Going Places: Planning Pays Off

Mosey, the Meandering Mouse

Where do you want to be in five years? Five months? Five days?

Those who have a plan are more apt to reach their destination than those who don’t.

If we live our lives like Mosey, the Meandering Mouse, we’re apt to go nowhere fast. Days turn into weeks, which turn into years, and we have little to show for them.

A tendency to meander is one of Twelve Troublemakers that plagues me as a writer. I’m exploring one a week. This is the fifth in the series.

I spent four decades dreaming of being a writer. I had no shortage of reasons why I couldn’t pursue my dream. I was a student, a wife, a mother.

So what? So are many published authors. One thing was certain. If I didn’t try, I wouldn’t succeed. Therefore, I stopped meandering and started moving forward.

When I began writing I knew I had a great deal to learn about crafting a marketable story. Because I had experience working as an assistant editor in a publishing house I knew launching a career as a writer involves three things: talent, training, and time.

I like to think I had some talent. Everyone does. I knew, though, that I didn’t have the training I would need. A degree in journalism doesn’t exactly qualify one to write novels. I’d always been an eager student, and I could learn.

When it came to time, I had more than most. Our daughter was in high school, and my days as a classroom volunteer had drawn to a close. I didn’t work outside the home, so I had several hours a day to devote to my writing.

There was nothing to hold me back. It was time to devise a plan and pursue it.

Four Steps to Devising a Workable Plan

Make sure your goal is clearly defined. ~ Publication of a novel by a major Christian publishing house was my primary goal, albeit one I felt was rather lofty. However, I decided not to allow fear to keep me from pursuing my long time dream. If I wanted to be published, I needed to take steps to make it happen.

Make sure your goal is realistic. ~ Getting a contract isn’t something a writer has much control over. Even those with exceptional manuscripts are passed over for reasons that have nothing to do with their ability. Therefore, my goal wasn’t to sell a book by a certain date. My goals involved things under my control.

Make sure your goal is measurable. ~ I set an initial goal of starting—and finishing—a manuscript in a year. Once I’d done that, I set new goals: complete another manuscript, enter a contest, read a craft book. I specified a time frame for each one.

Make sure you’re passionate about your goal. ~ Often things we want the most require considerable effort. That’s certainly true if publication is your goal. Pursing a goal that takes a great deal of work requires commitment. We have to want to read the goal badly enough to do what’s necessary to reach it. That’s where passion comes in. It will sustain us through the hills and valleys we’ll encounter en route to our goal.

* * *

Your Thoughts . . . and a Drawing

What goal(s) are you working toward?

What steps do you take when establishing goals?

How do you stay motivated when a goal requires a long-term commitment?

One person who leaves a comment and answers one of these questions will win the mouse pictured above. If you don’t have a use for this cute little Folkmanis finger puppet, you could always share it with a child or grandchild. Plus, I’ll add a surprise for you.

I’ll hold the drawing Sunday, March 13th and post the winner’s name in the post published the next day, when I’ll introduce the next of the Twelve Troublemakers.

Eagle Eye the Internal Editor from last Monday’s drawing went to Julie Nilson.

Odds of winning vary based on number of entrants.
I’ll ship to U.S. and Canadian addresses only.
Offer void where prohibited.
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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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14 Responses to Going Places: Planning Pays Off

  1. Wendy says:

    The passionate about what you write one reminds me of something Nathan Bransford tweeted last week. He wrote something about if you don’t love what you’re writing, neither will your readers…something like that. What we pour in impacts the reading experience. I have no doubt about that.
    ~ Wendy

  2. My main goal recently has been to meet my deadlines. A good plan definitely helps me reach my goals.

  3. Tana Adams says:

    My goals remain steadfastly the same year after year to be published and an empty vessel for the Lord to use. =)

  4. My goal right now is to submit my current manuscript to my publisher by April 1.

    I really enjoyed this post. My favorite part was how you set goals that you have control over. I never thought about that. So, possibly, our goal should first be to write a novel you are proud of. Whether a publisher thinks it’s worthwhile or not, shouldn’t be a requirement for us to measure our success.

  5. Tamika says:

    Talent, training, and time. Yeah, these are the magic ingredients. I like to believe I have the talent too, I was just saying that this morning as I was pouting to the Lord. My woe is me state is setting in. This is a long journey with three small kids, a full time job, ministry, and so on.
    I’m clinging onto passion to push me through.

  6. Cindy R. Wilson says:

    Cute mouse 🙂 I’m very passionate about my writing goals. It helps me to set short-term ones over long-term ones, like finish a rough draft in four months, or enter a contest, etc. But as far as long-term goals, I am working to get an agent right now and I know it’s in my future so I’m doing all I can to keep going with a smile and lots of hard work.

  7. Terri Tffany says:

    Hi Keli,
    My goal is to complete this book, taking my time and not query until I really love it. So that means a lot of rewrites.
    I agree about not setting a date to be published as I can’t control that but what I can control is what kind of effort I put into my writing process.

  8. I am on a QUEST for publication :), so that continues to be my professional goal!

  9. Gina Conroy says:

    I’m working toward cutting down my WIP by 30,000 words to fit the novella I was contracted to! No small task and I have 15,000 more to go!

  10. I’m really enjoying this series of posts, Keli (“Twelve Troublemakers”) and am gleaning so much good info. from them. 🙂 I know writing is what the Lord wants me to do in this season of my life, and I’m not honoring Him if I don’t give it my best effort. So my present goal is to continue learning and striving to be the best writer I can be. Reading books on the craft, reading novels and novellas by talented authors, and being more disciplined with my writing time are all helping me with this goal. Also beginning each day with my Bible time really gets my day off to a better start! ~ The mouse is precious, and I had to smile at his name. One of my kitties is named Moses, and sometimes I call him “Mosey” instead! 🙂

  11. Good points, Keli. One of the key aspects of my goal setting is mentioned in your second point — knowing what I have control of and what I don’t. I can control my studying and learning, my writing and submitting. I can’t control others’ reactions. That makes the submitting part a little nerve wracking, but I trust that God has a plan. I just try to do my part. Right now that means working on a revision goal for one ms, making submission plans for another, and then getting engrossed in another wip to keep me occupied during the inevitable wait. 🙂

  12. Jill Kemerer says:

    You have a great approach to goals. Mine is similar. I have short-term and long-term goals. Right now, my short term goal is to polish my latest WIP, finish the proposal and submit it to my agent. Woo-hoo!

  13. Julie Nilson says:

    My overriding goal is to have at least a first draft of my novel completed by Christmas.

    While I’m working on that, I’m also writing some short stories, so my goal with those is to start sending some out for contests/anthologies/anything by June and hopefully have some of them published after that.

  14. Love this little mouse, Keli! Although Mosey does a good job at keeping me meandering too! My goal this week is to complete another lesson in the Bible study I’m writing. So far, I’ve scheduled time to finish it tomorrow. Staying motivated involves accountability partners and keeping up with the industry. Looking forward to attending the Carolina Christian Writers’ Workshop next weekend! Have a blessed day!

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