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Discovering Yourself as a Writer (4)

April 30, 2008 Leave a comment

This is the fourth and final segment of SWOT  — threats. 

Threats can stem from anywhere.  Threats materialize from environmental conditions, competitors, friends and family, and self. If you can identify threats upfront, most times you will be able to develop strategies to mitigate the threat or turn it around to your advantage.  However, even being proactive, sometimes you cannot see the threat until it is upon you. 

In part I I identified my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and below is the content I considered threats to my writing efforts.

THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence
 

Obviously, my threats are my own habits.  Did you wonder where I was the last three days?  As much as I hate to admit it, II suffered from a lack of focus.  My energies were too dispersed.  I did, however, start my short story, but stalled out  because of a minor self-confidence issue. 

I could itinerate my excuses. They haven’t changed in 20 years. I decided not to pontificate about my excuses because they are just plain boring.  You, no doubt, know what I am referring to…the millions of little interruptions that steal away our time and skew our attention from the work we know we should be doing.  So, I wrote what I did during the day and asked the question: How does this task get me one step closer to achieving my goal?  Sadly, very little that I accomplished that day got me any closer to my goal. 

Okay, bottom line is that I am a self saboteur.  I should know better.  I’m on auto pilot. I just did it without thinking. I have to work on changing these behaviors, if I am ever going to write. 

And I look at next week’s busy calendar.  I see one writing activity compared to 10 other must do tasks.  This is a beginning, but I know that I have to step up my game, if I am going to move forward.

 

One Way to Make Novel Writing a Career

April 20, 2008 Leave a comment

Figuring out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) posed may position you to achieve your goal sooner, better or easier.  This is because now you are able to clearly assess where you are and take a more clear cut action plan to get you your results. 

Okay, I know what you are thinking.  Why don’t you just write and see what comes of it?  You can do it that way, but I want to make this a career change.  In order to do that, it is best to have a plan.  If you plan to earn a living as a writer, you need to treat this as a business.  Some people are lucky.  They have contacts.  They are at the right place at the right time.  But if you are like me, I don’t have those contacts.  I live in an area that takes pride in the fact that it is a bio sciences community…(yeah, great backdrop to a novel, but I am not really part of the bio community). 

Above all, more than creating strategy, what will propel you forward is excellent writing with a unique viewpoint/plot.  If it is good, it will eventually find its way to the marketplace.  Good planning strategies can sell average quality novels.  Good planning may catapult excellent writing.  And if you are planning to make this your bread and butter, I’m sure you would much rather get paid now as opposed to having your estate receive your royalties.

As I mentioned in my last blog, I know what I should do, but have not taken the time to implement it in my own life.  So, as I discover who I am, so will you.  Before I create my SWOT for transitioning into a fiction writer, let’s be very clear about my goal.

Goal:  To become a fiction writer by end of the year 2009.

Is this specific?  Yes
Is this measurable?  Yes.  Measurable in the sense that the number of written pages will indicate progress.
Is this attainable?  Yes.  It requires discipline and focus.
Is this realistic:  Yes, because I have the education and have been writing for many years…just not fiction
Is there a time frame:  Yes.  (I need a deadline otherwise I get derailed too easily.  If you are working a full time job, this time frame becomes even more imperative, because your time is limited.)

SWOT

STRENGTHS
Writing ability
Good foundation in research
Computer literate
Good imagination
Marketing skills
Small business management knowledge
Analytical
WEAKNESSES
Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming 
OPPORTUNITIES
Opportunity to meet many people where I work
Member of a Writing Group
Contacts at colleges where I attended
Understanding how to use the Internet and viral marketing as a tool
 
THREATS
Lack of focus. 
Energies too dispersed.
Self confidence
 

In the next post I will create an action plan to make the most of my strengths and opportunities and strategies to turn my weaknesses and threats into an advantage.

Five Step Process to Assess and Plan Your Writing Career

April 19, 2008 Leave a comment

You probably are wondering why I can’t get my act together and here I am giving advice.  Good question.

 

My career experience has been an integration of sales, marketing, writing, teaching, and observation.  For the past 15 years or so, I’ve listened to financial experts help launch small businesses; I’ve watched webinars on everything from self assessment and motivation to learning how to target the people you want as clients; and   I’ve read numerous books on management, record keeping, controls, tax help, etc.

 

Intellectually I know what has to be done to succeed.  Emotionally, I always put my family first and there’s the rub.  I’m like the carpenter whose home has lots of trim work left to do because the carpenter is too busy fixing other people’s houses.

 

Follow me, and we will work through the SWOT chart together.

 

Step #1:  Determine the weaknesses in your ability as a writer.

Step #2:  What part of the writing process do you like the best?  What are you particularly good at?

Step #3:  Check out the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) chart below.  This is not my invention.  Businesses have been using this for years. 

Step #4:  Copy this chart and fill in the boxes with your assessment.

Step #5:  Put an X  by those items that you do not like doing.  Okay, as a business person, a person who writes for compensation, your success lies in how much you know about yourself and what is your game plan in dealing with weaknesses and threats and exploiting your strengths and opportunities.  Are you planning to learn how to do the task?  Or is it worthwhile to pay a professional to manage that end for you? 

 Sample SWOT Analysis 

STRENGTHS

Dramatic storytelling

Bigger than life characters

Good determination

Great ideas and vision

  

WEAKNESSES

No marketing plan

Networking

Writing dialogue

No filing system

No writing support group

Need better computer and office space

 

OPPORTUNITIES

Great researcher

A people person

Know people in publishing industry

Website

  

THREATS

Lack of self-esteem

Lack of time

Unable to say NO to family requests

Lack of organization

 

Your next step is putting this information together.  This will help you get a handle on areas of needed improvement and the foundation for your marketing plan. 

 

The chart above is a sample.  In the next week, I will develop my SWOT analysis  See how this is eventually incorporated into a marketing plan. (This is the groundwork for your proposals to literary agents and publishing houses.)