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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Focusing Forward!

by M.L. Buchman

We're in the depths of our tax season. Everyone's whining about them. My accountant called in desperation for three additional numbers he needed. He probably hasn't slept in two months, so it's hard to be upset by the desperation aspect. A friend has decided that starting five new businesses in overlapping segments of the market may have made sense in 2012, but certainly doesn't during tax time of 2013.  (The businesses aren't the problem, it's the tax work that's making him grumpy... We're all avoiding him this week.)

My plan? Focus forward. I finally learned, after many harrowing years, long extensions and poor calculations (on my part), to turn my taxes into an accountant on the very first day I have all of the information, around February 5th. Whew! Glad to be done with that.

Why especially? So that I can focus forward. I used to let the prior year dribble 2,3,4,5,6,7.... months into the following year. So, then what am I thinking about? Last year! I'd do that with the tail end of projects as well. Now I finish them as thoroughly and quickly as I can. Me? I'm looking ahead.

Right now I'm entering my third month as a full-time writer. And here's a report on what that's like:

Month 1: Cut expenses, cut expenses, cut expenses.
Dump the house that we can't afford to live in and had rented out for far too little money. Move to somewhere significantly cheaper. Get rid of all that crap (then we don't have to pay to move it or have a bigger place so that we can keep it.) Plan to live cheaper in every aspect. Sell a car that we don't really need. Anything to cut down.

Month 1-2 Interlude: Clean up the past.
I took ugly covers, updated them. I found indie pub channels that I liked, I published to them. I found indie pub channels that I had always been meaning to check out, but ultimately didn't feel they were worth the effort for me at this time. I had eight indie-pub novels and we dug through them to make sure they were as clean and well presented as we could (my wife is AWESOME! and helped a lot with that).

Month 2: Start writing.
It was still pretty jinky, bits of the past kept leaping out of closets and trying to tackle me. Being only so quick on my feet, I get hammered to the ground more than I'd like to admit. But, that old Japanese proverb kicks in, "Fall down 7 times get up 8."

This last 2 weeks, I did as much writing as I normally did in 2 months. Now that is really exciting. That's the key to my plan from here on out.

Focus Forward.

M.L. Buchman's military romantic suspense was named Top 5 Romance of 2012 by NPR. The next novel in his contemporary romance series "Angelo's Hearth" will be out in mid-April. He also writes fantasy under Matthew Lieber Buchman and has a foodie thriller as Matthew J. Booker.


Sarah Raplee said...

Matthew, Focus Forward - that's a slogan I learned the hard way as a writer. Momentum is worth its weight in gold!

I have no doubt you will find enormous success as a full-time writer. You've already caught the eye of the media on a national scale.

Onward and upward!

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing your process and your journey, Matthew. So true that until something is finished, we drag it with us into the present!

I'm semi-retired and use a form of your "Focus Forward". I look at each month and what other commitments I have (like today is a big family birthday lunch and then a team meeting for the 'semi' part of retired. For this month in the big picture, it was get my taxes done. I look at my work schedule, family commitments, etc. and then write down my writing schedule.

Looking ahead at each month, then each week, and finally each day keeps me Focus Forward.

Congratulations on your NPR and Romantic Times ratings!

Maggie Faire said...

Great post, Matt. I completely hear you on the cut down costs and get rid of stuff comments. That is a hard thing to do when you are used to a regularly scheduled paycheck.

For me, having the time to do both the writing and the research has been amazing. Though I still have bouts of "OMG, how are we can to pay for X" from time to time, for the most part I'm in writer's heaven.

Your books are wonderful. I hope you are growing readers by leaps and bounds. Focus Forward is a great motto. Thanks for sharing it.

M. L. Buchman said...

I think that the letting go of "stuff" was perhaps the hardest thing. I was sick of the Project Management career, even though, oddly enough, I loved the job. I had to let go of that identity. I had to let go of the "providing" a paycheck every two weeks and instead start working like mad so that when the "how do we pay for x" comes up, that I'll have an answer... or at least part of one. :)

But it sure feels like huge fun to just write and research.

Paty Jager said...

M.L. my husband and I are the same way. As soon as January hits we start pulling together the info and set an appointment with our accountant for the first week of February. While everyone else is complaining we are done and can relax.

Diana Mcc. said...

Great post, Matt! I think letting go of my professional identity has been the hardest thing to do since I retired.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Matt, yeah, I'm still letting go and being as frugal as I possibly can about EVERYTHING. I began writing full-time last year and even though I miss the regular paycheck - I don't miss IT project management either and am in heaven! I have been attending workshops and conferences, doing research and just honing my skills. I can write all night if I want to and not have to worry about how I'm going to get through the day with no sleep - I am blessed with a husband who has allowed me to finally follow this dream full-time. Onward and upward!

KL Mullens