During NaNoWriMo, I followed a comic strip written/drawn by the cool and groovy Debbie Ohi. In addition to the comics, she’s also a writer. Or perhaps she is a writer who also draws comics. Pick one.
Anyway, she signed off on the NaNo comic and said that her other one, Will Write For Chocolate, will restart soon. I went to check it out since it has been a looooong time since I last read it. WWFC is part comic strip, part advice column. I found the archive listing and am going through them in order. Yeah, procrastination from editing/rewrites has already begun.
Freelance writers typically write magazine articles and since the pay for them is low, to survive as one you need to write a lot of articles. Writing a novel is a long process but magazine articles are short, to the point, and you move on to the next one immediately. As I am going through the archives, I came across a post about avoiding distractions. The first suggestion is from someone who says she has a business plan. And that stopped me in my tracks. At first glance, it is a great idea.
A business plan, for those who don’t know, is a formal document (or set of documents) that lay out how you are going to do your business. It contains long and short range goals, financial plans, possible alternatives, methods to follow, etc. It can be either hugely complicated or it can be simplistic. Typically, a business plan is required any time a business wants to acquire funding such as a grant or business loan. When I was a potter, I had one. I had to come up with one for the business class I was taking as part of the Production Craft program at Haywood Community College. (Excellent program, by the way. Clay, wood, metal (jewelry), and cloth) We had to write it then present it to a funding source. I never made it that far due to various stuff*. The business plan I had to figure out a budget, supplies, prices for wares, where I hoped to be in 5 – 10 yrs, etc. It was the hardest thing I had to do (and that includes the drawing classes!).
Should I do one for my writing? Probably. If I were truly needing the income, I don’t see how I could earn without one. A business plan for a writer would have to be much more than “will write two novels a year”. It would have to include marketing plans (what, where, cost), projected income/outgo (outside editor, software, royalties, shipping), goals (write free articles to get name out vs do freelance while writing Big Novel), and so much more.
But since I write novels and the occasional article, I don’t think I will do a formal business plan. The variables of my physical and mental health would make it nearly impossible to come up with one that wouldn’t require constant adjusting or to have one so vague it would feel it was a joke.
If you, however, are a serious writer with a family (human or canine) to support, you may want to do some research into writing one. You may find out some harsh realities or you may find out your goals are quite reachable.
Write Your Own Reality
Building a Writer’s Business Plan
Plan Your Writing Success With a Business Plan
* With only a few months left to go in the Production Crafts program and during the time I was buying equipment and setting up a studio at home, I was in an accident. I was rear ended on my way to class one morning. My body was already not right but my teacher and I had come up with ways that I could still be productive while not hurting myself further. For example, I worked the wheel standing up. Anyway, the accident screwed up my neck, shoulder, and back really bad. The many doctors I saw never officially documented (although I thought they were since they were saying it aloud to me) that I could not do pottery nor work until I healed. By the time I realized this, it was too late. I lost many months of classes, lost my job, lost my truck. The other insurance company got away with only paying for my medical bills and the truck (a beat up ’72 Toyota). My future as a potter was gone because some idiot wasn’t watching where he was going.