Monthly Archives: April 2018

Celebrate Your Success!

Last week I talked about the importance of celebrating others’ successes. It’s part of building a supportive community of writers.

That means you have to let people know when you have a success, too.

After years of trying to sell my screenplay to a major company, imagining it produced with major stars and being released in theaters, making me rich and famous, my first sale went directly to television, with some known actors. It did not make me rich or famous. I looked at it as another step closer to paying all the bills through my writing.

“Your movie went to television. You may never meet another writer who can say that.”

Reality check from another screenwriter, who’s produced his own films. It wasn’t as flashy as I’d always imagined, but it was still a success – a pretty big one.

The same holds true when you’ve been targeting the major markets with your stories or essays for years and a university press publishes one of your stories and you’re paid in copies. It’s still recognition, validation of your skill as a writer. It’s success.

Celebrate with your fellow writers.

Sheri2012RGB2inch

www.sherimcguinn.com
www.amazon.com/author/sherimcguinn

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Celebrating Success – Not Yours

I don’t remember exactly why he was at a table talking to the authors pitching their scripts, but I remember what the successful screenwriter said:

I don’t even like writing. It’s just such an easy way to make lots of money.

I may use that line some day as the spark that pushes a desperate writer over the edge into violence. Personally, I refrained from choking the life out of him. I don’t begrudge him his success, but his attitude infuriated me. I love writing. It’s selling it that’s hard.

However, in general, it’s important to celebrate the successes others have, even when they seem to fall into it. Our Gold Country Writers have a member who didn’t really want to write a book, but over a period of decades it evolved. The unique story caught the attention of someone who passed it to a major producer, who decided it would make a great film and optioned it. Sure, there was a twinge of jealousy when I first heard this, but every writer who succeeds is an example that it can happen.

I went to her website. While she made it sound like this all just fell into her lap, the full story showed me something different. The initial contact may have been luck, but, without consciously planning to create anything, she gave the initial contact time out of her busy live over a period of decades. Then when she decided to write a book about it, she planned and executed a great deal of research to provide the full, unique, story. Then she did a good job writing and promoting the book so it’s not surprising it caught the attention of someone in the film industry.

While luck is always part of success, usually there’s a long history of work behind it. So smile and offer genuine congratulations to others when it’s their turn.

Sheri2012RGB2inch

www.sherimcguinn.com
www.amazon.com/author/sherimcguinn

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Give Yourself Credit

Where did you go to school? What did you study? What clubs did you join? Were you an officer or some other kind of leader of any group?

Did you do any volunteer work through your school? through your church? through any other organization? on your own? What did you do? What did that involve? Who was helped? Who else was involved?

List every single thing you’ve ever been paid to do – babysitting, lawn mowing, errand-running? a part time sales job for an event? your first job? your current job? What did you actually do in each of those jobs? Not just the title, the actions you took each day.

What hobbies do you have? What skills do those involve? Do you do them with others?

Now stop and think about the personal relationships you have. How do others see you? What do you do that makes their lives better?

What recognition have you received in any of these areas? Awards, letters, verbal thanks, hugs from happy kids you’ve helped?

What have you created along the way? a school paper? a trim yard? a satisfied customer? a book? a safe place for someone?

When I used to teach people how to build resumes, by the time they answered all these questions, they realized they had a lot more to offer than they’d thought. Give yourself credit for your experience and achievements, especially when you’re selling your work or applying for a job. It’s an essential piece of marketing.

It’s not always easy to blow your own horn – you don’t want to be a braggart. But when you’re trying to sell a piece of your work, people will slow down and take a closer look if you’ve mentioned previous sales or awards in your cover letter. If you’re fortunate enough to have a lot of credits, choose the most applicable to the work you’re pitching and offer a link to your full resume.

This is really good advice – I need to remind myself to follow it regularly!

Sheri2012RGB2inch

www.sherimcguinn.com
www.amazon.com/author/sherimcguinn

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Setting Priorities

My datebook’s a mess. I’ve been tracking what I do every day so I know where I’m spending time. It all goes onto a weekly chart that I’m sharing with a accountability writing buddy. What I’ve found is I slide off into unplanned activities and spend too much time on things that aren’t really that important.

So the tracking has been a good thing. While I’ve accomplished a lot the last three months (see last week’s Quarterly Report), the tracking records show that I could be using my time more effectively.

Enter the new experiment – or is it old? I sat down this morning and made a traditional four-box matrix for my writing activities. In case you have no clue what I’m talking about, this is what it looks like:

Urgent Not Urgent
Primary Importance  1  3
Secondary  2  4

Of course, you can louse this up by putting too many things in the urgent & important box, which leads to feeling overwhelmed to the point nothing gets done.

I’ve used this matrix for each of the next few months. For example, consider developing materials for the workshop I’m teaching in June (Self-Publishing for Educators, at Sierra Community College). This is of Primary Importance, because this is the first workshop I’m teaching in this area and I’ll be judged by it. However, the class is at the end of June. So in April, that will be in the upper right-hand box (3), Primary Importance but Not Urgent. In May, I’ll move it into the upper left-hand box, Primary and Urgent (1). In April, I may work on it, but only after April’s Primary/Urgent matters are addressed.

Secondary tasks may be urgent, like getting the reading done for critique groups, or secondary and non-urgent, like making sure I get some exercise in each day. The things in the secondary/urgent box (2) will be scheduled on a timely basis, but won’t replace taking care of items in (1). The items in secondary/non-urgent (4) will get some attention throughout the week, but they’ll be slipped in between the items in the other three boxes.

This clarification of priorities makes it easy to decide what needs to be done when. On days I have a lot of meetings, I’ll knock off some of the secondary items. When I’m home all day, I’ll focus on something of primary importance that needs to be done urgently.

I’ll still use my datebook as a tracking device, noting what I’m doing during the day, but the only thing getting penciled in ahead of time will be meetings. The weekly chart will still go to my accountability buddy. But hopefully it will reflect more time spent on the most important things.

Sheri2012RGB2inchwww.sherimcguinn.com
www.amazon.com/author/sherimcguinn

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