Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Business of Writing: Business Plan

Today I have a dual post:  A to Z Challenge and Insecure Writer's Support Group.
 
 
 
 
I write historical fiction. In my experience, the writing of historical fiction costs money - I've bought books and have gone on trips.  My research involves travel to on-site locations, libraries, and archives. I never really kept track of the expenses or really planned out very far in advance where I would be going and when.
 
Right now, I am taking a grant writing class, and one of my projects is to get funding for my own research. So far, I've been surprisingly successful at getting a little bit funding (come back on G day for a discussion of grants for individuals). The process of applying for grants has forced me to come up with a detailed plan for each research trip, which puts in my face how much I've been spending on research and how important it is to be efficient about it. Coming up with a plan for my expenses has forced me to come up with a plan for my writing projects too. 
 
I think a business plan for a creative writer doesn't need to be complex and can be as simple as a spreadsheet or table. I would recommend breaking it into years, however you want to define that. For me, I work in school years since I'm in college and have school-aged children. My writing goals and research trips have to fit in with my academic plan.
 
To accomplish a goal (any goal), you have to complete a series of tasks - for me, the planning process helps me set realistic goals and timeframes for completing them. 
 
More importantly, having a written plan helps me make each task a priority for myself and also empowers me to insist that my family respects the time I need to devote to those tasks. If I have a solid plan, I'm going to get the work done. If you are a mom, you know your default job (even if you have another one) is to take care of everyone else's needs - even the needs they aren't aware of.  Without a plan for getting your own work done, it's too easy to get lost in taking care of everyone else.
 
If you had your own business, you would never do it without a plan.  Why should the business of writing be different?
 
 
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Do I have insecurities?  Absolutely.  My main insecurity over the last few months has been over losing the connections here that I worked for so long to develop.  I closed this blog because of a certain someone who I never should have shared the link with.  I started a new blog, but the effort to start over and reconnect was too time-consuming.  If you are considering switching blogs, don't. Seriously.
 
I joined A to Z this year at the last minute in an effort to reconnect. So far, it's working, and I'm glad I did it.
 
What are your insecurities?  Ever switch blogs or online personas and try to start over?


30 comments:

  1. Planning out your research helps set the budget - or see how far over it's about to go.
    I've watched others start new blogs and they always struggle to regain momentum. Stephen Tremp had to start a new one last year right before the Challenge began when the Google police shut down his old one, and he's worked hard trying to regain his following.
    No way I would start a new one. Or juggle multiple blogs outside of the two I co-host.

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    1. I worked on my budget this morning. It's going to take a lot to go on all the trips I want to take for research. I probably need to spread them out more and convince my kids they are 'vacation' - yeah, right.

      I didn't know about Stephen and lost track of him. Reconnected this morning. Thanks for the heads up.

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  2. It's good that you are treating your writing like a business. It really is. If we ever intend to keep up with it. We have to be serious about it.

    I'm glad you joined the Challenge.

    Heather M. Gardner
    The Waiting is the Hardest Part
    Stormy's Sidekick
    Blogging from A to Z April Challenge Co-Host

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    1. I think so, unless it's a hobby. Then, it's no big thing to worry about. Maybe that would be easier. :/

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  3. I wish I could be more of a planner. I panst almost everything. But sometimes I know a story from beginning to end and sometimes not.

    Good post!

    Hugs and chocolate!

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    1. I think we need to write our stories however we write them. I'm just referring here to the business side of what you need to do as a writer.

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  4. I can imagine starting over with a new blog is terribly difficult. Nice to see you back here! :)

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  5. Glad you are back here. I would probably quit blogging if I had to switch blogs for some reason. So glad you didn't.

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  6. Writing a historical novel does take a lot of research. A business plan for writers is important, and can keep us sane. Or a little more sane than usual. :P I can imagine the stress with switching blogs and would probably never do it. Glad you're back here. :)

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    1. It is a lot of research, but I like doing it. It wasn't as stressful as it was just a feeling of being disconnected.

