Friday, July 12, 2013

The Best-Laid Plans...

Last week I read Annalisa Crawford's post for the Insecure Writer's Support Group and she wrote about how she hasn't followed her original plan for her writing career, which was to publish short stories in literary magazines and compete in writing competitions. Her writing took turns she wasn't expecting. 

This made me think about my plans when I first started this blog. At that time, I was interested in submitting features to magazines and websites and working as a freelancer. I had been volunteering for Best Friends Animal Society and loved writing features for their website, so I wanted to see if I could do something similar and get paid for it. I did send out some query letters and got a few assignments that I loved doing.

But then I had the dream that led me to Polar Night and all I could think about was the novel. I stopped even sending in any submissions and I stopped trying to think of ideas for queries. As soon as I finished Polar Night, I started working on The Ghosts of Aquinnah. Before I knew it all I could focus on was writing novels.

I'm not complaining about this, because the novels have brought me tons of joy and I'm thrilled that I've been able to publish Polar Night and will be able to publish Ghosts. But I do sometimes regret that I just completely stopped sending queries right after I actually had a little taste of success with them. 

I realized recently that I still want to do that sort of writing as well as my novels. My goal of being a freelancer hasn't changed. I just want to be a novelist and a freelancer now.

I've seen lots of people talk about marketing plans and business plans and writing plans and I've really never had any such thing. I admit, I am the world's worst planner and I have a bad habit of jumping from one thing to another without putting much thought into what I am doing.

I want to change that now though and actually develop a plan that I will stick to and follow. I'm starting from scratch here and trying to figure out what I need to do to get where I want to be.

Have you ever looked back and realized you made a turn when you had planned to go straight? Do you have a writing plan that you follow? Or do you tend to fly by the seat of your pants like I have done in the past? 

For today's Celebrate the Small Things hop, hosted by Vikki at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author, I am celebrating the fact that we FINALLY have some sunshine and nice weather here after what felt like an endless period of rain. The humidity has been so bad that I thought sure I had moved to the tropical rainforest without realizing it. But the air is pleasant and dry and the sun is shining now, so I'm going to enjoy that while we have it. 

Happy weekend, all!


  1. Maybe that little bit of success is what prompted you in a new direction? You got brave.
    My entire writing career is a turn! Should've made that left turn at Albuquerque...

  2. Nice to hear what you have been up to, Julie. Keep up the good work.
    ~Just Jill

  3. Sometimes going off in a different path truly makes us appreciate what we do want and how much we want it... as well as teaching us how great we are in "this" path we did take. Gosh, did I confuse you there? lol

    I'm glad you now know that you really want both. I'm also glad you wrote the novels, I am waiting for a break from all the editing insanity so I can sit down and enjoy reading Polar NIght, it sounds right up my alley ;)

  4. Oh, Julie, my life has been nothing but turns because I tend to follow my heart, sometimes without thinking too much about the consequences. It's good to realize that you have another dream besides writing novels. I have two passions, writing and singing, and sometimes it's hard to muster energy for both, but I'm managing. You can do it!

  5. I'm sure you can do both. Congratulations on your success. I'm with you on the weather - and I'm going outside now.

  6. I think it's wonderful all the success you've had, and I'm sure you'll figure out a way to get them both done. Follow your dream!

    Weather has been odd all around, enjoy the sunshine!

  7. Hey Julie, I used to write poems in the dark and hide them in a drawer. Change is sometimes good. I would never have had the courage to send queries to publishers, but I don't think I've done too badly on my own. You are your own boss, inspiration and business plan. You are doing what you were supposed to do because you followed a dream. :)

  8. @Alex, I don't feel brave but I never thought of it that way, maybe so. LOL about Albuquerque. :D

    @Jill, thanks!

    @SK, that's a good point, and you didn't confuse me LOL. Thanks about Polar Night!

    @Karen, thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it! And I have a habit of following my heart without thinking too.

    @Tonja, enjoy the outdoors, we definitely need to when we can this summer. :D

    @Yolanda, thank you!

    @Shah, oh, thanks, I appreciate that! And I used to hide things I wrote in a drawer too, still have some things there. I don't think you've done too badly either. :)

  9. It's great to have a plan but it's also exciting to let things happen as they will and see where it all takes me.

  10. My plans didn't work out the way I thought they would, but I'm starting to realize that maybe there's a reason why they didn't. Maybe I didn't work hard enough or smart enough. Maybe I wasn't as ready as I thought I was. Maybe it was the universe saying it just wasn't the right time for this or that.

    I'm learning that it's good and important to have goals, but we should also keep our eyes open for cool detours and exciting road side attractions on our journey. You just never know.... :)

  11. I love Best Friends and have been a supporter of theirs since they first started so many years ago. I wonder if I would have become a writer, other than the technical writer I was for my last five years at UCLA (after I retired),if computers had been available then. It seems so easy to write now, I mean technically. The writers who wrote wonderful books with nothing but a quill pen or an old clunker of a typewriter have my admiration.

