10×10 Jumpstart – Creating Momentum in Your Writing Career

Okay, so I’m tired of waiting for my career to “take off.” Who isn’t? I don’t care if you’re a writer, a surgeon, an editor, a mail carrier, or a janitor – we’ve all been there. We knock ourselves out, do the best we can, and still we’re at the mercy of decision makers. Now, the self-pubbed among you may say, “Ah ha! I wait for no one! I make my own destiny!” To which I respond, “Yes, but you rely on customers to make purchasing decisions, don’t you?” There’s the rub. No one makes money in a vacuum. Actually, no one does anything in a vacuum because it would be harmful to their health, but I digress…

I’ve been toying with the idea of 10×10–something I dreamt up when I should have been writing–for awhile now. It’s simple: list ten categories designed to create momentum for a given objective, list ten short-term actions for each category, work like a fiend to execute in the shortest amount of time possible, let things pick up steam all by themselves. Let’s face it, even a puny snowball can level a town if it’s rolled down a big enough hill.

For your enjoyment/ridicule, here are the first two of my ten categories, along with the actions I’ll be taking for each:

Objective: Jumpstart My Writing Career

Time Frame: 3 months

Category One: Broaden My Network

Actions for Broadening My Network:

  1. Follow three new people on Twitter a day and commit to posting one new thing on FB and Twitter each day
  2. Produce one short piece of content per week that I can post elsewhere on the web (with hooks back to my website), including guest blogging, etc.
  3. Update my own blog weekly
  4. Attend monthly SCBWI meetings, even when I don’t feel like it – and talk to people, for pity’s sake
  5. Join (or start) a new online network of writers
  6. Join HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and offer to help when possible
  7. Actively post comments on other people’s blogs, especially when I agree with the content!
  8. Join a second offline network of writers in my town
  9. Start a second blog (that has nothing to do with writing)
  10. Attend a conference

Category Two: Improve My Craft

Actions for Improving My Craft:

  1. Read at least ten works of fiction (in and out of my genre)
  2. Make notes on what works, what doesn’t in the above, and incorporate into my own projects
  3. Read five works of non-fiction (pertaining to the craft of writing)
  4. Pick at least one technique from each of the above and incorporate into my own projects
  5. Find new beta readers for my projects (online or off)
  6. Research mentoring programs, find mentor if possible
  7. Sign up for a workshop
  8. Read five works of non-fiction (pertaining to the craft of illustrating)
  9. Spend thirty minutes a day (or more) improving my illustration skills and applying learned techniques
  10. Find someone to critique my illustrations and/or sign up for an illustration workshop
All in addition to my usual writing projects.

I’m still working on the rest of my “ten” and may publish them as I go along, but my goal is to begin this monster “to do” list in March and finish it by the end of May. I won’t put anything on the list that I can’t control, like “get a publishing contract” or “make $10k,” and I also won’t put anything on the list that might feasibly take longer than 3 months, like write an adult novel.

So why three months? For a number of reasons. The first is, I don’t think I could sustain all these activities any longer than this! The second is that it’s a nice compact chunk that leads up to summer (when publishing slows down and reading/buying books picks up)–a small window is key to accumulating momentum. And third, I’ll accrue enough data during this time to support what is and isn’t working and adjust any ongoing activities accordingly.

The beauty of the 10×10 method is that it can be applied to just about anything that needs a jumpstart (your marriage, your social calendar, your health, etc., etc.).

I’m excited to dive into my list in March. I know for a fact that any results I get will move me further along my career path. How can they not? I’ll report back on them in the coming months to let you know if I’m making progress. Will my 10×10 bring me Fame and Fortune? Who knows? But it’s more likely to happen than if I cross my fingers and hope. Though, I’ll still be doing plenty of that, too.


3 thoughts on “10×10 Jumpstart – Creating Momentum in Your Writing Career

  1. With #5 on the first list, a good site to join is Absolute Write Forum. I’ve learned everything I can about writing, publishing in a few months then what I could’ve found researching for years. Plus, it’s a good place to network (writers, editors, publishers, etc. love to give advice).

    With #2 on the first list, if you ever want to guest blog, you can for my blog. I’m looking for someone to give publishing tips or to write about their experiences with critique partners or beta-readers.

    Keep smiling,

    P.S. Creating those type of lists is a good idea. I should try it some time.

  2. Yawatta:

    I’ve lurked on Absolute Write for years, and you’re right, it’s invaluable. Maybe that’s a good place to start.

    Thanks for the offer to let me guest blog. I may be hitting you up in March!

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