Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow….

It’s that time of year again.  The first week of each year (or thereabouts) I sit down and think about my writing strategy for the next twelve months.  Planning is a part of business: setting goals, noting on-going projects, and deciding what to drop.  My previous experience with the process was in marketing/advertising, but my planning is not a formal written plan.  I just write a list with notes next to each item, as necessary.

My process:  I review my written notes or list of writing work for the last twelve months, note what I completed, note what is still in process, note what did not get done at all.  I wrestle with the untouched items.  Are they still relevant?  Do I need to drop any of them?  Some I carry over to my new plan.  They indicate, however, how I spent my time last year, what most interested me, or what became urgent.  Checking off what I completed feels wonderful.  I love checking things off a list. 

Last year at this time, I felt great, and I looked forward to a productive year focused on the Perceval series, both in marketing and writing.   I had begun the first draft of novel 3 and knew where I was going with it.  Ideas had also begun to bubble up for novel 4 and I was writing them down.  This blog had begun to gain more attention and I was enjoying it more than I’d anticipated.  Nonfiction and shorter projects had fallen off my list. 

Looking back now, I could never have anticipated how life stepped in to complicate my days and my writing plan for the year.  I decided to put away novel 3, the first draft about half finished, on March 17 until my time was more my own again.  I continued writing my journal, writing at this blog, and writing notes as ideas emerged, and reading.  By fall, I was able to work on shorter projects and completed an essay.  On the marketing side, a literary agent requested the full manuscript of novel 1, Perceval, definitely a positive step.  In the months since, I’ve sent out another batch of agent queries (the score is 7 no, 3 outstanding) and the novel excerpt, as well as follow-up letters to the agent who had the full manuscript.  I also continued with research as opportunities became available.   I learned the importance of flexibility last year.

This year the bum economy has complicated my life.  My first priority will be to begin a job search for a second job — writing is my first job.  I expect that working a second job will decrease the amount of uninterrupted time I have to write on the novels.  So, my writing priority will probably be shorter projects — short stories, essays — at least until I am settled in a new work schedule.  As I search for that second job, I’ll probably write outlines of the unwritten Perceval novels, notes of my ideas for them, and sketch out any scenes that I have already playing tag in my imagination.  I also expect to continue writing this blog, although the focus may change slightly.

Be flexible.  Trust in the process.  Develop ideas.  Stay focused.


10 responses to “Tomorrow, Tomorrow, Tomorrow….

  1. Hmmm… interesting yet completely logical process! 🙂

    Sucks to have to take a (better) paying job to support the writing, at times, eh? Although I’m in the interesting position of writing (tech manuals) for a living and writing fiction as a ‘hobby’… and doing all the boring stuff has definitely helped me mature as a writer of interesting stuff 🙂 So I’ll be watching to see how you juggle everything, and what happens with this blog … most of the ‘serious’ writers I know atm are uni students, who have more time on their hands than they think 😀 On the other hand, I’m balancing full-time work, 2 children, a marriage, and health complications. Without all of which, I might not be writing fiction. Sometimes life seems to know what it’s doing when it gets in the way. Sometimes I just ramble too much!

    • Naomi, good to see you here again! Wow, you DO have your hands full. How have you carved out the time to write fiction and your blog?

  2. stay focused … god, what an Achillie’s (sp?) heel.

    My major writing project this year is going to be my thesis. Of course, in order to write it, I’m going to have to actually do the research. Sigh … I hadn’t specifically thought about a year-long plan – but you’ve inspired me. Afterall, I plan to graduate in August, which means getting the research done, taking my last classes, and then presenting the research professionally, defending my thesis, and then … sigh … getting a job.

    I have found, previously at my last normal job, that making plans like this help me focus for a few weeks. I don’t seem to be so good about going back periodically (oh, say, every few weeks 🙂 or so) and making sure that my goals are still necessary. I need to get bogged down with self-inflicted misery by the huge, ever-increasing list of “overdue”.

    Hmmm … Chaos continuing into 2009, I think I’ll make a list tomorrow, while I’m sitting at the auto body shop waiting for them to tell me how much it’s going to cost that idiot who hit me.

    Thanks for the idea… Happy happy 2009 – Gute Rutsch!

    • I’d go mad if I couldn’t make lists! It seems to be my nature. Perhaps I was born with an over-active organizing impulse….

      It sounds like you’ve already made your plan, although just the professional plan. My personal plan is also separate.

      Guten Rutsch!

  3. …ooops … I tend to get bogged down …. hee hee Freudian slip, any one?

    • (laughing) I didn’t even notice until you added this note! Yeah, “need to get bogged down” and “tend to get bogged down” are definitely two different animals….(smile)

      Now, exactly who is the bogger downer?

  4. C, I think ‘sheer determination’ and ‘too tired to do housework’ are probably key. Oh – and a 50min commute each way to work daily. I’ve written many a story on the train. But I only started writing consistently after being diagnosed with heart problems (nothing fatal, just tiring). Guess I realised where my priorities lay.

    Elizabeth – I’m a firm believer in being realistic about goals. I prioritise my goals into ‘must’, ‘might’ and ‘would be nice’ … in my head, because I don’t like TOO much organisation :-d

    • Too true, Naomi, too true. Sheer determination is especially important, I think! I just wish that there was more time for everything. I wish that somehow I could plug my computer right into my brain and write while I’m asleep….the thoughts and images recorded immediately by my computer and in the proper format! I definitely don’t get over to Nomesque Fiction as often as I’d like. Cinda

  5. Naomi – at my last job, a woman had her work prioritized into 3 piles: today, soon, and World Hunger. The last falling into the category that, if one is brutally honest, equals “well, you know it would be nice, but it just ain’t going to happen”.

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