The Importance of Career Planning for Writers

treasuremap It’s the New Year. The time when most of us look at where we are and think about what we want to change. There’s something about new beginnings, isn’t there? Everything seems possible, if we just work hard enough. So we set about making our resolutions for the coming year, dreaming about all the things we’d love to accomplish. For some of us, that’s good enough–we’ll work on our New Year’s resolutions (or most of them) and be successful. The rest of us? Eh, not so much. I think that’s because making New Year’s resolutions is fine for minor things, but do you really want to base your writing career on such flimsy things? Yeah, me neither.

Forget about making those resolutions–to be successful at any career, what you need is a career plan and achievable goals. I spent enough years working for Big Business (multi-national corporations with 30,000+ employees) to know the benefit, not only of planning, but planning well. If you think this subject is a bore or not applicable to you (But I just want to write!), don’t turn away just yet. I hated the yearly planning/goal setting process when I worked for Big Business. The goals of my departments rarely changed and career planning was, to put it mildly, a joke. I understood the reasons for planning and setting goals–after all, managers had to have something to use to measure their employees’ productivity–but since I’ve always been a self-starter and over achiever, I rarely needed the reminder of where and how to prioritize my work.

Since focusing on writing as a career, I find that my attitude toward career planning and goal setting has drastically changed. I like the following quote from Kristen Lamb: “All Authors are Entrepreneurs.” That’s especially true in this age of turmoil and change in the publishing world. Suddenly, career planning and goal setting have become meaningful to me.

As writers, we tend to focus on the creative aspects of our profession, which is only natural. However, if writing for publication is your ultimate goal, it makes sense to put effort into creating a career plan. A career plan is still valuable if you’re already published. It can help you move your career to the next level or keep your career from stagnating. Even if you’re completely satisfied with your career as it is now, a career plan can help you maintain your career in times of industry change.

It doesn’t matter where you are on your writing journey–it’s never too early or too late to create a career plan. A good career plan changes and grows over time, just as you change and grow.

Career planning and goal setting go hand-in-hand. How can you know what goals to set if you don’t have a plan? Every goal you set and achieve should ultimately lead you to your desired career outcome–the outcome you created in your plan.

Life is about change. View both your career plan and your goals as living things. Just because you set a goal today, that doesn’t mean you can’t change it tomorrow if circumstances change. The same goes for your career plan. In fact, there will most likely come a time when, if you haven’t changed your plan, it won’t match what you currently want to achieve.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about creating a career plan.