Before I get to a list of goals for 2020, let me confess something to you first.
I don’t have a friggin’ clue as to how I’m going to do any of it.
Any. Of. It.
As I sit here writing this blog post, I’m contemplating what’s happened during the last year and what it meant for my writing career. Which is to say my writing career is a lot like the scores of books sitting on my shelves — unopened and gathering dust.
That’s not all together a terrible thing. The year that just past provided so many positive developments in my life that it forced me to take a 12-month writing sabbatical.
During 2019, I started two new state government jobs, my wife and I welcomed our third son into the world, we sold a house and bought one too, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary, and I started coaching my older sons’ sports teams (that sucking sound you hear is my free time going away during baseball and soccer seasons).
And, not that this is much of anything, but I turned 40.
What ultimately ended up packed away in several boxes — metaphorically and truly speaking — was my writing career. The memoir I drafted in 2018 never received much attention, and I rarely ever thought about this blog.
My notes, books, archives, previous drafts, they all ended up in some physical or digital folder.
I would love to tell you this sabbatical was welcomed, refreshing, and reinvigorating, even planned, but to be honest, I found myself choosing a glass of boxed wine and the sound of my record player at the end of a long day instead hammering away at my memoir.
Lazy? Sure. A much-needed mental health break at the end of every long day? Damn right.
If you suggest I write in the morning instead, you would be right, but the baby doesn’t sleep very well — and did I mention I turned 40? — so the thought of a 4:30 a.m. wake up call right now …
But I’m here typing now, writing to you my dear reader, so there must be a spark somewhere.
We’re entering this season of beginnings, and as we do I’m going to apply something to my writing I should’ve been doing for a very long time.
Brace yourselves, you writing and creative arts purists. This one’s gonna rattle you, a little.
I’m going to treat my writing — the memoir and this blog — as a business. Yup, a business that has a brand, an audience, strategic objectives, and tactics, and my day-to-day and week-to-week efforts need to point in that direction.
And this is why I’m arriving at my 2020 writing goals, and I want to share them with you. I want to do this so I’m open and accountable to you, my readers/consumers, and I ask you to hold me accountable to this.
We writers need that kind of accountability, especially those like me who thrive off of coming up with ideas but often falter when it comes to the follow through.
Let me start with what is perhaps the most important part — the strategic objectives. I’ve picked three, which means everything I do, what is tactical, must point to advancing these:
- Write a publishable form of my memoir, Maintenance of Way. This is the single most important strategic objective because it’s the end game — publishing and selling this book — that the other two support.
- Build author platform. The dream of every wannabe author, right? What counts here is to make a firm commitment to topics (family history, parenthood) and tactics (writing, photography) and platforms where I can serve an audience.
- Create a writing brand. What’s interesting to me about creating brand is how often my writing is different than my public persona. When I present at a conference, I enjoy being freewheeling, humorous, informative, poignant, relatable, but that often is absent in my writing, which can feel cold, overthought, serious, self-indulgent. I’d rather my writing sound like my true public self because I think, frankly, people like it more than this dour, drown-my-sorrows writing self. And it helps people. What more important component of brand can there be than to be of service to readers?
Any writer has one or all of these in their mind, but what counts here is now they’re codified, written down and published here as a kind of declaration. There’s a supreme difference between that and just keeping them in your mind and unsaid publicly.
Those are broad topics, but they should be. That’s why they’re strategic objectives, while the tactics are just day-to-day efforts.
Never before have I organized my thoughts this way. And I gotta tell yah, it’s pretty motivating in a levelheaded way.
If you’re a writer, how do you approach your 2020 goals? Do you think like a business owner, or is there another way you arrive at a list you want to accomplish?
And if you’re a reader, what can I in this blog space provide for you? I’m planning posts about exploring the truth behind family legends mingled with true stories about this Herculean job called modern day parenting. I also want to document the process of writing a manuscript, all the good and the ugly and moments to celebrate as well as the moments of despair.
What are you interested in know? Leave a comment or send me an email.
Dave Pidgeon is a writer and photographer with nearly two decades of experience. He lives with his wife and their three sons in Lancaster, Pa.