The Hierarchy of Goals Example:
Overall Writing Goal. (Strategic)
Book goal. (Tactical)
Business goal (Tactical)
Shorter range/daily goals (Tactical)
I will be a New York Times best-selling author within five years.
Tactical Goal (Book)
I will write a unique thriller, in the vein of James Rollins, but different because of ????, in the next six months.
I will be researching and outlining the second book in the series.
I will research and come up with the idea for the third book in the series.
Tactical Goal (Business)
My thriller will be the first of three similar thrillers featuring the same protagonist, an ex- Navy SEAL, Harvard educated, anthropologist with one arm who secretly cross-dresses.
Every week I will research and make a list of five agents interested in this genre.
I will attend a writers’ conference this month where there is an author who has what I want and attend every session I can. I will not stalk her, but I will try to talk socially to her given the opportunity, which I will make by NOT hiding in my room, but spending every available minute in workshops and in the conference area.
I will attend a writers’ conference in four months where there will be agents that represent my type of novel to get feedback from them. Ditto for the stalking.
I will follow the publishing business to see what the trends are.
Tactical Goal (Shorter Range)
I will get up an hour earlier every day to write.
I will stay up an hour later every night to write.
I will write five pages a day. Every day.
I will have a draft done in ten weeks.
I will rewrite the draft for plot, for character, for symbols, for subplots.
As I rewrite, I will write my query letter and synopsis.
I will continue to rewrite my query letter and synopsis until they are the best I can make them.
The Hierarchy of Goals Must Be Aligned.
This is your responsibility, not your agent’s or editor’s. If goals are not aligned, there is inherent conflict and wasted time and energy. Awareness and honesty are key. In the example above, I mentioned three books. In the last lesson, I’ll discuss a career plan involving three books that Susan Wiggs shared with me when I asked her for help.
You have ONE strategic goal as a writer. However, that doesn’t mean you have to be working on only one thing. In fact, as you’ll see later when we discuss Catastrophe Planning, you probably should be working on more than one thing. The key each day is to remember where your primary focus is.
First, quality is better than quantity. That’s a maxim of Warrior Writer, because it’s a maxim of Special Forces.
So when I watch something like Nanowrimo or #writegoal on twitter, I think it’s good that people are on task and producing, but am also concerned about the quality of the material.
I can’t write more than one piece of fiction at a time. I can’t cross the creative wires. However, I am very prolific because my work schedule looks like this on any given day:
Priority #1: My fiction work in progress.
Priority #2: My non-fiction work in progress. I find writing non-fiction very different than fiction. So the wires don’t cross.
Priority #3: Working on getting Who Dares Wins Publishing off the ground.
Priority #4: Working on new concepts for fiction and non-fiction
Priority #5: Lining up workshops for the future and keeping one’s already scheduled on target.
Priority #6: Running my businesses. ie keeping track of taxes, expenses, etc.
Priority #7: Marketing and sales. Keeping up on social media, blogs, etc.
There’s more I do, but if you add it up, it’s a lot. So I suggest everyone needs to make a list of priorities and that not only makes you prolific, but on target to achieve what you really want. Because #1 priority is your strategic goal.
The key to success as a writer is focusing on that strategic goal every single day as you accomplish your tactical goals.
Special Forces Selection & Assessment thought: Take your eyes off the price and put them on the prize. (well, not literally.)
(Excerpted from Warrior Writer: From Writer To Published Author)