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.