Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Full-time Writing Goals: Focus

It has been two weeks since I was laid off and this adventure began. I told myself that I could have these two weeks without any goals at all, just take that time to do what I need to do.  That time is up.  November 1, I get started on my new full-time writing life.

I don't expect to hit the ground running, but maybe I'll hit the ground Groucho-walking.

And I'm going to manage that via FOCUS.

To that end, I am not going to worry about the 40+ hours of miscellaneous tasks I need to put into my writing business, including blogging and art and keeping up my websites and all the rest.  I'm only going to worry about the 20 hours or so I want to devote to one project at a time.

Starting Thursday, November 1, 2012, my writing dare goals will be three hours a day on whatever project I have on the top of my pile.

So I'm no longer doing the thing where I coordinate my goals with the blog, and the blog counts toward my goals.  That was fine for before I was laid off, it isn't fine now.  Now it's all about getting books done.

Which isn't to say I'll neglect the blog.  As a matter of fact I think this will work out a little better, once I get my feet under me:

First project is to be finished today: get the ebook of Misplaced Hero uplaoded to Smashwords and Kindle.  Thursday I'll announce the results of that, and a couple of other publishing things.

Second project: Test of Freedom -- all episodes in the can for publication over the winter, and the ebook put together and published, I hope by Thanksgiving weekend, but it could take longer.

One of the reasons I postponed the episdoes of ToF for this week is because I realized the story was suffering from neglect while I had too many other things on my plate.  So I postponed it specifically so I could get other things off my plate completely, and concentrate only on ToF for a while.

Third project: After ToF is off my plate, I will throw myself into Devil in a Blue Bustle, which I hope to publish in December.

Debt Snowball - Writing Snowball

If you're into personal finance, you may notice that what I'm planning above is like Dave Ramsey's Debt Snowball: where someone with overwhelming debt goes after one debt at a time to get it off their plate and out of their hair -- and also to free up resources to go after the remaining debts.

Now mathematically, you would be best off to go after the debt with the highest interest first.  However, people who are in crisis, and overwhelmed, very often can't keep up with such a plan.  They are up against it and stretched to their limits.  So Ramsey suggests that the best plan is to go after the smallest debt first: pay minimum payments on all others, and get that small debt off your plate NOW.  When that is gone, it lowers your minimum payment load, and gives more relief sooner.  This gives you momentum, a psychological boost, and most important: it gives you more leeway.

Or maybe most important is the momentum.  At least, I'm thinking that where this overlaps with writing, momentum is the big thing.

All of those unfinished stories and ideas are like debts. I've got to get them written before I die. And the sooner I get them done and out into the world, the more attention I can put on the remaining ones.  Also, the more support I can hope they give me in terms of income.

So this week, for ROW80, I didn't really track what I was doing.  That starts for reals tomorrow.  (NOTE: find other participants for A Round of Words in 80 Days here in the Halloween Check-In.)

I'll end with a Groucho video. He doesn't do his famous walk, but it's one of my favorites.  "Lydia the Tattooed Lady" from At The Circus. (Which is one of the pictures the Marx Brothers made to pay off Chico's gambling debts, I understand, so it's relevant to this post in many ways!)

See you in the funny papers.


Unknown said...

Sorry to hear you got laid off. But I think your focus plan sounds good. In particular since the best way to increase the odds of selling something - is getting it done.

And I love the Groucho touches. I think my personal favorite scene is Chico selling Groucho the betting information in "At the Races".

The Daring Novelist said...

Thanks, Mark. Yes, Heinlein's Rule 2 - you must finish what you start - tends to be the most overlooked of the rules, but it's the most important.

T.K. Marnell said...

I've never heard of the Debt Snowball concept, but it sounds useful. Maybe if I finish these half-written short stories and see more covers on my website, the unwritten novels will be less intimidating :D

Shah Wharton said...

Nothing quite like focus to pull us through a bleak time - because we always have sunshine in the future and maintaining such positivity will lead you straight to it. Great!

The Daring Novelist said...

T.K. - yes, it does create a sense of accomplishment. And it gives you momentum.

Shah - Thanks!