Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dream Catching for Writers

Dear Fellow Writer,

Good to speak to you again.

Today we look at turning writing dreams into practical, credible goals - ones that you can publicly display and admit to - and can finally convince those around you are achievable.

In case you're keeping tabs on me: after six weeks I'm up to 65,000 words of my latest novel, just three chapters away from completing the first draft. Should be done by Monday.

Click HERE to discover and enjoy my Amazon books.
Keep writing! 

Practical Dream-Catching for Writers
Practical Dream Catching for Writers

Your First List

Make a list of all the things you want to have achieved in your writing career in the next ten years. The sky's the limit. Rock star’s careers, even some empires, rise and fall in less time.

Here's what your first list might look like:

               1. To have written ten bestselling novels
               2. To be a day time TV celebrity
               3. To be a NY Times columnist
               4. To have movies based on my books
               5. To be writing copy for a big ad agency
               6. To have met Stephen King / Stephenie Meyer
               7. To have earned at least ten million dollars from writing

And so on - list as many goals as you wish.

Next, be honest with yourself, today. You now need to look at your list and ask: Do I really want this stuff? More especially, Am I willing to do the work that these goals will entail?

Look, there's really no point knocking yourself out for the next few weeks, working on a big goal, no matter how far ahead in the future its realization, when you know in your heart that you're not going to be able to sustain the energy to pursue it to the bitter end.

Your energy levels, for one thing, dictate what you're capable of from one hour to the next. 

If you already know that you probably could not write for eight hours a day, every day, for five years, there's no point in holding onto a novel writing goal that requires so much supreme energy.

Being realistic is NOT about changing your goals because someone else says they're impossible or silly. Being realistic is about knowing what you're capable of - right now. Could you write for five to eight hours flat, today? Be honest.

Look at it this way. You'll probably relate. When I was working 9 to 5, I dreamed of writing all day on some novel or other - and couldn't imagine myself being happier. But the reality was different. Within six months of working full time as a writer, I realized that it was just too tiring to write all day.

I adjusted my schedule so that novel writing took up three hours a day. Okay, so it added time to how long it took to complete a novel but at least the novel's first draft could be finished in, say, six to eight weeks because I hadn't created an unrealistic expectation of finishing it too quickly - and probably getting blocked in the process.

The Second List

Go back and look at your list, changing some of the goals to outcomes that you absolutely know you have the energy for today. This is an exercise in discipline, a way of taking into account your limitations. This is healthy, and remaining healthy, mentally and physically, is a large part of changing your life for the better.

If in doubt, be easy on yourself. There is time, over ten years there’s lots of it.

If you know you're essentially lazy or a slow worker, it's of paramount importance that you take that into account, rather than having to review your action plans later - and continually.

Also, don't be afraid to see yourself having fun and taking it easy in the future.

Working hard is no guarantee of productivity or indeed success. You probably know people who seem to work all hours and get nothing much done - especially middle-management office workers. Busy does not always equal effective

You are more likely to achieve your aims when you truly know yourself and your capabilities.

Construction Time

When you're satisfied with your list of 'realistic' goals, print them off. Read them often, carry them around with you. Let the list become you - and you become it. Change it if it doesn't feel right.

Now we're ready to get specific.

From your list of dream writing activities, you now need to pick three. Yes, just three activities. And they must fall under the following headings:

               1. Favorite

               2. Second favorite

               3. The sure thing.

The favorite is the one writing activity you absolutely love and must do, the one that fires your soul and will keep you thrilled. You'll know which this is because it will make you tingle at the thought of it.

You second favorite is your back up activity: the work you'll turn to when you want something relaxing and rewarding but not too stressful. It could be writing blogs or short articles, website designing, short story writing or, if you really need a break, even train-spotting or birding.

The sure thing is the writing activity which represents cash in the bank. The one thing you can do that will always make money. You'll probably know what this is, even if it fills you with dread. It could be writing ebooks, editing other people's books or ghost writing, or giving talks on writing in your local community. Whatever you choose, you must have ONE THING that is going to bring in money, guaranteed.

You'll need this for three main reasons:

1. Without money coming in, you won't be able to do what you love (your number one activity)

2. Your friends, family and especially your partner will want to know what you're going to do to bring income into your new life as a writer

3. For your sanity's sake, you need to make money from your dream life

Without money as validation, you're going to find a new life as a writer very tough going. 

Those around you will take every opportunity to get you back to a proper job, so you need to feel you made the right decision - and there's nothing like cash crossing your palm to help that feeling.

Plus, when the inevitable happens and your partner gets antsy with you about 'sitting around all day doing nothing', as they always do at some point, you'll have a comeback. My experience is that although partners will generally club together and help each other out financially if both are working, the situation changes when one stops earning income.

The working partner will often isolate you (unless he or she is a writer too) and leave you high and dry when you need money. It's human nature. You need to be prepared for this eventuality and have a steady supply of cash coming in to counter the inevitable.

Take your list of three writing activities, print it out and pin it somewhere prominent, where you and everyone in your house can see it. This is your public declaration of intent. When asked about it, explain what the list means and how it will work in practice.

This exercise should go some way to reassuring your partner, your friends and your family that your writing dream is not just a fantasy.

You literally mean business.

