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So… What Is Next In Your Writing Career?

what's next in your writing?Yesterday I referred you to one of Seth Godin’s posts where he suggests one of the secrets to marketing is to do something.

I also challenged you to post something there that you intended to do for your writing and/or writing career this week.

That sort of challenge is great when we know what the next step is. But what about those times when we don’t? How do we figure out what’s next?

Here’s what I do:

Look at my list of to-dos – what’s next often becomes obvious.

Check my bank account – knowing how much money I have or don’t can clarify my mind in a hurry.

Those are the two most obvious, and probably will work for everyone, but not every time.

That’s because there’s another place of confusion, and that’s when you’ve hit some sort of a road block. One of the symptoms is that everything you used to do that worked doesn’t work any more. Another is serious discontent with what you’re doing. Another might be a longing to do something else. When you hit these patches it can take some serious introspection.

Here are some of the things I do:

Talk with my accountability partners – a couple of people, not unlike a Mastermind group, who help keep me on track. They act as both sounding boards and people who know and love me well enough to tell me the truth.

Take a hard look at undone projects – I don’t know about you, but I’m never short of ideas. I often will start something new partly as a way to get the idea written down. Some of them will never get done; others will. Looking at these projects can give me a nice hint about what’s next – particularly when one makes my heart sing. This is different from the usual to do list.

Get quiet – for me this is two-fold. I have a regular meditation practice and once I quiet my mind often realize what the next project or action should be. Of course, it doesn’t always happen, but getting quiet also helps clear my mind of the yammer-babble that is anything but clear thinking. I’ve also learned to get quiet for a moment or two before I decide what to do next during my normal working day – this pause can be delightfully revealing.

Take at least a weekend off – a real vacation may be in order. The goal here is to remove yourself from the day-to-day of your writing business and get some distance. That distance often allows what’s next to appear naturally.

 Sometimes I have to do these things more than once. Discovering if a change of direction is really needed and, if it is, exactly what that is, can take some time – and it’s up to me to give it the time it needs.

How do you get clear about what’s next?


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by Crystl

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for your post Anne,

    Only what I do is not looking at my To-Do List Instead I look at
    my Have- Done List, because with a To-Do List it usually has a feel about it, as if loads of tasks that I am not always feeling motivated for need to be done and that loads of tasks that I don’t really enjoy doing are waiting for me. While with a Have-Done List, it feels more motivational it connects me with things that already have been completed or something that are already ‘Well On It’s Way’ and only needs to have some improvements to move it forward.

    For example in January I wrote a post about ‘What Happened in 2011’, writing about some of the Improvements I made on my blogs, like for example installing a Search Box on my Blog where you can easily find Products you can buy on Product Catagory. That year I also wrote all kinds of blogposts with practical Tips & Tools about Blogging and doing Affiliate Marketing, making it easy to know what to do Next. (Writing new posts with new practical Tips and (pre) selling interesting Products that you as a reader can buy)

    I also frequently like to take some time to Relax, because that usually gives new Inspiration and new Ideas. Btw. talking about Relaxing on my – Travel Lifestyle – Blog (scrolling down somewhere near the bottom) in the recommended travel reading you can find an interesting book that’s all about how Important Relaxation is for Success, it’s a Lifestyle….,

    See there you already have it,
    a – crispy fresh – new Tip & Tool 🙂
    HP van Duuren recently posted..Discover the Laptop Lifestyle for your WritingMy Profile

    • I like the idea of a ‘have done’ list as a motivator. Great idea. I know when I move into that “I’m not doing enough” feeling I often counter it with looking at what I have done… it really can help. Thanks.

  • laura

    Having a quiet time and a day off is very important in my to do list. I know I cannot make good decisions and produce amazing ideas with a tired mind. I find it hard to focus on my other tasks as well when I know I have several undone projects which is why I often work extra hours.

    • I find I can only work extra hours for so long and then I must take a break.

  • It’s important to remember that writers are people first, and writers second. We have all the normal human needs anyone else has, plus we harbor a deep seated need to write. Periodically we all face the reality that we don’t know what to write next, even if we desperately want to put words down on paper (or on the computer).

    This is what I do when that problem pops up. Your results may vary, but I offer this as a point of conversation for you to consider.

    Mow the lawn, go on a ridiculously long bike ride, walk far out into the country where you are unlikely to encounter friends or co-workers, perhaps take a nap. You need to change your mental state, and you need to change it in a way that allows you to believe that you expect nothing of yourself but to wander aimlessly, or do something mind-numbingly repetitive. Eventually your mind will begin to drift, an idea will occur to you, and your imagination will take over. That is the start of your next writing experience. Go with it – even if there are no dollar signs attached to the finished product yet. You’re getting excited about writing again. That’s critical to the process.

    Don’t overlook the nap, either. I often find that if I nap when I’m at an impasse (most often when writing fiction) I’ll dream about the plot problem while I’m napping. Being in a relaxed state allows me to review options in my dreams. More often than not I wake up with a solution, and the better part of my next paragraph floating around in my head.

    These recommendations all work for me. I hope they’ll work for you, too.
    Jamie Beckett recently posted.."It's important to wear sturdy, comfortable shoes when hiking." So says Billy Ha…My Profile

    • Naps are one of my favorites too, and long, hot showers.

  • I’ve started getting up an hour earlier which helps ease into the day. I’ve also started using that time to write a journal which clears out any clutter in my head so I have a clearer mind.
    Bill Swan recently posted..Look for and Use LayawaysMy Profile

  • I’m still trying to get clear on what’s next! I think I just get overwhelmed with options to start with – but don’t sit down and do it. I do have a to do plan..I just have to do it!
    Ellen recently posted..Egg on your faceMy Profile

    • Breathe, Ellen. Pick your favorite option and start there – the rest will get clear.

  • Yes, Anne, I think I’ve hit one of those times. I think finding a quiet space is for the best. Thanks, as always, for your thoughtful posts.
    Anne Woodman recently posted..Like the WeatherMy Profile

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