(Transcript) What’s the ONE thing you could do to make progress in your writing today?


Morgan MacDonald : Hello, and welcome to the replay. I am Morgan Gist Macdonald , and today we’re talking about writing, like we do EVERY day. But, more specifically, we’re talking about the ONE thing you can do in your writing to make progress today. So thanks for joining… Hey Ayesha…

Let me do my quick intro.  I’m Morgan Gist Macdonald . I’m a writing coach, editor, and author. I blog and run my business at http://www.paperravenbooks.comThanks for the hearts. What a show of faith. It’ll be good. Oh, this mirror image thing. Hold on, let me flip you around…


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I always make notes – well, not always – I OFTEN make notes for my Scopes that I share with you at http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope . So I know you guys are on your phones…


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 …[and don’t want to] have to take notes while someone is talking. So I’m like, “I’ll take the notes FOR you and put them on my web site. Then you can just go over there.” They’re really casual.  It’s just the Evernote file that I create when I’m writing and thinking through what I want to talk about.

So today we’re talking about the one thing you can do to make progress in your writing today. So as we’re coming in y’all say hi, let me know what your name is, and what you write.  I love to know what people write, because I think it says a lot about you, and what you hope to do with life. I mean, writing is such a window into someone’s purpose, [and] what you really want to do with your life. So type that in the chat box and let me know.

There IS something I DO want you to think about today, and that is the fact that MOST of our days are really busy, but they’re busy with really – I don’t want to say INSIGNIFICANT – but they’re MAINTENANCE tasks, right? We’re busy with tasks that just keep us going through the day. So we spend most of our time doing things that are really repetitive. Like you get up and get ready in the morning, you make your breakfast, pack your lunch, make your coffee, get into the office – or wherever you work – and you check your email, and respond to your email, and the list, kind of, goes on. So a lot of times you create this running “to do” list that is just for the purposes of keeping life going at this really basic, “treading water” phase. And you do that for long enough, and look back and you’re like, “What did I even ACCOMPLISH over the last week, [or] month, [or] year?” And it gets really difficult to know exactly what you accomplished.

So I read a book – actually I didn’t READ it, I LISTENED to it [as] I like to listen to audiobooks as I’m driving, or running, or whatever. This book was called – let me pull it up and show it to you – it’s called “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results” . It’s by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. Let me flip it around so you can see what it looks like. It’s a cool cover too.


Deandre Jordan (https://twitter.com/kerem_988 ) : Please say “Hi Kareem”. Self!


Morgan MacDonald : Hi Kareem. [laughter]


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Okay. So you can, kind of, see that. It’s called “The One Thing”, [and] Gary Keller is the primary author on that one. It’s a life-changing book, because it makes you really consider of all the things that you COULD do to make progress toward one goal, what is THE single, most significant thing you can do?

And there’s a good side and a bad side to this.  The bad side is [that] I can’t TELL you exactly what that one thing is.  The good side is [that] you already know, [but] you just feel like you can’t make TIME for it. So I want you to think about your writing projects, [and] what you’ve got going on right now. If you’re like MOST writers you have A LOT of writing projects. You might have blog posts over here, and some articles to send out over here, and maybe that book that you’re still, sort of, working on [and] dreaming about.

So you might have this ARRAY of several different things that you’re working on, or even if you just work on blogs, you might have blogs for several DIFFERENT blogs. If you just send out articles to magazines or journals, you might have SEVERAL articles. If you only write books, you still might have several books. So just take a piece of paper and list out every writing project that is on your back burner, because every writing project that’s on the back burner is taking up energy. It’s taking up focus. Your mind wanders toward it occasionally, and when your mind is wandering it’s NOT focusing on what you actually need to be working on NOW.

So take a lot at them, and think “Okay. Of my writing CAREER – of what I really want to accomplish in this life – which one of these things will move me along the FASTEST, or make the  BIGGEST jump?” And I think what we tend to do, honestly, is we like this smorgasbord of options because it feels SAFER. It’s like that old saying, “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” So we have this strategy…


El Informador (https://twitter.com/GAB_ESE ) : Hi from Mexico.


Morgan MacDonald : … Hi from Mexico. Thanks for joining. I don’t know if they have THIS saying in Mexico. Maybe you do. “Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket”…  meaning, if you imagine carrying a lot of eggs from the chicken coup, if you have them all in one basket, if you drop it all the eggs are smashed, right? So I suppose it’s, sort of, saying that you should put eggs in different baskets, and take more than one trip to make sure you get SOME eggs. I don’t know. Anyway. [laughter]

I think what this translates into OUR mind is that we don’t want to put all of OURSELVES  into one piece of writing, because what if that one piece of writing doesn’t succeed – [it] doesn’t get published, doesn’t get well received, doesn’t gain us any traction. But I WILL tell you that spreading your attention ACROSS all of these writing projects is GUARANTEED failure, because you can’t pour all of your self into twelve different articles. You just can’t. I mean, we’re human. We’re not MACHINES. We’re not computers. We just aren’t CAPABLE of that kind of emotional investment in all of these different things.

So what Gary Keller’s book,  sort of, resonated with me about – and what I would like to, kind of, communicate with you guys today – is that there IS ONE writing project that’s on your table right now. Maybe you’re not paying attention to it. Maybe you think you’re too busy, or it’s too big, or you’ll do it LATER in life when life is better, or less complicated – but life is NEVER less complicated [laughter]. And so you, kind of, give yourself that excuse to not work on that one, big project. But I would encourage you to start setting aside time for that one big project, because you can get more results from ONE project done well than you can with scattering out half a dozen OTHER projects.

