Tag Archives: writng

Influencing Change

I’m trying to change.

One of the best books on changing behaviors I’ve read in the last few years is Influencer – the Power to Change Anything by the people at Vital Smarts.

I have, at various times, attempted to put their advice to work for me. But it seems that although I can use it to analyze what worked in retrospect as I’ve stumbled along accidently hitting on the right path. I’ve never sat down and tried to figure out the process before hand.

This time I thought I’d take a look at their methods and see what I can do to improve my ability to do my job. Also known as writing more! What I’m looking for are the “vital behaviors” that people almost universally express when they are doing a job well. To borrow an example from their book the vital behaviors for weight loss are the following – workout at home, eat breakfast, and weigh every day. So simple right?

So what are the vital behaviors for being a successful writer?

As one web article written by Marg Gilks states – WRITE – Writer’s write!

And every writer on the planet has a different patter that they swear by – write first thing in the morning, write X number of words a day, write a short story a week, do writing exercises, make yourself sit at the computer/writing paper for X hours even if you don’t do a thing and on and on and on.

Some writers need great swaths of uninterrupted time – others wrote their first novel while they were in meetings (must have been very dull meetings).

The only thing that all of them have in common is that “Writer’s write!”

Good writers, published writers, also edit and are not afraid to remove whole sections of text because it doesn’t fit. In fact they often rewrite and rewrite and rewrite again.

So now we have two vital behaviors – writing and rewriting.

We also have another vital behavior – reading! Writers read a lot. For pleasure, for how others have handled character, plot, dialogue, and to know what others in their field are writing. Like all business people they keep abreast of what is going on in their industry. The more you know about the business of writing the less likely you are to make fundamental mistakes.

Oh, and don’t forget – working writers have people read their work, friends, colleagues, and editors. They submit their work for critique and publication.

So now we have the four vital behaviors – write, rewrite, read, submit.

But how do we move from knowing to implementing?

Several months ago I decided that I needed to write every day – or as close to that goal as possible. Since I’ve started the blogs I’ve considered myself a success on that front. But I found, to my chagrin, that although I was writing I wasn’t writing as much fiction. My new goal is to write 5,000 words a day.

This week’s Vital Smarts Newsletter on how to find vital behaviors helped put some of my new ideas of how to increase my productivity into focus.

“Create a Process-Flow Chart”

Map the day from beginning to end. What does it look like, are there some days you are more productive than others, anything special about those days? Then map an ideal day. What would an ideal day look like what happens when and what does it contain or eliminate?

So I’m going to try this over the next few weeks and collect data on what my day looks like and what makes me more or less productive to see if I can refine my processes more so that I am more prolific. Sometimes it isn’t just what you do but when you do it.

What things to you have on your resolution list that could use some thoughtful analysis of what it takes – from vital behaviors to creating the environment – to succeed?

~ Tess Anderson

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The Magic…

I’m still trying to find the magic.

That is probably a problem in and of itself. When I was a stage actor, every once in awhile, I’d have an amazing night. The next night it would be hard not to focus on recreating that wonderful night instead of focusing on the job at hand.

You can’t go back.

I’m wondering if that is my problem right now. It seems that every time I write a short story I am starting from the beginning. Not the beginning of the story – but like I’ve never written anything before. Never completed anything before. Each work unfolds in its own way – in its own time – and none of them take the same path.

A part of me wants to feel what I felt over Labor Day again.

The 3-Day Novel Writing Contest was the most amazing writing experience I’ve ever had. It eclipsed how I felt when I sold my first short story. Afterwards I was exhausted, drained of words, and exuberantly happy. I was also distracted by other commitments in my life so after I recovered I couldn’t give up days to writing.

Now I can – but I love my blogs. I love the feeling of posting every day – of producing content and publishing it. I also love the idea that there is no filter. It is just me – my thoughts – my words – and my audience.

So I’m trying to figure out how to balance all of this. I have an idea – one that scares me a little because it feels crazy. But often the crazy ideas are the best. The only thing is that I never seem to put it into practice. Something always conflicts.

The sane part of me thinks I should just learn how to shift from article writing in the morning, to fiction writing in the afternoon. The insane part of me wants a day – like the days that I took to write “Any Man’s Death” – days where I turned off the phone, the email, and did nothing but write.

Dream on, right?

I can dream. But I think I’m caught in the dream and forgetting the reality of the situation. The reality is that I’ve committed to my blogs – and providing content five days a week – I’ve also committed to writing stories. And once again I’ve put myself in the position of having to learn how to write all over again.

So I’m going to keep working on the practical angle – even while I dream of leaving the world behind and drowning in story. I need to give up the dream, stop focusing on the past, and figure out how to live in my present.

Wow, writing is a lot like life, isn’t it?

~ Tess Anderson

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