30 November 2012

What Do You Need to Succeed?

If you want to be successful, start building the right habits now. 

So what are the right habits?

I was thinking about this when I wrote the last post, which I think sums up the attitude we need to have. We think of success as a destination, but really it’s just a part of the journey, because when we reach it there will be something else we want to aim for. But on the journey to success what are the right habits?

If we want to succeed at something we’ve got to take it seriously, learn the required skills, practice, and then keep on learning and practicing.  This is true whether it’s a skill we need for work, writing, or something else we’re trying to squeeze in between life, family and earning a crust. 

The first habit should be obvious, and to incorrectly quote a cat - ‘If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there.’ 

Goals, objectives, whatever you want to call them – we need them. At least one, and probably several. 

Here's an important question. What is success TO YOU?

What you think of as success will no doubt be different to my interpretation. 

If might be that you want the validation of a traditional publishing contract.

You may want to make heaps of money and be the next J K Rowling.

It might be to make enough money to give up the day job and write full-time, or do whatever is your passion – making boats, playing a sport professionally.

But if we don't have a vision of OUR success we won’t know when we get there. So the first habit we need to build is making goals.  I blogged about SMART goals, and this is a great time of year to start thinking about what we want to achieve next year.

26 November 2012

Learning and Success

When did you leave school, college, or university?

When did you stop learning?

In everyday life, as well as through my learning and development work, I’ve come across people for whom the answer to those two questions is the same.

Hopefully we realise that learning is a continuous process, and not a destination that we reach and then stop.  Learning and improvement is also an attitude. One which I’m sure people like Richard Branson and Seth Godin realised long ago.

One of my dreams is that I’ll become a successful author. I’m sure that most of you reading this have similar dreams. Maybe not about being a writer, but success in some field.  But being successful doesn’t mean you know all there is to know about your particular area.

I cringe when I read some of my older writing, and I can see why it didn’t win a competition, or wasn’t accepted for publication. Part of me realises that in a few years I’ll look at my current writing and see ways I can improve it.  That might sound depressing, but if it didn't happen it would mean I hadn’t improved.

There are many, many things to learn about the craft of writing, and while I feel I’ve grown and learnt huge amounts, I still have a journey ahead of me.  We’re all on our own particular journey, some further ahead than others, but whether we’re starting from scratch or moving from level 24 to 25, there is still more to learn.

I listened to a talk given by one of the members of Team New Zealand a number of years ago. He said it had been a difficult task winning the America’s Cup the first time, but an even harder task working to retain it.

23 November 2012

Authors and the Internet

Shortly after I arrived in New Zealand I needed to find a local phone number.  Do you remember the days of heavy telephone directories rather than looking up a number online?

The name I was looking for began with an H, and while scanning down a list of names, I was amazed to see a listing for Sir Edmund Hilary - I could dial the number and actually speak to the man who was first to reach the summit of Mt Everest!  I have to say here that I didn't, I would have been much too nervous.

Many authors have websites, or are on Twitter or Facebook, and while they may not give out their telephone number you can contact and interact with them.

I listened to a podcast by a well known author this morning while having breakfast, and through Twitter and other social media I can interact with people I admire.  Through online workshops and conferences I’ve become friends with people I may never have otherwise met.

In my work I’ve designed training courses for people in organisations around the world that allows them to connect and learn together, and from each other, even though they are in different countries and areas of the world.  The internet has opened the world to us in so many ways.

Can you imagine discussing women's fiction with Jane Austen, or children's books with Beatrix Potter? How about the Bronte sisters having Goodreads author accounts?  Or following Hemingway? - he would have been a natural on Twitter.

What author would you like to talk books with?

19 November 2012

Authors Tagging Authors

As I live like a hermit a lot of the time, I’m always thrilled to be chosen to take part in anything, and this is The Next Big Thing: Authors Tagging Authors.  I was tagged by Di Jones who wrote Transplanting Holly Oakwood.

