Today I'm placing you in the very capable hands of author N.E. Daivd.
Firstly, let’s hope you’re enjoying your summer. You will be if you’re German, that’s for sure after Sunday’s World Cup win. Not so much if you’re Argentinian but there we are. Even less if you’re English ... Meanwhile, it’s back to business - and I use the word advisedly as you’ll see in a moment.
My guess is that you’ve been attracted to reading this blog post because you’re a writer. Writers are creative, sensitive, touchy-feely creatures. We’re necessarily romantics – we have to be to do what we do ie. invent some form of fiction that lifts us and our readers above and beyond the ordinary grind of day to day life. Why on earth would we want to soil our hands with something as grubby and mundane as planning? Isn’t that rather beneath us? Shouldn’t we be leaving that kind of thing to those of lesser minds? For you, perhaps – but if you take that view I think you’re a dreamer. Don’t get me wrong, dreams sometimes come true but it’s a matter of luck rather than judgement. If you really want to be a successful writer, I believe you’re going to need to plan. Let me explain.
I’m talking about planning in the general sense. Planning a particular piece of work is something different and I hope to be able to deal with that another time. What I mean is business planning. I come from a business background where planning is an integral part of work. I was taught the old adage that ‘to fail to plan is to plan to fail’ – and as I’m not too keen on failure, I plan to avoid it. What has business got to do with it, you might ask? We’re writers, not businessmen. But if you’re a writer, then writing is your business and the sooner you think of it that way and approach it professionally, the sooner you’re likely to succeed.
So I recommend you begin by writing a business plan for yourself as a writer. I’m not going to tell you how, there are plenty of self-help books which can do that far better than I can here. My purpose is to persuade you of the wisdom of it and to give you a flavour of my own plan as an example. This has benefits for me too, as it forces me to address the subject myself and highlights one of the key issues. ‘Thinking’ you have a plan is all very well but it doesn’t commit you to it in the same way as it does if you put it down on paper. Write it down and post it somewhere prominent in your office/study so that it stares you in the face every day. Let its continual presence shame you into doing what you said you would. Even better, tell someone else about it. Make it public – that will ensure you’ll strive even harder to get it done.
We tend to think of these things at the start of a new year. It’s a natural point for us to reflect on what we’ve achieved in the past twelve months and to focus on what we’re going to achieve in the next. I don’t mean it should be a ‘resolution’, but rather a template for what we intend to do over the coming period. I’ve often done this, both in my ‘business’ life and in my new life as a writer.
But here we are at the half point of 2014 and it’s no good waiting until the end of December before we sit down to do our thinking. If you haven’t got a plan I seriously recommend you start one now and set yourself some targets for the year end – otherwise another six months will have passed you by and you’ll have nothing to show for it. If you’ve already got a plan, great. Take an hour or so of your time to evaluate your progress year to date and decide what you need to do in the second half to complete it.
Most business plans have a general ‘aim’. I stated mine when I first set up my website back in July 2012 in that I said I wanted to become a nationally recognised author. Up until then I was known locally but not beyond and the establishment of the website was intended to open up a new world for me. It was one of my ‘objectives’. Objectives are more specific targets and are identifiable steps on the way towards achieving your aim.
My objectives since turning professional at the end of June 2012 have been firstly the website, then setting up and using a Twitter account, converting three of my novellas into ebooks and using the website as a platform for selling them. My intention was to raise my profile and get myself better known – and if I managed to sell a few books along the way, so much the better. So far so good.
But at the same time I was determined to continue my writing (after all, that’s what we’re here for) and I really wanted to finish my debut novel, BIRDS OF THE NILE, and have it ready for publication in 2013. I’ve been able to do that too and the work I put in beforehand, the website and the Twitter account, are now coming into their own and I’m reaping the benefits of what I ‘planned’ two years ago. All that means I get now get on with writing a second book and getting that published in 2015. It’s all part of the plan ...
They may be great footballers but I’m sure the Germans didn’t just turn up and win The World Cup – I’ll bet they did an awful lot of planning along the way. You may be a great writer (I sincerely hope you are) but it will all come to naught if you don’t prepare things carefully in advance. Why not let the next thing you write be a Business Plan?
N.E.David is the pen name of York author Nick David. Nick tried his hand at writing at the age of 21 but like so many things in life, it did not work out first time round. Following the death of his father in 2005, he took it up again and has been successful in having a series of short novellas published both in print and online.
Nick maintains he has no personal or political message to convey but that his objective is merely to entertain the reader and he hopes this is reflected in his writing. Besides being a regular contributor to Literary Festivals and open mics in the North East Region, Nick is also a founder member of York Authors and co-presenter of Book Talk on BBC Radio York.
His debut novel, Birds of the Nile, is published by Roundfire.
| website | Twitter: @NEDavidAuthor |
A bit about Birds of the Nile:
Date Published: September 27, 2013
British ex-diplomat MICHAEL BLAKE has been blinded and is confined to his flat in Cairo. Every few days a visitor comes to read to him. It’s a year since he took early retirement and booked a long–awaited birding trip on the Nile.
Half way through the voyage he meets LEE YONG and finds himself falling for her. But she’s falling for REDA, their tour guide. He isn’t all he seems either and when the Egyptian revolution kicks off, BLAKE finds himself embroiled in a tangled web of love and intrigue. When REDA is captured and thrown into jail, BLAKE will be forced to decide – to help LEE YONG and join the revolution or stand aside and risk losing everything.
Set against the background of the events of January 2011, BIRDS OF THE NILE is a powerful story of loss and self discovery as three disparate characters, each with their own agenda, seek to come to terms with change. Part political thriller, part love story, BIRDS OF THE NILE reminds us of the complex nature of global cultural interaction and how, as individuals, we try to deal with it.