Over at his excellent blog, Scott Myers asks you'll be doing in five years. What does your career look like? In what ways are you successful? His blog is about writing, like much of this blog, but the same questions can be asked of most people - regardless of their job or career.] And these questions chime with me too.
I'm mentoring a Screen Academy Scotland student this summer. No about his writing, but about his career goals, aspirations and achieving them. I'm also supervising seven students undertaking major projects for the MA Creative Writing course at Edinburgh Napier University. A lot of supervision is about the stories they're creating.
But personal development planning [PDP] is a massive part of the course, especially major project. Students can't pass this capstone module - or graduate the programme - unless they complete a PDP. So I've been talking a lot about goals and aspirations, and how to make these SMART - specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.
Scott's blog reminded me I should be setting more goals for myself. Practice what you preach, and all that. What will I be doing in five years? What will my career look like? In what ways will I be successful? So I'm going to have a crack at answering these, but making my replies SMART at the same time. Easier than it sounds.
In five years, I will be writing. Creating stories, and sharing them. The medium's not the most important part of that. I'm compelled to tell stories, to invent fictions. How those stories are communicated is an issue of transmission - prose, script, cave drawings, whatever. I will be making things up and sharing them with others. Fact.
My aspiration is writing one hour TV dramas and getting them broadcast. Ideally, I'd be writing my own series or serial. That's specific, measurable, relevant and timely - but it fails as an attainable goal. I don't have the power to commission and broadcast TV drama. It's possible I could attain that by 2016, but it's a different career path.
So I need to rework my aspiration to make it an attainable goal. Something like this: By June 2016 I will develop and write five new one-hour TV drama pilot script. Every year until 2016 I will apply for at least two different writing opportunities for one-hour TV dramas such as shadow schemes, competitions and the BBC Writers' Academy.
Those goals - writing new pilot scripts and applying for opportunities - are SMART. They're specific [although there's flexibility build into the second], measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. They are within my power, it's my choice whether or not I achieve. Knuckle down and I can easily write a new pilot script every year.
There are plenty of shadow schemes and competitions I can enter. Continuing drama series like Casualty and Holby City both run shadow schemes. Red Planet Pictures has a semi-annual competition for pilot scripts. The BBC Writers' Academy invites scribes with a professional credit to apply every year for training in TV drama writing.
Some writers fear announcing their goals and aspirations. They don't want to invite hubris, or appear big-headed [in New Zealand where I grew up, it was called being a skite - such an evocative word]. Well, I say fuck that shit. You want to get somewhere, you need a map. You want to achieve something? You need a plan.
This is my plan: By June 2016 I will develop and write five new one-hour TV drama pilot script. Every year until 2016 I will apply for at least two different writing opportunities for one-hour TV dramas such as shadow schemes, competitions and the BBC Writers' Academy. What will you be doing in five years? Have you got a plan?