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Posts Tagged ‘weaknesses’

Not Writing? An Act of Self Sabotage?

March 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Lucky bambooWriting is all about discipline.  I know that.  Then, my question is, what does it mean when you like to write but in the end find writing to be a task?  For those finding it difficult to settle down and write, is it part of our DNA to prefer activities that don’t chain ourselves to a chair?  Or are we running away from ourselves?  Will our writing reveal more about ourselves than we want to share?  All interesting questions for the writer who finds they are not writing.

Recently, I found out that I am not alone in this struggle.  A talented writer/ friend is exploring that very same question.  What in the world is holding us back?  Why are we self-sabotaging ourselves?

Probably the answer is different for all of us.  However, I do see a similarity as I listen to other potential writers (there are oodles of us out there), read writing threads, and read blogs.  It simply comes down to avoidance behavior. 

If you look closely at your favorite writer, or for that matter, any successful person, you will see that people who show up every day and work at their craft, their business, their passion are the ones who eventually reap rewards for overcoming the challenges from every day demands. 

So, I’m talking to all those out there, and I’m talking  to myself —  If you want to be successful at writing, you need to show up and write every day.  Although the editor in you will say “This sucks!”  Keep at it. You’ll get better and faster with just the commitment to working at your writing with consistency. 

If you have experienced yo-yo dieting, you know it doesn’t work.  All those successful weight loss stories come from a place of discipline and exercise.  Sorry to say, I’m learning that writing is no different. 

You are like your first novel.  Just like every character and every scene must in some way advance the plotline of your novel, so must the writing and reading activities of your writing time. 

I’d like to hear from you, if you had many starts and stops to your writing.  How did you eventually move past your hurdles?

Discovering Who You Are as a Writer (2)

April 24, 2008 Leave a comment

Tonight we are going to talk about weaknesses. This is part of the SWOT analysis explained in a posting dated 4/19/2008.  The W stands for itinerating your weaknesses.  I know that we all know what we are weak in, but if you write it down, the cumulative picture shifts a bit.  You will see yourself slightly differently and begin to connect these weaknesses with other events in your life.  Since I am sharing, I have listed my weaknesses in regard to my writing goals.  You may realize that these very same weaknesses may appear in other areas of your life as well. 

WEAKNESSES

Need more fiction writing time
Easily distracted by family and responsibilities
Too eager to help others
To-Do List is overwhelming

For a long time I’ve been trying to work this out.  Obviously, I am my own worst enemy.   I have no one to blame but myself.  I look at this weakness list with more clarity.  I don’t want it to be me, but it is me.  I have drifted through life, not paying enough attention.  I compounded these weaknesses with a cardinal error. I kept telling myself that in a couple of years, life will be more settled and I will have time to write. Don’t believe it. It doesn’t work that way. Action, even the smallest amount, consistently performed toward a goal is what yields achievement.

So, here’s what I learned from the list above:

1. I should have set aside time to write consistently. The same spot every day at the same time, even it is for a very short time.

2. I should have learned to say NO on occasion.

3. I should have learned to delegate tasks.

4. I needed to push my writing time to the top of the priority to-do list.

Here’s the hard part. I’m going to have to change my behavior to overcome these weaknesses. This is no small feat. But if I change one thing, maybe it will make a noticeable difference? The next thing I need to do is create an action plan to resolve these weaknesses.

1. I have to ask myself every time a task sits before me: To which of my goals will this task advance along? If it isn’t advancing my writing or the top 4 goals, then I have to ask myself “Can this be done at some other time? Or does it have to be done at all? And if it does need to be completed, can anyone else do it?”

2. I have to talk to my family and win there support verbally. This will make for less problems in the long run, if my new schedule should cause the family stress.

3. I am getting out a grid to schedule what my days are like. Write in colors. The visual cues of daily chore will help move your writing project toward completion. You assign a time to write. The empty space on the grid calls for you to claim writing time. Because this time will be sandwiched between two other engagements, you will make this time very productive.

4. I have many years of unconstructed behaviors. There will be the occasional lapses into being too nice…and you will notice it, because suddenly you have stopped writing.

I will post this now, but I’m thinking that I will also share with you my time schedule, so you will see how I needed to fit writing time in.  A visual calendar is a good way to keep you on track. 

Next we will see what opportunities awaits me. How can I use that to my advantage?

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.)