The Practice of Anticipation
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
Writers have a variety of goals and plans which need to be completed. Often these goals have deadlines or deadlines are created for their completion. In various areas of my writing life, I practice anticipation. Years ago, I wrote to do lists and crossed off items as I complete them. I don't do this practice any longer and believe it is a waste of time (for me—maybe not for you).
I have many different areas of my writing life in motion: writing new material, acquiring new authors at Morgan James Publishing, emailing and calling authors who have received contracts and never signed, marketing my own books, adding people to my email subscribers, maintaining my social media and engaging with responses—actually the list is long and endless but this gives you some ideas of what I am anticipating and practicing each week.
Let's use these blog entries as an example. Years ago, I decided to write one new blog article a week and post it here. Currently I have over 1500 entries in The Writing Life. If you are not a subscriber to my weekly here is where you can subscribe. Each week I reach many people with this single article but I have to produce something every week. To complete it, I practice anticipation.
As I see an idea or something to write about, I will often open an file, create a headline and begin to write some thoughts—even if in a rough outline format. This process captures the idea for use—even if I don't use it immediately.
Throughout the week, I am aware of my need to have an article for my blog. As I get a few minutes here and there, I work on crafting the article. I post my article early on a Sunday morning and it goes out to my subscribers early in the morning on Monday. I created this pattern or system years ago and people expect to see something on these timeframes. Sometimes with my schedule, I finish the article at the last minute but I'm consistent in this process (an important aspect).
Each of these articles have some elements which I've created. The article includes links to other resources which I have created over the years or links to other writing resources I've discovered. The article include a royalty-free photo at the top. I use this photo for on-going promotion through social media—sometimes years after I have created it. As other portions of this process, I have created a system or process which is done almost automatically and works for me. Your system will be different but you need to think about it and create one.
Also these articles are a planned length or word count of about 400 to 700 words. This length is intentional since it is the normal blog article length. If it is shorter, there isn't enough substance and if it is longer, people may not read all of it. Do you have a projected article length for your blog when you write it?
Finally for the last several years I've been including a ClickToTweet at the bottom of my article. I can see from social media use that people use this tool to pass on my article to their audience. It's a consistent pattern and part of my articles.
Do you practice anticipation in your writing life? Or are you still making to do lists and crossing them off throughout your day? Let me know in the comments below.