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell

Click on any of the covers to find out more!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Life Planning for Writers

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're well and happy. This week we continue our look at goal-setting for writers and how to design your future writing life.

A cherished student asked me during the week to explain how word count translates to pages in a book. It varies of course but a book page can be anything from 250 to 350 words, depending on the formatting.

So that, if you're writing 2000 words a day, that will end up being the equivalent of six to eight pages of a novel. 

Doesn't sound like much when you put it like that!

In case you've been following, I'm up to 54,000 on the first draft of my latest novel - and that's taken me around five weeks to complete.
Click HERE to find discover my Amazon books.
Keep writing! 

Creating a Life-Plan for Writers

Creating a Life Plan for Writers

It's important that you see writing success as a process rather than something that happens in a flash or overnight. In the same way that writing a book takes time, sometimes a long time, so too does the process of getting your books and writing out there and selling - if only because other factors are involved over which you may have little control.

The good news is that all this is changing. Writers have far more control over their destinies - especially online - than they used to. In the old days, authors might have to wait literally years for publishers, agents, editors and periodical owners to respond and act before a writer's work might see the light of day.

These days, writers are only a blog post away from speaking directly to their readers, and selling their next book as an instant digital download, a wonderful thing, though I suspect not all traditional publishers would agree.

Planning Your Future

It's often said that we tend to overestimate what we can do in a year. But that we completely underestimate what we can do in a decade.

Having been a musician for much of my life I've noticed that many pop-star's careers can begin, bloom, explode and then crumble in the space of five to ten years. Three hit singles and you're the alternative to sliced bread. Then, just a few years later, you're working in a shoe shop, wondering what happened. I often wonder what happens to all the old pop-stars… I mean, do they all simply stop playing music?

Clearly luck plays a large part in achieving success. However, I believe that we make our own luck by creating circumstances whereby we are in the right place at the right time, something that wouldn't happen without conscious action on our part.

To me, success is one percent luck and ninety nine percent preparation. Because, without preparation, there's no way you'll be in a position to exploit the luck when it comes along.

Small Steps, Big Dreams

There's nothing worse than having a whole bunch of goals that you can achieve quickly and easily. Here's a mantra you should use regularly:

I need bigger dreams!

Because once you get the hang of working on goals and dreams on a regular basis, you'll notice that it's not actually that hard to get what you want. Anyone who puts in consistent action towards a specific goal can achieve their heart's desire without too much stress because that's the kind of universe we live in.

What you don't want to do is to aim too low. For two reasons.

1. You don't want your subconscious to believe that you will be happy with only a slight change of circumstance

2. You'll have to keep stopping and planning to achieve bigger goals every two to three months

Therefore your next life plan needs to be compelling enough to drive you for a long time - but also realistic enough for you to feel comfortable with it.

Let's begin.

To recap: Make a list of all the ways you want to make money writing in the future. Add notes about how you feel about each of these activities.

Let your mind mull over the kind of life you will need to be living to give yourself the time and motivation to do the work you envisage on a daily basis. 

How does this make you feel? Inspired? Or fearful? Does it seem real, distant, or absolutely impossible? Bear in mind that much of what you believe is possible is based on your preconceptions: the things you've learned, true or false, during your lifetime. And remember that not everything you believe is true for everyone else.

Often we limit ourselves because our belief system won't allow us to expand our horizons. Put limiting beliefs on hold for a while - and start to dream BIG! 

Answer the following three questions when you feel ready.

1.  What do you want, more than anything? (Your one big goal)

2. Why do you want that? (Make a list of reasons)

3. What would happen if you never got what you wanted? (Be specific)

Use a notebook to answer these questions. Write about a page full of responses to each question. Explore your mind for answers. Try to zone in on what really motivates you to succeed at your chosen 'big goal'.

Don't be too vague.
For instance, you may have a goal to become a bestselling author. Fine. But go further and ask yourself why you want that. For what purpose? To have fame and riches. Fine. But why do you want that? To be happy. Good. Go further. Why would that make you happy? What exactly about fame would make you content? Just recognition? Or adoration? Why do you need that? Is it ego-based or because fame can be useful? Be specific about exactly what kind of fame you would want - and why.

Similarly, exactly how much money would make you happy? It's tempting to say millions. But if so, what would you do with all that cash? Save it, invest it, leave it to your children, fund charities? Again, be specific. Why do you need all that money? What would you use it for? Buying more things, looking good, travelling, investing in creative projects, feeding the homeless?

Focus on who you are and what you really want. Imagine being the person you'd be if you were rich and famous. How would you feel? How would you act? What would you do? How would you conduct yourself, and live from day to day? 

When it comes to listing the things that might happen if you don't achieve your goals, go deep too. If you suspect you might feel like a failure if you don’t achieve your goals, ask yourself why. What exactly does failure mean to you? How would it feel? Why would it hurt? 

Perhaps you suspect that not much would change if you didn't achieve your goals. Why would that be? Would it really matter? What would you still have? List the positives as well as the negatives.

You'll be surprised how much you can learn about yourself - and perhaps discover what really motivates you - by doing this simple self-examination exercise.

Till next time,

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell

Click on any of the covers to find out more!

The Easy Way to Write

Welcome to the official blog of the Easy Way to Write from Rob Parnell, updated weekly - sometimes more often!