Planning ahead

I have made no progress on Peacekeeper 3: Pathogen due to other priorities. All of the recommended changes to Dragonverse Origins that my wife has suggested so far as part of her editorial/grammatical review have been entered. I’m hoping she finishes up by the end of next week. I’ve also managed to spend some time working on a very short story called either The Lives I Touched or The Bridge (I haven’t decided which yet). This is a short story that I’d started, read at one of our writer group meetings and then forgotten about. The other day, several members of the group asked if I’d finished the story – apparently, they really enjoyed it. So, I’ve dusted it off and I thought I would see if I could finish it. I’ve made progress but it’s not done yet. I’m not sure what genre to put it in though. It doesn’t really fit into any specific genre.

Planning ahead
Last Friday, I attended a retirement lunch for a fellow worker who decided that it was time to move on to the next phase of his life. I’ve been seeing a lot of these recently and one of these days it’s going to be my turn. That started me thinking about long-range planning. There are too many people I know who never look beyond tomorrow. Many have a hard time looking more than a few hours into the future. If you don’t have a clue as to what you’re going to do in the coming days, then you’re going to be in serious trouble in the future. This applies to almost every aspect of life from finances to health.

I asked the man retiring last week what his plans were and he seemed to know what he would be doing during his retirement years. Keeping busy, keeping your mind active, and knowing where you are going are all important things to be doing. If you have no plan for your life when you retire, then why retire in the first place? Like most of my coworkers, he’s been putting away money into various accounts over the years and now he can enjoy the benefits of years of hard work. That’s financial planning and it’s something that many people today seem to lack.

This sort of long-range planning can be applied to your writing career as well. Do you know what your next story will be? Do you have a notebook of ideas for future stories? Are you always looking for ways to improve yourself? Do you listen to your readers? All these – and many more – are part of what a writer should be thinking about. If you don’t have a plan, you’re just fumbling around in the dark without any guidance.

Let’s say your next story gets the attention of enough people and it begins to rapidly climb the Amazon charts. You hit the top 100 for a week and sales slowly begin to drop off. If you’re one of those who have no plan, you might take that huge royalty check and go buy a new car. You might even quit your day job because, after all, you’re a top-selling author! Your attitude might change and pretty soon you believe you’re better than other authors. Admittedly, this is an extreme example, but it’s possible. So let’s see what happens as time continues to march forward.

Sales continue to slowly fall. Since you want to remain a top-selling author, you rush to finish your next book. You fly through your editing, slap together a cover, and upload it to Amazon. Sales rise but only for a few days. Next year, when it comes time to pay your taxes, you discover you don’t have the money in your bank account to cover what you owe the IRS for those few big royalty checks you spent. Book sales are still sliding. You call up your old boss and he sadly tells you that your old position has already been filled. Desperate, you crank out another book while living on Raman noodles and coffee. The reviews for your last book are terrible and sales continue to fall. Soon, you’re living on welfare without any future.

Okay, that’s an extreme example, but it’s entirely possible. People who get ahead look toward the future and keep the past in mind. Even professionals continue to work to improve what they do. No writer is perfect and the skill of writing can always be improved. Read books on how to write, listen to what your readers have to say, ask for honest feedback and actually hear what they tell you. Think about what you will be doing next week, next month, next year, and for the next hundred years. A hundred years? Why not? Medical technology is advancing rapidly and there may come a time in the not too distant future when human lives can be extended. So why not start planning for that eventuality now?

If you’re smart, you should continue to plan for what will happen to your legacy when you move on to the next plane of existence. What will happen to your royalty checks (they're not going to stop just because you're dead)? Who will manage your website? What about all those stories you have laying around that were never submitted? Can your wife or your executor get into your phone, your bank account, your computer, or the hundreds of other online accounts you have scattered all over the internet? Will anyone even know you have those accounts?

Plan for the future. Plan for how you will live out the rest of your life and plan out how what you’ve done in life will be taken care of when you die. If you don’t plan ahead, you may as well just be walking along with your eyes shut.

Right now, my plan is to finish Dragonverse Origins so I can see sales go up at least a little. I'm also working on Peacekeeper: Pathogen. Sales have been done and the only way to see them rebound is to get a few more books out there. Time to end this post and get back to writing.