Welcome! This is the first post in The Relaxed Writer's new "How to Finish What You Write" blog series. Don't miss future installments. If you like what you read, click here to subscribe to this blog.
Finish What You Write: Show Up as Your Own Project Manager
It sometimes surprises me how often savvy freelancers overlook the need to direct and manage their own creative projects (and then wonder why their novel, marketing project or book proposal isn't yet done)!
Are you showing up as your own project manager? Here's how to get started.
1. You balance your long-term vision with shorter term (monthly, weekly) goals for your novel-writing, book proposal or other marketing project.
Sounds paradoxical, but many creative types thrive within boundaries and structure. With no editor, client or boss, it's up to you to create your own project plan and deadlines. Take time to look at your project's scope and outcomes and plan how you're going to get there. Doing so will help you relax as you do the day-to-day work.2. You "meet" once a week to review your progress and performance.
Keep it simple (15-25 minutes will do), and schedule this meeting for the same time each week if you can. If you need a model, check out David Allan's "Weekly Review" model (in his seminal book on personal productivity, Getting Things Done).
3. You invest in R&D.
Don't do your work in a vacuum. To stay creatively fresh and relevant, each week devote some time dedicated to keeping up with your profession and continuing to develop your craft. Each month, make some time to learn about and try on some new ideas: creative, business or both.
4. You don't yell at your team.
No one can work well in an atmosphere of intimidation, belittlement or doubt. Believe in your writer (that's you). Treat the writer with respect. Value his work and believe in his ability to get the job done. We often rise to the expectations of others. Set yours just high enough to really challenge and motivate your writer-self. Stretch goals are fine; unrealistic expectations (read: perfectionism!) are self-generated setbacks.
5. Every time you sit down to work, you know what you want to accomplish.
Does all this project planning mean there's no room for spontaneity or freedom? Not at all. If you need a to spend a work session or two freewriting about your character, by all means, do what you need to do. Just consciously choose a focus for your work session, and make sure that what you're choosing to spend time on makes sense in the context of your overall project.
Remember to always adjust your definition of "success" to meet that specific day's tasks. No fair beating yourself up for not adding pages to your manuscript draft when your purpose that day was to deepen your own understanding of a character, 'k?
6. You expect and learn from setbacks.
Did your writer have an off-day, an off-week? Keep your writer-self accountable, but help her examine what stymied her progress and brainstorm other options for next time. They say good organizations are always learning. Study your setbacks, adapt this model to your writing life and thrive!
photo credit: "psd" on Flicker
Stay tuned for post #2 in the "How to Finish What You Write" blog series.
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Thanks for reading,
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