Friday, January 28, 2011

Do you have a Writing Career Strategy?

I attended a work meeting today where the topic was strategy. Our speaker noted that 9 out of 10 times, we write down and design a perfectly great strategy. But here's the kicker, 80% of those strategies will fail.

Why? Why? Why?

You spent all that time writing down your strategy on pretty paper then hanging it on the refrigerator or you've created some nifty spreadsheet in Excel to manage what you want to accomplish. How could it possibly not work?

So why do most of our strategies fail? Because we fail to execute what we planned.

This got me thinking. As writers, should we have a strategy for managing our writing career? These strategies could even be broken down into mini strategies such as Strategy for Writing Book 1, Strategy for Revising, Strategy for Querying, Strategy for Marketing your book,etc.

From personal experience, I know I had a 'plan' of sorts in my head. Did I execute that plan? Hell, no. Not even close. Why? Because I let my emotions and the heat of the moment get in my way. This is why it would have helped to have a well developed, thought out, and written plan in place before I took the next step in my writing.
I would have created the strategy when I wasn't so emotionally invested in the outcome so logic and reason would have a stronger voice.

Most of us plan our careers, have an idea on how we want to parent, have a strategy to buy our first home, get our of debt, etc.
It seems reasonable that since we should be treating our writing career as a business, we should have a written business plan or strategy.

Here's an example of one that I just made up off the top of my head to get the juices flowing.


*Research literary agents and create a list of agents that respresent what I write and that would be a good fit for me
*Create a spreadsheet so I can track my submissions (Yes, I love Excel)
*Decide on the 6 agents I want to query first.
*Find out more about those 6 agents, read their blog, interviews, tweets, etc.
*Submit to 6 of those agents and wait for feedback/response.
*Promise not to check e-mail every 5 minutes looking for a response
*If I get no requests for a partial or full, revise query. Get some query critiques.
*When I get the first rejection, I will treat myself to something pretty then use the rejection letter as kindling.
*When I get my first request for a full, I will jump, sing, and tell all my writer buddies
*If fulls and/or partials are requested and I get the same consistent feedback such as Plot doesn't work, characters don't keep me interested, take another look at the novel and possibly revise
*Lather, rinse, repeat

So back to the example, if you had create a strategy before you start querying, you'll have an idea on how you want to handle the query process and how to best leverage the responses or non responses. It provides a back-up plan to help you handle the feedback/rejections and move on to the next step. It can help keep you focused and on track toward your end goal.

We all know rejections are hard and painful. They can send your day into a tail spin and plants the seeds of doubt. By having a written strategy, you've given yourself a way to move forward and tackle the next challenge without acting like a crazed serial querier.

So what are you waiting for? Get our pen, your Excel spreadsheet, your iPad and start creating strategies that will lead you toward your writing goal.

1 comment:

Carmella Van Vleet said...

Thanks for the great post. Lots of good food for thought. I try to have a strategy, but, you're right. Too many times emotions get in the way. I think I'll try your strategy of buying myself something nice next time I get a rejection. :-)