So you want to take the risk of shaking up your life, or even just pursuing “the old stuff” with a unique and fresh perspective. You know the New Year is the perfect time to try. But maybe you don’t have even the remotest idea of a way to begin. How do you transform your aspirations into achievements you can see, feel and touch?
For me, the main challenge of my professional life in 2017 is presented by my new novel: to finish revising the current draft, send it to my agent and have her get me a great contract with a solid publisher. All within a matter of months.
How do I set about accomplishing this, which sounds somewhat daunting when written down or spoken aloud? Sometimes if a goal is too ambitious, it can frighten or intimidate you so much that you never even allow yourself to think of it again! So, how can you make the process of achieving these hopes and dreams part of your daily life–even though it may require a considerable stretch or sacrifice?
Speaking personally, I’ve settled on three key directions that will guide me toward the formulation of “a plan.” And boy, do I need one! Writers are famous for their ability to procrastinate, so I’ll share with you the tips I am using in order to complete this task–which involves more than you would suppose.
1. Reflect on what success would actually look and feel like. Do I need to be on the best-seller list with this novel in order to feel as if I am fulfilled? In the past, as the sort of writer who wants to touch her readers’ lives more than to fill a treasure chest with cash, this would have been an easier question to answer. However, when I began this particular book three years ago, I deliberately chose a more “popular” genre–that of psychological suspense–with the hope that perhaps this time around I’d be more widely read. That’s not easy to admit. Money still is not a major source of motivation for me, but knowing that more people are reading the book definitely is. So, yes, success does involve better sales figures, in addition to receiving scads of e-mails that tell me how much my readers have enjoyed the novel.
2. Design three or four concrete steps to give me forward momentum. I know I must become an author who is even more attractive and promotable to a potential publisher than I have been in the past. Increased visibility is key. So, no matter how crowded my days, I must make time to: a.) write my newsletters; b.) continue blogging for the Huffington Post; c.) keep feeding ideas for articles to my publicist and letting her run with them; d.) pow-wow with my social media guru over my Twitter and Facebook pages, as well as Book Giveaways. All of these, in addition to working every day on the manuscript itself, keeping pace with my consulting clients, and continuing to serve as my mother’s literary executor. Not to mention taking good care of my family. Who said it was going to be easy?
3. Choose a time frame and stick to it. It’s always difficult to predict when a book will be finished. In some ways, it’s never finished! But speaking practically, I aim to complete this set of revisions by the beginning of March. I will send it to my agent then, fingers crossed once again, and then entreat a few beta readers to weigh in on it as well. After that, it will be out of my hands–at which point I can shift focus, for a bit at least, to other goals near to my heart: enriching my connections with family and friends, a subject which might perhaps be a future newsletter.
Good luck with your goals, your plans, your lists, and your time frames for 2017. You can make it work–just summon up a bit of ingenuity, determination and persistence!