Today's post is about motivation. Last week I wrote about a simple step I learned from Extreme Productivity: Boost Your Results, Reduce Your Hours by Robert C. Pozen that made my life as an author so much easier. That step is to write in your calendar next to each task what you aim to accomplish by doing it.
Not only can doing so help you stop putting things off, as I wrote about last week, it can increase your energy and motivation.
When Short Stories Are Like Vegetables
Knowing exactly what I want to accomplish with each task gets me a lot more excited about it.
For example, while I love to write novels, I tend to put off short story writing. I just don’t enjoy it the way I do writing novels, and I don’t read as many short stories as I do books.
For me, writing a short story has always been like eating vegetables. I do it because I know it's good for me, not because I like it. (Sorry to all who love veggies, I am just not a fan.)
Reasons Are Not The Same As Purpose
Following Pozen's approach of figuring out and listing my purpose for a goal or task, I thought about why I want to write short stories.
One reason is that I know from experience that writing short stories helps hone my craft. It's easier to see what's working and isn't with the plot. I'm also more apt to focus on one character and make sure that person's motivations and growth are clear.
As important, because I don't release multiple novels a year (I'm still aiming to get to two per year), short stories can be a way to bridge the gap in between.
In that sense, short stories are a form of marketing.
Readers are reminded that the characters they remember and love from a series are out there.
Also relating to readers, it's a chance to explore side stories that don't quite fit into the novels but that add depth to the characters. Because I release the stories initially exclusively to my email subscribers, it's a sort of inside scoop that they get about the world of my Q.C. Davis mystery/suspense series and the people who live there.
With all those reasons, you'd think I'd be diving into getting those stories written. And yet, until recently, I didn't.
Because reasons are not the same as purpose.
Purpose = Energy And Motivation
Because I had all those reasons to write short stories, I dutifully reserved time in my calendar this year to write the second short story, the one I wanted to release after Book 2 (The Charming Man), which came out in December, 2018. (I wrote the first short story last year after pushing myself to do it for about 6 months.)
That task appeared on my calendar at least 2 or 3 times a month this entire year.
Yet, almost every time it was the thing that got pushed to the end of the day, then the week, then the month.
As I read Extreme Productivity, I set aside all the reasons writing short stories was a good idea and asked myself what I truly wanted to accomplish by doing it.
I realized I wanted to do something nice for my subscribers. In other words, to improve my relationship with them.
When I thought of it that way instead of feeling I was working to check off a box, I felt excited about sending my readers a gift they’d enjoy. Not only did I finish a draft in a week, I added layers and further developed the characters in ways I hadn’t thought of before.
And it was fun.
Next week I'll be sending No New Beginnings to my subscribers.
That's all for today. Until next Friday, when we’ll talk about eliminating unnecessary tasks (that you previously felt sure you needed to do)–