After taking a week off to entertain guests, research and eat, eat, eat I’ve achieved some realizations. My writing practice (writing every day, if only for a few minutes) feels haphazard and surprisingly non-committal. Although I have definitely been producing essays at a steady pace, I’m not sure I’m doing myself (or you as readers) any favours by just writing. I feel if I’m to move further along on my literary journey and get closer to a place where I can actually do what I want, which is to write a book, I need to refocus my attention.
It’s amazing the clarity that a pause and some self reflection can give you.
In trying to figure out where I go from here and how I move forward on this path, I got to thinking back. I feel there are always things you can learn from your own history, both good and bad that will help you in the present. So in that vein, there are a few lessons I learned during my time as a salesperson that I feel will serve me well now as an aspiring writer and help me as I refocus.
One of them is to always be prospecting. Anyone who has worked in sales knows that you can’t just focus on the deals you’re on the verge of closing. You always have to be prospecting for sales down the road; if you don’t, you’ll suffer the rollercoaster ride of good month, bad month. And the trouble with that is there are bills every month.
As I stepped back for this past week, both because of busy-ness but also to spend time on research, it occurred to me that all my attention was on ‘closing the deal’. Writing for today. No time spent on story development, researching how to write, investigation into the resources available. I had not waded into the waters I hoped to someday swim in. Not good.
Set your goals
When you’re in sales, each fiscal year starts with the two critical pieces of information you need to do your job well. Your sales target and your compensation structure. The sales target, depending on the type of sales you’re in, will be divided into monthly, maybe even weekly goals that will lead you to a successful year. Your annual target on the first sales day of the year, can look gigantic but I would often harken back to another one of my favourite mantras.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
By breaking down the seemingly impossible target into manageable sub-targets, anything is achievable. You’re kept on track and you know, very quickly, when you’re falling behind. I’ll be applying the same logic to my writing. Although my objective may be a bit more nebulous, it doesn’t prevent me from setting goalposts along my journey; markers of progress and achievement that will, as they would in sales, lead me to a successful outcome.
Know your product
If you want to sell anything, you need to know a lot about it. Or if you don’t, you need a team of people around you who do. At this point in my writing career, I have neither the knowledge nor the team. Getting a team together seems like putting the cart in front of a non-existent horse, so study I will do. And as with anything, that means setting time aside to do it and sticking to those time commitments. Easier said than done so often as life gets in the way. I’m lucky in that I have a space dedicated to this craft of mine and I can steal myself away here and work uninterrupted. Except for the deer, they constantly interrupt but I don’t mind at all.
Three relatively simple adjustments that I hope will result in positive outcomes.
What this means when it comes to publishing on this blog is rather than writing here daily, I’ll be trimming it down to two or three posts per week. But know that on the days you don’t hear from me, I’ll be writing then too.
And if all goes well, someday you’ll see the results of those days writing in a bookstore near you.