Continued from last week…
Four – Leverage Systems
Stop doing it wrong. Stop forcing your brain to work harder than it must. Conserve precious fuel to make decisions about things that shouldn’t require decision-making calories. You only have so many in one day, and when the tank is empty, you begin to make regrettable decisions—like grabbing that cupcake or third beer.
Anything that can be repeated or automated should be. Buy tops and bottoms that match so you don’t have to decide on what to wear. Buy and prepare the same lunch every day for a week or two at a time. One decision, 14 results. That’s efficiency.
Go through your day and note how many decisions you make and ask yourself why you keep making them. Assign filters to email, schedule social media posts, and block out your use of time for your tasks with time management apps. These tactics will help you remove as many decisions as possible.
Turn on technology. Use that power to your favor instead of being a victim of its distraction. Sync devices, automate appointment scheduling, develop routines. If you don’t have consistent systems for everything, you will not survive as an independent creator. What will you do when there isn’t somebody there to tell you what to do?
Leverage systems. Minimize decisions. Maximize automation.
Five – Respect Commerce
Be a sellout. Create art that people want. Moreimportantly, create art people will pay for. Why would you be proud to be a “starving artist?” What kind of bizarre mythology have we created for ourselves? Do plumbers work on whatever pipes they want to work on? No. They do the kind of work their customers want.
Going “indie” doesn’t mean you abandon the market, unless writing is your hobby. If you want to pay your bills and eat every so often, you’re going to need to write to market. Get over yourself, and your idealized dream of telling a unique story. “Writing to market” means writing the type of stories you love and ones that people like to read. Finding innovation within those conventions is where real creativity can be found. Anyone can write a “unique” story that isn’t confined to a genre. That’s easy and selfish, and often boring. Knocking a reader on her ass with an incredibly executed spin on an expected convention? That’s what it’s about.
If you have a hang-up with money or if you believe writers shouldn’t be salespeople, then you have a hobby and not a career. Stop with the guilt. Embrace the fact that you’re writing amazing stories that bring value to this world, stories that are worth real money. People pay $6 for a cup of coffee.
Writer’s block? It’s not real. Do plumbers wake up and say, “I’m just not inspired to work on toilets today?” Not the ones who get paid. Not the pros. Practice sobriety, embrace movement, welcome rest, leverage systems, respect commerce. If you’re doing all that, you’ll never be at a loss for words. You’ll wish you had 30 hours each day to get more words onto the page.
Six – Honor Relationships
Honor relationships. You’re a sheep in lone wolf’s clothing. Writers think of themselves as completely independent, self-sufficient, writing the great American novel from a cabin in Maine. Not true. For 99.9% of us, this is a fantasy we’ve created. Be kind, make friends, help other writers with no expectation.
You have skills beyond writing and publishing. We all do. Think about it. Another writer could use that skill. Give it away. Maybe it’s graphic design, or a flair for social media, or a sharp proofreading eye. Seek out and offer those skills to others.
All television shows have a writers’ room. Dozens or more for each episode. Movie production companies have hundreds, sometimes thousands of people working on one film. Bands write, record, and perform music together. And when they hit the road or put on a concert, they have a crew.
Art is collaboration. You can write words on your own, but they’ll never be as good as stories you create with another human. You can disagree, but it’s true.
Get over yourself and honor relationships.
Serving others helps you. So, serving you helps me. That’s how positivity rolls. By forcing honesty into my writing for your sake, I’ve gained clarity for myself.
Clean and balanced. That’s the takeaway of making these six changes. We all know when we’re doing something that harms us, versus doing something that we’re pretending won’t harm us. Gut-check yourself. That little voice inside your head saying “no” or “go” is more powerful than you realize. Listen to it.
Peace and love.
This piece was first written for the Author Life community as is the first time it’s been shared publicly.
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