Career planning


I can’t help being amused by the turn, in Faith’s comments, toward visualization as a tool for developing one’s skills, one’s career plan, one’s…whatever.

This is because I don’t visualize. It wasn’t until a handful of years ago that I learned people see pictures in their heads. I don’t. (I wrote a whole post about this a while back.) So I find the phrase kind of amusing, particularly since I don’t think anybody who knows me could, er, accuse me of a lack of vision for my career, as it were.

I call it planning, myself, perhaps because this also takes into account the phrase, “Man plans, God laughs,” of which I am particularly fond.

I tend to have five year plans. Back in 2002 when I first decided to actively pursue publication, I had a five year plan. It wasn’t, mind you, a very *specific* plan. It was, “Get a contract within 3 years, get a book on the shelf within 5 years.” As it happened, that plan worked very well. I had my first contract in 14 months, and by the time that five year plan was up in late 2007 I had eight books out.

Another of my five year plans was to acquire a certain amount of CE Murphy shelf space (3 of my books were published under the name Cate Dermody, so I can’t count everything I’ve written to that shelf space). The specifics of that goal were ten CE Murphy books on the shelves–which, four and a smidge years after my first book came out, I’ve now got (though the WINTER MOON anthologies is, I think, most often shelved with Mercedes Lackey, and not CE Murphy). I’ll have another novel and two-maybe-three anthologies on the shelves by the time the five years is up.

The “Take A Chance” comic project has been another five year plan, though it wasn’t precisely conceived that way. Still, from inception to final publication, that’s how long it’s taken. These aren’t fast-moving goals, by any stretch: career moves rarely are. One does not generally begin as the CEO of the corporation.

They are, though, concurrent, not consecutive: that to me would be counterproductive. Some of them have gone spectacularly wrong in their own special ways (which I’ll talk more about someday). There are other plans currently in development, obviously–things like getting my name out there, reaching bestseller lists, branching into new genres–so it’s never a static situation. It can’t be: Man plans, God laughs.

And I suppose my response to that is: God laughs, Man adapts–because that’s what you do with any career plan. You adjust, you try new things, and you keep shooting for the stars if that’s where you want to be.

I’ll let you know how it’s going in another five years. 🙂


11 comments to Career planning

  • Catie, I have to admit — I don’t visualize either. I am a word person, not a picture person. I was an adult when I first discovered that some people actually see and remember and plan in pictures, not words, like I do. My picture memories are few, which can be a sad thing, actually, as I can never pull up, in my mind, the picture of a face of a loved one. But words — that I can do. I can build a picture with words for myself and others.

    So when I *visualize* well, um, I don’t. I too, plan. But I’m now planning with a *vision* to a different kind of future. Better, bigger, and well, just more. Maybe I’ll post my plan here when I get all the words and *visions* together. Maybe.

  • In the past, I haven’t been able to plan beyond my current series. That’s changing now, as I begin to write faster and entertain ambitions of having more than one project going at once. I haven’t thought of five-year plans, but perhaps I should. I’ll have to think about this. Thanks, Catie.

  • I’m one of the ones who see in pictures. I have massive visualization skills. In the metaphysical books when they say to visualize the energy, I can, easily. When I’m writing, both scripts and fiction stories, I’m seeing it play out as a movie and I have to use my words to describe what I’m seeing. Actually, it wasn’t until recently that I realized that it was a powerful tool for me, especially for scripts, because, when seeing things like a movie, you know where the scenes, angles, focus, etc, changes.

    I wonder if it has something to do with which side of the brain is dominant.

  • Emily Leverett

    Thanks so much for this post. I went back and read your one on visualization, too. I don’t much picture things in my head, either. I can sort of picture loved ones and see places, but I’ve never been able to do some other visualization things. In fact, to piggy back off what Daniel said, when I was in college, I briefly majored in physics, because I loved it in high school. The first semester, motion, I did great. The second one, electro-magnetism, I crashed and burned. I was in SO much trouble when they tried to get me to visual the magnetic fields and stuff like that. I have a sense of what my characters look like, but I don’t see pictures of them in my head.

  • Another no pictures fella here. Though I do have some vivid visual dreams every now and then. Guess I’m just so used to words that’s what I fantasize in.

    Still, there are times when something I write almost creates a picture.

  • After reading your other post I’m seriously going to have to write something on this subject in the next couple days. Evidently my wife is a word person too, with flashes of pictures occasionally, but mostly black and white or like line drawings. We’ve been discussing the differences all morning and now I feel compelled to write my thoughts down. Being visual is such an integral part of how I do anything creative that the whole thing about only thinking in words blows my mind. Must be how you reacted when you learned the opposite was true.

    And I’m learning the so far, most of the people around me think in words. odd.

  • It boggles my mind there are people who don’t visualize. My stories are like movies running in my head, that I have to somehow convey in mere words. My head is full of pictures and images from my past, and my stories. When I read, I frequently (not always) visualize what I am reading.

  • Tom said, When I read, I frequently (not always) visualize what I am reading.

    This is why I tend to skip over detailed descriptions of what characters look like. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been boggled by a character suddenly commenting on her blonde hair, when the whole time I’ve been seeing brown hair on her. *grin*

  • Well, I’ve managed to plan for up the last 4 months of the year. That’s a start, right?

  • Must say, I’m a visualizer. Most of my initial story plotting involves toying around with snippets and scenes in my head, playing through the reels until things start to gel. As for plans. I’m not too good at those. I have an inordinately flaky memory, so unless I detail it out in writing, odds are I’ll have forgotten what the plan was before any of it works out. However, now that you bring this up here, I need to start. I’ve got an agent now (the amazing Nathan Bransford) and an impending deal. I’ve got to seriously start thinking about how I want things to play out over the next few years. It’s vital. I plan out my books in advance, so there’s no reason I can’t plan out my career now that it’s about to really get going. Exciting times ahead!

  • Lily

    Congrats Jim! And I’m also a visualizer. In fact, I didn’t know that some people only think in words until this post. All my stories start with one picture of something then turn into a grand masterpiece. Isn’t it amazing how the mind works?