Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Career Coach Tiffany Colter on Creating a Plan to Succeed

I'm pleased to welcome today's guest blogger, author and career coach Tiffany Colter!

Building Your Dreams Through Creating a Plan to Succeed


Depending on your personality those two words either fill you with confidence or fear. I am among the former. I plan every little part in my life to the point where my family has rebelled. I like to know where I’m going, how to get there and what to do if I can’t.

One place where a plan is necessary for EVERY person is the plan to success. Starting in high school we each began to plan for our future. Would we take advanced or college prep courses, or were we more interested in working a trade and shadowing. After high school we had to create money plans, called budgets, to make sure we learned to live within our means. And when a person starts a new business they must have a plan for their business in order to secure funding from banks and investors.

What about writers? What kind of plan should they have?

To answer this question I need to change your thinking a little bit. We need to step beyond the belief that writers are simply artists and realize that they are owners of a writing business. So you need to create a plan to succeed beyond “Write one book, then another”.

I’ve listed 5 things that MUST be a part of your plan as you begin your writer’s journey. By starting with all of these [and building on them as you move closer to publication] you will enjoy more success than you would if you were passive in your writing career.

1. Platform before Publication
Many people wonder why I stress so much the need to build a platform prior to publication. The reason is simple, the current market requires a strong sphere of influence for EVERY writer, whether non-fiction or fiction. This will not happen without deliberate effort on your part. Writers must begin thinking about ways to become recognized among people in their target market. This can take many shapes from blogs, to articles in magazines, e-zines and newspapers. You can even focus on public speaking. The key is to have solid numbers to present to publishing houses.

2. Study craft
This is absolutely crucial. It is great if you’re a voracious reader but at some point you must take the time to read some books-and take classes-to improve your craft. I also encourage new writers to get the first 15-20 pages of their manuscript edited by someone who specializes in NEW authors. I don’t say that simply because I offer that service to new writers. I say that because it works. Six years ago when I was pushing hard to publication a writing mentor [who’d written over 30 novels] read the first 20 pages of my book. He gave great advice on MY writing that I never fully understood in a book.

See, when we are reading books on craft we can fool ourselves and say “Okay, I already do that well.” Having someone look at those beginning pages points out what the weakness looks like in your own writing. It is a $20-$30 investment that teaches far more than a book of equal cost. I still have mine 6 years, and 4 manuscripts later.

3. Meet other writers
I’ve always been a loner so I didn’t fully appreciate the value of this advice until I started meeting other writers. I now see the value of having a group of people who understand this business and who support me. Watch out, not all writer’s groups are created equal. Some can suck the life right out of you while others leave you feeling like you can accomplish anything! Find a group of people who are at various stages in the writer’s journey. This will help you by allowing you to learn from some and provide encouragement and help to others.

4. Meet editors/agents
This was TERRIFYING the first time I did it [again, introvert], but I realize it is completely necessary. I am happy to say I now have editors and agents on my list of friends. I see them as humans who have a great deal of wisdom I can learn from. I also realize that they are business partners in my writing business. The Editor’s job is to find and develop great books. The agent’s job is to find and develop great authors. Once I bring my craft and platform to the level that they can work with, they become partners with me in my success. The first step, however is learning from them and learning to treat them like real people. We don’t need to hide from them, nor should we ever seek to take advantage of them.

5. Determine goals and take meaningful steps to accomplishing them.
This is so incredibly important. Determine how many books you’d like to write this year. Let’s say you’d like to write a single 80,000 word manuscript. You will need to research, write an outline [if you do], write a rough draft, edit, revise, repeat. We are ½ way through Feb so you have about 45 weeks [less once you take out holidays, vacations and other excuses-laugh]. That means you need to decide how long a revision will take…a month? Two? Lets say 6 weeks.

Now you have 39 weeks to write that first draft.

But you need to research before and edit after. We’d better take out 4 more weeks.

That leaves us 35 weeks to write the first draft. That’s just over 2,000 words per week. 500 words per day!

So what are you doing reading this blog? You need to get to work.

I’ll see you later, maybe at my common-sense money management blog or my Writing Career Coach blog.


Tiffany Colter is a passionate freelance writer whose credits include Today’s Christian, Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, and the Afictionado E-zine. She enjoys helping others build a strong business and writes a daily marketing blog for writers called the Writing Career Coach and a common-sense money management site, TheBalancedLife.com. Tiffany lives outside Toledo, OH with her husband, a recent cancer survivor, and their four girls.


Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter said...

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog. I had a wonderful time sharing this information with your readers.

Jennifer AlLee said...

Thanks for stopping by, Tiffany. Your post is great. And for anybody who hasn't already, make sure to check out Tiffany's web sites... lots more great stuff there!

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