Pressing Pause:Taking Time to Make a Plan

You’ve done it. You’ve accomplished your dream and are published. Now what? The first answer is to keep writing. But what? Another book? A short story for an anthology? Promotional materials? Everyone who offers career advice has different opinions. My suggestion is to pause, take some time to write up a plan. Notice I said write a plan. Put it on paper. Take some time to think about it. What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to be next year? How many books a year do you want to submit, or if you are an independent author do you want to produce?

It doesn’t have to be a formal business plan, but it should have the following elements. Goals, steps to achieve those goals, and measurable outcomes. Only include those things you can control. We’d all like to be on a bestsellers list, but is that in your control? No. What is in your control is continuing to write, studying and improving your craft, working on promotional materials, and building your brand.

The internal pressure to work on every project that bubbles up in our brain can be intense. So many stories call to us, yammering on about how we need to drop everything and work on this story right now, making it difficult to choose where to focus our energy. Decide which creative project will move you towards your goal. Do that thing. Focus your energy on that project. Tuck the others away, schedule time to re-evaluate projects and make another assessment.

Once you’ve decided on your project, make a plan. Use whatever you use to organize your life, paper planner, electronic calendar, whatever, schedule time to work on your projects. Also schedule time for promotional efforts, schedule time to press pause again, and evaluate your plan. Is it working? What do you need to change something to get to where you want to go? Do not expect things to stay the same after you’ve published your first novel, the demands of promotional efforts, blog posts and interview requests can eat away at your writing time. Don’t let it. Building a backlist is the way to success as a published author. Enjoy your accomplishment, make a plan, and then get back to work.

Brenda Murphy writes short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her nonfiction and short fiction have been published in various collections. Her most recent novel, One, published by NineStar Press, releases  November 6, 2017. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two dogs, twins, and an unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog,

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