Among the group of professionals who call themselves writers (we’ll save my opinion for what makes a professional writer for a whole nother series, a whole nother time) there are dozens of species.
Some will get simple satisfaction from a single book; others will find happiness with the occasional Reader’s Digest or Chicken Soup blurb; many wish to publish a series of either related or unrelated works over a due period of time.
Each can have its merit and worth, but it’s the latter group to which I make a point today.
In the lower left-hand corner of my blog’s header, you’ll see a tagline. Six words, each with a period.
OBSERVE. THINK. PLAN. WRITE. PURSUE. EXECUTE.
It’s the formula I use for just about any project, but it’s particularly effective for me in a lengthy, dead-serious piece of prose.
If you wish to be one of those in the latter category i.e., a series writer with a number of interwoven, published works, you must do this. You must:
END ON A HIGH NOTE.
Let’s think about that metaphor for a moment. Take a 30-second break here and think about the picture the metaphor brings to your mind. END ON A HIGH NOTE… Think NOW…
Now that you have the picture, I’ll share with you what comes to my mind..
THIS IS NOT WHAT I PICTURE:
Go with me on this for a moment.
My mind’s eye visualizes a middle-aged woman, 60-ish we’ll say, slightly overweight, stunning black dress, simple pearls, plainly attractive, but also strangely stunning. And she radiates professionalism. She commands attention.
Her performance: It begins softly, movingly and it brings anticipation. She runs the scale, up, then down, and then she draws you nearer, but quietly, and you know it’s coming. The high note soars, and the drum rolls to a dramatic conclusion.
And it’s over.
ENCORE! ENCORE! ENCORE!
The ENCORE!~ is the writer’s dream. That’s where you want to be.
When I began my first non-fiction work in March of this year, one of the best moves I made was hiring a professional editor to work with me along the way. He is my compass.
Some 15,000 words into the draft, he dropped me an unexpected line. It stopped me, and it changed the course of everything thereafter.
He identified the second book in the series that I didn’t even know was a series.
Yes, it changed everything. Mostly, it presented a huge challenge.
How would I take the anti-thesis of everything I’d written and bring it to an excruciatingly obscure tease at the book’s conclusion and leave every reader salivating to purchase the next one?
At the age of 38, (I’m now 46) I decided to run my first marathon. I weighed 248 pounds, couldn’t catch my breath walking up a flight of stairs, and would sometimes pick up a filet-o-fish on the way home from work for a pre-dinner snack.
It began with walking on a treadmill at 5 a.m. on cold winter mornings. Eventually I moved outside. My first goal was to run to the mailbox down the block. Weeks later, I ran a mile. But it was hard to see completing an elevated 26.2 – mile course.
I had to practice VISUALIZATION. I actually had to train my mind to SEE my body running across the finish line and someone putting a medal around my neck.
Eighteen months later I crossed the finishing mark of the St. Jude Memphis Marathon (at a trim 165 pounds I might add.) Taken to the brink of total depletion, the next day, I knew I wanted to do it again.
To do what you must, you have to visualize the finish. You must see the impossible, and you must end on a high note.
Tomorrow, I’ll begin a seven-part series on what it takes to be a successful, professional writer.
That’s my high note for this post.
There’s no way to get where you’re going, unless you know where you want to end up being.
(Steve Watkins is a former journalist and marketing professional with more than 15,000 interviews to his credit. His first two non-fiction works now in the making are: LIGHT WINS: and the darkness is defeated forever… and Dark’s Dominion.)