Getting Things Done: For Writers

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Getting Things Done: For Writers

getting things done

Getting things done is a critical element to your success as a writer. The better you are at conation (a fancy word for the art of doing things), the more likely you are to achieve your writing goals. The first step in getting more done well is to understand your style of conation.

Human instinct researcher Kathy Kolbe developed conative theory in the 1990s. Through rigorous testing, she proved the efficacy of the theory in the fields of education, government, and business. Afterward, Kolbe’s book, Conative Connection, an acclaimed bestseller, helped laypeople increase productivity by uncovering their innate “doing” styles. There are four distinct styles; each of us has an instinctive preference for one of them. She offers a test on her website for $49.95, but you might find your style by reading through the following descriptions.

The Four Styles of Getting Things Done

The Quick Start:

If you’re a quick start writer, you’ll just jump into a new project with little or no research or guidance. You’ll create your story through trial and error, writing on-the-fly and by the seat of your pants. You love spontaneity, and you’re flexible and full of ideas.

The Fact Finder:

This type of writer will carefully research each element that goes into the creation of a story. First of all, you’ll know the ins-and-outs of grammar, diction, flow, plot line, storyline and more before ever putting pen to paper. You plan beyond your story’s completion by researching how to publish a novel. You’re precise, thorough, and love detail.

The Implementor: 

The world of concrete objects fascinates this type of writer. As an implementor, your interests include the equipment used to craft your story: books, pens, pencils, paper, computers or software. You might set up an author website in advance of writing your first book. You take a very hands-on approach to writing and you are serious about craftsmanship.

The Follow-Thru:

Follow-thru writers seek advice from published professionals and buy materials and programs that can help them reach their goal of publication. Ultimately, you’ll proceed in a very logical way, completing and mastering each step before moving on to the next. You are happiest when methodical, focused, and structured.

Getting Things Done the Write Way

No matter which of these categories describes you, all can lead to success as long as you choose wisely. Writers that ignore their innate style of getting things done often struggle to follow the programs or methods of others.

Embrace your style of “doingness”. If you must have a mentor, find one whose conative style matches yours. For example, I’m what is good-naturedly known as a “pantser” in the writing community, because I write by the seat of my pants. My style of conation most closely matches the “quick start” example–I often begin a story with no earthly idea of how it’s going to end. A person of my nature is doomed following a writing method that requires tedious outlines. I’d never get anything written and I’d end up frustrated and discouraged.

On the other hand, even seat-of-the-pants writers have method to their madness. If I choose a fellow quick-start writer as my guide, I’ll find it easier and more enjoyable to make progress.

Ultimately, you have the power to choose your own writing destiny. Don’t fight your natural style of working: work with it. Instead, learn its pros and cons. Then, focus on the benefits of your style — play them up! Finally, don’t let someone convince you their style of getting things done is the right way. Do it your way and you’ll be headed for success.


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