Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Monday, January 08, 2007

2007 GDR Plan

It's the first day back for most people, so we are supposedly "back to normal" in here. I feel dreadful about the entire thing. In my career with The Company, so far spanning over 8 years, there has been highs and lows. The general trend however, has seen morale and satisfaction slowly drop to where it is now - gutter level. I don't think I have ever felt so disillusioned, low in morale and depressed about working here.

Everything from the type of office we have to work in, the work we are being handed down, the state of the coffee machine, the location of the building, the management - everything - is ---- I can't seem to find a word suitable enough. Perhaps these words when put together will suffice: awful, abominable, alarming, appalling, atrocious, bad, deplorable, depressing, dire, disgusting, distressing, dreadful, fearful, frightful, ghastly, grody, gross, gruesome, grungy, harrowing, hideous, horrendous, horrible, horrific, horrifying, nasty, offensive, raunchy, repulsive, shocking, stinking, synthetic, tough, ugly, unpleasant, unsightly.

It is so bad, each day I wish I was sick so I would not have to go in. Each day I wonder if some miracle will occur and I arrive at the door to be told I am not an employee, that I discover it has all been a vivid nightmare, and that I never worked here at all. I can then turn around and go and write somewhere - the job I have really been doing for the last 8 years. Every day spent in here makes that dream feel further away and means I know I have to push that little bit harder to achieve it.

I completed off my 2007 GDR Plan (you can find the final version below), and I completed the re-work of my Scotland's Treasure article for The Scruffy Dog Review. It contains a feature on the New Year celebrations in Edinburgh, so due to the event cancellation I had to rework how I had written it. I also chased up the poet I was hoping to interview and I think we are holding back publication of the January issue to see if we can accommodate her.

Now that the plan is finalised and I have focussed my intentions for the year, I can feel the surge of energy rising within me. I have streamlined my goals in order that my dreams may come true, and my resolutions are realistically achievable. Everything in the plan is based on last years achievements, the last few years experience and what I want to achieve in the future. It has been set out specifically to challenge me, push me and to make tracking my progress easier.

And so, here we go -

My 2007 GDR Plans


What writing breakthrough this past year (2006) made me the happiest/proudest?
* First cheque payment for a non-fiction article: Robert Louis Stevenson - Always in Edinburgh, published by The Literary Traveler.
* Amount of networking and new contacts made at the Edinburgh Fringe and Book Festivals.
* Having a poem accepted for publication in a childrens print anthology publication.
* Completing NaNoWriMo in November.

What unexpected joys did you discover during the year?
* The 13 Travelling Journals project.
* The reaction from the Fringe street performers over Fringe Fantastic.
* Live performance poetry workshop at the Book Festival in August.
* Taking part in Devon's Writing Workshop exercises on The Scruffy Dog Review Blog.
* That I can write 70k of a novel in one month.
* Flexible fiction writing approach.

What are you unhappy with?
* Lack of Fringe Fantastic sales during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
* Reaction to Stella by the pop band Yello and their management.
* Lack of movement amongst Edinburgh writers to get together.
* Delays in getting Poolside Poetry into publication.
* Amount of fiction not written.
* Amount of non-impact in freelance market.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
* Put more effort into the Fringe Festival promotion work.
* Marketed myself more within my local community.
* Took a hard-line approach with my fiction in a bid to get more publication credits.
* Not put Hunting Jack out to tender.
* Worked on more fiction than I did.

What expectations did you find you needed to let go of?
* Selling isn't as easy as marketing. FF will take longer to sell.
* Pitching a novel is harder than I ever imagined.

Where am now I with my writing career overall?
* Further on in an overall sense, but frustrated now that I know what I can and should be doing.
* Ready to push further and take the next steps to focussing and concentrating on where I want to go.
* People are recognising me as a writer and I feel more absorbed into the world.


List your goals for the coming year.
1. To obtain representation from a literary agent.
2. To have a major piece of fiction published traditionally.
3. To increase my online and real-life marketing profile.
4. To sell out of Fringe Fantastic.
5. To publish Poolside Poetry and one other chapbook (possibly another kids).
6. To make more of an impact freelancing.

List three positive, active steps to take on each goal to get it going.
1. To obtain representation from a literary agent.
- a. Work hard completing and pitching Slick
- b. Work harder on synopsis and covering letters.
- c. Write three novels this year.
2. To have a major piece of fiction published traditionally.
- a. Focus largely on fiction and novel writing.
- b. Hone my short story writing craft.
- c. Improve the way I approach markets/editors.
3. To increase my online and real-life marketing profile.
- a. More press releases hard copied to newspapers, targeted mags and journalst contacts. - b. Be more involved with online promotion.
- c. Offer myself up for readings, signings etc. to independents.
4. To sell out of Fringe Fantastic.
- a. Market the book more aggressively.
- b. Find new outlets to stock the book.
- c. Offer myself up for personal promo.
5. To publish Poolside Poetry and one other chapbook (possibly another kids).
- a. Read more poetry and open my mind to new ideas.
- b. Become more technically honed in publishing.
- c. Read more kids books.
6. To make more of an impact freelancing.
- a. Focus on one or two specific markets.
- b. Study copywriting.
- c. Put together a focussed freelance website.


