1 September 2015
Note From Rochelle
When I go back-to-school shopping with the kids, it’s tempting to fill the cart with products to help me be a more organized writer! But over the years, I’ve discovered that the perfect notebook, calendar, or pen doesn’t really add to my writing success. As a business owner and freelance writer, one of the best back-to-school gifts I’ve given myself is time away from my desk to dream and plan. Today’s tip talks about that key tool for writing success—balcony space. Enjoy!
Rochelle, the Write Now! Coach
Business leaders have to be able to view patterns as if they were on a balcony. It does them no good to be swept into the field of action. —Ron Heifetz and Donald Laurie, The Work of Leadership in Harvard Business Review (December 2001)
Balcony space happens when we set aside the large and tiny tasks of our day, let go of the emotional dramas that threaten to overwhelm us, and climb up to the metaphoric balcony, where we can get a better view of the whole. From the balcony, we can see the patterns of both our writing and our life. From that view, we can decide what works, what doesn’t work, and how we might make positive changes.
For me, balcony space creates the space and energy I need to ask questions, dream up possibilities, and discover solutions.
As a writer and writing coach, I try to make time for balcony space every quarter. Often, I can only manage to get a way for an afternoon—but spending just two hours on higher ground can teach me something valuable. This time of year is perfect for balcony time because it’s filled with both the energy of new beginnings (School!) and the urgency of endings (Eek! The year’s almost over!).
If you’re a professional writer or wannabe, you will be more successful if you regularly examine your writing career from the balcony. Here’s how:
Step One: Get out of the space where you regularly work. Find a place where you are away from your day-to-day life (and won’t be interrupted)—a coffee shop, library, park, restaurant, art museum, or spa.
Step Two: Get a big-picture view of your work.
+Review goals. Write down or review all of the goals you set for this year and the plans that you made to accomplish them. These questions might help:
*What were your goals for your writing career?
*What writing projects did you hope to finish by the end of the year?
*How much money did you expect to make from your writing this year?
*What other writing related tasks did you plan to take on (e.g., writing workshops, reading, research, and so forth)?
*What sort of a plan did you set up to help you meet your goal?
+Compare your goals with your daily schedule and writing products. Use these questions to reflect:
*How have you been spending your time?
*Do your daily actions match up with your goals?
*What work have you produced so far this year?
*Are you making satisfactory progress on meeting your income and writing project goals?
*If not, what other projects have emerged as priorities for your work?
*Are there any energy drains or unexpected commitments that have taken up your time?
+Reevaluate. For some of you, your actions will match the goals you set at the beginning of the year. Congrats! For many of us, though, we will need to reevaluate our goals and how we spend our time so that we can get back on track. Ask yourself:
*What goals do I want to accomplish before the year ends?
*What am I doing that is working?
*What am I doing that is not working?
*What do I need to do differently in order to meet my goals?
*How will I put this plan into action?
*How will I know if I am achieving my goals?
Step Three: Implement the new practices you created while on the balcony.
In order to benefit from balcony space, we need to let go of our old habits and invest in new practices. That can be tough. Most of us are pretty attached to our daily routine, and it often takes courage and a big kick in the pants to change. Now that you have been to the balcony, you know what you need to do. So do it!
A Final Note I hope your time on the balcony is fruitful for you. If it is, leave a comment below and let us know:
*Where you went for balcony space.
*What helped you get a new view.
*What changes you made or will make because of it.
About the author. Write Now! Coach Rochelle Melander is an author, a certified professional coach, and a popular speaker. Melander has written ten books including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). As the Write Now! Coach, she teaches professionals how to write books fast, get published, and connect with readers through social media. Get your free subscription to her Write Now! Tips Ezine at https://www.writenowcoach.com.