As I have not yet reached the pinnacle of literary glory yet, or even the foothills, really, I find myself in need of keeping a day job. Fortunately for me, my day job is a good one, with nice people to work with and interesting things to do.
One of my duties is to be Keeper of the Product Roadmap. The product roadmap is the document where the group I work with keeps track of where our product is going in the near term, the middle term and the long term. As the keeper, I get to run the meetings where we apply our collective wisdom to the best future for our baby and put the results into a nifty format that helps us keep track and take action.
As I was tweaking my roadmap the other day – it’s cool, with lots of colors and things that happen automatically – anyway, as I was doing that, I started thinking about writing, as I often do. (Not that I was slacking off, boss! It was just for a minute, I swear!)
What if I was a one-man roadmapping committee for my novel? For that matter, what if I became a one-man roadmapping committee for my entire fiction-writing career?
One thing about a roadmap – it changes, so I don’t have to worry about getting stuck somewhere I don’t want to be. If I find I’m on the wrong track, I can adjust.
The roadmap for the novel is my plan, consisting of over 60 scene outlines. I am always looking at this thing, but until now it’s been in a kind of purposeless way. Now I am thinking that at some regular interval or other I should review it to see if it still makes sense. Then I can make any needed adjustments at the plan level, before I write.
As for roadmapping the whole fiction career, I haven’t even bitten that one off yet, but I’m thinking about it.
I could go without a roadmap, just pursuing fiction by whim or by notes on the back of envelopes and napkins. I might get somewhere that way, but it might not be the place I want to be – that happens so easily when you don’t have goals.
On the other hand, with roadmapping I can set goals, like when I want to complete novel #1, how many copies I want to sell in year one, etc. I can also think about the next novel and the ones after that. Will I make a series from novel #1? Will I write something separate but related in genre and subject matter? Will I write something completely different from what’s gone before? How do branding and marketing figure in? And, perhaps most importantly, what are my values, hopes and dreams?
You can keep your roadmap in whatever format you like, as:
- It tells you what’s you want to happen
- It tells you when you want it going to happen – start and finish
- You can easily change it
It can get more complicated than that, but you’re a clever writer, so that should be enough to get you started. I’m going to get started myself, and perhaps return to this topic with some more thoughts on the matter.
Better put that on my roadmap before I forget.