List your dreams for the coming year.
1. To obtain the services of an agent.
2. To have a novel bought by a publisher in a traditional book deal.

List three positive, active steps to transform each dream into a goal.
1. To obtain the services of an agent.
- a. Complete Slick and pitch to agents.
- b. Complete all work to a high standard (don't sub too soon).
- c. Pitch completed manuscripts to agents as strongly as possible.
2. To have a novel bought by a publisher in a traditional book deal.
- a. All of the above.


List your resolutions for the coming year.
1. Lose 2 stones.
2. Get fit.
3. Become debt free.

List three positive, active steps to help you stick to them.
1. Lost 2 stones.
- a. Eat more healthy food.
- b. Cut out more crap food.
- c. Cook more healthy meals.
2. Get fit.
- a. Exercise more regularly.
3. Become debt free.
- a. Restructure outgoings.
- b. Sell more writing/chapbooks.
- c. Utilise bonuses and royalties.


What project(s) did I leave unfinished last year that I need to finish for my own peace of mind?
* Never finished A Friend To Die For from 2005, so I really want to get this first draft down as soon as possible. It's a great but complicated story I started writing before I had the necessary skills.
* Technical manual for HTML and the Internet needs put to bed. Sitting at about 75% done this would be a great seller if I could get it completed.
* I dropped The Scruffy Dog Review Blog Column. This will be resurrected to cover Scottish literary news.

What creative goals do I want to achieve over the next year?
* Turn out more fiction, including three new novels.
* Publish Poolside Poetry and at least one more chapbook (a kids book)

What steps do I need to take on the technical front to achieve these goals?
* Committ the time.
* Do the research.
* Upgrade my PC.

How do you want to structure next year to support your writing?
* I need to set a daily/weekly target of words when I am writing. There has to be days built in for doing marketing and promotion work. Monthly plans should be established to lay this all out and I can use my monthly GDR's to incorporate these. NaNoWriMo can be used as a template for this, allbeit, a more intense schedule. Plans need to include research time and be realistic.

What changes do I need to make in my daily life to achieve these goals?
* Don't think I need to. I have achieved a balance in 2006 and I aim to keep the boat from rocking. Keep moving forward.
* I intend to move outside my comfort zone more willingly in order to make the next step, whenever the opportunities/ideas arise.
* I will cut out all negativity from my life.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?
* I need to market myself as well as my work.
* Improve press release quality and target these aggressively, but politely.
* Need to build more contacts.

How much time each day do I vow to devote to writing?
* 3-5 hours per day minimum writing or researching.

Where do you need to be more disciplined?
* Research.
* Pitching.
* Marketing.

Where do you need to ease up on yourself?
* If it's not happening just accept it and work on something else in the meantime.

With what new type of writing will I experiment with in the coming year?
* Not new, but I want to go much further with childrens poetry and fiction.

Where do I want to be with my writing in the long-term?
* I want to publish traditionally and become a full-time writer.

How does the rest of your life support your writing?
* It should allow me to be able to mix family, friends and my working life more easily.
* Ideal balance would be 50% family and friends, 40% writing, 10% day job.

How can you change/compromise on the non-supportive elements?
* Convince people that I am a writer and that I am serious about pursuing it as my career.
* Treat myself more seriously, in order to become more serious.

What will make me refer to myself, first and foremost, as a "writer"?
* Having a major piece of fiction published traditionally.

What new non-writing interests do I wish to add to my life this year?
* I will read further about Buddhism - The Dharmapada.
* I will start learning to play the guitar.


What financial goals do I want to achieve over the next year?
* Make £1000 in royalties from book sales.
* Become debt-free.

What creative steps are necessary to achieve these goals, if any?
* Sell current stock of First Edition Fringe Fantastic books.
* Market Poolside Poetry aggressively online.
* Reorganise myself financially.

What steps do I need to take on the technical front to achieve these goals, if any?
* Improve my publishing skills.
* Upgrade my PC.
* Take a leap.

What changes do I need to make in my daily life to achieve these goals?
* Step outside my box and be prepared to do personal promotion. This is vital.

What marketing steps are needed to achieve these goals?
* I need to improve and target press releases.


* Don Quixote, Cervantes *
* The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck *
* A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, Alexander Solzenitsyn *
* The Dharmapada *
* The Brooklyn Follies, Paul Auster *
* In The Country of Last Things, Paul Auster
* Moon Palace, Paul Auster
* The Music of Chance, Paul Auster
* Leviathan, Paul Auster *
* Mr Vertigo, Paul Auster
* Timbuktu, Paul Auster
* Hide & Seek, Ian Rankin *
* Tooth & Nail, Ian Rankin *
* The Black Book, Ian Rankin *
* Mortal Causes, Ian Rankin *
* Let It Bleed, Ian Rankin *
* Black & Blue, Ian Rankin *
* Sleepyhead, Mark Billingham *
* Scaredy Cat, Mark Billingham *
* Lazybones, Mark Billingham
* The Burning Girl, Mark Billingham

* Vital reading
Colin 1:41 pm


Great stuff, Colin. I know you can achieve these.

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