Career Planning 1: The Preliminaries
This series of articles will cover the necessary steps for creating a career plan. While the focus will be on career planning for the unpublished or newly published author, these concepts taken from the corporate environment lend themselves to those further along in their publishing careers as well.
Career planning takes two tangible forms: goal setting and devising a career plan or strategy. However, prior to developing realistic goals and a career plan, it is necessary to determine certain things about yourself as a writer.
WHAT YOU ARE WILLING TO GIVE TO YOUR CAREER AS A WRITER? Are you willing to take time from other things you enjoy doing, from people you want to be with? Are you willing to deal with rejection after rejection after rejection and keep on writing? What about editors that take a year to read your work? Or family members that don’t understand a job that doesn’t bring in any income?
A career in the arts has always carried with it certain sacrifices. Rembrandt died destitute, his family having paid a horrendous price for his genius. Edgar Rice Burroughs never achieved recognition for his writing in his lifetime and was forced to sell his wife’s jewelry to pay his bills. Music entertainers spend several months a year on concert tours to promote their work so they can make a living at what they do.
Art is a hard taskmaster and the writing career isn’t exempt from its demands.
So, before devising a career plan, you must determine the amount of time each day, week, or month you will give to your writing.
WHAT IS YOUR WRITING PACE? Writing pace is the amount of time in weeks or months that it takes you to finish a book to the point where it is ready for submission to an editor. Your writing pace will factor in to the type of goals you set for yourself as well as determining your target market. If you don’t know how long it takes you to finish and polish a manuscript, how can you set realistic goals for doing so?
Some books are easier to write than others. Does this impact your creative pace? It does and it doesn’t. The reason we look at pace in terms of weeks and months rather than a straight pages per day is that you won’t necessarily know how many good pages you can write in a day, but hopefully you can tell how long overall it takes you to finish and polish your work. That does not mean that you will never set a pages per day goal, but that’s something I will cover in a later article.
For now, focus on answering the questions raised here and if you’ve never completed a manuscript, don’t dismiss them. You’ve got a natural and imperative career plan. It consists of creating a strategy to complete and polish your manuscript, thereby making it possible to determine your writing pace.