A Writer’s Career Development Plan

My company has a specific tool for developing and analysing long-term career goals. They call it a Career Development Plan, and it asks all kinds of incisive questions such as: What type of work do you like? What are your short term goals? What are your long term goals? What skills and experiences do you need?

It also allows you to add actions you can take to develop your career. This week, my manager decided it was time we had a discussion about my career. But when we sat down to talk through the Career Development Plan, I honestly couldn’t think of what I wanted out of my day job. I simply see it as a way to make a living while I get on with the real business of writing. (Obviously, I had enough discretion to keep that to myself–if you’re reading this, I’m sorry! Or at least I will be…)

But it got me thinking about my writing career. Beyond “write a book that’s so awesomely awesome it takes the world by storm,” what were my goals? And just as importantly, what did I have to do to get there?

I’ve co-opted the Career Development Plan for that purpose. As a result of filling it out, I now have a clearer idea of my next steps, such as: developing a respectably sized online platform and growing it, steps to improve my writing, and the number of novels I’m aiming to write over the next few years. It’s helped me to take the dream and break it down into a number of achievable, bite-sized tasks.

Social networking and a solid online reader base are becoming more important, but the chances of getting an agent and from there, or a publisher, are increasingly slim. Small presses with limited funds for publicity are starting to fill the gaps, as is self-publishing. The business side of things is leaning more and more toward the author. Never forgetting, of course, that good writing still is, and always will be key–authors who don’t grow and develop in their writing will get nowhere fast.

It’s scary. Like most other people, all I want to do is tell stories that make other people feel, make them think… that make them see the world in a different way. But things aren’t so simple these days.

So over the next year, I’ll be blogging more (because it’s easy to blog more often than never), getting active on other blogs, working out what this tumblr thing is, and critiquing more. I’ll be experimenting with different styles of writing, while editing my current novel and planning the next. It’s going to be a busy two years, according to the plan.

My writing has always been an expression of myself that hopefully people will love and pay money for. It’s been a lot of work, but I’ve always had a lot of passion to back it up. Now it’s time to move beyond pure passion, and start taking it seriously.

Leanne Yong is an aspiring author who is working on her second young adult novel. Check out her blog at Clouded Memories for more information and a journal chronicling her latest foray into novel writing. She would also like you to note the “Like” button just below that’s begging to be clicked.

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