A writer who wants to be published needs a business plan. I’ve been pondering “next steps” as I work to wrap up my 18 year career in the next two weeks and transition to the next career of full-time writing. That’s actually a sentence laced with hefty meaning and depth, because my career thus far has not been the average eight or ten hour-a-day J-O-B. It’s been a mission. A rewarding CAUSE – with the added benefit of a paycheck.
I’m not leaving my job because I dislike it. I’m not leaving my job because writing is more important. On the contrary – writing books is absolutely overshadowed by the importance and impact of my current position. So, why am I leaving my job to write?
A more apropos question is: “Why are you leaving your job and becoming a writer?” I’m leaving my job for the following reasons.
- It’s emotionally and mentally fatiguing and I’m losing stamina. In many careers that wouldn’t make much of a difference. Experience trumps speed in many cases because it often results in a more accurate and quality product or outcome. So even the most energetic and speedy folks need experienced co-workers or leaders they can seek with questions, advice, or to study the differences between “shiny” and “speedy.” Youthwork, however, requires energy that lasts.
- I have reached a peak. I feel like my contributions thus far have made a difference, will continue to make a difference, and any more I have to give would perhaps feel like punching the clock rather than changing the world.
- I’m away from my partner – my “One,” and although the plan to work this far away for a time was a mutual decision, the time has come and we want to be HOME.
- God has put me in a position (with laser accuracy as usual) where I have a supportive spouse, am relatively debt free, and we can financially meet our needs while living in a community that fosters writing and the arts. It’s like He’s offering me that trip to Disneyland and all I have to do is put on my Mickey ears.
- Finally, I have confidence that others will be able, not only to carry my piece of the mission forward as well or better than I , and moreover they will carry it further, at this point, than I could manage. That gives me cause for celebration.
I’m becoming a writer because I can finally enter into this new endeavor without the pressure of wanting to “leave my mark.” I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to meaningful ventures. Now, just knowing that I’ve been blessed to be able to make a difference thus far, I’m off the hook. Don’t get me wrong. I want to write meaningful things, but if I’m not the best at it for a very long time, I’ll be happy and content to just work on my craft daily, and strengthen my skills.
What does all this have to do with a business plan? As I pondered my motives for writing in the coming years, I still waver between refining my craft and breaking all kinds of records for how quickly I can get published (traditionally) and start selling books. It’s habit. I regress to what I’ve always known – if you don’t know what to do next, just pick what needs done AND DO IT BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE. I’m not a competitor at the expense of others. But I’ve always relied on that edge to feel good at the end of the day/week/month about what I’ve accomplished.
Writing is going to be another thing entirely, and if I’m going to accomplish anything (refining or otherwise) I need to keep my head in the right place. So I need a business plan, a set of goals, to stay focused on what it is I’m doing while “successfully unemployed” during the next two years. So if you, like me, are a newly reborn writer and want to expand or clarify what it is you’re actually moving toward … if you ever ask yourself, “what the heck am I doing?” … stick around as I explore how to form a business plan when your first, most immediate goal isn’t profit.