  12. @Karen, that's very true, good way to look at it.

    @Madeline, that's a good point, maybe there was a reason for me as well. I've definitely enjoyed the detours!

    @Inger, I so admire Best Friends and would love to visit there some day. It was a great experience to write for them.

  13. Oh yes! I can't even remember how I got to this place. I started to write an article on cutting, wound up writing a novel that happened to be a YA. Who knew?

    I hope somebody has a grand plan because I don't.

  14. Thanks for the shout-out - it's nice when something I write strikes a chord! I think that when we start writing, we think we can do it all... then reality strikes. Good luck :-)

  15. Soak up that sun! I'm about to head out to do some weeding...and maybe while I'm at it I'll come up with a plan, haha.

    That's great you found early success with the freelancing - may you experience the same thing when you turn back to it. But I'm glad you took that side-step into novel writing too. :)

  16. Oh my gosh! Who are those painfully adorable little guys? Are they your pets?!? How cute!

    Ah-hem, sorry. Cute things distract me. What I meant to say was: I don't have any real PLANS for my writing. I have hopes, dreams and ideas but no definitive plans. I don't have enough confidence in myself or my abilities to make PLANS yet but it sounds like ever if I did things would turn out differently anyway. Either way, if you do what you love then plan or no plan things will work out.

    And yay for sunshine! We've been having near-constant rainstorms round these parts, too- so I understand.

  17. Great post, Julie. I'm finding that life is imposing its plans on me this summer. So much for anything I had planned! It's all right-- I'll just go with the flow and hang on for the ride. I truly believe we're not alone in this life journey and there is a plan for our lives. This is my hope, anyway!

  18. Writing it down like you did here is one common trait of people who accomplish their goals. It's true. Lists matter.

    As for me, I made a turn about two years ago when I decided I needed another novel from the trilogy under my belt before I continued querying. So I set the other novel aside while I wrote another one. It's taken me longer than I thought, but when I'm done I'll have two novels from the series completed. Being such a slow writer, I knew I needed to give myself some breathing room. Can't say I'd advise everyone to do it, but it was the right thing for me to do. :)

  19. Sometimes the best made plans go awry. Life changes course when we least expect it. Becoming a freelancer and a novelist sounds remarkable, and I wish you great success!

  20. "Man makes plans and God laughs." You don't know what opportunities might present themselves, so just enjoy and go with the flow!

    Yay for sunshine after rain! :-)

  21. @Lee, oh, you really took a turn then. That's awesome.

    @Annalisa, that's a good point.

    @Nicki, I hope so, it was really just the tiniest bit of success but I felt like it was a start, just need to get back to that.

    @Beverly, oh no, I just found the pic, I love it too LOL. Cute things distract me as well. Sorry you've also had so much rain!

    @Julie, I'm sorry you're having such a rough summer!

    @LG, I hope that's true, it did feel good to write it down. I can't wait to read both of your novels. :)

    @Cathrina, thank you!

    @Lexa, very true! :)

  22. As I'm reading your post (in a tropical rainforest region of Ghana), it is raining. It's been sunny for the past 6 days. Weird.

  23. Well, I think it's OK to take turns, settle, then plan. And sometimes plans need adjusting.

    I just recently made a plan for writing shorts and other stuff and submitting again.

    But when a deadline looms, BWs takes center stage. It's paying the bills. And that will shift priorities.

  24. My whole life feels like a turn. LOL I can pinpoint the exact moment that changed my life and brought me where I am today. :)

    As far as writing plans, I guess I'm a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of writer.

    Have a nice weekend!

  25. @Nana, Oh, I'm sorry you have the rain. I hope the sun comes back soon even if you are in the rainforest.

    @Mary, I'm glad you're going to do some more shorts, I love your short stories.

    @Dana, how cool that you can pinpoint that moment! Hope you have a nice weekend as well.

  26. Plans? Well, I did kinda plan (more like hope) to publish a non-fiction article, a short story, and a novel before I kicked the bucket, and I've accomplished all three, and I'm still breathing, so I guess you could say I had a plan and followed it. Writing for me is more of a joy than a pursuit to get fame or fortune, (Good thing!) so my plans moving forward are as loose as the ones I've followed to this point. I have two short stories ready to submit, but plan to write two more before submitting them in one swell foop. (I know, it's a little silly, but there it is.) I've also gathered some info for another non-fiction article, and for my next novel. No timelines, no pressure. If I accomplish all of those things, wonderful. If I die tomorrow, no regrets. Except for the whole not breathing anymore part, HA!

    Happy weekend to you, too.

  27. When I was young, I wanted to be the next Stephen King. These days, I'm flying by the seat of my pants for the moment. Until I know I have a definite amount of time to dedicate to my writing, I don't want to make huge plans. I've gone on different paths that I never thought I'd go on like self-publishing and writing novellas, but I'm happy I did so. I'm learning, and maybe one day, I'll get the opportunity to step on that original path again.

