19 Sep What’s your Disney?
Sometimes it’s hard to prioritise. Out of all the things you could be doing right now, is sitting down to do your writing or your creative project the best thing you could do?
I’ve certainly been grappling with this issue. At the beginning of the year, to help me focus, I read The One Thing by Gary Keller. This poses the questions: What’s the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
As you all know, my writing residency in July really helped me recommit to my current novel. Keen to maintain that momentum since coming back to Australia, I’ve been listening to The One Thing podcast and stripping away as many extra projects or commitments as I can. I’m essentially having a business spring clean and I keep asking myself that question as a way to keep me on track.
So, what’s the connection with Disney?
Walt Disney drew this pretty crazy mind map in 1957 and it was recently discovered in the Disney archives. Essentially, it shows his One Thing: Theatrical Films. Out of that single creative output he had a vision for all the other spinoffs that it could generate:
– Merchandise licensing
– Walt Disney magazine.
He knew that through his films, he could build an entire empire. And this is precisely what he did. But he had to have the raw material to make that happen.
For us creators, it’s the same principle. Today, if you write one book, it has multiple licensing opportunities — such as audio or digital — especially if you hold on to as many rights as possible. One book can become a platform, it can open doors, it can connect you to new networks. But you have to have completed the book first, that’s the catch.
And for that to happen you need to prioritise. We have 12 weeks until Christmas… yup, I know. Scary. Here’s a challenge for you to use this time to get clear on what’s really important to you — and keep your eye on the end game.
Claire’s 5 top Focusing Tips
1. Time block: this means you block out time for your One Most Important Thing. It might be that you can only block out 15 minutes a day to write. Or you just block out time for yourself to be creative in any way you choose. But it’s as sacred as going out to dinner with your best friend and as much of a priority as a work deadline. To keep me inspired, I’ve got a calendar on my wall and I put gold stars on every day that I’ve worked on my novel. Cheesy but oh so satisfying.
2. Clutter clear: my office space hasn’t been working for me for a while. I found that I could no longer write there because I associated it with my business and seeing clients. I’ve now re-organised the room so I have one desk only for writing and one desk for my Wordstruck consultancy. I’ve stopped seeing clients in there for now so I can feel completely free to create and make it my personal space. So far, so good.
3. Create 2 logins on your computer: this is so simple, yet so effective. I work on a Mac and it’s possible to have two logins to the computer. One is for my business, with email and all my other apps. The other is ‘Author Claire’ and only has Scrivener and my music. I can’t access my emails from it and now when I login, my brain automatically knows I’m going into writing mode. This is a gem.
4. Make rituals: our brain works well if it knows what it’s going to do. The more you can train yourself that every Wednesday morning you’ll be focused on your One Thing; or first thing in the morning before you get out of bed you’ll journal for 15 minutes, the more you cement the habit. This dovetails nicely with time blocking — you put a date in the diary for yourself AND you keep to it.
5. Learn to say no: in order to succeed, people often think we have to say yes – to everything. Actually, we need to say no – a lot. Steve Jobs knew this.
He was as famously proud of all the products he didn’t pursue as of the products Apple did create. Two years after his return in 1997, he took the company from 350 products to ten. That’s 340 nos, not counting all the other ones we don’t know about.
At the 1997 MacWorld Developers Conference, Jobs, explained, ‘When you think about focusing, you think, “Well, focusing is saying yes.” No! Focusing is about saying no.’
Over to you, what are you going to create between now and Christmas Eve?