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  7. Oh yeah. I'm on my third blog. Or more aptly, I have two blogs (one for writing and one personal) and I closed one for the same reason you did. It didn't end well when they got angry with me. Some people, huh? I'm glad you're back and I hope you get your base back. I think I may close down my writing blog and just keep the one. I don't know what I was thinking with two blogs???

    Happy A-Zing!


    Elsie
    AJ's wHooligan in the A-Z Challenge

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  8. I think I need a business plan for the A to Z Challenge! I've rather stumbled in to doing it, but I'm determined to get to the end. Good luck.
    Mark Clough
    http://olivegroveview.blogspot.gr/

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    1. I say write them ahead of time, don't be hard on yourself, and keep them short. :)

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  9. Huh. I want to learn more about grant writing - so I will definitely be back on G day! And you're absolutely right, we need some sort of business plan. :) Thanks for the thought provoking post.

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  10. I've certainly switched personas in the past when someone's ruined my anonymity (I have a hard time combining my personal life with my online presence) so I understand your feelings there. I am ever so glad that you came back, though, Tonja. I've said it before, I'm happy to say it again: really enjoy interacting with you!

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  11. A business plan sounds like a good idea. Right now all I have is write a book and see what happens later. Not much of a plan, I guess.

    I can see why switching blogs might be difficult. I'm planning on moving over to Wordpress, maybe by the end of the year, but at least I can have links from my old blog to the new one and dual post for a while until everyone moves across.

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  12. A business plan is important, I agree. Even if you are writing fiction (historical or not) it's good to have a plan. It's so great that your work is getting financed this time around. Grant writing is a difficult thing, I'm hoping to take a class on it while I get my Master's.

    ~ Kim

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    1. I'm working on my MA and am taking the class as part of it. I have to warn you the class at my university is like a 20 hour a week job. I just got a little bit funded through my university but am excited about it. Writing a 'normal' grant proposal for a non-profit has been really interesting, maybe life-changing for me. I'm going to continue to volunteer to write grants for non-profits while I'm finishing my degree. Definitely take the class if you can.

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  13. I did switch blogs after blogging for a about a year. It really did take awhile to re-establish myself. I'm sure I lost some of my original followers permanently.

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    1. I think it's impossible not to lose followers.

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  14. I agree a plan and a timeline help! Thanks for reminding me. I have tons of plans and plots, but need the time line! I love the idea of grants for research-you have done well~ Be proud

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    1. Sometimes I get a little overly detailed with the plans - that never works out for me because I have kids - and migraines. A general plan works better for me, but everyone is different.

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  15. I think this is great advice. I wanted a writing career, but i hadn't planned on how to manage my career. I just expected things to happen and then i take things from there, but one can't work like that. I think you are so smart and amazing for realizing what you had to do to achieve your goals and make the processes more efficient.

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    1. Thanks, Murees. Until recently, I thought the job of the writer was just to write too.

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  16. Writing is a business other than being enjoyable and I keep receipts for everything down to every pen and pencil. :) Being a historian as well it overlaps with my writing in many ways as yours. Copies, parking, internet, tolls, it all adds up. Make up folders for each thing and stuff the receipts in the right one as soon as you get home. Makes it easier at tax time. :)
    History Sleuth's Writings - Blogging A-Z/ISWG

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  17. Thanks for sharing your insecurities. I think every time a IWSG member does, it helps the rest of us face ours. I worry about losing connections too. Yet, I'm not able to hold up the work schedule that I once could. Will sales suffer? Will bloggers soon forget about me? Will my followers quit stopping by? It's all so silly when looking at the bigger picture, but there you go... we're writers and we're insecure.

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  18. Good advice. As for the blogging, I have the same fears when I am gone for so long. I don't want to lose all the connections I made. But at the same time, I can't expect people to sit there and wait for me. But life happens. You'll get reconnected with the ones who matter. Good luck to you!

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