What’s on the iPod: Hallelujah by Rufus Wainwright
Talk about a quick start and sprint to my work week — yesterday was packed with projects, client calls, and negotiations. Today there are fewer calls, but more work. I like that. I can turn the phone off and just write.
I was able to work fast and get my day completed before meeting visiting family in the city for dinner. Plus, I was able to get my exercise in to my schedule. I’m in the middle of the T25 Workout, and thankfully it’s just 25 minutes out of my schedule — for various reasons. I make time for it instead of excuses, and I can’t last longer than 25 minutes at that high of an intensity level. It’s brutal. Effective, but brutal.
The switch to this exercise plan came after struggling for a year on one that I thought was intense, but didn’t push me hard enough. I was challenged by the first regimen, but it was too easy to adapt. Also, there was no focus on diet change, which this new plan emphasizes. Since starting two weeks ago, I’ve had five pounds disappear and I feel healthier. And to think nothing would have changed had I not gone outside that comfort zone.
It’s like that with our writing careers, isn’t it? We send queries, answer job ads, and follow our routines because they’ve become such routine. What we do stays the same, and while it may work at first, we start to feel and get a bit stagnant. Writing clients we have now have limited projects in mind, or we lose a client for various reasons and don’t remember how to replace them. We stay in that comfortable box we’ve built and don’t push beyond it much, if at all.
And that’s how we let a writing career die of natural causes. We are the natural causes in most cases.
Time for a reality check.
When was the last time you really tested whether you’re moving forward or digging a hole for yourself? Try this simple test to see which direction your writing career is taking:
What have I done in the last month that’s completely new? Anything? Did you reach out to a prospective client (one that wasn’t on a job board), take up a new social media form, become active in a forum, or attend an on-site event? If so, give yourself 5 points.
Am I marketing consistently and mixing things up enough? If you’ve added a new way to reach out to clients, give yourself 5 points. If you’ve continued to market regularly, give yourself 3 points. If you’re doing more of a hit-and-miss, same-old-routine process, give yourself 1 point.
How am I reacting when clients say no? If you thank them and continue to contact them at two-month intervals, give yourself 5 points. If you thank them and ask them to keep you in mind but don’t follow up for at least six months, give yourself 3 points. If you say nothing or halt communications altogether, give yourself 1 point.
Am I trying to learn something new? If you’re taking classes, studying grammar or style as part of your regular routine, or connecting with a mentor, give yourself 5 points. If you’re occasionally reading books, blogs, or articles actively in an attempt to improve your skills or knowledge in a particular area, give yourself 3 points. If you look something up when a client or blog commenter points out a problem, give yourself 1 point.
Am I pursuing new areas on a regular basis? If you’ve planned a number of new things you’d like to attempt and have made a schedule around that, give yourself 5 points. If you’ve chosen one area you wouldn’t mind going into and you’re doing a little research, give yourself 3 points. If you’re content being right where you are doing just what you’re doing, give yourself 1 point.
Now add them up.
If you’ve scored 18-25 points, you’re nurturing and growing your writing career.
If you’ve scored 14-17 points, you’re doing okay, but you could be missing opportunities to grow both your business and your confidence.
If you’ve scored 13 points or below, get busy. You’re in danger of stagnating and losing potential clients.
Do you have a plan that allows you to explore new opportunities?
How much does education and knowledge growth play into those plans?
What is your best advice to help other writers know how to push their careers forward?