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How To Become A Better Writer: Leaving A Legacy, Part 12 Of 12

legacy

This is it! This is the final How To Become A Better Writer post! I have slacked off many times in the middle of completing this series… But I am proud to say it has finally come full circle. Forcing myself to finish this no matter what ensured I became a better writer and I hope this series tangibly helped you as well! Without further ado let’s finish this lengthy series!

1. Get Excited About Leaving A Legacy

One of the strongest traits you can build as a writer is thinking ahead – not so far ahead that you procrastinate endlessly in the present, but far enough such that you’re more focused on results and legacy than money and fame.

One of the strongest traits you can build as a writer is thinking ahead. Click To Tweet

Too many writers – especially young writers (such as myself) – focus on financial reward immediately, instead of treating the writing life like a marathon (which is the correct answer).

Focus on results and legacy rather than money and fame. Click To Tweet

Designing your writing efforts with a long-term structure is crucial to building a legacy; the two are mutually inclusive. Think about what you would love the highest achievements of your writing life to look like, then slowly work back from there.

One of the best ways to figure out how to reach the place you want to be is to reverse engineer. Look at that overarching goal, break it up into five to 10 chunks, then ask yourself what you would be doing if you were the professional already in that place. The trick to becoming a professional with everything is to assume the mindset; your actions follow after your mind has committed.

Your actions follow after your mind has committed. Click To Tweet

2. Legacy Is Greater Than Currency

You may be familiar with Gary Vaynerchuk – owner of Vaynermedia, author of several books, an unmistakably successful entrepreneur and considered one of the world’s premier experts on social media and storytelling. Whether or not you are a Gary Vee fan, he has a fantastic aphorism that is extremely beneficial for writers (and creative entrepreneurs of all kinds).

Gary says, “Legacy is greater than currency.”

Click To Tweet

And he’s right. The profit you make while alive is of some value, but the message and legacy you leave behind – when you have no chance to work at all – is of infinitely greater value.

So, what is a legacy? In simple terms, it’s what’s left of your individuality and work when you, your possessions and other Earthly confinements have been inherited or cease to exist.

A legacy is what's left of individuality when the individual is gone. Click To Tweet

Everyone has a legacy they can leave. “Can” is the key word here – everyone has the ability and opportunity to do so, but few will rise to the challenge. Building a legacy requires thinking not only deeply about your own work but how it will affect and can benefit others when you’re gone. The most lasting legacies are those that have the benefit of others at the center. Sure, others will give you praise where it is due, but those who can design the greatest solutions for others are those who aren’t worried about personal benefit.

3. Understand What A Legacy Means

Let’s dive deeper into what a legacy is about. While no one can predict the future with full accuracy, there’s no question thinking about the future in reasonable terms (based on facts whenever possible) is essential to an enduring legacy. Without thinking about how your writing will benefit those who come after you, the majority of your work may subsist only in the present moment.

I say this not to upset nor demean you, but to provide clear incentive for considering the future. Non-fiction how-to works have significant value for nearly all periods of time, provided the subject of the writing is still relevant.

Beyond fiction and simple non-fiction, however, cutting out time to create timeless works will benefit your writing legacy massively. The fundamental dynamics of human relationships, how to engage in meaningful work for oneself, mastering money so it does not master you, creating lifelong personal health habits and other areas are some of the most timeless realms of the world, and humans will be benefiting from gracious experts in this way for decades to come.

Use your writing and legacy plans to leave wisdom behind for future writers, as well as future readers. You don’t have to (and shouldn’t) try to be the most famous writer ever, but you should focus on producing some writing that can be timeless, especially if you’re already primarily a non-fiction writer. This is not to say fiction writing is only valuable in the present, but humans will repeatedly be looking for ways to solve daily problems, and non-fiction, informational writing is where they turn for solutions. Bear this in mind as you achieve your writing goals.

4. Improve Your Writing By 1 Percent Daily

Based on how much of my writing you’ve read before, you may have already heard me talk about this principle. James Altucher has a primary mindset he uses when anything is intimidating or he wants to accomplish a large goal. He refers to the “one percent rule” as the commitment to get one percent better every day on a given task, skill or mindset, regardless of the cost. He says it’s too difficult and intimidating to try to improve by 100, 50 or even 10 percent each day, because by nature of this fact, it requires you improve by that much more every time you set out to work on that skill again.

One percent improvement each day affords a manageable, measurable goal where it’s far easier to hold yourself accountable for improvement (especially if you’re unable to utilize an accountability partner) and stay committed in the long run. It’s not impossible to run a marathon; it’s only challenging if you try to take it all in one attempt with little to no practice. The same is true with writing and especially with leaving a legacy.

