Happy 2018, everyone!
I hope your year has launched with a great start. It’s almost impossible in our culture, at least in America, to have January come around and not at least think about goal setting. New Year’s resolution is easily one of USA’s favorite pastimes. Breaking those very same goals in February, or sooner, is a close second.
Why does this happen? We’re moving forward toward our dreams of publishing, earning money, our wants to create, and wishes. Shouldn’t this fill us with so much energy that it makes it easy to go forward? Easy to try even if our last attempt ended up with rejections or lousy sales.
Naturally, that isn’t the case. The problem is so many things can and does get in a writer’s way. These obstacles range from a busy life, doubts in one’s dreams, to the crazy marketplace. How does a modern author counter these obstacles to create a sizzling writer’s career in 2018? The answer is complex and there are a lot of steps an author can take to be successful.
For now, let’s focus on the foundational principal that can help enrich your efforts. That principal is to streamline your focus. One of the problems with modern society is that it’s extremely tempted to become fragmented and focus on too many things at once. When you streamline your focus, you actually harness your energy to compel forward movement in the area you most want to be successful.
Our efforts work so much better if we can employ the power of focus to accomplish a few things, really allowing our creativity to solve those problems, and then go to the next goal and give it full effort.
Important questions to ask: Are you trying to do too much at once in your writing career? Or too much in your life in general? If the answer is yes, or maybe, then reduction practices need to be done. If you downsize your to-do list to the absolute necessary, amazing things will happen with your writing. Your stress will reduce and your focus will increase. The more focus, the more likely you will get your projects completed and the higher your chances of winning.
Obstacles That Get in the Way of Focus
Drum roll. You have reached the point where you have faced reality, clarified your vision, and know that your writing is important. There is one thing left to do… TAKE ACTION.
Yep, good old action. Nothing beats it. Nothing really happens until you actually write and do the other steps to get you closer to your writing dream. You can read as many books as you can fit in, go to as many writing conferences as possible, plan as much as you can, but nothing will actually happen until you write and take action on the other steps.
Solutions for the Obstacles of Focus
Solution #1: Consistent Action
The solution for struggling to take action is actually to take action. Track it so that you’re making sure that you’re doing what you need to move forward. What is measured is improved. There are a lot of ways you can track it. Sometimes writers get together and create accountability partners and report once a week on how many words they wrote or how much time they spent on their writing that week. Other writers will make spreadsheets and type in the numbers they are tracking every day.
One of the great things about tracking your numbers is you can start to identify patterns and see where your productivity is high and where it hits hiccups. That information can be valuable so that tweaking the process to get in your ideal zone is possible.
Solution #2: Create a 90 Day BML
To meet my goal of graduating from college, I went to school year-round for five years straight. I took off one semester to get married, and that was it. Of course, I went part-time most of the years because I was busy having and raising children. I had three children by the time I graduated.
Because I went through school this way, I learned the beauty of summer school at the university. There are lots of benefits in going to school during the summer. One of the biggest is that you take fewer classes for a shorter amount of time. Finals were so much easier during the summer because it was really hard to forget something that you just learned.
I took all the class that I hated and dreaded during that time. So basically, that meant I lived at the math lab. Math was not only my worse subject, it was painful. It gave me too many stomachaches and headaches, but I did learn an important lesson.
You can do anything for a few months. If it is short and focused, in a few blinks it’s over. The same principle works with your writing goals—you can do anything for a few months. I have found that ninety days is a good amount of time. It is enough time to be able to make significant progress, but not too long to lose the energy and momentum of the focus.
It is powerful to analyze your circumstances and see what would be your most needed BIG MAJOR LEAP (BML). What would be a huge relief for you if you finished a nagging project in your writing life? Is it finishing the rough draft, the rewrite or maybe submitting your series to the right type of agent?
Solution #3: Triple Check Your Juice Power
Now that you have your BML, for the next ninety days it’s time to make sure that your BML is really what you want. It doesn’t hurt to triple check inside yourself, and with your environment, that your BML is what you want or need to accomplish. It would be very painful to spend the next few months focused on something that you really don’t want to do, working on it out of guilt, or neglecting more important projects that you should be focused on. Make sure that it is a nine or ten on your scale of either needs to do, or really want to do, so when things get a little less exciting, you can still find the juice to get that baby done.
Solution #4: 3 to 5 Word Sound Bite
A common struggle I have seen, when people are trying to figure out what they are going to accomplish in ninety days, is that they make the steps to finishing their goal seem really complex. Yes, ninety days is a long time, and yes you can take a lot of action steps, but no you don’t need to make it complicated. Our minds are designed to hang concepts on short ideas, phrases, or thoughts.
There is a lot of power if you can reduce your BML to three to five words. If you can boil it down to a short phrase, it is much easier for you to remember when you are jumping out of bed in the morning to accomplish your goal. Oh yeah, this next ninety days is all about finishing the novel or submitting five short stories or whatever aspiration that will have you living your writer’s dream. An example of three to five-word phrase might be “finish the novel,” or “submit short stories” or “write an hour a day.”
In ninety days, miracles can happen if you put the power of focus to it. Boil your vision down to concrete steps that you can see and know inside and out. Make a fun sound bite so you can tell yourself daily where you are going for the next ninety days. Make sure this is something that you are really motivated to accomplish– do or die to try mentality.
When you break your year up into ninety-day segments, it is easier to focus, grasp and take action. Four blitz of ninety-day targeted goals and you have yourself an extremely successful writing year.
Lisa will be presenting her workshop, Prioritize Your Writing in 2018, starting on January 15.
Lisa J. Peck-MacDonald is author of 23 books, including The Superstitious Romance, which hit Amazon best-seller list March 27-29, 2016 in Romance and Inspirational categories. She has published in a wide range of genres from historical fiction, mystery, sweet romance, quote books, picture books, middle-grade, cross-curriculum workbooks, and women’s fiction to self-help and business.
Silent Cries by Anastasia Alexander
Charlene believes she’s an ordinary housewife and mother with ordinary challenges. Gradually, she comes to realize her marriage isn’t healthy and that her husband’s treatment isn’t normal. Relying only on her own courage and the help of a few friends, she struggles to free herself and her children from a relationship that has turned their lives into a living nightmare.
Charlene soon discovers that altering her relationship is only half the battle and finding what she really needs takes just as much courage as recognizing the problem in the first place. Trusting again—and making love work—may be the biggest challenge of all.