Monday, January 25, 2010

Step 5: Circles Within Circles--Your Influence

I must apologize for my absence. I finished my book 2 revisions for 13 to Life, am working through book 3 and have a short story prequel due (plus other stuff). But let's get refocused, shall we? ;-)

Part of what tends to make us frustrated is forgetting that some things are simply beyond our control. We can influence many things in life, but not all. Realizing where that boundary is will help you set achievable goals (and stay happier, too).

This does NOT mean accepting or embracing a phrase/philosophy like "It is what it is." NO. Many, many things in life are exactly what we make them or allow them to be and we attract things to us by being either proactive or reactive.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey mentions our circle of influence versus our circle of concern. We may be concerned about getting a publishing contract but we have to consider (and focus on) the things we CAN do to get closer to achieving the goal of publication. These are the things we have direct influence on--generally because they relate to our perception of our world, the way we process that perception and the habits we hold to as a result.

Below you'll see a modified circle of influence. The center shows the things I influence in my writing life (there are a few more, but those are good ones for this example). Any hey, they're things you control in your writing life, too.

The outer circle or "The World" shows things we really have no control over. Different economies and emerging target audiences desire different books (and different numbers of books). Different agents, editors and publishing house have different response times and different pay scales. Heck, the postal service even has control we writers don't--believe me, I know!

So we have a choice. Waste our time and energy on things we can't influence or control, or focus on the things we can. These are differences between proactive and reactive personalities, in case you didn't know (but I expect you did). It's very important when you're setting your long and short term goals to be realistic about the things you do control and the things you don't.

Think about it for a minute...

Can you control the date a story or book sells by? No. That's based on market projections, trends, the publishing houses and the economy. NOT your circle of influence.

Can you control how much money you make from a book or the rights you retain? Only to an extent. You may have expectations of what you'd like to see or get from a contract, and if the offer's not made that reaches your expectations you can certainly walk out on the deal (that's within your circle of influence--your control). But will you have met your monetary aspirations (or goal of being published--although there are many paths to publication nowadays) by walking out on it without a better deal in place? Probably not at that point. See?

So think about the things in your writing and creative life you can control and the things you really can't. You'll need to be able to identify the difference between them before setting your goals.

Wednesday--Goals: The Long and The Short of It

See ya then!
~Shannon

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