“Hope is not a plan. It’s OK to dream, but you’ve got to act on it. What’s your plan?”
–Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness)
At the start of 2013, I made the decision that this year would be different. It had to be. There had to be some point where I actually got serious about my writing. Yes, I’d taken some creative writing courses while working on my degree in journalism. And, yes, I still managed to sit down and write every now and then. All my energy had always gone to the real job though. You know, the one that pays the bills. For several years, that was my job as a reporter at the Memphis Daily News. Then when I became a high school teacher, teaching took over pretty much all of my life. Spare time. What’s that? In the evenings, I am grading papers, recording grades, planning future assignments, writing tests, etc. So, writing continued to sit on the back burner as I devoted all of my attention to the full-time jobs I held to survive and provide for myself and my kids.
But I wanted 2013 to be different. After all, I don’t want to retire as a teacher. My dream was never to become a teacher, though I have developed a passion for it. It is not the substance of my daydreams or my night dreams either.
So at the beginning of the year I set a goal, not resolution. Resolutions don’t last. They’re flimsy promises we make to ourselves after our second glass of champagne. They may be things we know deep down that we should one day address and the champagne makes us believe that we will be able to do just that. Only the truth is that resolutions usually fade from our memories about two months after we make them. Some don’t even make it that long.
So, no, I didn’t make a resolution. I made a plan, using the inspiration I garnered from Mr. Christopher Gardner. A close friend of mine forwarded me an article about Gardner where he included the quote I used at the beginning of the post and the following C5 plan toward reaching your goal:
I didn’t need to write down my goal, but I did. My goal was to increase my writing productivity and to have something published before the year is over. Clear: to be published. Concise: that was to the point right? Compelling: nothing more compelling than setting down a plan to achieve a dream you’ve been carrying in your spirit for more than 10 years…Committed: I set a page limit (at least three pages a day, a lofty goal for someone who doesn’t leave school until nearly five o’clock in the evening) and I committed myself to mailing at least one story, poem, or query letter out once a week. That means I have to be writing. If I’m not writing, there’s nothing to send out. Consistent: I can’t allow the responsibilities of the real job to prevent me from working toward my goal because this is important.
As a result of developing a plan, I have become more organized and use my time wisely. I don’t bring work home to grade anymore. If it doesn’t get graded during my planning period or during the time I spend after school, it just has to wait. I had to shift priorities to include what I have a passion for.
It’s not about seeing my name in print. I’ve seen my name in print before. Plenty of times. It’s about sharing the stories that my characters bring to me at night when I’m sleeping. Sometimes, a character will tap me on the shoulder or whisper in my ear while I’m sleeping: “Rosalind, I have something to tell you.” And I listen. They trust me with their stories. I can’t just keep them locked in my heart where they will be buried with me when I die. I must tell their stories. I will tell their stories.
Already I have self-published my book of poems, Skinny Dipping in the Pool of Womanhood. And I’m working on a young adult novel, which I hope to have ready for publication by the summer. I’m sorry did I say hope? I meant to say plan. I plan to have it ready for publication by the summer.
Now, it’s your turn. What are you waiting on? Develop your plan for success and then start working that plan.
Peace and Love,