If you don't have a goal, you're probably not going to reach it. If you don't have a plan, you're probably not going to realize it.
Sounds obvious, right? It is. But the strange truth is, most of the artists I meet don't have much of a plan beyond creating their art (writing, painting, photography, whatever).
I can't say I blame them either. As artists, we typically shrug our shoulders at the idea of treating our art as a business rather than just a creative outlet. I can't tell you how often I hear writers say (when I talk to them about publishing) "wow, that sounds like a lot of work." Well, it is. But so is writing a novel. No one said this was going to be easy.
I also get this a lot: "Oh, I just want to write." And why not? After all, we do what we do. We write. And we figure the business side will be taken care of by others once we're 'discovered.' Publishers, agents, managers -- they'll handle the business for us.
I've always found this an unfortunate mistake to make. The way I see it, why would anyone want to put in the time and effort to make you successful if you're not willing to do it yourself? Maybe this is where I got lucky -- and I don't mean by getting discovered. I'm far too cynical to think that anyone would publish me, especially in this day and age where the mid-list writer has all but vanished from traditional publishing. Or maybe I suffer from such low self-esteem that it never occurred to me that anyone would want represent me or take me on as a partner. Either way, I knew it was up to me to step up and get things done.
It's still a struggle, and it's a lot of hard work, but the rewards definitely make it worth it. I think that's why I'm always urging other writers to step up, take more risks, and set their sights WAY higher than where they are now. You're allowed to want success, and there's no reason why you can't have it. So have a goal. Set the bar higher.
The first step to success is realizing that you can be successful.
Next Week, Part Two: Okay, I'm ready to work. Now what?