What's involved? Answer the questions below and tag a set of authors. So here goes…

What is the working title of your book?
If you read this blog regularly you’ll know I find titles difficult, and generally I’ve finished the first draft before coming up with a title, which is exactly where I am with the current work in progress. It’s only had a name for a month or so, but I’m pretty happy with it - Lies of the Dead.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I wanted to write a book with two possible storylines – think Mapping the Edge or the film Sliding Doors.  The main character is Liam, however all through my initial thinking period it was Tom’s voice (Liam’s brother), which kept coming through in the scenes. The dual storyline wouldn’t work with Tom as the POV character, and so I’ve put that idea away for a future novel, but I'm happy with the way the story is moving.

What genre does your book fall under?

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Now that’s a hard question as I read a lot more books than I watch films, but here goes…

The story revolves around the character Liam, although we find out more about him through the other characters, but I guess in a film version they’d do more flashbacks. Ryan Gosling would make a good Liam.

Tom is Liam’s brother and I think Jake Gyllenhaal would do an excellent job playing the role. Tom is a nice guy, but during the novel has to take on people and events way out of his comfort zone, and I think Jake would cover off those changes in character well.

Andi is Tom and Liam’s sister, and is a feisty character. Emily Blunt would do a fantastic job.

And for the authors I’ve tagged – have a look at their websites and books.

12 November 2012

It's Not Too Late

I've always loved reading.  As a child, and even an adult, I was in awe of writers and their ability to take me on journeys to different times, countries, and sometimes, different worlds.  It took me years to even dare think I might be able to do that.

There are days when I wish I'd begun this journey much sooner.  They are few, because I don't believe in wasting time on regrets and wishing I'd done things differently.  We can't change the past (unless we really can go back in time - anyone got a DeLorean?), but we can change our direction from now.

The one thing all famous authors, actors, musicians, athletes, or other achievers have in common, is that they began their journey before they were famous or skilled. The important thing is THEY BEGAN.  

09 November 2012

A Love Affair With Books

During this year a lot of my reading has been on my Kindle. That was until a month or so ago, when my daughter lent me a paperback she thought I would enjoy. I did. The time travel nature of the book reminded me of an unread book I bought some time ago, and so I searched through the bookshelves (double packed with the ‘to be read’ books in front), and then the teetering tower of Pisa in the corner of the room, and found the book. Since then I’ve been working my way down the stack, which no longer sways in a light breeze, and the incline is almost non-existent now as well.

I’ve had a love affair with books since I first learnt to read. I’d save up my pocket money until I had enough to go to the local shop and buy a book. It was actually a newsagents shop, but they had two rotating stands of books, one for children.  I would hurry there with my money clasped tightly and spend a delicious half hour deciding which book I’d buy. Around that time I acquired my own library ticket and would go with my dad to the library and also select books there. I worked my way through all the books, and then sneakily started on the adult ones on the shelves next to the children’s area. That was how I found Agatha Christie. I read most of her books when I was around twelve or thirteen, and then moved along the shelves and discovered historical novels. I flirted with these for a year, but went back to crime (as in fiction) and thrillers.

Both my parents loved reading, though they didn’t own many books, so we were regularly at the library.

Book prices are now much cheaper, relative to earnings, and so I have quite a book-buying habit. Acquiring a Kindle certainly didn’t do anything to lessen that. It also made me realise something else, and some people will no doubt reel in horror at this admission, I don’t have a love affair with books, it’s with reading.

I still buy print books, still browse through bookshops, and I think I will probably always buy non-fiction print books, especially if it’s something I need to refer to for learning purposes. However, I read more widely on my Kindle and am reading classic books that I might never have tried. Recently, when  reading an 800 page print book, I wished I’d bought the eBook as it's much easier to carry around!

I have books on my bookshelf that are special, and that I’ll never get rid of. As I was looking for the unread book I mentioned at the beginning of this post, I picked up a book I bought for my father as a birthday present a few years ago. He died just weeks after his birthday, and when I went home I found the book on the shelves next to his chair. I could see he’d read it, and I hoped he'd enjoyed it. I brought it back with me, and enjoyed reading it, but sometimes a book is special for more than the tale it tells.