Looking at Your Action Plans

Yesterday, I asked to hear what you’re all up to–what’s your action plan?

I’m reading through your comments today. Some of them require responses:

Tami wrote:

I have four projects in various stages of completion and I know that is a serious case of fractured focus. Is there a way to tell which one I should commit to? Does this mean that they’re all fatally flawed and just don’t want to admit it to myself? Help!

Randy sez: That depends on what your goals are. Do you want to:
1) Make lots of money?
2) Write what makes you happiest?
3) Change the world?
4) Other?

My hunch is that each of your projects has a subtly different goal. Which of those is most important to you? Do the project that meets that goal first. You don’t have to trash the others. Just put them aside for the “opportune moment.”

I have had this problem myself in the past. One reason I like Simpleology 101 is that right from the get-go, when I started using its tools to help me decide what I wanted my life to look like, I could see clearly what I needed to work on RIGHT NOW. And embarrassingly enough, that wasn’t what I was actually working on. So I changed my short-term goals to reflect what I REALLY WANT out of life.

Debra wrote:

Randy, how did you first get into writing as a business? I have just returned from the first night of a book-keeping for small business course, hoping to get some idea of how to organise a freelance writing business. Of course, I realise I am putting the cart before the horse since I haven’t been published yet apart from in a writer’s newsletter a few times. Still, the opportunity was there so I took it hoping that the business would soon follow. I did pick up some very useful tips and it has fired me up to write even more so it wasn’t a loss. I also feel that I really do have to take action now as I have openly committed myself to being a writer. I originally thought that if it wasn’t going to be useful then it might be so boring that my imagination would take over and I would write something fantastic.

I didn’t actually start treating it like a business until recently. I spent my first nine years writing without earning a dime, so there was no business to organize. After that, I sold a short story, then a nonfiction book, then a novel. And I felt that basically I wasn’t earning enough to really be businesslike about it. That was a mistake, I think. I should have thought harder early on about developing a brand–a reputation for consistent and unique quality.

In the last year, as many of my blog-readers know, I’ve gotten serious about treating this career like a real business. That’s all chronicled in the series of teleseminars I did with Allison Bottke. So I now have a clear focus for my writing. But this is a new development. Watch my career over the next five years, and you’ll see if it makes a difference. I predict that it will, and I am betting my future on it.

Daan wrote quite a lot, but I’ll snip all but the end:

My short term target is to work through all the E-zines by the end of November when I will promote myself to sophomore and enroll for “Fiction 201″.

In the mean time Randy, I once again wish to thank you for ALL your advice.

Randy sez: You’re welcome! It’s a real thrill to see a writer who’s COMMITTED to taking action and who is making rapid progress. That’s why I do this site and my e-zine and blog–to see people turn from wannabes into gonnabes. Work hard, Daan! I’m watching you and rooting for you.

Lynn wrote quite a bit also, so I’m snipping it down:

Randy, my mother was applauding a course I took a few years ago for my success. However, I believe the course did not help as much as what I have learned in the last year through your blog, through Swain’s book, and through John Olson’s lectures at a writer’s conference. These are what really turned my writing around.

Randy sez: Wow, this is so exciting, to see you making progress! I’m so jazzed! (And it’s been a long day. I need to feel jazzed right now.)

Karla is doing NaNoWriMo this year, and writes, in part:

I am now using simple*ology to help me get through the next harrowing thirty days and I am finding it so effective I’m sure I’ll make it a permanent part of my schedule. I have a biography deadline on Nov. 15th, as well as a grant writing deadline on the 15th and my husband and I are renewing our vows Dec. 1 (25 years!) and I’m throwing a huge party and there is much to do to get ready for that!

Randy sez: Wow, you have a whole lot on your plate. Go for it! And I hope you make your fifty thousand words for NaNoWriMo.

Another 10 of you wrote comments that I don’t have time to respond to tonight. I’ll do so in the next day or two. By then, I hope to be able to wrap up our mini-course in “Time Management for Writers” and transition to the next topic you’ve all requested, which will be “Self-Editing For Writers.” I hope to have a nice surprise for you on that, but I don’t know yet. But stay tuned.


  1. Daan Van der Merwe October 30, 2007 at 11:20 pm #

    Thank you very much Randy!

  2. Gerhi Janse van Vuuren October 31, 2007 at 1:58 am #


    I wish I had your insights and plan twenty years ago. Because I had no idea how to approach being and becoming a writer I was either haphazardly thrashing about or wasting my time on dead end stuff.

