5 secrets to harness the power of your calendar

If you’ve got a calling (a Big Dream, vision, goal, or project) that you’re not getting to — put it on your calendar.

Simply scheduling time for the thing you SAY is important to you is how to make it happen.

(And by the way, this is true even if your project is getting clear on what your big project IS.)

Here are 5 secrets you may not be aware of when it comes to the power of your calendar and how you use it.

Secret #1: Commitment isn’t enough.

Simply deciding to do something and hoping it will happen doesn’t fly. Yes, it’s important to DECIDE and COMMIT — but you also have to actually do it.

Show me the money, baby!

There’s far too much talking about what we want, and what we’re going to do (or why we can’t and it’s too hard). At the end of the day, doing it is what counts. 

Put it on your calendar.

Secret #2: “Your calendar never lies.”

. . . as Tom Peters says in his essay, “Pursuing Excellence” in the inspiring compilation book End Malaria, piloted by Michael Bungay Stainer.

What you SAY is important versus what you actually DO is telling about where you’re focusing your energy and setting your priorities.

If you want to learn to paint, for instance, you’ll need to make time for it. If you say that business development is key to moving forward with your creative entrepreneurialism, you’ve got to make a concerted effort to make that happen. If you want to write, you must make it a priority in your life and on your calendar.

If you’re not scheduling time for it, you’re not serious about making it happen. At least not yet.

Look at your calendar and see how it reflects your priorities — or not.

Secret #3: Make a divine appointment with yourself.

There’s something miraculous about scheduling time on your calendar for something important — it’s like making a sacred appointment with yourself. If you don’t show up, there’s a nagging sense inside that you’re supposed to be doing something else.

While nagging might generally not be a good thing, when it comes to your soul pestering you about fulfilling your divine calling, I’m okay with that.

Use your calendar as a tool to help you to get back on track with what you were put here to do.

Secret #4: Learn from what you don’t do as well as what you do.

When you don’t show up, you learn something about yourself and your project. You can test your commitment and ask, “Is this something I truly want to do, or is it something I think I should be doing?”

If it’s the latter, it’s time to reevaluate. A true calling is never a should.

If it’s the former, treat your lack of action as information and explore what would make it easier next time. Take a look and see where and how you’ve scheduled it — is it in the right place on your calendar? Is there something you’re doing beforehand that’s spilling over?

For example, I’ve learned that I have to write first before I do anything else. I’ve also learned that I have to go to the gym on the way home from taking my kid to school, or it’s never going to happen. This is about smart scheduling.

Pay attention to what’s working and what’s not — then make adjustments to make it easier.

Secrets #5: Discipline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I know I look disciplined to the outside world, writing weekly blog posts, consistently offering classes and programs, and screenwriting regularly. I gotta tell you, it isn’t discipline.

It’s a weirdly fascinating combination of calendared deadlines that are publicly announced and an inner knowing that unless I say I’m going to do something and make time for it, it ain’t gonna happen. I also make it much harder NOT to do it than it is to do it. More on that next time.

Use your calendar to inspire you to take action. 

Your turn

Share your thoughts. I always love to hear from you.

Warmly,

 Jenna

 

Coming Attractions

~> June 5th. My Spotlight Study Group completes. I’ve heard that there’s interest out there from others in participating in such a group — if that’s you, please email us to be notified about when/if I offer it again.

~> June 7th. Last day to register for the next 4-week session of my “Just Do The Writing” Accountability Circle. This is for writers who want help staying on track and consistent about doing their writing, day in and day out. http://JustDoTheWriting.com

 

What I'm Up To

~> Ongoing. Mentoring with screenwriter Chris Soth through ScreenwritingU. Working away on a new project before I tackle the rewrite of my first one.

~> Fall. Heading to Hollywood for a ScreenwritingU event to meet with producers and agents.

~> Sacred writing time. Early mornings and Fridays.

~> In between shows and books right now. I think I have Sex and the City: The Movie and Another Earth hanging around to be watched, but Scott Myers has me interested in watching (500) Days of Summer. So we’ll see what happens next. :)

 

 

 

What are the hallmarks of a serious writer?

I recently read a wonderful article on ScriptMag.com by John Buchanan called, “Work Habits of the Pros,” that inspired this post.

1. Write consistently.

A serious writer knows that writing regularly and consistently is key to their future success.

Buchanan’s article cites screenwriter Craig Mazin (The Hangover II, Scary Movie 3, Scary Movie 4) as saying, “Work habits are as important as talent. You can’t really make it with just half of the equation. The basis for a long career is to be able to have some modicum of talent, but to have a good work ethic.”

From the same article, Pamela Gray (A Walk on the Moon, Music of the Heart, Conviction), says, “It’s more important for me to write for 15 minutes a day, six days a week, than to write for five hours on Monday and not work again until the following Monday.”

Surprisingly, it’s much, much easier to write in short “sprints” on a day basis than it is to find big massive chunks of time to write. The principle here is consistent, regular writing in small bite-sized pieces.

Many writers believe that they require a lot of time to “gear up” into writing mode, but interestingly enough, when your work stays fresh in your mind with daily writing, it only takes moments to get back into it.

2. Know how to navigate the sticky waters of the inner side of writing.

Writing is a tricky business.

Also from Buchanan’s article, Craig Mazin says, “…writing is a hard thing to do. It seems as simple as tapping on a keyboard, but it’s not. It’s difficult, both emotionally and physically,” and “[There’s] a whole other level of coping mechanisms you have to have, or quickly attain, just to keep yourself sane and writing.”

I recommend that writers objectively consider the negative messages they’re telling themselves about their writing on a daily basis, and then positively reframe those messages.

Although it might seem a little daunting to confront those inner demons head on, there’s a great deal of power in taking a clear look at what you’re telling yourself. We don’t often do so, and it’s usually a bunch of malarkey. Pausing to truly pay attention takes the power away from those harsh thoughts that are ultimately getting you nowhere.

3. Realize you’re in it for the long haul.

Not only is a serious writing project like a book, novel or screenplay a lengthy undertaking, it’s worth thinking of it as a marathon, as Erik Bork does (From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers).

As such, pacing yourself is key. Don’t press yourself so hard or set such high and unrealistic goals that you burn yourself out. 

And not only do you have your current big project on the hook, a serious writer usually has a library of projects she’s working on. So it’s not just NOW; it’s about building a habit that works in the long term.

Look to find your natural stride and stick with it — you might even get a second wind.

What would you add to this list?

Do you consider yourself a serious writer? What would you add to this list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

“The Writer’s Circle is perfect for anyone who has the dream to write but somehow never gets down to it.”

“If you have trouble finding time to write, this is for you. If you’re skeptical, try it for a month. What I love most about the Writer’s Circle is the support of everyone and their massive attacks on my self-doubts.  The telephone calls are extremely inspiring and I appreciate having to report every day and set goals. I feel much more committed to writing daily and pressing on to finish the first draft of my novel — I wrote almost 20,o000 words of my novel in just 3 sessions. I am more able to put aside doubts that can stop me and I’m better at setting priorities so the writing gets done. I would say this is perfect for anyone who has the dream to write but somehow never gets down to it. It works if you commit yourself to reporting in every day and doing some writing just about every day. If I can just keep it going, I’ll be very happy. Building up confidence takes time.”
~ Fredrica Parlett, Writer and Pianist