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Today’s episode is all about finding focus in your writing was sparked by a question from Mark Guay of The Traveling Cup. I had the great privilege of being a guest on Mark’s podcast recently and afterwards he asked me: “How do go about finding focus in your writing? How do you decide where to spend your writing fuel?”
Do you ever ask yourself that? We writers are so busy, and there are so many different projects vying for our precious time and energy. A writer can choose to spend talent and energy on blogging, newsletters, guest posting, books, and so many other things. How do you know what’s going to make the best impact on your career?
I look for three things when I decide what writing-related project to focus on next. The place where these three things intersect is what I like to call my “Hell-Yeah! project.” This “Hell-Yeah! project” falls in the white center section of the picture below.
- What am I excited and passionate about? Don’t do something because you think you should. Be excited about it! Pick the thing that you really love, that you can’t resist, and do that.
- What feels easiest? What project has the least amount of friction? Look for things that you’re good at, that come easily to you. Don’t always choose the hardest thing, or you’ll end up burning yourself out.
- What will give me the best return on investment (ROI)? I’m not talking about what makes money instantly. Some things, like blogging, may not make any money directly. But over time a blog helps you build your audience and your writerly voice, which might in turn help you sell more books or get a publishing contract. Whatever the project, make sure that it helps you build credibility, build your audience, and build connections with experts in the industry.
Side note: Be careful not to invest too much time and energy in something, even if you really love it, if there’s no chance of any return from the effort you put in. We writers write for the love of it, but we need to be practical too!
Finally, do one thing at a time. Don’t take on too many new projects at once. You’ll end up overwhelmed and spread too thin. Make sure you do each piece as excellently as you can. Focus on one facet at a time. This is a slow process, not a short race to the finish line.
Spend the time that each piece takes to perfect it, then move on to the next. It may seem too clinical or organized a system, but I’ve found that using this left-brained approach in preparation for a project allows me to be more creative.
Thanks again to Mark Guay of The Traveling Cup for the inspiration for this episode!
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