Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Motivation - Know You CAN DO IT!

I was driving to work one morning and had a sports talk show on. Now this is normally not something I listen to, but I was being lazy so these guys rambled on about hockey, basketball and so forth. But then something caught my attention.

Apparently one of the broadcasters had participated in a fund raiser the prior day with Chris Everett Lloyd, one of the greatest tennis players of my time. He was describing that, while he had never played sports at an upper level competitive edge before, while he was on that court with her, he saw a side of competitive sports he had never seen. Even though this was simply a fund raising exhibition, there were times he saw a spark in Chris Everett Lloyd’s eyes that told him this was a person that simply didn’t like to lose. She was a winner.

The broadcaster went on to describe watching people like Michael Jordon play poker with a group of friends or Dan Marino at off season practices and even these two exhibited that same trait. These atheletes didn’t see anything else in their horizon but winning. For them, losing was simply not an option.

I bring this up because successful writers also have this same quality inside of them. No, this is not a matter of accepting anything less than being on the New York Times Best Seller list, although I will have to say, it is something they shoot for. Their winning attitude begins with the story they are working on at that time. When they sit down at the computer, before they even type that first word on the blank page, they can see the “THE END.” They know they can finish the story.

I am sure you have all been in this same situation before. In a casual setting, somehow it slips out that you are a writer. It is amazing that when that revelation hits the air, suddenly everyone around you has a story they are writing. But what follows is the difference between the successful writer and the one who will never make it. Many of these people standing around you always follow up with the statement, “Yeah, I’m working on a story but I don’t ever think I could write something that big.” In fact, for many of these writers, their story might never make it past that first three chapters.

This competitive edge is nothing more than a confidence in yourself. Winners have that “I can do it” attitude. No, this is not a blind faith in a dream that can never happen. They just believe they can do it and then translate that faith into a postive, proactive attitude. Thought turns into action. Action turns into winning.

It is interesting, but many of these successful writers are also what we in the publishing industry refer to as plotters and not pantsters. Plotters have a focus and will create a plan for achieving what they want to in the book. Some go to the level of fully outlining stories, others simply create a timeline or a deadline to work for. The successful writers don’t just write when something comes up, or hope that the muse will guide them through the next story.

I have two writers I work with that take different, but very successful approaches to plotting. One author is really not a hard-core plotter. She knows the beginning and the end of the story but that is about it. For her though, the success comes from the fact that she creates a goal that daily, she will write a set number of words. Feeling good or feeling bad, she finds a way to achieve that goal.

The other writer is more of a plotter. She too says that each day she will write roughly one chapter of her book. But she takes it a step further by plotting it out on a calendar and knows the exact day the story will be finished.

I bring this all up, because in every one of these cases, the winners can see the “THE END” at the end of the horizon. They know what they want, they know it is a possibility and they believe they can do it. They also have found that they can translate that belief into action. Successful writers don’t just talk about what they are going to do. They make the proactive move to make it a reality.

A friend of ours worked for a while in the juvenile detention system. During one of her training courses, she was introduced to 4 questions recommended to control potentially out of control individuals. We have later found these 4 questions, which my wife and I refer to as “The 4 Magic Questions,” will work in every situation:

1. What do you want?

2. What are you doing to achieve it?

3. How is that helping?

4. What should you be doing?

So answer these for yourself. Do you really want to be a successful writer? Can you see the “THE END?” What are you doing to achieve that end goal? If you aren’t doing anything then you have to ask yourself if you really want that goal.

Successful writers want to get to their end and nothing will stop them. Are you part of that crowd?