When we first set out to become a “writer,” we tend to keep that romantic notion in our head—a lone genius typing away on a typewriter or laptop in a remote cabin in the woods. We’ll emerge several months later with a manuscript that is immediately bought by a traditional publisher and optioned for a film deal by a big-time Hollywood producer. Unfortunately, we all know this is pure fantasy, except for a handful of authors.
And once we realize that books aren’t written that way, we struggle to figure out how they are written.
When I first began writing novels, I simply sat down at the computer, and I typed the story as it came out of my head. I didn’t have an outline or a plan, not that you need one when you first-draft, but not having any experience writing novels, I was simply adrift in an ocean of words. I didn’t know where the story was going, what I was doing with the characters, or how I would get there.
Even more troubling, I had not developed routines or habits to get this work done. I had two children under the age of five, a wife, a full-time job, a mortgage, and financial responsibilities. So I turned on my computer and typed whenever I had a spare minute or two, and when that’s all you can do, then that is what you must do.
But when aspiring to become a career author, it is almost impossible to succeed in that manner. In other words, you need good systems and habits—a plan—if you want to continually produce novels that other people will want to purchase and read.
I remember reading about other writers’ routines and habits, and thinking that no other person’s experience would match mine. There were things that certain writers did that I would try and implement into my own systems, but it was hit or miss, and rarely was I able to talk to that person about why it worked for them.
Nowadays, one can ask a question about systems and habits in something like a Facebook group for writers. But that information is problematic in a much different way than it was before the advent of social media platforms. With 30,000 or 40,000 people in a Facebook group, you could receive 30,000 or 40,000 responses to your question, and that type of information would simply overwhelm you.
I have some friends who I could ask about their systems and habits, but unless they are wired in much the same way I am or have a similar work ethic, their advice might not be relevant.
For example, I have never found it useful to journal. I’ve never kept a diary, and when I’ve tried journaling as an adult, I’ve never stuck with it. However, I know many of my friends find the process of daily journaling incredibly helpful, not just for their writing, but for their overall mental health and stability. If most of my friends are journaling and I asked them about their routines and habits, based on who I am, their advice won’t be very helpful.
Diversity is the very nature of the composition of a mastermind group. The advice comes from different people with different experiences, giving you perspectives you may not have considered before.
In the “hot seat” segment of a mastermind meeting, it is common for writers to bring concerns or issues that revolve around the idea of productivity. Motivation and productivity are the direct results of good habits and systems, or the lack thereof.
Many times in a mastermind meeting, someone will go into greater detail about their habit-building techniques or systems. Other members of the mastermind group can then ask clarifying questions or follow up with comments and suggestions of their own so that by the time the conversation is finished, there’s a well-presented and well-rounded solution to a possible problem.
This type of interaction is unique to the mastermind group. It doesn’t happen in one-on-one mentoring calls because that is clearly a student-and-teacher dynamic. And it doesn’t happen in groups that exceed 15 members because the same level of trust doesn’t exist in larger groups of people.
Having these types of conversations in the regular mastermind meetings can help people to scaffold routines, habits, and systems that will ensure maximum productivity.
It is not impossible to start a novel without a system in place, but I believe it’s nearly impossible to consistently finish novels without a plan. And the best way to come up with a plan is to not have to think about it.
People set goals, but goals require constant measurement and attention to ensure they are being met. But if you create a system and keep discipline within the system, you will find it impossible not to meet your goals.
Designing and developing these systems and habits can be difficult, nuanced, and highly personal, based on the writer’s style. This is why a mastermind group can be so beneficial because not only are you exposed to a variety of ideas, but feedback from the group is more specific and therefore, can make systems and habits easier to implement.
Interested in joining a mastermind group for authors? If so, go to https://theauthorlife.com/mastermind and hear what my current and former mastermind attendees had to say about their experience in the group. Applications now being accepted for the January 2020 session; the application deadline is November 24, 2019.