You stand a better chance of writing success if you know your current writing project contributes to your long-term plans and priorities. There is always a more exciting and enticing project on the horizon, making it easy to get distracted or drop one project for another. That’s why it’s so important to pause and make sure what you’re working on is moving you toward your goals.
Prioritize What You’re Doing
It’s important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing and be clear about the benefits of achieving the goals you set. While it’s easy to rush and start doing, you need to take time to check that the activities you are engaged in contribute to your overall mission and vision.
If you haven’t already set priorities, here are some steps for creating parameters to work within:
- Set your Mission: What timeless single sentence captures the reason you’re doing what you’re doing?
- Set your Vision: What does your long-term view of success look like. H how do you plan on getting there in the next two to five years?
- Set your Goals: What do you want to achieve this year (in the next 12 months)?
- Develop your Action Plan: What daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly tasks do you need to schedule to achieve your goals?
We don’t all plan the same way. Some authors use their strategic vision to create a big picture of their plan. In contrast, others are very detail-oriented and gravitate towards creating task lists. Whichever approach you prefer, you must know your mission and vision to create your goals and action plan.
Here’s an example of my mission and vision for my Birds of a Feather Press activities.
- My Mission: I’m establishing my subject matter expertise in the travel writing arena to help travel writers and travel bloggers become self-published authors.
- My Vision: I’m creating a broad selection of content that helps my target audience achieve their goals and develop passive income streams to support my nomadic lifestyle. My content includes books, blog posts, podcasts, online courses, and personal coaching.
Stay the Course
There are all sorts of passion projects I’d like to be working on. For instance, I’ve been messing around with a memoir for the longest time. But, because this project doesn’t support my mission or vision, I push it to the bottom of the list.
Using your mission and vision to set your goals and develop your action plan provides the flexibility to do top-down or bottom-up planning. At a basic level, top-down starts with the broad strokes and gets detailed, whereas bottom-up moves from detailed to broad.
I’m a firm top-down planner. First, I set my broad goals and then create detailed lists of tasks I need to complete to reach the individual goals.
- My Publishing Goals: I’m publishing the updated version of my Turkey Travel Guide ebook and releasing it in paperback for the first time; I’m publishing an ebook and paperback of my Cambodia Travel Guide. (I’m also setting a stretch goal of researching information I need for a third travel guide.)
I’ve got friends who prefer to brainstorm different tasks and then cluster them into groups to create their annual goals.
Neither approach is right or better; it just depends on your style of organization.
Do Work that Supports Your Mission
Whenever I get sidetracked by a shiny ball activity, I ask myself whether it supports my mission or helps me achieve my vision. Clarity about what you’re working toward is the difference between an author who writes for pleasure and an author who uses their books to establish expertise, build a brand, and grow an audience. Which one are you?
In a previous article about bringing new energy and excitement to last year’s writing project, I unveiled how unmotivated I was about finishing my Cambodia Travel Guide. I’ve already published a couple of destination travel guides, and writing another boosts my subject matter expertise (mission). So, I looked at why I’d lost inspiration for a project I’d poured so much effort into.
I realized I could get re-invigorated to write if I changed the scope. So now it’s part travel guide, part travelogue, which clearly supports my mission. Plus, it will include our volunteering activities and the joys and challenges of budget backpacking with my husband for the first time after nearly two decades of marriage. This existing project feels fresh and new because I’m taking it in a new direction. Plus, it fits into my long-term plan and priorities.
How to Stay Motivated
Is there a project you didn’t finish last year because you lost your motivation? If so, run it through these filters:
Does it support your mission or contribute to your vision?
- If no, then it’s time to put that project on hold.
- If yes, find out why you’re unmotivated about finishing it, and see how you can change your attitude. Can you align it with your vision or goals?
Is there a strong enough reason for seeing the project through? Will it help you accomplish your goals?
Is fear holding you back? Or is it too large a project for you to attempt in your knowledge or expertise at this stage?
Generate Enthusiasm for Your Writing Project
Writing is hard work. If you’re not passionate about your topic, your lack of enthusiasm will show up on your page. You need to be enthused and motivated to write. If you’re not, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your goals and switch to a project you can embrace wholeheartedly because it is part of your mission and vision.
If you haven’t taken time to set your mission and vision, it’s like starting out on a journey to a new destination without a map or SatNav and then wondering why you keep getting lost.
I have my mission and vision written out on an index card in plain view on my desk. When I’m traveling, I tape it to my laptop. It’s a constant reminder about where I’m heading. It’s a simple map to make sure I stay on the right road.
What challenges have you faced when trying to stay focused on the right priorities? Let us know in the comments below. Also, please share this on social media, so we can help others reach their writing goals.
About the Author
Jay Artale abandoned her corporate career to become a digital nomad and full-time writer. She’s an avid blogger and a nonfiction author helping travel writers and travel bloggers achieve their self-publishing goals. Join her at Birds of a Feather Press where she shares tips, advice, and inspiration to writers with an independent spirit.
Do you want to learn more about becoming a nonfiction author? Check out the Nonfiction Writers’ University. Get the education and coaching to help you succeed as a nonfiction writer. Take advantage of monthly live group author coaching, and gain access to an extensive archive of educational resources, like interviews with experts, challenges, homework assignments, courses, and ebooks. If you’ve wanted one place to go for all your nonfiction writing and publishing needs, this is it. And if you’ve wished you could purchase Nina Amir’s best courses or hire her as your author coach, now you can…for a small monthly investment. Enjoy a 30-day trial membership for only $1.