Tom Peters, "What gets measured gets done." Therefore, you need to select indicators to monitor your progress towards your goal.

An indicator is a particular value used to measure activities, outputs or outcomes. Indicators should be a reflection of the things you can reasonably control. Examples of these indicators include the following.

• Number of words written

• Number of books sold

• Dollars of royalties earned

It is important to select indicators that have a logical connection to your goal. If your goal were to finish your novel, words written would be a good indicator, but not if you want to be a best-selling author where you need to focus on book sales. If you what to increase sales of your book, consider adding an indicator regarding your social network such as the size of your mailing list.

Defining Your Objectives

An objective is a one-year measurable milestone, which indicates a change or benefit that you hope to accomplish on your way to achieving your goal. An indicator should follow the objective statement so that you can track your progress. You should have an objective for each of your indicators. Examples of objectives include the following.

• By the end of the year, I will have written 100,000 words.

• By the end of the year, I will have submitted my novel.

• By the end of the year, I will be making an average of 5 cents a word.

• By the end of the year, I will have earned 75 critique credits.

Did you see that last objective coming? If you didn't, you're not alone. Many concentrate on the on the end product and forget about what you need to get you there.

Creating Monthly Targets

Ever notice how having a deadline pushes you to get things done. Creating monthly targets will allow you to pace yourself throughout the year and the monthly deadlines will help to keep you on track. Make sure that you consider all factors when setting your targets.

Say your objective is to write 100,000 words and you plan to take August off and to participate in the National Novel Writing Month. Then you need to write 5,000 words a month except for August when you are on holidays and November when you’re going for 50,000.

Checking Reality

Don’t set yourself up for failure before you start. Before committing to your plan, check to ensure that your objectives are within the resources available to you. Consider the following.

• Your past performance – If you had difficulty reaching 50,000 words this year, you might what to reconsider 100,000 in 2014.

• Your financial capacity – Can you afford a copy editor and cover designer for your Indie book.

• Your time – Is there anything on the horizon that will take up more of your time, say …

• Your health – Will you have to slow down because of an ailment.

Monitoring Yourself

Now that you have a workable writing plan for 2014, all you need to do to reach your goal is to follow your plan. Compare your progress to your targets each month to keep you on track and reach your 2014 objectives and bring you closer to your long-term goals.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year.

Posted by Tony Dingwell 27 Dec 2013 at 01:16
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Responses to this blog

Fairchild 27 Dec 2013 at 16:27  
Nice practical advice.
Knollmouse 28 Dec 2013 at 00:22  
Nice practical advice.
Thanks Fairchild,

It is practical advice that could be applied to any part of someone's life such as training for a marathon, losing weight or quitting smoking. I wrote this blog to give those who will be making New Year's resolutions some practical advice I've learned over the years to help them to succeed.

I hope to make a difference,

— KnollMouse

Rellrod 28 Dec 2013 at 03:06  
I like this idea. We have performance measures at work, and I've taken a gazillion classes on why they're important — makes sense here too. Duh. Glad you brought that up!

Knollmouse 28 Dec 2013 at 20:42  
Thanks Rick,

I wonder how many of us are using performance measures and if they are finding any benefits from using them.

From my professional experience, I find that organizations that use such measures and monitor their results do much better because they know what is working and what doesn't work. Their staff are also more focus on getting expected results because they know what is expected.

— KnollMouse
Botanist 30 Dec 2013 at 03:40  
Remember that "What gets measured gets done" has a dark side to it, too. Measurements have a nasty habit of taking on a life of their own and becoming the end itself, rather than a means to the end.

Two dangers to watch out for are: measures that sound reasonable, but which end up incenting counterproductive behavior; measures that incent productive behavior but at the expense of other important things. An example of the first might be word count targets that end up subconsciously tempting you to use pad your sentences out with useless fluff.

It's important to make sure that whatever you're measuring is relevant, as you said, and also to take stock from time to time to make sure that it is successfully driving you to your goal. Yes, measures are important, but it's equally important not the be enslaved by them. Remember who's boss!
Knollmouse 30 Dec 2013 at 19:59  
Two dangers to watch out for are: measures that sound reasonable, but which end up incenting counterproductive behavior; measures that incent productive behavior but at the expense of other important things.

I agree, poor choices for measures could cause counter productive behaviour and loss of focus on key activities. To counter this we should select a number of measures to help balance our activities

If we take your word count example, we can add to it the number of words or stories sold so we won't be tempted to pad our stories. After all we are only making work for ourselves when we remove them during editing in order to make it saleable.

To balance ourselves between writing and marketing we can add the number of stories submitted to publishers to encourage us to polish and actually submit the stories we write — for those of us who procrastinate.

Whether it is our agent, publisher, editor or ourselves, we all need that boss to motivate us. As you point out, we need to remember that we are the boss setting our goals and that they need to be inline as to what we what to achieve.

Thanks for commenting

Vkkerji 2 Jan 2014 at 04:17  
Thank you for inspiring writers by giving useful guidelines. I appreciate
Irondomain 9 Jan 2014 at 20:50  
This is interesting.

I may be the majority here, but I tend to work on something for about a month and move on to the next novella.

Using technology, to type it up, or to promote my work using social media, is extremely distracting from writing- and I am supposed to be, according to my age demographic, good with this stuff.

Silasgrey 26 Jan 2014 at 17:31  
useful post

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