    Your basic insights, on your blog, your newsletter archive and your site showed me enough to change my mind completely.
    I now not only know that it is possible to become a writer, but also how it is possible.

    My first step is also in taking part in Nanowrimo 2007. In thirty days time with a Nanowrimo draft under my belt I will also reckon myself as a pre-published writer.

  3. Debra Ratcliffe October 31, 2007 at 3:35 am #

    Thank-you Randy. That does help. I probably should have mentioned that I am from Australia where we must have an ABN number before we even begin. Many publishers, I’m told, won’t accept anything unless the writer has an ABN number. ABN, as I’m sure you’ve guessed is Australian Business Number. Anyone earning $75,000 and over from self-employment must also register their business for GST – Goods and Services Tax. I don’t think I will need to do that for a while but who knows.

    I do realise from the course, though, that I must be more organised and I’m planning to follow through a suggestion of a paperless office since I have everything at home and I couldn’t see myself writing anywhere else. Being clutter free is sure to help my writing and just plain practice, practice and more practice. I would need to keep my journals. There is something in the act of writing with paper and pen that surpasses typing on a computer.

    I am also looking at back-ups and where to keep them.

    I downloaded one of your teleseminars but I had to save it on disc when the computer was about to crash and I am still trying to find the disc. That’s what I mean by having to get organised. I look forward to watching your career. It’s great to see someone succeeding and very encouraging for me and I’m sure the rest of us.

  4. Ron Erkert October 31, 2007 at 7:21 am #

    On the business end of things, the way I understand it is that here in the U.S., expenses for writing, such as computer, printer, office supplies, contest submission fees, etc. can be written off on taxes (Form 1040 Schedule C) so long as your intent is to make money from your writing (but you don’t actually have to show that you are making money) and you don’t have to have a business license. (Randy can probably confirm/correct this)

    I’m not sure at what point you actually have to form as a business…if ever.

    Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and LLCs have “pass through” taxation (altho’ LLCs can opt to be taxed as corporations if it’s advantageous to do so–most times not).

    My partner and I are forming a home-based business, so I’m in learning mode. He didn’t realize how much is involved in the actual running of a business. Meanwhile… Business license, business plan, fictious name registration, health inspection, FEC numbers, UGH!!!!! My brain’s exploding!

  5. Karla Akins October 31, 2007 at 7:43 am #

    Getting my word count in for NaNoWriMo has not been that difficult for me. Now, getting a decent NOVEL at the end is a different story! But it does give me a rough idea of where the story is going to go and a framework to work with later when I have more time to work on editing. I ponder all year long what I’m going to write about during NaNoWriMo month and jot those ideas down. I carry a little notebook in my purse and take it with me everywhere. I also call myself on my cell phone and leave myself a message if an idea hits me and I’m driving and can’t write it down.

    Having a laptop helps the word count, too. I take my kids to a lot of doctors so I use that time in the waiting room to get some words on paper. During NaNoWriMo month every spare minute is devoted to THE NOVEL. That means if I’m sitting still — my hands are typing. Period. I have learned from this that I don’t have to have a perfect environment in order to create. It taught me that I can use very strange places and times to come up with some pretty good stuff! If that’s all that NaNoWriMo taught me — that would be enough. But it’s not and I’m really tickled to be a part of it.

    I do have one sad story about it — I have lost one complete NaNoWriMo manuscript and I have no idea how I lost it or where it went. So, back up your stuff people! That’s why I use google documents now as a backup for myself as well as my external hard drive.

    Oh but this is RANDY’S blog not mine, so I will shut up now! 🙂

    Happy Pumpkin Day!

  6. Mary Burch October 31, 2007 at 2:27 pm #

    I. too, am doing nanowrimo this year– my third year in a row. I do it every year so I have a new work to turn to. As a novel writer, I’ve learned it is good to have several projects on hand so I have something to work on when I have to put something away for a month before revising, or while waiting for a publisher, or when I just need a break from the current work. Nano is a good way to get something new going.

    This year I am writing a sequel to last years nano novel. I got bogged down at about 77,00 words and hit a major writing block. I discovered I was trying to write two books at once. Once I saw where to divide, no more writer’s block.

    My biggest organization challenge is my health. So many days I plan to write and I am physically unable to. But I write every day I am healthy enough. It takes me longer than a healthy person, but I persevere. That is why I have been writing 8 years, but only have 6 books written, and only one children’s story (7,000 words) published).

    My nano name is mindwing15


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