The Writer, after accepting my “Power of Five” article in Quill, asked me to cut down the original from 1100 words to 700 words so it'd fit on one page, initially a chore but once I started chopping, the article vastly improved. It’s punchier, to the point and a timely “action” reminder for Leap Year. This idea came out of another Quill article "Small Increments, Big Results" that I wrote back in 2009, a good example of how one article can lead to another and then lead to another.
More importantly, the moment I sent this revised article off, I sent out five other articles/ideas to other editors and I plan to submit five more today after this blog. As I wrote in the article “Enthusiasm . . . breeds discipline, and discipline—results.” For me, as a writer, results are publications and paychecks. But even a non-writer can benefit from the advice. Just apply it to your own needs. Good luck.
Power of Five Your Way to Success with Passion, Patience, Perseverance
"I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy,” George Burns once said, “than be a success at something I hate." This most definitely applies to writing. To increase my chances of success, I’ve been putting into practice what I call The Power of Five, adapted from Jack Canfield’s Rule of Five, whereby each workday, I try to send out at least five submissions—short stories, articles, or query letters to editors and agents.
I’m creating a new habit of marketing what I’ve written on a consistent, persistent basis. Five is all I ask. By thinking small, those Power of Five submissions have been adding up to 100 per month (or 40 if you work weekends). This is a far cry from my previous marketing habit of “whenever I get around to it”, whereby months, years would go by and hardly anything would be sent out. Now I’m excited about the Power of Five, excited by the possibilities.
Enthusiasm, by the way, breeds discipline, and discipline—results. What you sow, you reap. I try to squeeze in a few before breaking for lunch . . . or before calling it a day, especially at the end of the month. When I’m on a roll those numbers escalate. Other days can be a struggle.
Once I made the Power of Five a habit, I committed myself to doing a daily double, by also advancing a major backburner project, even if only for an hour before going to bed. By doing this day in, day out, for an entire month, every month, those months will add up to a highly productive year. That’s the goal.
The real reason I’m doing this is to face my fears (of writing and marketing) so I can tame it. You can never truly eliminate fear, but you can keep it under control (a whip and chair also helps). There’s a fine line between success and failure and that difference is often fear. We fear, on a subconscious level, both success (all that hard work to get there and the pressure to stay there) and failure (being called a loser or a washed up writer). That explains why we sometimes “drop the ball”. Why we suddenly misplace important information that’s critical to our success (a document, an email contact), or procrastinate until the last moment, thus guaranteeing a rush job, assuming we even complete it. Or we make ourselves “too busy” to get around to the important career-defining stuff.
“Look at all that work piling up—I’m way too busy to write a book!”
Busy doing what?
These are self-sabotaging actions caused by our unconscious belief system that we “don’t deserve success”, or “that we’re not good enough” or we’re afraid we’ll be “exposed as a fraud”. Who me? A best-selling, award willing writer? Ha!
Writing can be scary, but the only way to overcome fear is to face it, acknowledge it, and do what you fear—write that book, contact that agent, market your work—and have faith in your own ability.
It all begins with passion! If you don't have passion in what you do, you won't have the patience to complete it, nor the perseverance to see it through to its ultimate success. This stuff is not easy, but it is doable. For many writers it's routine. It's all about your attitude, isn't it?
Besides, on the other side of that fear, on the other side of that self-imposed brick wall, is what you really want, right? Fear never gets you anywhere. It merely holds you back, paralyzes you into inaction. So now I focus on what I want to achieve and give myself deadlines to accomplish it. I have faith that my passion, my patience, and my perseverance will see me through.
So what five submissions can you make today (or this weekend) that will take you a step closer to achieving your goals? Write it down and take immediate action. The longer you delay, the more you guarantee it won’t get done. Again, it’s that underlying fear of success/failure that’s holding you back. Do it now while the thought is there and Power of Five your way to success.
—Borneo Expat Writer
Here are links to some of my author-to-author interviews of first novelists:
Ivy Ngeow author of Cry of the Flying Rhino, winner of the 2016 Proverse Prize.
Golda Mowe author of Iban Dream and Iban Journey.
Preeta Samarasan author of Evening is the Whole Day.
Chuah Guat Eng, author of Echoes of Silence and Days of Change.
Five part Maugham and Me series
Beheaded on Road to Nationhood: Sarawak Reclaimed—Part I