Here are some ideas for improving by one percent daily:

  • As soon as you have a new idea for a project or anything, break it up into at least three smaller chunks – through this you can avoid being intimidated next time you look at the idea and run the risk of forgetting what your original idea was
  • Enjoy what you do on a daily basis – if you aren’t enjoying some aspect of your daily commitments then it’s time to change it up
  • Keep easily accessible lists of projects yet to be completed – having a visual reminder makes it harder to procrastinate
  • If you have a tendency to be an idea person, make notes of all the ideas you have but make shorter lists for tasks requiring accomplishment sooner – this will help you stay on track and finish more of what you start

5. Find Joy In Generosity

Finding satisfaction and joy in giving back to others will be one of the strongest tools in your toolbox for building and leaving a legacy. Abundantly sharing what you’ve learned with others creates lifelong friendships and instills trust in those who are otherwise first skeptical of your livelihood. To be generous, follow these recommendations:

  • Incorporate generosity as a core part of your work – not as an “afterthought”
  • Be generous in communication – avoid assumptions, ask questions when you don’t know the answer, seek the input of others and thank them when they share something valuable
  • Look for ways to share the spotlight with others, under appropriate circumstances
  • Get excited about giving to people – seriously, few things are more exciting about being generous with your content or products (People will come to love you too)

legacy

6. Leave Notes To Your Children, Grandchildren Or Family

This is one of the most talked about, yet overlooked options anyone has to improve the greatness of their legacy, regardless of their vocation and regardless of how many family members they leave behind. While alive, it’s crucial to set aside some time to do some writing. If you aren’t much the computer type, definitely write down some thoughts and encouragements in a journal. Even if you are the computer type, set aside some time to write with pen and paper – there’s something much more emotional and real about it. It forces you to slow down a bit too, making every word count. What’s more, writing on a computer doesn’t preserve your natural handwriting – writing with a pen obviously does. When you’re gone, your family will cherish the handwritten notes and logs you left them.

Another way this greatly benefits those you love is it shows them where you were in your struggles, your victories, your questions, your doubts, your hopes, your aims and your quests. Those who love you want to see you at your most real – what better way to make this timeless than to keep a periodic journal? You’ll experience immediate and long-term, often therapeutic benefits from writing, and those who eventually read it will get to prize the tangible experiences you lived through.

7. Find Ways To Think And Act Holistically

Acting holistically is one of the biggest challenges in life… Not because there’s no information on how to accomplish it, but because few individuals ever sit down and think about who they want to be in the future – and then actually commit to the action. There are a few key steps for hacking the holistic lifestyle mindset:

  • Is what you’re doing now building into the person you want to be in five years? If not, why are you doing it today?
  • Is what you’re doing assisting wealth generation or wealth depletion? Why? Is it modifiable or is it purely toxic? If it’s not helping the long run, why are you including it right now?
  • Is the choice you’re making today supporting your wellness or your sickness? Are you cutting corners simply to save time, in the name of convenience? Do you live to eat or eat to live? Why?
  • Which is more important to you – money or fulfillment? Would you rather have security or freedom? Is your current job/career/venture set up to achieve your most desired goal over the next five to 10 years?
  • (Only if you have children) – Do you want your children’s lives to have success and fulfillment comparable to your own? Of course, every individual gets to make their own choices; you cannot control someone else; but you can influence them (and you will, whether you want to or not). Is your lifestyle reflective of the life you desire to see your children conquer? Why or why not? What are you going to do about your answer?
  • If you died tonight, did the way you spend your time today (especially your free time) fulfill you? Why or why not? As you look back over the last year or two, do you find your free time was squandered, or do you have powerful results that arose out of your free time?
  • As a writer, are you gradually checking off the boxes of the writing goals you’ve set for yourself? Do you have achievable, tangible goals? Do you have a short list of steps to achieve them? Why or why not? What are you going to do about this?

Hopefully through these bullet point recommendations you can see how a holistic mindset requires both future planning and thinking about how various areas of your life are actually all connected. Living holistically won’t fall perfectly into place overnight – I know it sure didn’t for me. I had to work relentlessly at living holistically, and it remains a daily battle. Often, you’ll be on your own, at least until you find a supportive tribe of people who are generally at the same place in life as you.

Remember to be patient – it’s not about creating perfect results instantly. Also, don’t let your desire for a more efficient life completely curbstomp your ability to enjoy life in the moment. Planning is essential, but so is joy. There’s no need to get so wrapped up into achieving success that you disregard every gift in the moment. Rest every once in a while, treat yourself for a job well done, enjoy some time off, and simply step outside for a walk every now and then. Life is right in front of you; never forget that!

8. Think About The Future Now, Then Act

The future arrives every second… Whether we realize it or not. Of course, the more distant future like five, 10 or 20 years from now is much further away, but few people take the time to commit to discipline towards their future – thereby effectively killing their future before it even arrives.

