You've never thought that, have you? Nah...me neither.
It's been a funny couple of days. A friend is running a large workshop in town this week. Fifty writers from the US, Canada, and Europe have come to the Oregon Coast for it. I'm not attending, but its an annual event and I'm hanging out some to chat with folks (many of whom are now once-a-year friends).
And one of the big themes this year?
But I had a plan...
Or worse yet, I need a plan! (Sometimes with the added unspoken plea: Can you give it to me?)
I've spent a lot of time studying "success" over the years. There are times when that has taken up a major portion of my limited time to read. Do I plunge into the next Susan Wiggs title (isn't she awesome?) or do I go study more about how success works? (Weird, I know, but that's me.) Everyone keeps wanting "The Plan." Or they're worrying about "The Plan." (And this isn't just in writing, it's in every endeavor.)
The catch is, there are at least 3 major steps that come before the plan (courtesy of Napoleon Hill):
- A clear goal
- A burning desire to achieve that goal
- Action taken in the belief that the goal is achievable.
People come to me, so eager to tell me about their plan. Seeking my input or approval, and I try to give it.
They have the goal (or some version of one). "I want to become a writer."
They have the desire to achieve it: this conference is not cheap and they must travel to the remote Oregon Coast in order to attend and yet they have come.
And then they look at me as Mr. Successful Romance Author and can't see that in themselves--either in the present or future tense. I've met plenty of authors who make 5 and even 10 times what I do. When I see them, I could make two choices in what I think:
- "Oh, I could never do that."
- "How do I do that?"
If I thought the first, of course it would never happen except by blind luck. But by thinking the later, it's from there that the plan is born. I get to think: this is where I'm standing now, what are the steps to getting there? And, more importantly, what is the next step to getting there.
In the discussions this week, it has all been about the plan. Especially about how the plan is different for everyone so how can you figure it out.
I think the core answer--whether we're talking about writing, careers, or any more life change--is to place ourselves in that future success. If I can see myself achieving it, the question then simply becomes "How?"
I could wish you nothing greater than recognizing your dream and pursuing it. It is from that which "the right plan" is born.
M.L. Buchman started the first of over 50 novels and even more short stories while flying from South Korea to ride across the Australian Outback. All part of a solo around-the-world bicycle trip (a mid-life crisis on wheels) that ultimately launched his writing career.
Booklist has selected his military and firefighter series(es) as 3-time “Top 10 Romance of the Year.” NPR and Barnes & Noble have named other titles “Top 5 Romance of the Year.” In 2016 he was a finalist for RWA's RITA award. He has flown and jumped out of airplanes, can single-hand a fifty-foot sailboat, and has designed and built two houses. In between writing, he also quilts. M.L. is constantly amazed at what can be done with a degree in geophysics. He also writes: contemporary romance, thrillers, and SF. More info at: www.mlbuchman.com.