Saturday, November 12, 2016, my RWA chapter Land of Enchantment Romance Authors (LERA) held an all-day workshop with Bob Mayer.  He used to be a Green Beret and is both traditionally and self-published, which gives him a unique perspective on today’s writing climate.  He echoed what many others have said in that now is the best time to be an author.

I took pages of notes. Bob is a big believer in breaking things down.  He had lots of checklists, even for things which you thought you didn’t need a list. For example: What are the steps to succeed?

Well before you can succeed, you have to know what you are trying to succeed at. This is why setting the correct goal is so important.  I’ve been to many talks and read articles about setting goals.  All of the information agree that a good goal is:
1)  Definite (my book will be 73,000 words),
2)  Has a specific time line (I’ll finish drafting it by the end of December 2016)
3)  Under your control (You can write your book; you have no control over whether it will hit a best-seller’s list)

The above is a very good goal.  It’s also what Bob called a tactical goal.  It shows how you will achieve something you want.  Bob asked why do you want it?

The answer to that question is your strategic goal. The answer can be anything, but it is the reason why you want to write.  He said you have to know what you want before tactical goals can be devised to accomplish it.  Why do you want to write a book?  Fame? Fortune? You have something to say?  You want to fulfill a need that is currently not in the market?

Actually, this last question is what drives me to write.  I believe there is a lack of good stories, which don’t feature on-scene sex or violence.  I want to write books readers can’t put down, yet not repel them with graphic images painted in their minds. To do this, I must have strong story questions and believable (not the same as likable) characters.

Lately, I’ve been thinking the use of theme will allow me to explore issues of love, worthiness, forgiveness, etc. (No, I was never fond of those English class essays about the theme in book.  It’s amazing how I’ve had to rethink.) I’ve begun studying how to use theme to structure a book and am developing a story as a test case.  We’ll see how successful I am, once I actually attempt to write that idea.

I got more than just the difference between strategic and tactical goals out of Bob’s workshop.  This is only a small snippet of what I need to absorb, but I wanted to share the realization with you.