Recently I hit the 10 year mark at my day job.  It wasn’t a landmark I ever intended to hit when I started there out of college, but the company has been good to me and offered me chances for promotion from within, so here I am.  One of the traditions in my office is our executive-level manager asking us for our 5-year plan whenever we hit a major milestone or get any sort of recognition award.  The resulting discussions has me now applying to graduate programs and looking at future advancements within the company.  But this isn’t a blog about my job, this is a blog about writing.

But that doesn’t make the idea of a 5-year plan any less valid.

Looking ahead has become one of Day’s favorite writing-related pastimes, and she enjoys dragging everyone else along for the ride.  This is still due to her enjoyment of Writer With a Day Job, which both she and I have previously discussed.  The exercises involved what our goals and dreams are as a writer, and those exercises are all well and good on their own.  But there’s a step two there.  It’s all well and good to say you want to see your novel on a bookstore shelf one day, the trick is figuring out all the steps that take you from where you are to where you want to be.  This, ladies and gentlemen, is the extended plan.

This is the time of year where we tend to look forward, if for no other reason than the arbitrary decision that the new year on the Gregorian Calendar starts a week after Christmas.  We’ve come around another cycle, and we tend to look back at what we’ve done and ahead at what we’d like to do, and who we’d like to be.  I suspect there’s going to be a lot of talk about resolutions in this blog, and that’s appropriate.  Many writers set them, and they are part of that extended plan.  Over on my blog I do monthly looks at what I’m doing and what I’d like to do, but those are short term goals.  Important, but not on equal standing.  Those long term goals trace out who we want to be, what we’d like to accomplish, what we want to change about ourselves as people and as writers.

Who is an extended plan appropriate for?  Anyone who wants to be more than just a hobbyist writer.  In a way, it’s that first step on the road towards being a serious writer, that first indication that, perhaps, there are larger steps to be taken, more directed actions that lie ahead.

Instead of writing a diatribe about long term goals, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and plop my own down.

Resolution 2012:  Query Nickajack.  Yup, that’s right, my resolution is only two words long, but there’s a lot hiding in those two words.  As of last night the first draft of act one is completed, so to query there’s still a need to finish the first draft, take multiple editing passes, research agents, and only then finally query.  So simple a thing, but it will likely be an all-year process.  Over on my blog this is how I’m now going to start every monthly State of the Writer post.

Five Year Plan:  Have at least one novel published.  I’ve heard it said you shouldn’t set goals entirely out of your control.  I can’t control agents, publishers, printers, or anything like that.  But to hell with those.  Five years is a very obtainable goal for creating something publishable and getting it out to the world at large.  There are too many things I can control within that goal to let those few things I can’t hold me back.

So there we have it.  Two very simple goals.  However both encompass multiple steps, require advance planning and dedication.  Think about your own goals.  Think about who you want to be in five years.  Break that down into steps.  Then see those steps through.

A hint.  That last one?  That’s where all the work is.  Planning is awesome, but is for naught if not teamed with execution.

About the author

DLThurston DL Thurston is a writer of novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. He has short stories due out soon in the Steam Works anthology from Hydra Publications and in The Memory Eater. When he's not writing, he also brews beer and even drinks it sometimes. Check out his exploits either on his blog or on Twitter.