Monday, June 12, 2006

The Right Things

I'm currently reading First Things First by Stephen Covey, the author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Now this is not a writing book, it's more of a "how to get your life straight" book, but there was a point he made that was particularly relevant to me right now personally and has been relevant to me in my writing career. I also see this is many, many others.

The statement was something like "ask yourself not am I doing things right but am I doing the right things."

Wow! That hit home. I was in a bad place with my job and didn't know how to fix it. It wasn't anything I could put my finger on - my perfomance was fine (and usually above fine), my tasks were being completed on time or early and were correct, other employees had no issues with me or my work and I was embroiled in a software conversion that I enjoyed. But overall was a complete feeling of dissatisfaction, of something missing, something passing me by. I worked harder, created more efficiencies, produced more work, but the feeling didn't go away.

Then it hit me - it wasn't that I was doing anything wrong at my job, it was that I was doing the wrong job!

So I began the job search for something that would satisfy my intelligence as well as spur my creativity. And I find the dream combination - I am going to be a corporate trainer for a software development company. Now, I get to use my IT skills, accounting & real estate experience and speaking ability to train client employees on how to use their leasing and accounting software. The IT side of my old job is what I enjoyed the most and now I get to do it full time. No more boring numbers.

You see, it wasn't that I was doing accounting wrong - I just shouldn't have been doing accounting at all.

Now, think about writing. When we first start, most of us wander around a bit in different genres (or different lines in catagory) trying to find that perfect fit for our voice and style. This is perfectly normal. But how many of you are guilty of sticking to something too long, working it to perfection until all the voice and style are gone? Maybe it's not that you're writing wrong (God forbid, my English), but that you're not writing what you're supposed to.

Or even worse - maybe you shouldn't be writing at all.

I was probably two years or so into my writing ventures when one of my cp's asked me "is there a point and time you would quit - when you just say, I gave it my best shot, but it's not going to happen." My answer was simple "Yes, but I don't know when that is."

Fortunately for me, the sale happened and I knew I was where I needed to be. But maybe you know someone who should be writing screenplays instead, or painting pictures, or cross-stitching. Maybe it's you?

When was the last time you seriously assessed your writing career and where it was going?


Kelly Parra said...

Since the sales I haven't assessed my future at all. ;) I don't know where it's going, but when I was doing my best to make a sale, I didn't ever think about giving up. There were times I would think, I'm not going to sell, but I never thought about quitting. I had this feeling I was getting closer to something so I kept going and I kept making progress. But I understand what you're saying. Maybe someone hasn't made progress at something for 5 years, then it's probably time to sit back and assess.

Good for you on the job switch, Jana! That sounds like it was great change for you! =D

Jana DeLeon said...

Kelly - I think your future is going exactly right! You're actually ahead of the curve on writing time vs selling time. And you're absolutely right - if improvement is being made, then you're nowhere near needing to end it all.

But then I know some people who have been rewriting the same book for ten years of more. Jeeze, the market isn't even the same.

At some point, I believe everyone should assess where they're going. The problem is, like I told my cp, when is that point? Maybe five years, maybe ten, maybe two. It's different for everyone and only you will know.

Shah of Blah said...

I guess i am there where u had once been, working in an IT company and well into my first year as a writer aspiring to be published and sold...

I take heart from what is written here....i guess i am on the right track, i am sticking to what i love doing...

Jana DeLeon said...

shah - Congratulations! You have accomplished what Covey calls "keeping first things first." Good for you and keep working on your dream!

An Austin DesignWorks Production