When thinking about making a Five Year Plan (FYP), be careful with the scope you assign to your plan. While it is tempting to pack those five years as full as possible, keep in mind five years is quite a while to not have a life. If you planned for a week, but only gave yourself a few hours for sleep, you’d manage. It would really, really suck… but ultimately, it’s only for a week, and you can pull through. That type of planning will not work with a FYP.

Deciding the scope of a FYP can be difficult. Make sure to stay realistic. Remember in First Steps I mentioned I had a new FYP for myself? I will be laying it out over the next few blog posts. The best thing about FYPs is the versatility. It can be applied to whatever you want, and you can have multiple FYPs in progress at a time, but only if you properly limit the scope.

Ultimately, your FYP should have one goal, no more. My first was graduating college. My newest one? Publishing a novel, preferably with fanfare and applause. Will it take me five years to produce a publishable novel? No. I already have a finished manuscript (just needs research, revision, and more revision). In the first FYP, I focused on completing college, which was also less than five years to complete. However, by saying five, I give myself the time cushion to allow life to interfere.

In Five Year Plan – Pt. 1 I give a bullet point breakdown on (some of) what needed to be done to accomplish the final goal (for my FYP to complete college). What bullet points does a plan revolving around something like a novel publication have? Without covering the entire plan, here are a few of my bullet points:

  • Begin publishing other works (non-fiction)
  • Blog
  • Revisions to manuscript
  • Self vs. Trad. publication research

Obviously I have additional points to the plan, but this should help provide a rough idea. Now, these bullet points are more related to the secondary part of my goal, i.e. my novel actually doing well when I release it. Still, they are also tied to my primary goal, and accomplishing it in a timely, well-done manner. Any writer will tell you “to become a better writer, you need to write.” Non-fiction is easier to sell than fiction, and blogs are a mainstay to every writer and their brother. Both help me get my name out there, improving my future success as a novelist.

The scope should be limited. One goal. That’s it. It should also be something you can accomplish in less than five years. Your singular goal (publishing a novel/graduating college) may have secondary attributes tied to success of the goal (10,000 copies of novel sold in first six months/graduating with honors). Secondary attributes must always be tied directly to your primary goal.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to timetable your FYP. What questions do you have about FYPs?

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