Best productivity advice for November

I refuse to mention the word Christmas – damn – but on this first day of November, some things do change and the year is canted toward its end. Plus you know that January is for making resolutions, February is for breaking them and March is for admitting that you actually broke them within a day and a half. November has a purpose too and it’s you.

Back in January you were under all this pressure to declare your plans for the year. Nobody’s asking you to do that in November and actually fewer people are asking you to do anything. Depending on your industry, this can be a slow time and that’s typically true of freelance writing. When you do get work in then stuff everything I’m saying to you and go do that. But when you don’t, do this instead.

Look for some new places to pitch your work. A couple of Novembers ago, I made a list of ten companies I quite liked the sound of and only one of them listened to me. But they became a major source of income, they’ve accounted for maybe a third of the money I’ve earned since then. So you can say that my list of ten was rubbish and worthless and pointless, you can say that I should’ve just gone to this lot. I definitely did say repeatedly that this was a rubbish idea as I worked through the list and nothing was happening. But I still remember the moment, sitting in a Costa Coffee, when I hesitated over whether to bother continuing.

I think that nine failures made my approach to the last lot better or at least more practised. I also think that nine failures meant I wasn’t hoping for anything with the tenth and that I therefore had a busy, an un-needy attitude in that approach. I also know that if it had taken a lot of time I wouldn’t have bothered.

Whereas I think it probably took me two hours over the course of a week to compile that list of ten places; I expect that it took me less time than that to approach them all, and it made a huge difference to my productivity for the next two years.

The trouble is that you don’t think you’ve got two hours to spare over this week. Very often you haven’t, but as we head toward the end of 2016, you’re going to find the time. And if you don’t, if you’re so busy that you haven’t got the time, take it anyway. I’m not saying lie to your client or your employer about how you’ve just spent the last two hours, but only because they might hear me.

That was November 2014

It’s taking me longer and longer to do these, even though the fact that I tell you I’ll do them is a big driver to making me, well, do things. So thank you for that. Your work here is done and you needn’t read on nor nip back to That Was October 2014.

But committing to telling you this really helps me. Give it a go yourself, okay?

Writing approximately 60,310 words:
The Blank Screen Guide: Blogging book (approximately 15,000 words)
Writers’ Guild West Midlands email newsletter 821 words
4 x The Blank Screen email newsletter (6,776 words)
2x Ava and Soundscapes draft script (approx 6,000 words total)
97x The Blank Screen news articles (25,265 words)
4x Self Distract blog posts (6,415 words)
3x Radio Times reviews (approximately 300 words)

Seven Minute Stories – performed The Book Groups to 80 people
Lead Burton Young Writers’ group
Lead Rugby Young Writers’ group
Guest at Polesworth Young Writers’ group
The Blank Screen workshop for Room 204
The Writers’ Toolkit: produced one panel, spoke on a second, chaired a third
3x coaching and mentoring sessions
4x Ormiston Academy scriptwriting workshops
Speaking engagement at Fircroft College

Pitches and bookings:
Got Arts Council England funding for project
Workshop one-off proposal (pending)
Workshop series proposal (successful)
College workshop proposal (abandoned)
University talk commission
Scripts: The Lift and Mags pitched to director
Theatre series proposal (to meeting stage)
The Writers’ Bursary application

(First time I’ve hired people)
2x workshop leaders
1x actor

Royal Television Society committee meeting
Dangerous Corner at the Birmingham Rep
Soundscapes meeting
Next Generation Poets
Writers’ Guild Executive Council meeting
Roz Goddard coffee

Coached by Rivka Fine
Arranged Beiderbecke meeting work

In this week’s newsletter… November 28, 2014

What to do when you get things wrong. Say so. Right away. Such as me, for instance, I got a big thing wrong and I admit it right at the top of this week’s newsletter.

Sorry? A man getting something wrong – and admitting it? Songs will be sung of this day.

Also, a couple of Black Friday deals that shouldn’t really happen in the UK but do plus a terribly absorbing video summarising Steve Jobs’ advice about business. Recorded the day after he died, it’s a speech by Guy Kawasaki who abandoned whatever regular talk he was supposed to give and instead talked about Jobs. It’s very Apple-centric as you’d imagine but each word is useful for us whatever our work is.

Plus, it has a comparatively off-the-cuff feel about it so rather than a studied presentation, it feels like a chat.

All that in the newsletter which you can read here and then sign up to get your own copy each week.