Thursday, May 27, 2021

Apply the Tools of Corporate America to Improve the Writing Life

By Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev, @MayonnValchev

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Authors are small business, and applying a business mentality to our writing can benefit us. Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev shares how to use corporate tools to become a better writer.

Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev lives in Georgia with her family and is represented by Sara Megibow of KT Literary. Her debut novel, The Leopard Behind the Moon, is a magical realism for the middle-grade reader – a warm, sweet, beautiful story about friendship, healing, grief, community…and more than one intruding, talking animal. Publication by Greenwillow/HarperCollins is planned for September 2021.

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Take it away Mayonn…
Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev
Over a plate of biscuit and eggs, I asked my husband to define Key Performance Indicators, a term I had heard frequently while working in corporate America and was considering applying to my writing life. We ended up discussing Six Sigma, performance metrics, objectives, and other terms common in the corporate world. These terms and many more have served me well in my writing life—they are tools that help me stay focused, help me set and attain goals, and help me manage my time and writing career better.

Below are highlights of how I’ve used some of these tools to improve my writing life. Hope you find them useful, too. Here they are:

Mission Statement: What’s your big purpose for writing? What keeps you at it?

A few years ago, I crafted a mission statement for my writing career—a paragraph to clarify my aim for writing. I asked myself: What do I want readers to gain from my books? What is my ultimate motivation for telling stories? What bigger message am I trying to convey to my readers? Now and then, I revisit my mission statement to ground myself in my overall purpose for writing.

Values: What values do you think will aid you in your writing life?

Many corporations have values that guide decisions and serve as guardrails for the work culture. One of my work values is simplicity. Giving back is another, and so is flexibility. These values help me remember how to show up for work.

Goals and Objectives: What skills do you want to develop or strengthen, and what actions do you need to take to do so? How can you track your progress?

Spend a week in corporate America, and you’re bound to hear “goals” and “objectives” uttered by someone. I’m a big fan of setting professional development goals. And it’s not about taking any professional development course—there are so many! Rather, it’s about targeting specific areas of growth and finding opportunities to develop and hone those skills.

Time Management: What are your high-impact tasks, and how do you protect the time for completing them? What time management boundaries do you need to set?

I learned a ton about time management during my time in corporate America. Complete high-impact tasks before low-impact ones. Set boundaries so that people don’t steal your time. Watch out for time robbers. Know the time of day when you are most productive and protect and use that time well.

Change Management: Change is inevitable in the writing life—book title changes, book release date changes, book content changes, etc. What I learned from corporate America about dealing with changes is this:
  • Be flexible.
  • Learn about the why behind the change.
  • Build desire for the change to help combat resistance.
  • Build the knowledge and skills needed to adapt to the change.

Key Performance Indicators: How do you define success in your writing life? What kind of performance will get you the results you want?

My husband and I didn’t finish defining KPIs that day over breakfast, but when I simplify it and apply it to my career, I think it’s about defining what success looks like in my writing life and setting sustainable performance goals to achieve the desired results.

If you apply any of these tools, connect with me on Twitter and tell me about it! And thanks for reading all the way up to this point.

About The Leopard Behind The Moon

No one knows what lies beyond the magical village door, but Ezomo is determined to find out.

There are three important laws in Ezomo’s village: Do not go to The Valley, do not go out at night, and never, ever, ever open the magical door that protects them all. But when Ezomo encounters the leopard believed to have killed his father, he and his two best friends embark on a journey that leads them past the boundaries set by their elders.

With his friends by his side, Ezomo chases after the leopard, certain that it has the power to cure all, and in the process he discovers the true history of his village, and that cautionary tales exist for a reason.

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