In the “Five Stages of Success,” once you know where you’re headed (“Stage One: Exploration”), then you’re ready for “Stage Two: Preparation.”
Getting Ready for the Journey
This stage comes with a warning. Many people try to either bypass this stage altogether or rush through it. It’s understandable. We’re excited about our goals, and we just want to get on with it! And that’s what most people do: jump in with both feet with little thought about preparation.
Research shows that if you skip this phase, more than likely you’ll hit a brick wall somewhere and be forced to fall back and regroup. At that point, you’ll realize you got ahead of yourself and need more preparation. It’s easier–and less discouraging–if you take time to do the prep work first.
What Kind of Preparation?
Getting ready for a successful writing career can require preparation in several areas: improved grammar skills, learning about the publishing industry, learning marketing basics, or (like me) taking a writing course that covered it all.
Another kind of preparation may be financial. Unless you’re independently wealthy or your family doesn’t require your income, you may need to prepare financially for the writing career you want. It may mean clearing up debt–the last thing you need as a freelance writer is credit card payments. Or your financial preparation may be saving enough money to quit your day job. (There are many books available on this topic if you need specific help there.)
Take Your Time
Try not to get so frustrated during the preparation stage of success that you skip it or rush it. Take all the time you need to prepare so that you don’t have to do a lot of backtracking later.
By the way, the amount of preparation time you need will be individual to you. I took a writing course, read lots of books and magazines, studied market guides, and (over the years) bought and studied dozens of writing books. I have a writing friend, though, who grew up with a mother who taught children’s literature at the university level. My friend started writing without any formal preparation at all, and to this day she’s never read a how-to writing book (and she has seven critically acclaimed books to her credit).
The moral? Only you know how much preparation you need. And you may not know until you spread your writing wings a bit and try to get published. You might find a few gaps in your knowledge and need to go back and fill those in. That’s fine–nearly all of us have to do that. You can successfully fill in those gaps.
Success Along the Way
Remember to celebrate each step you complete along the way. Celebrate finishing that class. Celebrate finishing that book you chose to study. Celebrate attending your first writing conference.
And ENJOY the preparation phase. Feel the excitement and anticipation, and let it carry you along to “Stage Three: Start-Up” on Wednesday.