Thursday, January 6, 2011

Guest Blogger Sage Cohen on: Naming Your (Writing) Paradise x 4

Today's guest post is extremely well-timed though it wasn't planned that way. When I invited Sage Cohen to contribute a post during January, she picked this date. It not only coincides with the start of my *I Should Be Writing!* Boot Camp class, but it closely follows my post from last week about how I’d like to approach 2011 as a writer.

Please welcome Sage Cohen.

Happy New Year, writers! I’m delighted that Lisa has invited me to share a few ideas from my new book, The Productive Writer.

As we face the blank page of 2011, I propose that we set some intentions for who we want to be in our writing lives this year and what we intend to create. Dave Ellis, founder of Falling Awake and author of Becoming A Master Student, suggests that since we generally accomplish 25 percent of the goals we set, we should aim for Paradise x 4 in order to ultimately arrive at Paradise.

I have found this to be one of the simplest and most effective strategies in my writing life. It gives me permission to dream bigger than what seems realistic. As a result, my experience of reality has expanded significantly as I’ve achieved the majority my Paradise x 4 goals. I have come to believe that the inverse of “That which we resist, persists,” is “That which we name, we claim.”

Try it, I think you’ll like it.

The questions below are designed to help you start painting your own Paradise x 4 picture. Remember to aim wildly, embarrassingly high. And keep in mind that you’re not expecting to get all the way to Paradise x 4—just to hold it in your sights as you appreciate where you are today and tomorrow. In other words, don’t let your ideas of what’s possible stop you from answering these questions with your Big Dreams.

What do you intend for your experience to be each time you sit down to write? (Inspired? Energized? Meditative?)

How many hours do you intend to write every week? What would the ideal pattern/rhythm be?

What are you striving to accomplish?

- How much work do you want to produce each day/week/month?
- How will you know when a piece is finished?
- What are your intentions for finished work? (Do you want to publish it? Share it with friends? File it away?)
- What steps will you take to fulfill those intentions?

How do you define success, in any or all of the following:

- Publication—how many times/which pieces per year?
- Money—how much per month/year/decade do you intend to earn?
- Awards—What awards or contests would you like to win?
- Leadership opportunities—What/how many teaching or speaking gigs are you striving for this year?
- Freedom/flexibility/continued time to write?

What kind of writing community do you intend to create?

What is the ideal mix of time spent working (at a job)/sleeping/playing/with friends and family/writing?

Now, take one last look at your answers to these questions. If there’s anything that sounds more like what you think you might be able to get, versus what you really WANT, please revise to include your true heart’s desire. Trust me on this one. The cosmic deck starts reshuffling somehow when we are precise as a pencil point about what we want to create and attract in our lives.

Keep in mind that your picture of Paradise x 4 will be continuously evolving. Throughout the year, you may have new ideas about what to expect from your writing life. Let your list be fluid as you clarify your vision and hone your aspirations along the way.

I’ll be stopping by back here on Lisa's blog throughout the day today and will be happy to answer any questions you might have – just leave them in the comments section.

Note from Lisa: Sage is offering a free, signed copy of The Productive Writer through a random drawing of folks who comment on this post by January 14.

Also, find more of Sage's thoughts on all that is possible in the writing life at her blog, where you can download a free "Productivity Power Tools" workbook companion to The Productive Writer, access other free tools and sign up for a complimentary newsletter. While there, also check out Sage's generous scholarship offers for her online classes.


Sage Cohen said...

Thanks so much for having me here today, Lisa! It's great to contemplate making the most of 2011 with you and your readers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great post, Sage and for hosting, Lisa. In readnig Sage's post, I was struck by the reminder to review my Paradise x 4 for any signs of "what I can get" instead of "what I really want".(No need to enter me in the drawing, I was reading my copy of The Productive Writer on my train ride this morning. Chapter 11 on fear is yet another fabulous tool for my writer's toolkit!)

Chryselle said...

I love Sage's blog and have found a lot of inspiration from her posts. Thanks to her, this year's theme is going to be 'RISK', for me. Would love to win a copy of her book!

Will answer these questions later tonight - I'm sure there will be some surprising answers.


Alyssa C. said...

How you define success is so key here! It's something I've thought about a lot and definitely don't have a tangible answer. I guess it's a bunch of things all rolled into one--some measurable, some not.

Would love to win a copy of the book :)

Sage Cohen said...

Yes, we get to choose how we define success, how we approach our goals, and the attitudes and strategies we will use to realize them. Your future is in your hands, writers. Which means anything is possible!

kario said...

Having been conditioned to be a "good girl" and be demure about my requests, the notion of changing my answers from what I think I can get to what I actually want is a bit mind-blowing! Thanks for the inspiration. It's great especially given the advice Lisa has given me so far in her Boot Camp.

GinTay said...

Answering these questions been energized and jumpstarted my writing this year. Something I desperately need to finish up my MFA thesis. I'm curious, Sage, for you how much is continued reading a critical aspect of paradise x 4, or isn't it? It's tough most times to find a balance for me between when the reading stops and the writing needs to begin. Any suggestions?

Sage Cohen said...

Kario, yes, it's quite radical when the "good girls" start getting clear about what they expect from life--and then asking for it--isn't it?

And GinTay, continued reading is a big part of my life. But because it's so pleasurable, I don't think I've ever listed it on my paradise x4 list. I always recommend having some rhythm for breathing in what nourishes us (whether it be reading or attending literary events or participating in online communities or lying in the grass and looking at the sky) and fills the well so we then are resourced for creating. If you know what fills you up, do that. And if you're not sure yet, have fun experimenting until you do.

Anonymous said...

Come now, is Sage really your given name?

drew said...

Congratulations on your continued success! Loved your poetry book, loved your first how-to, and look forward to getting "Productive."

All the best,

Sage Cohen said...

Thanks so much, Drew! I appreciate your kind words!

Uli said...

It's deceptively challenging, isn't it, to define your "your true heart’s desire"? But well worth the effort, because knowing what we actually want allows us to recognize it when we see it, no?

Thanks for the thought-provoking and inspirational post!