With 2016 looming just around the corner, I want to talk about getting started.

About moving forward.

About achieving your goals.

And about finally living the writer’s life you’ve always dreamed of.

Sometimes, that means you need to step back from the technical part of learning to write well and focus on the strategic side of working on your business. And whether you’re just getting started or are looking for your next big breakthrough, this one simple process will move you right along.

You may have heard it a million times — maybe not. But if you have, here’s a million and one:

The only way to get ahead is to take time where you stop working in your writing business, and start working on your writing business.

Let’s talk briefly about planning. Planning your business, planning your success.

But let me start with this warning, a kind-hearted warning: As you read some of what I have to say, you’ll feel the sharp sting of criticism. I’m not trying to criticize you here. Instead, I’m pointing you in the right direction, based on my experience and the experience of other successful freelancers who have come before me.

The sharp sting you feel is your own inner awareness that you need to be doing this. That this is how you’ll get ahead. You can use the sting as motivation to start now, and move forward immediately in creating your success!

Now back to planning.

I’ve failed at planning plenty of times before. I am by no means an expert. Yet in all my planning failures, along with my few successes, I’ve learned …

  1. Plans, more often than not, determine your direction. Once you’ve created a plan, even if you fail to follow through on a detail-by-detail basis, you often head in the direction of your plan’s final goal. This means even if you have a long history — like me — of failing to follow through on the specifics of a plan, you should still create the plans because they’ll have more of an effect on your destiny than you realize. (I wouldn’t have been so successful in my first half-decade as a freelancer if this weren’t true!)
  2. Planning is easier and more fun than your nightmares suggest. I really loathe the idea of planning. It seems so dry and boring. Perhaps you feel the same way. But when I get down to it — when I set aside the time and do it — I find it quite easy and exciting. You’re not creating a dry business plan for banks and investors, you’re dreaming and shaping your future. What’s not to love about this?! Just try it!
  3. Plans have a funny way of forcing action. In a way, they hold you accountable to your dreams. I know when I have a vague idea of something I want, yet no specific set of steps I’m going to do to achieve it — that is, when I have a dream — often nothing happens to bring it to reality. Yet when I set out a specific course of action (even if I don’t follow it to the letter), that thing I want comes within reach sooner rather than later. Maybe you’ve experienced the same thing.

So what are you waiting for? It’s time to start planning your writing success for 2016.

I know that no matter where you’re at — whether it’s just getting started or enjoying the fruits of a thriving writing business — you have bigger goals than those you’ve already achieved.

I think that’s one of the amazing things about the human spirit — we’re always reaching for something higher.

Well, if you want to achieve these bigger goals, if you want to live your dreams, it’s time to sit down and make a plan to make it happen.

To borrow from an old cliché — today is the first day of the rest of your life.

So take some time today — get out a notebook, or better, make a journal that you’ll use on a regular basis — and start creating your plan.

What are you going to do to …

 … Quit your job with confidence and launch your writing business?

 … Take your writing business in the new direction that will get you more income?

 … Reshape and rework your writing goals for more freedom and independence?

Or do whatever it is that will bring your dream within reach?

Maybe today, you just put down on paper what it is you want to achieve — where you want to be in seven years. Where you want to be by the end of next year. In the coming days, you can refine what you wrote into a more specific plan with monthly and weekly tasks.

But if you want 2016 to be the year your writing dreams come true, then get started on your plan. Today. Right Now.