Writing

Making Plans

EricRothMy partner-in-crime and I spent a couple of hours yesterday planning. Living with a professional project manager is Very Good Thing. He asks me questions like:

  • “What is your 30 day goal?”
  • “How much time per week do you think you can reasonably commit to this?”
  • “What are your success metrics?”
  • “Where do you see yourself in one year?”

Then he makes me write the answers down, plan out tasks out and stick to them.

For too many years, I resigned myself to the idea that the IT industry is all there is. When you spend 20 years in a singular profession, it’s very difficult to see that there are other opportunities for the taking.  Or in the case of moving from IT to freelance writing, it’s more of opportunities in the making. Like Eric Roth* says, it takes courage to start all over.  It takes a leap of faith, but more appropriately, it takes hard determination. And in my case, it’s taking a whole lot of plotting and scheming.

I looked at my husband the other night and said straight out, “I want my writing career to be something I do with you, not to you. But I feel like it’s all a pipe dream, way off in a future that will never come.” That’s when we decided to sit down and actively plan. I figure I have all of 8 hours, 10 tops, per week to devote to this right now. I have my day job, my kids and their activities, my home, my partner and my sanity to preserve. Without some serious planning, I knew I’d just be spinning my wheels and frustrating myself.  And since I’ve been largely doing this on instinct, I figured it was time to start writing down a solid plan.

WP_20150101_15_21_54_ProMy husband thinks it’s funny that I’m using a paper planner, but somehow it just feels right. Something about putting pen to paper and then carrying it around with me feels so much more concrete. Yesterday, we brainstormed 30 and 60 day goals and success metrics, and then put it in my planner.

Some of the success metrics he identified were things I’d never thought of. This is why having my very own project manager in the house is pretty awesome. For example, we’ve been saying we would de-clutter and rearrange the office so that I could move my computer into a room with a door. The activity became top priority yesterday, because my hours are very limited. My children, while understanding and supportive of this life change, are… well… children. When I’m taking that single hour that I get to work on my writing, I inevitably end up writing while staring through the head of a small boy, interjected between my face and the screen. He’s typically telling me all about what he thinks the plot of the new Star Wars movie will be. So when the hubs said, “You need a room with a door that you can close,” I kind of had to agree. Of course, it really hadn’t occurred to me in such terms until we wrote it down.

I also put together a strategy for maximizing my time between working on the novel series, building a library of freelance markets, and “other” (i.e., blogging!).  I set a year-end goal of making freelance work pay for the conference I’m attending in February. I then gave myself solid deliverables for the next two months.

The moral of this story is, if you want to make a change in life, go for it. But make sure you have a plan. I’ve said it before, and it’s becoming a mantra: Writing is a business. If you’re looking to carve your own path in life, get good at planning. Learn to love making short and long term goals, identifying tasks and risks, and developing success metrics. Put it all in a place where you can readily see it, and then dive in and tackle your goals one by one. Last night, I almost completely de-cluttered the office. Today, I’ll finish that task and move my computer downstairs. I’ll also work on my elevator pitch and hit Barnes & Noble to poke through magazines in an effort to do some market research.

Life is what you make it. Get out there, and make yours exactly what you want it to be!

* The quote above has been falsely attributed to F. Scott Fitzgerald and shipped all around the Internet that way. Lack of research galls me.  Especially when I fall victim and perpetuate the meme myself on social media. *sheepish grin*

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