Time to Get Focused and How to Do It

business typewriter
by Sophfronia Scott

By now you've probably read at least a dozen articles about setting goals and achieving New Year's resolutions. But you probably didn't read--because most articles fail to mention it--about what specific steps you'll need to take to achieve what you want to do.

Well, I can't tell you about how to lose 20 pounds or how to save for that trip to Tuscany. But I can give you some things to think about to help you achieve your goal of finishing a book this year. Let's get one thing out of the way first: of course you have to do the work of getting your ideas down on paper.

But, really, it's the things you do before you write that will ensure you finish. Here I'm going to give you 4 Major Focus Points to consider as you move forward with your book project. I want you to write down each one and work on your responses in the coming weeks. Each point is connected either directly or indirectly to your finishing your book. My hope is that you'll do the work and thinking required and that this will provide the spark you need to get you published in 2009.

Focus Point #1: The Magic of Purpose

You may already know that I just finished another book that I'll launch next month. It's called Doing Business By the Book. Finishing this book and getting it published was a big goal I had for 2008 and I accomplished it. Now, what you don't know is that I just finished another major project. It's something that I did not plan. It was nowhere on my radar for 2008 and yet I completed a first draft of this project in less than 3 months. When I'm writing like that, I find it useful to watch myself, to watch my habits to see and feel why this is different from any other project I might have procrastinated on forever and ever.

This project is not connected to my business. It's a totally creative notion that has been percolating for some time and I guess it was ready because the thing just started playing in my head and I couldn't stop it. I have no idea what I'm going to do with this work when it's done. I just know it's great and I know my life will be different for my having written it.

Now, my question for you here is "Do you have this kind of feeling behind the book you're working on now?" This may sound kind of "woo-woo" but I put this focus point first to impress on you how important it is. The aspiring authors I know who are the most successful have a singularity of mind that goes beyond just wanting to write a book for their business or writing a book to make money. They want to write a book because they have something they want to say, a message to communicate to the world. I find that inspiring, so much so that I named my new imprint after that kind of spirit: Messenger House.

I was recently reminded of a quote from speaker Jim Rohn who says, "When you understand the 'why', the 'how' becomes so much easier." In other words, if you can tap into your passion for why you want to write your book, you'll move mountains to find the time and resources to get it done. So ask yourself. "Do I have this kind of feeling for my work and if not, how can I get it?"

Focus Point #2: Choosing the Right Path for Your Book's Success

This is all about figuring out if you have the right plan in place for your book. If you understand what you're going to do with your book, it's another motivating factor to help you finish.

I've heard a lot about what writers have to say about the publishing process-and many are disappointed. Usually it's because they had certain expectations that were not met. Whether they knew it or not, there was no way those expectations were going to be met because of the way they chose to have their books published. The way to avoid such disappointment is to be clear about what you want and to make sure you're pursuing an avenue, whether it be self-publishing or traditional publishing, that will get those needs met.

To get clear about your desired outcome, it's best to create a publishing plan for yourself. To do that, you ask yourself a series of questions so you can get a concrete picture of what you want. Make sure you write down your answers! You'll find the whole process will be easier when you have a plan-it'll help you make decisions when problems or opportunities arise. Then you can tell others a different kind of story: how the publishing process was exciting and enjoyable-and not disappointing-for you.

Focus Point #3: Organize Your Book

Are you writing in a void? In other words, are you writing without an outline? Some writers can do that, they can just sit down with a general idea of their book and go where the thought takes them that day. You can do that with fiction. You can almost never do that with non-fiction. When I meet aspiring authors who can't speak about their book coherently, it's because they haven't done the work of figuring out, chapter-by-chapter, what's going to be in the book.

Sometimes it makes the book easier than you realize. I recently had a consultation with an aspiring author who had been wanting to write a book on a particular subject for a long time but he couldn't wrap his brains around the book. He said he knew he could help people, that he had X number of ways to help them develop personally.

I asked if this was a specific program he had created. He said yes. I asked him how many steps were involved. He said 9. I said "Let's say you have an introductory chapter and then devote a chapter to each of the 9 steps, and then maybe a concluding chapter with a call to action. Can you do that? 11 Chapters?" He said yes. It can change, his book doesn't have to be that way, but even this quick idea of an outline did get him started. It doesn't have to be any harder than that.

Focus Point #4: What Do You Need?

Ask yourself this and respond honestly. Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants beating ourselves up over what we didn't get done each day without asking, "How can it be different? What do I need to help make it different?" You might need a space to write or a research-related trip or a babysitter to give you time to write.

If you're not moving forward on your book, sit down and assess what you do need to finish. Is it a week off from work? Is it a working computer? Is it a coach? Ask yourself this question often because many times you'll forget and get stuck. I still have to remind myself to ask my family for time when I need to finish a project.

Now is the Time

Where will you be with your book project in 12 months? Once you've done this kind of focused thinking you will know. All you have to do is follow your plan through to completion.

© 2009 Sophfronia Scott

Sophfronia Scott is an author of fiction and non-fiction books. https://sophfronia.com/.


Melodee said...

The Magic of Purpose - that's what struck a cord with me, Sophfronia.

I'm in the midst of writing a series of e-books and I keep wondering WHO is writing them. Really! I sit down to write and it's like there is someone else in my head that takes over my fingers at the keyboard. The words just seem to appear on their own!

I can't wait to find out the ending :-)

Monique Hayward said...

I'm in the process of finishing my first book. Good advice about knowing the end game before you begin.

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