For the last 2 weeks my whole family has been ill with a nasty virus. It was awful. But I still had to get up out of bed and do some writing that had looming deadlines. Apart from that I spent quite a bit of time sleeping and feeling sorry for myself.
But before getting ill, I'd started to redecorate the whole house. I stopped for a few days and then started again. Painting is a job I hate and having it hanging over my head, waiting to be done, was annoying.
So as soon as I felt a bit better (but still felt like cr*p) I got up and got to work on the painting, with the help of my husband who also pitched in to help.
We had to paint the spare bedroom, hallway, laundry room, main living-dining-kitchen area, the study and the double garage.
It was a hell of a lot to get done but we rolled up our sleeves and set to work.
Before we could start we had to make a plan of what jobs to do first. There's a lot that goes into decorating a room before the actual painting takes place. We had to remove furniture, remove anything hanging on the walls, unscrew door knobs and handles, and wash down walls and paintwork. I also took down curtains as we went and washed, ironed and re-hung them. Phew!
I also found that patience was indeed a virtue with painting.
As I said, I absolutely hate painting and decorating. When I did the first few rooms a couple of weeks ago, I tenededt to try and rush through it too much and ended up having to sand down patches of paint work and re-do them.
So this time I decided to be more patient and instead of looking at the vast amount of ceiling space and walls stretching before me begging to be painted, I only looked at the one patch at a time that I was painting and conccntrated on getting each one right.
And as I painted I used the time for thinking about my writing and my writing business as a whole and what I was doing with it and where I was going wrong, and where I was wasting time, and what I could do to improve things. It was like having a business meeting with myself that went on for days.
Between the two of us, it took us a mere 4 days to do all the painting (including painting the garage floor) which wasn't bad going considering how much we had to do.
But with steady and consistent work, we managed to complete the painting in only 4 days AND it looks great.
So what did this teach me about being a writer?
There are 4 important lessons I took away from this enlightening experience:
1. Time to think is imperative.
During my off-line days of painting, I had more time to think than I can ever remember. And because I had time to think I didn't have to rush about what I needed to think about.
I actually had time to think about everything and it was enlightening. Usually, when I have private business meetings with me (in my own head), I have a tendancy to rush everything so that I can get back to work.
But this time I had time to really think and let my mind wander to things that I'd previously thought as unimportant, but when I had time to really think about it all, I realized that there are areas of my writing and publishing business that I've been lapse with and I really need to work on (like the boring financial plans and projections and working schedules).
2. A thorough plan of action is crucial.
While we painting it quickly became obvious that a plan of working was essential. We needed to having everything done in order for the whole job to go smoothly.
And the same detailed planning is necessary for writing. I need to be sure of what I need to be working all the time. I need a good yearly writing and publsihing plan, a montly plan, a weekly plan and even a daily plan to make sure I get everything done in the right order.
Having a detailed plan to follow not only saves time because I don't have to stop and think of what to do next all the time, but it also saves time because everything gets done smoothly with no (or very few) mistakes.
3. A greater need for patience.
Just like facing a huge job of painting needs to be done with patience to make sure every bit is done right and doesn't need extra time for patching up, writing needs patience too.
It's all too easy to be impatient with small writing projects as well as large writing projects.
Sometimes, when I have a short article to write, I can get impatient with it because it can seem to take a lot of time to write something short when my time could be better spent getting stuck into a much larger and more profitable project like writing a book or an ebook.
But every project, large and small, needs to be done with patience so that it results in one of the best pieces of writing I have ever done. That way it garantees that more people will want to read it and I can earn more money from it whether it's a piece of paid writing, a free give-away or a marketing article.
4. There is a constant need for consistent effort and focus.
It's a known fact that if we don't keep control of our thoughts and our focus, our minds are constantly being dragged back into the past, or time is wasted worrying about the future.
Instead, it's far, far better to focus only on the task in front of you and think of nothing else until it's done. And make sure you get it done. Don't stop or procrastinate. Just keep working and being consistent.
So if you're writing an article or a book chapter, only think about the writing you are doing at each and every moment. Focus on the words as they appear on the screen in front of you, or as they flow from your pen onto the page.
Don't think about how you're going to start the next paragraph or how you're going to wrap it all up in a thought-provoking conclusion. Just keep writing and only think about the words your currently working on.
If you planned out your work in detail (see number 2 if you've forgotten) you should have a outline for your work that is so well thought out that you only need to pull it all together in one great piece of writing with little more thought or worry needed.
And that's the 4 things I've learned.
I need to spend more time thinking about what I need to do.
I need plenty of plans in place to make sure everything goes more smoothly (although plans can be changed if necessary).
I need to have an abundance of patience when I'm working and not rush anything (I'll think about the hare and tortoise always).
I need to spend more time focusing on the work in front of me instead of wondering if what I've already written is correct and thinking that I need to hurry up or I won't get everything done in time. And I need to keep up a consistent effort of writing.
How about you?
How are you going to improve how you work as a writer?
Do you need to make changes?
Do you need to have better plans in place?
Do you need greater consistency in your efforts?
Does your house need decorating?
If it does, get some paint and brushes and get to work re-decorating. Not only will your house look great but you'll be the wealthy writer you've always dreamed of becoming.
If you want to read an inspiring series of articles about planning, there's a 3-part series from self-published author, Denise Grover Swank, at http://thewritersguidetoepublishing.com/a-business-plan-for-self-published-authors-part-three-of-a-three-part-series.
In this short series she explains her business plans, her publishing and financial goals as well as her writing and publishing routine. It's a detailed explanation of how she went from unpublished author to selling over 1,000 copies of her book in under 2 months. And now she is a best selling author.
Her way of working may not be for you, but it is an inspirational read. The link leads to the last post in the series, but it's the only one that has links to the other two. So click on the link and then use the other two links to read the first two installments.
Happy reading and I hope this all helps to inspire and motivate you to reach your writing dreams.
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