When I started out as a writer, the journey to becoming a published author seemed impossibly long. I didn’t have an agent. I hadn’t written a book, nor did I understand the complex process by which they’re published. That was eight years ago, give or take. Eight years, to reach the lofty status of traditionally published author.
That’s a daunting amount of time. If this were the only goal, the only milestone, I’d probably have given up a long time ago. One of the secrets underlying my stubborn persistence is that I set plenty of milestones along the way. And I keep track of them in the form of an Author Career Bingo Card.
Yes, it’s a thing.
The Importance of Writing Goals
One of the perks of laying out your writing goals in BINGO format is that you can see, with a single glance, how your author career is coming along. Some of the goals on my card are easier to reach than others. Some are short-story related; others are book-related. Most are positive achievements, but some are anticipated reality checks, like getting hate mail and 1-star reviews.
You can find pre-made Author Bingo cards out there, but I really enjoyed customizing mine and making it personal. Each writer has a different set of goals. Mine have evolved a little bit, too, as I gain experience and start to see what’s realistic versus what’s never going to happen. For example, I changed “Win Hugo/Nebula” to “Award Nomination” because the latter might actually be attainable.
Just for fun, I made two different cards so I could have 48 goals instead of 24 (they’re 5×5, but I have a FREE spot). The goals are randomized, but it’s fairly even so far: one card has 4 completed squares, and the other one has 6. Yesterday, that number was five.
The Newest Member of SFWA
Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is a professional organization for SF/F writers. For those of us who live in the U.S., it’s the professional organization. SFWA members nominate and vote for the Nebula awards. Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov were members, once upon a time. Members get access to various resources, including an emergency medical fund and a grievance committee (to help with contractual disputes).
The trick, of course, is getting in. If you’re not someone who works in the industry (i.e. an editor), you need to have made and documented at least one fiction sale to a professional market that pays at least $0.06 per word. As anyone who’s tried selling fiction such markets is painfully aware, the competition is incredibly fierce.
But I’m in, like Flynn. And it only took me 8 years.
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