Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Action Tree

Dear Fellow Writer, 

Get my NEW THRILLER - updated and re-edited this week - here:
KINDRED by Rob Parnell at
"Matthew Reilly Meets Stephen King... grabs and won't let go." 

It's the holiday weekend. Almost didn't do a newsletter today.

Robyn said: "Do you really want your subscribers to know you have no life?"

But, but writing is my life...

Seriously, we will be taking some time off this arvo onwards - until Tuesday would be my guess!

Keep writing!


The Action Tree

Rob Parnell
A beautiful and talented person - like all of my cool subscribers, you included - suggested that I perhaps write a course about planning.

Specifically about The Big Plan you might make that would change your life, especially if you're considering a writing career that would sustain you (ie pay the bills).

Planning is very often an activity we indulge in as a way of putting off actually working towards a goal. 

It's fun usually - and pressure free - and has the advantage that we can feel like we're doing something important towards a goal without actually having to do anything taxing at all!

I'm usually the first one to point out that goal setting is crucial to any kind of artistic success. 

You have to know what you want so that it's easier to identify what you have to do to get it.

Here's a simple exercise that may help your focus.

Take a piece of paper and write a goal at the bottom of the sheet.

It could be: write a novel or go to Tibet or make that movie, whatever gets your mojo running.

Next extend two lines upward from your goal. At each tip, write an event or circumstance that would need to happen before the main goal is completed. 

In the case of the novel writing goal, they might be: write 2000 words a day for 3 months and create a solid novel template.

Above each of these points extend another two lines upwards and write down another couple of things (four in all) that would need to be completed before the points below could be accomplished.

You can easily see how graphically this is starting to look like a tree.

The great thing about this exercise is that you can keep moving upwards until you get to the smallest, most insignificant action you will need to take to get your goal-quest started.

Plus, you then just need to work systematically downwards, ticking off all the points on your branches until you inevitably reach your 'root' goal.

Try it.

As I often say, having a compelling plan of action will hold you in good stead if you're planning on any profound change of lifestyle or have a set of particularly challenging goals.

But rather than get into the habit of regular goal setting - or anything like 'planning hours' or 'vision days', I would suggest that The Big Plan is something you really only need to do once.

For instance, in 2002 I sat down to work out exactly what I wanted from a life as a writer.

I considered all the options: what was possible, what I could do, what was probable, what I wanted and how that might jive with what I knew about reality.

Then I structured a plan of action - and a weekly schedule that I thought would get me where I wanted to go.

(The actual mechanics of what I did is probably best left to an in-depth course.)

Suffice it to say, The Big Plan worked.

I've written around 50 books, including novels, made a heap of videos projects and tried all kinds of other fun things along the way.

I followed up on what worked, rejected stuff that wasn't working and kept going until I got to the point, today, where I just do whatever the hell I like whenever I feel like it - which was the ultimate goal of The Big Plan in the first place!

The interesting thing to me is that eleven years later I'm still working to the same plan. 

I haven't sat down and altered its basic tenets in over a decade!

This is probably because I still want the same things as I did back then - and because I built 'the future' into the plan.

The Big Plan included all of the things I would be doing now as well as what I needed to do to get started.

Plus I built in 'an intuition factor.'

I always knew that my brain - like everyone else's - has a way of 'knowing' what is right - and what is the 'correct' course of action for me.  

So I always knew that I would simply follow my heart - and things would turn out okay. 

Trust. Faith. Stubborn determination. 

Whatever you want to call it.

Plus I built in a 'moral code' of ethics. A line across which I would not step in order to achieve my goals. 

This was important too because too many people come unstuck when they're in a sticky situation and can't see any way out but breaking the law - or hurting someone. 

I decided right at the start I would never do that.

This ethical code is vitally important I think because most people don't have one - and that's why they stumble, make mistakes, lose it all and become bitter - and end up too embarrassed to try again.

One more thing you need:

To make the decision that there's no going back.

If you don't give it all - and I mean ALL, you won't make it.

You can't have any back up - nothing to fall back on.

The Big Plan must include a commitment to succeed at any cost - but the flexibility to incorporate different definitions of success.

For instance, one of my sub goals was to become a bestselling author. 

In my mind, at the time, that meant having novels in the NY Times Bestseller List!

Back in 2003, my first ebook made number one on the Clickbank digital product chart - and stayed in the top ten for about seven months.

It took me a while to realize that I'd got my bestseller - d'oh! - but that I would need to be more specific the next time I set a goal!

But I think specific goals can be limiting.

My general goal of "to be able to afford to do whatever I want whenever I want to do it" was - and still is - actually far more powerful. 

It's stood me in great stead.

I think the subconscious mind prefers more general goals because 'nebulous' is what the subconscious has to wrestle with all the time.

But the really marvelous thing about the brain is that once you know what you want - and have documented it all - the mind can then sort through all the incoming stimuli and give you a crucial single point of focus on a daily basis. 

The voice of intuition is not very loud.

But it's always there, whispering the way you need to travel.

Sometimes it doesn't seem a rational choice - and isn't always right - but if you listen to your intuition and believe it knows what's best for you, you can't go far wrong IMHO.

Yes, construct The Big Plan - one that incorporates a vision for the rest of your life, then let it go and trust your gut to point you to wherever you really needed to be.

Oh and...

Keep Writing!

 rob at home


""Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." Howard Aiken 

Previous Newsletter includes:
Article: "Writing and Fame
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