"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: Prioritizing Your Writing Tasks

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Prioritizing Your Writing Tasks

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're well and happy. That's the main thing.

Life is all about finding and working on what makes you happy - and avoiding that which does not serve your quest.

Easier said than done sometimes. I know, But sticking with less than perfect lives is self-defeating in the long run. Always do your best to find your bliss.

In case you were wondering I have three new books on the way.

My new crime novel, Purge, is going through its second draft.

Robyn and I have co-written a book about editing called Make Your Writing Sparkle.

And I'm also working on a manuscript about selling books on Amazon provisionally titled Fast and Furious.

Keep writing!


Prioritizing Your Writing Tasks

Prioritzing Your Writing Tasks

There's little point working hard on projects in the wrong order. Completing your novel may seem like your number one priority but there's little benefit in getting half way through your magnum opus only to find other things have gotten in the way, like unpaid utility bills or a writing job you promised somebody going unfinished.

When you construct your things to do lists, you'll need to add completion dates. Not just to entire projects but to the baby steps that make up the path to your goals. Instead of having some nebulous completion dates for projects three of four months or a year hence, you need much more specific short-term deadlines. 

For instance, break down your novel or book projects into pieces, whereby you have a completion date for chapter one in, say, a week's time. Make sure too that you also break down your income generating work into smaller pieces too. 

There's nothing more off putting than a title on your things to do list that is unspecific, like Job for Russell or Design website app.

You need to split upcoming projects into small doable mini projects. Otherwise you'll find the big projects will rarely get done. The more you think about a large project without consciously breaking it down, the more onerous it can become in your mind. 

When breaking down paying jobs, make sure you also list all the admin too, like raising invoices, logging your work on a spreadsheet, hours worked, chasing invoices etc. This becomes crucial to your long term success. 

Later you'll be able to look back and identify which activities are actually generating good income for the least amount of work/time spent on them.

Luck Is On Your Side 

Many wannabe full time writers complain that they don't have a reserve of cash to help get them started, or to fund the lean times when they happen.

Being an independent writing freelancer means that not all of the normal rules apply when you venture out and go it alone. Even friends and family can rally to your side once they understand you're serious. Plus you'll find that government agencies and even businesses favor those who are trying to generate income off their own back.   

When I applied to our local government offices for a business grant, I had to sell them the idea that the Easy Way to Write would work offline as well as online.

I initially went into a meeting regarding the grant merely to ask about the process of applying, little realizing that the interview was the process! I nervously mentioned a couple of ideas I had for small businesses and the guy behind the desk looked unimpressed. "Hmm," he said. "What else have you got?"  

I then explained I was already running an online business and perhaps it would work offline as a mail order company supplying writing courses to the local community. This, the guy said, was something more in line with what they were looking to invest in. Education focused enterprises were more likely to get funding, he explained.

Three months later I had completed a 100+ page business plan and the grant was promised.

Trouble was, I didn't have much spare cash to fund a new business. My bank manager wasn't all that impressed with my business plan because my then partner had just stiffed me over a property settlement and I was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. 

Plus, I generally don't like borrowing money anyway: it costs too much! And the catch with the grant money was that, even though it was approved, it would still take ten weeks to get to me and was entirely dependent upon me proving I had a viable business idea: The Writing Academy had to be already making money by the time the grant money arrived. 

Undeterred, I made a list of the things I would need to do to get The Writing Academy off the ground.

I decided I needed a mailing list first. Then I would need some advertising material, cash for postage, then the products themselves: firstly a reworked version of one of my online writing courses and perhaps some groovy binders. As you'll appreciate, all of this required money to invest - which I didn't really have. 

So I made a things to do list in the order I could work on with the least amount of money and in the order they needed to be done to achieve any sort of positive outcome.

I kept breaking down the work into small doable pieces.

With a combination of tenacity and determination it is possible to pull off many things as an independent contractor - things that would probably seem like insurmountable hurdles to 9 to 5ers.

It's all about prioritizing jobs in the right order and seeing everything through to its completion.    

Because not stopping until it's done is what separates the wannabe from the gonnabe. You just have to make sure that the interim steps are easy - or seem easy enough - to do.

Getting Blocked 

In the past, whenever I've been blocked - physically, mentally, even emotionally - I've found that making lists of things to do and continually breaking down processes until I find tiny little steps I can do without much effort is key to getting a lot done in the long term.

Using this technique is what turned everything around for me. 

Previously I had lots of big goals that never materialized, mainly because I was too busy doing lots of trivial things (being a wild and crazy guy, making a living, flirting with creativity) that had nothing to do with my life's purpose.

These days I find that as long as I am aware, daily, of my big goals, then doing all the little steps to achieve them - no matter how small - makes a profound difference over time.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell


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