Are you in control of your life? Or do you let life control you?
You may have expected a blog on writing craft from me. But this time, I decided to use my psychological expertise to help you take charge of your writing life.
Many people let the negatives control their lives. They take their black cloud of doom with them everywhere. You know those writers. Shh… No names.
The horse is riding them—and they don’t even try to climb back on and ride that horse.
They think that due to negative circumstances, they can’t reach their goals, can’t have writing success.
Others realize they are in charge of their lives, in spite of the negatives. They ride the horse—take the reins, control where they are going.
I’m awed by Helen Keller. How many of us could face severe adversity with such courage and grace?
Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Helen Keller.
One cannot consent to creep when one has an impulse to soar.
Wow. Talk about riding the damn horse.
How can you ride the horse?
Your life consists of what you do each day, each hour, each minute.
When you put yourself in charge of chunks of your day, you’re in charge of your writing life.
Consider my Winner and Super Star Lists.Cue the drum roll.
WINNER AND SUPER STAR LISTS
Keep reading. No skimming!
My Winner and Super Star Lists are way cooler than To Do Lists.
Creating WINNER and SUPER STAR lists every day will boost your productivity and boost your mood.
WINNER LIST items are things you know you can complete in the block of time you have available that morning, afternoon, and/or evening.
They are DOABLE in the time you have allotted. Doable.
Don’t go all delusional. Don’t load your list with things that would take eight hours and expect to accomplish them in two.
You can’t put everything you need to do, or everything you want to do, on one Winner list.
For a 3-hour block, my WINNER list could have these two items:
But – Super Star items don’t always move to the Winner List right away. It depends on deadlines and priorities.
It’s important to keep assessing your needs. Do what needs to come next, not what you’d rather do.
If you have several chunks of writing-focused time in your day, make a WINNER list for each chunk of time. Revise as needed as you go through your day.
Did you quit your writing task to answer the phone? Make a call? Do laundry? Declutter a room? Check e-mail?
Did you waste 25 minutes supposedly fixing a cup of tea, but you really did five other housey-things or time-wasters too?
SUPER STAR LISTS
SUPER STAR LIST items are the things you’d like to do AFTER you’ve completed your WINNER LIST.
If you complete your WINNER list in less than your allotted block of time – you have the remaining time to start a Super Star item.
You must COMPLETE THE WINNER LIST FIRST.
NO LIST HOPPING.
Here’s where people set themselves up to fail. They make awesome lists, then item-hop, or list-hop, or never look at the list again.
YIKES! They do what they’d rather do instead of what they need to do to succeed.
You may make WINNER and SUPER STAR lists for your week or weekend also. I call those long ones Master Winner and Master Super Star lists.
But always make a short WINNER list for each block of time. Blocks can range from a half hour to three hours.
Winner Lists keep you accomplishing your goals. You succeed. You stay motivated.
If you create a 53-item mega-list, you may be so overwhelmed, you lose your day to NetFlicks.
Other items will try to sneak on one of those lists.
Do not go on autopilot and slap it on a WINNER or SUPER STAR list. It may belong on one of those lists, or not.
Maybe it belongs on a third list–the MAYBE List.
MAYBE you’ll do it, MAYBE you won’t.
No snickering. This is an important list!
Put that item on the MAYBE List. You won’t lose the idea.
MAYBE you’ll put it on one of your real lists (Winner of Super Star) the next week.
MAYBE you’ll look at that item next week and realize it should be on a list for three months from now, after your book is completed.
Start that AFTER MY BOOK IS COMPLETED list. Don’t lose a good idea.
Creating Winner and Super Star Lists should become as automatic as buckling your seat belt.
Create those lists every day, and you’ll be in control of your life. You’ll be riding your horse, and you won’t get thrown off.
I’ll digress. But the story below is all about staying on track.
My husband’s a private pilot. Years ago on a family vacation in Florida, he broke some ribs surfing. But we had to fly out the next day. A hurricane was expected to strike the coast that afternoon.
Since my husband was in pain from his broken ribs, it was up to me, non-pilot me, to do some of the easy-breezy flying from Florida to the mid-west while he tried not to move.
I’d flown single engine planes before for hours at a time. Flying was easy and fun. I maintained speed and altitude, switched fuel tanks every 30 minutes, checked for air traffic, and followed a railroad track.
I was happy about following a railroad track. So much easier than navigating with the fancy avionics.
I told myself I could fly the plane. I enjoyed flying. It was a fun challenge. And — I didn’t have to land.
I didn’t focus on the negatives. I didn’t catastrophize.
If I needed help, I had the expert sitting next to me. He could take the controls anytime I woke him up.
I had fun flying and followed the railroad track. No problems.
A couple of hours later I read a water tower that named a town I wasn’t supposed to be near. I was 200 miles off course.
I’d followed the wrong railroad track.
Follow the right tracks. Don’t get off course.
Winner and Super Star Lists help you stay on track every day. Keep your Winner Lists doable for that block of time, and you’ll accomplish your daily goals. And weekly goals. And monthly goals.
You’ll ride that horse, you won’t let it ride you.
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