    Have a lovely weekend!

  28. @Susan, well I definitely hope you keep breathing long enough to get all those out there. No longer breathing would really suck. ;)

    @Christine, I'm sure you can be the next King if you are able to get that opportunity. :)

  29. I plan all the time. LOL! But that doesn't mean that plans change. Back in high school, I'd planned to be a professional opera singer by now. Yeah, it's not happening. But that's not a bad thing either. :)

  30. Changes are a natural part of life. Glad you found success with your novel. When I started my blog I had different publishing goals than I do now.

  31. It's great that things are coming together for you, Julie! I would say it is good to have a flexible plan lol

  32. I've changed direction so many times I can't remember what the original plan was.

  33. I.can't say my writing career has taken a turn but it has exceeded my expectations. We'll see what happens when I release my next book Escalation. A movie deal? You never know.

  34. I have a 'sorta' plan. And I've 'sorta' followed it. Which is probably to say that mostly I fly by the seat of my pants and do what feels right at the time!

    Enjoy your great weather :)

  35. I've always been an avid reader.
    Writing entered the equation very late in my life... now I'm waiting to see where this journey takes me...
    It's kinda exciting and scary at the same time.
    Writer In Transit

  36. Used to have a plan but soon realized life doesn't always work that way. Went from writing picture books to middle grade novel to writing a memoir in verse.

  37. Hi Julie! I'm such an ugly dragon, but I'm here today, happy to read your post. I am like you. I tend to get my attention diverted by many ideas but unlike you, I get nothing done. I would suggest you try the 90 day program. i'm trying to find it but in the meantime, I'll email you something that might be of use. :) Dragon hugs!

  38. I've never really had a plan past finish it for goodness sakes :D

    Now that I've done that I'll need another plan...

    I'm so glad for the sunshine too. It was basically monsoon season over here!

  39. I can relate to this so well, since my own plans have definitely zigged and zagged over the years. Even though I wanted to make comics as a kid, the older I got, the more I thought I sucked, to the point where I quit art for a long time. I ended up pursuing novel-writing, until I finally admitted to myself in 2012 that although I enjoy storytelling, I didn't enjoy novel-writing. So, I made the shift back to comics, which is honestly something I never thought I'd say!

    Planning can be difficult sometimes, so good luck! Even though I never used to be this way, I'm a definite planner now, and it really does help me manage all my goals and projects better. I hope the same ends up being true for you!

  40. Yay for nice weather! I've never had a plan for my writing, even the Creative Writing masters degree I'm doing now was the result of applying on a whim one day.

  41. I know lots of writers who do both, write short stories and/or articles as well as novels. My goal has remained the same but boy it sure is taking longer than I thought.

  42. @Cherie, I still can't believe you were going to be an opera singer. So cool that you can sing like that!

    @Sheena-kay, glad to know I'm not the only one who had different ideas when starting my blog.

    @Carolyn, a flexible plan sounds like a good idea!

    @scribbling, LOL, I think I will be like that soon.

    @Stephen, I love that attitude! :)

    @Carol, I think I am a "sorta" type too LOL. Thanks!

    @michelle, writing definitely entered the equation for me late in life as well. And it is exciting, that's something I need to remind myself when I start worrying over things like this.

    @Regina, oh, that's interesting you started with picture books. I honestly would have assumed your focus was always verse and poetry.

    @Al, thanks for the advice and hugs back to you!

    @Samantha, LOL, that sounds about like my plan.

    @Heather, I can't believer there was a time you thought your art sucked! Glad you got back into it.

    @Laura, I do a lot of things on a whim too but it seems like that choice was a great one for you.

  43. @Mshatch, it's good to know there are people who manage to do both, thanks. And I'm sorry your plan is taking longer than you had hoped!

  44. Life to me has been about altered plans from the get go it seems. But as long as we love what we're doing, that's what matters. Only God knows the big plan, so it doesn't matter much to me when my life changes directions that I didn't anticipate.

    Glad for you that the weather's gotten better and you know you're still at home. :) Writer’s Mark

  45. @Nancy, that's a good point, I do love what I'm doing and need to remember that is what matters. :)

  46. I just think that sometimes life throws us a curve ball and we have to follow it and see where it takes us.

  47. Sunshine is definitely worth celebrating.

  48. I made plans to keep writing and submitting short stories and poetry while I wrote novels, and I've been mostly focused on my novels these days. I write short stuff on occasion, but not like I did originally. I'm a half planner half punster. Life sometimes takes us in different directions, and sometimes that's a good thing, and sometimes we need to take a breather and get back on track.

    Happy Sunshine Weekend!!!

  49. I've been enjoying the sun this week too. It's been great :)

  50. @Vikki, no doubt. :)

    @Tyrean, I think that's what I needed, a breather just to assess where I'm at and where I want to go from here.

    @Rebeccah, it has!

  51. Well it seems that things are going exceedingly well for you, and you couldn't have planned it any better! Congrats on having your second novel slated for publication!!



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