Goals without a plan are just wishes

It's that time of year again. Time to set some goals for 2016! Woohoo! Break out your day planners, because this is happening.

2015 was a bit hit or miss for me when it came to my goals. I actually managed to achieve five out of six, which sounds awesome on paper. But not so much when you look at it considering the goal I missed was publishing book three in the Acceptance series. Also, the goal for book two was to have it published by the summer and since it just came out last week, clearly that one was delayed.

I had big plans, but they came apart due to a failure to plan on my part. Because goals without a plan are just wishes. Things we hope to accomplish, but at least on my part, thought would come to fruition as a natural course of action.

Yeah, that doesn't work.

So this year, I'm going to do thing a little differently.

In regards to output, I've got some lofty goals this year. I'm currently working on a stand-alone to give my brain time to ferment book three of the Acceptance series. But I can't let it ferment too long because I have a hard core publication date that I really want to meet. My goal is to have book three release by the end of June 2016. I'll be attending UtopiaCon again this year and I really want to have all three books out and ready to go. Paired with the stand-alone, that is two books written and polished by mid-year. Then, ideally, I'd like to get one more book written that I have somewhat plotted already. If you're keeping score, that's three books in one year where this year I only managed to crank out one.

In order to make that happen, I know I have to change what I'm doing now. Because more of the same won't produce different results. My number one priority is to get in a better habit of daily writing. In the past I've been a sporadic sprinter. Instead of writing daily, I go for weeks without writing and then write for several weeks to the exclusion of everything else. Not only is this not really a viable long-term plan for me or my family, it is hard to stay consistently in my stories. In short, I was publishing as professionally as I could, but still writing like a hobbyist. That's not going to cut it if I want to take my writing to the next level.

I also need to do a better job of planning out my mini-goals on a real calendar. I tend to wait until I have my first draft finished before I map out the actual publication process. That's not going to work anymore. Instead, I need to decide on my publication date and then work backward, deciding when I need to meet certain goals (first draft complete, beta version ready, etc.) in order to stay with my deadlines. I also need to stop delaying the process. I waited until I had my draft back from my Beta readers before I reached out to my cover designer. Why? Because in the back of my head I was convinced they would all hate it and then I would just can the whole project, so why waste money on a cover design. Well, that's defeatist thinking and it needs to stop. Which is why I'll be reaching out to my cover designer at the beginning of the year to get cranking on book three.

In short, I need to treat the process of writing more professionally. It's not enough to look like a professional and put out professional books. This year I claimed author as my profession on my taxes. According to the US Government, I am an author, so it's about time I started acting like it.

This is a big mind shift for me, and I'm sure it's that way for many of you. You may be thinking, I don't make enough money to act like a real author. Or, I don't have any books published, so I'm not a real author. Whatever the reason, you might not feel like an author yet and that mental aspect of the job might be holding you back from hitting your goals. I know it is for me. It's a big switch to go from "writing for fun because I love it" and "writing as my job and I still get to love it".  I don't think it will be easy. Not by a long shot. But I know it will be worth it.

I'd love to hear from you guys. How do you schedule your writing time to make it a habit or part of your work day? When did you mentally make the switch from hobby writer to professional author and what helped you do it?