Off to a slow start this year? 5 Lessons I learned from getting a late start.

lucyI had such great plans, so carefully considered and plotted. With the Christmas holidays approaching, I intended to take about ten days over the holidays to tackle some projects in the garage, around the house, in the yard. Where we live in Florida, just north of the Caloosahatchee River, the temperatures are almost always very pleasant even in what passes for winter here. So, even if it was cold (for Florida) there were things I wanted to get done inside. Once those maintenance tasks were done, then it would be back to the keyboard and the launch of a new year’s worth of objectives.

And then there was the publication of my latest book, Shadows at Moonrise Bay. I scheduled the launch just before Christmas and planned a full schedule of promotion. Wanna read the first 4 chapters free? Download your copy here.

Finishing the book seemed to unlock another burst of creativity. Within a few hours I laid out the plot lines, characters, and themes for four more novels (three set in the Caribbean, one in Portugal, the U.S., and the Bahamas) and one non-fiction book.

Next came a quick word count estimate, 60,000 words for three of the novels, 80,000 for the fourth, and 50,000 for the non-fiction book. To reach the goal of completing allprojected 310,000 words in one year I need only write 1250 words a day five days a week 50 weeks a year. Weekends off and two weeks for writing little or nothing frames out a full-time job.

Now for some, 1250 words a day may seem like a lot but most men speak 7,000 to 10,000 a day while most women speak 20,000 to 24,000 a day. So, writing 1250 is no great stretch.

I became genuinely excited at the objective. After all, none of us are getting any younger and when we have so much to say, it’s imperative to get on with it.

Then, it all came to a halt.

I know the signs because I’ve been through them before. I could tell something was not going to go well. By the day after Christmas, I had the flu and spent the better part of the next two weeks confined to the bed at worst, the house at best.

My well-laid plans and bright ideas simply stopped. 1250 words a day was impossible.

But the plans did not disappear. They merely stalled for a while.

Here are the 5 lessons I want to extract from this

  1. It’s amazing how much you can do if you’ll just do it. You can finish that project, write that book or those books, do something useful, if you’ll just do them. Most of us have paid considerable money for a giant time consumer and feed it with even more money. It’s the television and that cable or satellite hook-up. I have one too but I discovered there is a power switch that actually shuts the thing off. Others seem to be committed to a live of diversions – trips to theme parks, partying, weekend excursions, regularly scheduled programs and  whatever else. Nike does not have a lock on the admonition. Just do it.
  2. Purpose is more fun and so much more rewarding than play. I mean, leisure, recreation, and trivial pursuits have their place. In the biblical scheme of things they are allotted one day out of 7. One-seventh of the time seems about right. Sue and I live in an age qualified community. Everyone here is over 55 and most are retired. It seems there are oh so many whose lives have become increasingly isolated and diminished. Boredom is more commonplace than most will admit. Happily, there are large numbers of residents here to stay engaged with jobs, volunteering, and community service. Why, because there’s more to life, much more to life, than play. Remember the 1/7th rule. What are you doing with the other 6/7th’s?
  3. There are very few reasons why productivity and accomplishment cannot continue…unless you just quit. None of us are naïve enough to think there will not be challenges and costs, obstacles in the path. Plan for them even if you can’t see them. Be ready to adapt and quick to adjust. See #5 below.
  4. The difference between a winner and a loser is in how they play the game. Losers find plenty of rationalizations for postponing starting a project or abandoning one once they’ve begun. As an Irishman, I have a love hate relationship with the British. One thing I admire about the Brits is their sense of destiny. Winners consider themselves to be destined to win. Losers start well enough but seem to become easily defeated, quickly deflated, and readily stopped. Play to win…or don’t play at all.
  5. Delay is not defeat. So I lost a couple of weeks. The 12 year project period starts 14 days later…and ends 14 days later. As an independent publisher, I have deadlines, but I set them for myself. I have targets, but I built them. Unless you work under contract to another, you have the same options. Make adjustments when necessary but don’t simply quit. Starting late is better than quitting early.

So, how are you doing so far this year? Twelve months from today you’ll look back and either wonder what you did with those 12 months or look with wonder at what all you got done.


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