So here’s your homework, or whatever you want to call it [laughter]. I used to teach college. We always had homework, [but] no one ever DID their homework. I would suggest you do this homework [laughter]. Just take a sheet of paper – this will take two minutes – and just write down a brief description of every writing project that you are THINKING about. Maybe you haven’t started it, but you’re, kind of, considering it.  You’re liKe, “Oh, I would like to write about that, and I’d like to write about that.” [Then] put it ALL out on paper so you can look at it, and evaluate it, and [ask], “Which one of these will give me the most significant jump forward? Or will make me feel the most proud? Or really gives me energy when I THINK about it?” And of that list pick ONE, and devote a certain block of time – it doesn’t have be every day. I’m NOT one of those people that advocates writing every single day. If you CAN, fantastic. I DO try to, but I get that everyone’s schedules are different. But devote a certain amount of time each week to that project, and block it.

And you’ll find that when you let yourself sink all of yourself into ONE project, you accomplish it more QUICKLY, more COMPLETELY, more FULLY, [and] you do a better JOB with it. And that project can literally jump you from one level to the next.

So, for instance, for ME I had spent years and years writing blogs. And I’ve getting decent traction with my blogs. My blog is at http://www.paperravenbooks.com . I’ve been getting good traction, but I felt like I was ready for that next level. I’d been coaching writers on writing their own book, and I was like, “Why am I not writing MY own book?”

So I streamlined my blogging process so that I could set aside three months – a certain amount of time – to write my book. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would. Once I got into the rhythm it really came out. That’s what I’m encouraging YOU to find, your RHYTHM with this one big project where you can really start to gain some ground.

And it’s been a game-changer for me. It really has. I could have written a HUNDEED blogs and not gotten NEAR the same traction in my business as I have from one book. That’s what I’m encouraging you to think about. Are you playing SMALL with lots of different projects – [like] blogs, or articles, or writing that you just feel is required, or that people EXPECT you to do, when REALLY what you want to do is this OTHER project over here?  Follow your ENERGY. You energy will ALWAYS lead you. What is most exciting, and really gets you fired up, THAT’S what you should be working on. Even if it’s one thing. ESPECIALLY if it’s one thing.

And really, when you think about our days, [they’re] so filled with these maintenance tasks that we talked about in the beginning of this Scope, that there are really only TWO or THREE priority things that you can probably accomplish in any given day. I would bet that ONE of those is set by either your boss or clients, [and]  ONE of those is often set by family members, or friends, who need you for something that day. And you might only have ONE SLOT left of something that you can actually accomplish for your own personal career and goals. So think about that. It’s scarcity.


Ivan Trejo Molina (https://twitter.com/ivan_trejom ) : I’m writing my thesis to be a lawyer.


Morgan MacDonald : … You’re writing your thesis to be a lawyer. Oh my goodness, Ivan – sorry if I’m saying that wrong [laughter] … But that is the one thing that will put you on your progress, becoming a lawyer, right? I mean, it’s often [that you] have the focus given to you. It’s a little bit hard. I’m not going to say it’s going to be easy. You’re from Mexico, nice. So you’re doing your law degree in Mexico. That’s fantastic. I mean, I’m sure it feels like a pain right now, but at this moment, if you can just churn it out and get it done, that one thesis could help you level up from one point in your career to the next point in your career, and can make you more [attractive] than anything else that you can do right now.

So that’s what I would REALLY like you to think about. What’s the one thing you COULD be working on that would get you more traction – more progress towards your goal – than anything else you could work on. Then go set aside some time in your calendar.

So that’s it for me guys. I’m actually prepping for an interview. I’ve been doing a lot of podcast interviews. It’s super fun. So today I’m interviewing with Jim Palmer. He’s written a bunch of books, so we’re going to be talking about writing books. It will be fun. So I’ll let you guys know when that podcast is out.

But have a good afternoon. Do some writing. Write that list of all of the different writing projects that are on your brain right now, and pick one, and focus on that ONE until you get it done. You’ll be surprised at how fast you get it done. It’ll be awesome.

All right. Check out the [Scope] notes at http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope , and I’ll see guys tomorrow for another lunchtime writing Scope. .. Thanks for the hearts guys. I appreciate it. I’m glad that resonated for you…

If you’re not already following me hit the little ‘Peri Dude” down there, and hit “follow”. You can also catch me on Twitter at @morgangmac (https://twitter.com/morgangmac ). And we talk about writing a lot here, and it’s fun.

Oh, let me let you know what’s coming up tomorrow. We’re going to be talking about how many words and hours should you be writing every day.  You, kind of, already know what I’m going to say about that one. And my secret for keeping track that will amazingly boost your productivity. So if you want to know, I’m going to share it with you – I can’t tell you [now because] it’s a surprise [laughter]. But you’re going to love it.


Ivan Trejo Molina (https://twitter.com/ivan_trejom ) : What do you do? A que de dedicas?


Morgan MacDonald : … What do I do. A que dedicas? I’m learning Spanish [laughter]. My kids know Spanish, and so does my husband. I’m the only one who doesn’t know any Spanish… I am a writing coach, and an editor, and an author. So I help people write books. If you feel like you are called to write a book, I’ll help you write it.  Even if you don’t know where to start, I will help you start, AND help you finish, and we’ll get your book done. All right, http://www.paperravenbooks.com . Let me flip that around for you…


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And the notes are at the Periscope portion of the web site : http://www.paperravenbooks.com/periscope


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And tomorrow we’re talking word count, hours, and how to keep track of it all so you can be super productive. So follow. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Bye.


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