One of best strategies I can offer you for improving your nonfiction writing results—or any results—in the New Year involves taking an accounting of the past year. However, while this exercise has you write down everything you did, successes and failures included, you pay particular attention to your successes. In other words, you determine what’s working and what isn’t. Then you focus on what IS working.
Therefore, this week’s writing prompt revolves around putting this strategy to use as you complete your nonfiction writing planning for the coming year. You’ve already envisioned your best possible (or positive) self and you’ve set goals. Hopefully, you’ve also created a business plan for yourself and possibly even worked on branding. Now it’s time to hone all of this a bit more by seeing if you can create more of what already brings you the most success in your nonfiction writing business or work.
Nonfiction Writing Prompt #3: Focus on What’s Working
To complete this prompt, first make a list of all the different nonfiction-writing-related jobs you took on or task you did this past year. You can keep this narrow and only list articles, essays, blogs, and books, for example. Or you can go wide and include related projects, such as programs created on the topics of your books, speaking, or coaching and consulting.
Make three additional columns, one labeled “Income,” one labeled “Working?” and one labeled “On Purpose?” Next, evaluate how much money you made with each task, if you feel (based on the income you earned) the task worked well for you as a nonfiction writer, and if the job had some other valuable purpose. The last column is important; sometimes writers must take on tasks or jobs to help build author platform, for example, and these may not bring in income immediately, but they are necessary and “on purpose.” They help you build your nonfiction writing business in some manner.
My chart might look something like this:
With your chart completed, you need to evaluate which activities have worked the best for you. Which ones have brought in the most income? And which ones also are on purpose? These are working! Focus more energy and time on these next year.
In a comment below, tell me what you discovered from this exercise and what you plan to focus on this coming year so you become a more successful nonfiction writer.
What to Do About What Isn’t Working
As part of this exercise, you surely discovered activities that don’t appear to work for you (that don’t earn you any income or very little income) but that have a strong purpose in the overall scheme of your business plan. Think carefully about them to discern if they eventually will add to your nonfiction writing business. For example, although the teleseminars and webinar I conduct don’t earn any money, they feed my email lists and promote my courses, which do create income. They work and are on purpose. I actually could do more of them so I could increase how much money I earn from my courses. I also could conduct more of them and charge for some.
If there is something in your business that isn’t working at all—that isn’t producing income and that isn’t on purpose, consider dropping it from your activities altogether in the new year. Don’t focus any time or attention on it. Or, if you can’t do that, get help with that task. For instance, you might hire a virtual assistant to help with your email or social networking. I’ve definitely considered that, and I hope to be able to afford to do so soon.
What You Focus On Expands
What you focus on expands, which means you will create more of whatever you put your attention on. You may think this sounds too woo woo and “out there,” but the most successful business people I know use this principle. In fact, the most successful people I know use this principle in their lives. And one of the most successful books I edited Enlightened Leadership: Getting to the Heart of Change, has this lesson at its core. It has gone on to sell over 300,000 copies to date.
If you enjoyed this nonfiction writing prompt, as well as Nonfiction Writing Prompt #1 and #2, keep your eyes open for something new coming in 2014: Nonfiction Writer’s University! More information to come soon…