Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Next Right Step

Wednesday, January 5—The Next Right Step

Confession time—I’ve always hated setting goals. I’ve established goals for work, or at Weight Watchers (I should own stock in that company by now), or my finances. I’m a tremendous success story when it comes to reaching my work goals—in fact, I’m an overachiever! But for personal goals (including working to meet my writing dreams), I’ve not such an achiever.  So last year when I used a black Sharpie to write my writing dreams on an index card, I didn’t take the natural next step. I didn’t set goals for meeting my dreams.

“But, Rob,” I hear you saying, “You told us you realized three of the four dreams you wrote down in January 2010. And now you’re telling us you didn’t have any goals?”

No, I didn’t. Instead, I tried something new. I decided to take the next step I knew to take. First step: I went online and signed up for the SCBWI, Florida, mid-year meeting in January and paid for a critique. At that meeting, I met a woman who would become one of my mentors, Joyce Sweeney, and enlisted her professional critique services. Next step: I reconnected at that conference with Lisa Wheeler whose writing book camp I had attended the previous fall. I enlisted Lisa for critiques. I knew to reach my publishing and agent dreams I had to get my writing polished, so I took the next steps.

Then I took another step. I found a critique group in my area and even though I was the only picture book writer, I attended faithfully. Through that group I made contact with the Yellow Brick Road online critique group and was invited to participate. Finally, I decided to take the step of forming a picture book critique group in my own area. With the help of five other writers in Tampa Bay, PB&J (Picture Books & Java) Critique Group was formed. In nine months I reached one of my dreams and exceeded it three times over!

I took another step. I bit the bullet and registered for SCBWI-LA, paid my registration fee, made my hotel reservations, and scheduled my flights. I paid for a professional consultation, too. At the end of July, I flew to Los Angeles for the conference. Another dream met! (By the way, the conference was fantastic. You need to go.)

In LA I had a consultation with Diane Muldrow, Senior Editor, Golden Books/Random House. She liked a picture book I was working on but suggested changes. Diane said to send the revision to her, no guarantees. I took the next step. I came home, revised, and then mailed the manuscript to Diane. Two months after the LA conference I had a book deal to publish Cowboy Christmas (release slated for fall 2012). Another dream met!

I took another step. I asked my mentors how to find an agent. That led to a referral to and contact with an agent. Though that dream has not been fully realized yet, I took steps toward the dream.

Steps. Baby steps. Just doing the next thing you know to do, think you should do, or feel you should do. That’s one way to make your path toward your dreams.

1.     Look back over your dreams. Read them aloud. Change each dream into a “This year I will . . .” statement.
2.     Now decide on a first step to take to get you closer to each dream.
3.     Get busy taking those steps!


Christie Wright Wild said...

You're fabulous! Thanks so much for sharing. My dreams are to be a published author (ie. sell a ms and get a book contract). My goals are to attend an SCBWI conference, mail out ten mss, and create a marketing database for myself.

Rob Sanders said...

Christie, set those goals and work 'em!