There’s no worse feeling than going to your deathbed having not achieved your goals… This is actually why people kill their dreams in their minds before they ever have a chance to get rooted in their hearts. If you don’t have any desires you still need to bring about, there’s no pain to feel about something that can’t go wrong. Yet, herein lies the greatest deception of all: dying without having given life your all, mistakes and everything, is worse than having tried and failed.

Fortunately, we live in such an information-heavy age that with plenty of self-discipline and a bit of spare cash, dreams are easier than ever to achieve. You just need to be patient over the long haul. Despite this truly-easier-than-ever world, people are still afraid of failure, sometimes understandably so. Peer pressure from the masses causes most people to give up in their minds before they even start, but if you’re reading this blog post, that is probably not you. You are most likely a fighter; someone who will not be defeated.

The importance of effective future planning lies in the power of action in all things. If you do not act today, you are one more day behind achieving what you want. As Ryan Magdziarz is known to have said, “Remain in your comfort zone or have everything you’ve ever wanted. You choose!” Truer words have rarely been spoken. You are in the driver’s seat, and you get to decide when you move forward, or when you wait.

Here are some good steps for effective future planning:

  • Where is my writing business at right now? Have I scaled it to a usable level or am I still getting on my feet? Why or why not? What are the next three steps I need to take in order to generate the next sale, hit the next subscriber mark or complete the next product?
  • If I could rewind three years, what would I tell my former self? How can I use that advice today to get further in a shorter period of time than I normally would?
  • How many email subscribers do I have right now? Is this a viable number? Why or why not? What do I need to do next to increase that number? How am I going to do it? Is the model I’m using relevant to the year I’m in? Are the methods I’m using viable for the market I’m after?
  • Speaking hypothetically, if I could no longer work in five years, will I have completed everything I’ve wanted to do with this aspect of my career? How about in two years? One year? Six months? Three months? One month? (The idea here is to show you that time is precious and you technically never know when an accident may happen. This is not to scare you but to remind you that only you can set motivational enough goals for yourself.)

9. This Is What People Will Remember

There’s a popular phrase that’s been around for years that reads to the effect of: “People won’t remember what you did, or even what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.” This is a timeless statement full of truth, and anyone has the opportunity to continually learn from it.

Our work as writers is meaningful, but it never replaces the fact that our writing will always make readers feel something (where we are vocationally accountable), and first and foremost we are accountable in the “real world” – face-to-face relationships with family and friends, where we need to be good human beings before we can ever set high hopes of being influential writers.

Use your powers and desires for good; support others and seek the best for them. Ask questions when you’re having trouble. Take breaks when you’re stressed. Set up meaningful systems, rather than just arbitrary goals. Decide who you’ll be first, and work backwards from there, as mentioned earlier in this post. Make people feel valuable.

Make people feel valuable. Click To Tweet

10. Apply Cardone’s 10X Rule

In order to leave your writing legacy, you must leave no stone unturned. Every resource out there available for you to maximize your reach must be utilized. Look relentlessly for your audience and then serve them. Serve them with the passion of 100 suns. Serve them willingly – as though you were the one receiving the help, guidance and mastery you desire from your own leaders, mentors and role models.

Cardone’s 10X rule is simply to take what you would normally do, then maximize that level of effort and focus by 10. So if you would normally write one blog post per month, cut out time in your schedule to write 10. If you normally write 10 blog posts in one month, start making time to write 100, or even 50 – at least across as much time as you can.

The only way you can leave a legacy – especially in today’s world of 24/7 options and instant gratification – is to do as much quality work as possible as long as possible. When individuals of all kinds have limitless options at their disposal, you have to prove (repeatedly) how you are the best value for their time. Money can buy a lot of things, but where people put their time reveals what they truly value most, since you cannot get time back.

And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and gotten value out of it. Please feel free to leave your comments below about your favorite post out of the 12, as well as what you’d like to see more of in the future! Your feedback means the world to me. Thanks for reading!

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How To Become A Better Writer: Writing 101, Part 1 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Habits, Part 2 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Writing Killers, Part 3 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Inspiration, Part 4 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Optimization, Part 5 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Your Best Work, Part 6 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Helping Other Writers, Part 7 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Reading, Part 8 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Community Action, Part 9 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Connecting Well, Part 10 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Writing Forever, Part 11 Of 12

How To Become A Better Writer: Leaving A Legacy, Part 12 Of 12

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About Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson is an author and blogger who helps writers become leaders through their best, most beneficial ideas. His books include Ignite Your Beacon, Writing Clout and Tomes Of A Healing Heart. For free downloads and weekly tips on leveraging your writing through realistic leadership, visit: BradleyJohnsonProductions.com