Indie Authors: Focus on What Matters Most and Take Action Now

POSTED ON Feb 17, 2016

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Self-Publishing > Indie Authors: Focus on What Matters Most and Take Action Now

By Judy Baker

Many indie authors get caught up in “paralysis by analysis” when self-publishing their books, second guessing their every move, thinking ahead to every step in the process, ultimately feeling completely overwhelmed. Today, Judy Baker—a branding expert and past president of the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association—explains how to avoid this state of mind so that you can move forward with your self-publishing project.

Focus on What Matters Most and Take Action Now. It is my mantra. I used to struggle to keep on track. Most of my life, my brain would churn out an avalanche of ideas, flooding my mind and taking my attention off of what I had already started. New, bright and shiny possibilities would pull me in too many directions. I would be excited at first, then I would suffer indecision and doubt. If only I could stick with the projects I had in progress before running off to do something else…That’s who I used to be, not who I am today.

Focus image x400

How Did I Go From Distracted To Determined?

I attended a workshop with Steven Campbell, author of Making Your Mind Magnificent, Flourishing at Any Age. The “golden nugget” I got from the workshop: it’s possible to re-program your brain to get exactly what you want in life. This is not wishful thinking. It’s actually using the power of the right side of the brain to imagine and create the reality that you want.

Henry Ford Got It Right

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you can’t. The brain can hold two opposite ideas at the same time. It looks for a way to be in balance. This is the power that I have tapped into. I don’t have to know how I’m going to change. I just have to imagine that I have already changed (in the present) and my brain will figure it out.

The Reticular Activating System

Inside of your brain, the Reticular Activating System filters out the stuff that is not important and locks on to the stuff that is vital. Have you ever noticed when you are shopping for a car that suddenly you will see that particular model and make everywhere. Your brain would never have seen that car so frequently without your locking on to it.

Focusing On What Matters

Focusing on what matters most changed how I approach my day and where I spend my time. Knowing that I am the creator of my life and my experience in life gives me a lot of power.

Our Brains Crave Specificity

Specifically identifying what you want is critical to your success. Being vague doesn’t work. Painting a picture with precision is what turns our amazing brain into problem solving machines.

For instance, saying that I want to lose weight doesn’t give my brain a clear idea of what I want. To get exactly what I want, I would say something like this:

“Feeling so energetic and healthy helps me maintain my weight at 145 lbs.”

The picture is real, has details and my brain can now create the actions I need to take to make it so.

Vivid Works — Repetition Doesn’t

There was a time when people believed that repeating an affirmation over, and over, and over was the way to stimulate change. What Steven Campbell revealed in his book and in his workshop, repeating an affirmation countless times actually keeps the affirmation in the analytical left side of the brain and makes it easy to ignore it. It’s when the creative right side of the brain vividly pictures the reality we want that our brain looks for ways to make it so.

Rest and Digest

Our brains work 24/7 and it is crucial that we give ourselves time to rest and digest the information we take in every day. It’s during the time when we are sleeping that the heavy lifting takes place. We sort through our experiences of the day and put information into order. Our brains solve problems while we sleep.

Take Action Now

As Yoda said in The Empire Strikes Back,

“Do or do not. There is no try.”

Without action, a goal is just a dream. Do you have a big hairy audacious goal? It doesn’t have to be a big action to get you started, you just have to start.

It could be that, like me, you want to publish a book. Here is one approach that will move you forward:

  1. Write down all your ideas for publishing a book on a mind map
  2. After the brainstorming phase, go back and look at your map.
  3. See what ideas seem to be related.
  4. Put the items from your map into a list for each cluster of related ideas.
  5. Pick one of the ideas and do one thing that will move you closer to your goal.
  6. Schedule time to take action.

I recommend setting a timer for 10 minutes for each phase of your mind mapping exercise. You can do this with a simple yellow pad and a pencil or create a mind map using one of the many software applications designed for this purpose.

Mind Mapping Tools

Here are links to some of the top mind mapping tools (rated by

  1. Xmind (free to paid options)
  2. Wisemapping (free and shareable with others)
  3. Mind42 which is browser-based and free
  4. Coggle (free) allows you to drag and drop images, crete note and collaborate
  5. Scapple (one time fee to download, $14.99, Mac Only) from the same folks who developed Scrivener, it is also primary for writers.
  6. SpiderScribe (free or fee) cloud-based, private or sharable maps
  7. MindMap (a free Google Chrome Extension) that you can connect to Google Drive, Box and Dropbox.
  8. Freemind (free) works on all platforms, maps can be exported to html, pdf, OpenDocument, svg or png files.

Don’t Stay Stuck. Do Better

Yesterday is gone. Get on with what is here and now.

As a cancer survivor, I understand that there are no guarantees. I could be mired in what happened to me. Instead, I am choosing to move forward and embrace life.

This quote popped up as I was researching mind mapping on and it fits right into this conversation:

Never too late image

Focus on what matters most to you and take action now.

Judy Baker Headshot2 x125Judy Baker helps independent authors sell more books. She is a certified Action Plan Marketing Coach, blogger, and speaker. “Marketing is a Conversation” — and she know how to get people talking. delivers practical book marketing tips. Baker lives in Sonoma with her husband and three chickens, Spot, Buffy and Rosita.

Photo: Amazon links contain my affiliate code.

Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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