An organisation called literaturetraining [the UK's only dedicated provider of free information and advice on professional development for writers and literature professionals] has issused a booklet called Getting To Where You Want To Be. It's a do it yourself guide to planning your professional development that encourages you to think about the way forward in your career.
I got sent a copy of the booklet last week and worked my way through the first half last night. So far I've looked at where I am now, where I've been, and assessed how I divide my work in terms of time spent and income earned. Among the exercises was a series of pie-charts, where you can quickly compare your priorities. For example, writing comics generated a large slice of my income last year, but occupied a much smaller slice of my time.
By comparison, speculative screenwriting took up the largest slice of my time in that piechart, yet generated a tiny slither of income. That reflects a conscious decision I made to sacrifice income for the pursuit of a future in screenwriting [particularly TV drama]. The slices of time and income relating to novels are about even, as are the same measurements for non-fiction books and journalism. Ditto audio dramas, such as radio plays and the like.
The last section I completed looked at where I wanted to go. You set ambitious, specific goals for the next three to five years. You think about what you have done and identify what you don't want. Apply a reality check to your goals, bearing in mind some will be influenced by external circumstances [securing representation, getting a commission, winning a place on something like the BBC Writers' Academy]. Now prioritize your goals.
What's the most important thing for me to achieve in the next three to five years. Must certain things happen first to make some goals attainable? Do you let unimportant yet seemingly urgent activities take over your daily work, derailing efforts to achieve long-term ambitions? Which of your goals can wait until a later date? It's been fascinating to go through these exercises and questions, getting a status check on my efforts and ambitions.
I've still got to delve deeper into my ambitions, create a plan of action and set up regular reviews to assess my progress. Plus there's plenty of extra exercises scattered through the booklet to flesh out elements of the DIY guide. All in all, it's proving a useful and interesting tool to plotting a way forwards for my writing career. Best of all, it's free and available to download here [bottom right hand corner of that page].
I recommend working through the booklet in two stages. And bring a buddy, somebody to ask the questions and leave you free to figure out your answers. [They can also chip in suggestions or observations.] Do it with your partner and, if they're not a writer too, they'll get a sense of how your career might progress. As writers we do plenty of things in isolation, this is something you can get help completing and involve them in the process. Onwards.