Bob Mayer, a contributing writer on GENREALTY Blog, former green Beret and published author, has some excellent advice and guidance RE focus and discipline in reaching your writing goals. I do take exception to a few of his thoughts (very few) and I have noted those in the body of his post below. But, overall he is right on in this writer's opinion.  

Bob Mayer:
Are you striving to survive or striving to succeed?

Warrior Writer works because other successful people use the same basic strategies and tactics:

Nora Roberts sells 27 books every minute. She has 182 books in print. “You’re going to be unemployed if you really think you just have to sit around and wait for the muse to land on your shoulder.”

Ever watch Chef Ramsay? Kitchen Nightmares? He would be called in to assist restaurants that were failing (BTW new restaurants have the same failure rate as new novelists: 90%). His flow of evaluating and helping the restaurant reminds me a lot of my Who Dares Wins concept. To start, he would walk in, sit at a table, look at the menu and order a meal.

The menu tells him the focus of the restaurant. Often, there is too much stuff on it. He tells the owner and chef: pick one meal that’s going to be your moneymaker. Don’t try to do too much. Many authors use the large menu technique when approaching an agent: I’ve got a paranormal romance, a thriller, a YA book—which do you want? Cherry Adair said a smart thing at the Emerald City Writers Conference in her workshop: you can write in multiple genres, but if you want a career in publishing, pick one genre and become very good at it. Then you can write the other stuff. I’ve written military thrillers, romance suspense, science fiction, non-fiction, paranormal romance, and a bunch of other stuff. I wish I had heard Cherry’s advice 20 years ago.

As a writer, there are times you have to close doors. I sold back the third book of a three-book deal to the publisher because I knew, based on the sales numbers from the first book that the third would just die. I didn’t want to write a book that would die. I wanted to spend that time writing a spec book that had a better chance at success. Walking away from a contracted book is a hard door closing, but a necessary one.

When I began thinking about Who Dares Wins Publishing, I had to sit down and figure out what exactly my specific niche was going to be and stick to it. The tendency is to want to expand, to cover a lot. Strangely, in the age of the Internet, people’s views are becoming narrower, not broader. You have to become known as THE person who does THAT thing. Be THE writer of THAT type of book. John's note: I do not agree with this concept; I feel the opposite is true. People are expanding due to the internet and are, in fact, reading more diverse genres simultaneously...New tech is exploding choices and folks are taking full advantage...Demand for fresh content should explode due to hungry new tech e-readers scratching for constant content, etc...Reading, my friend, is on the rise and the new discriminating devourer wants new fresh stuff! 

I think it’s exciting times. I predict numerous start-up publishers springing up in the next couple of years. I also predict 90-95% of them will fail as they make the same mistakes that many restaurants make. One key to being a successful publisher is to focus on selling to the reader, not selling to the author. Another key is promoting synergy among the authors at the publishing house. My fiction will be focused on Special Operations and military and I’m excited about that because the military know how to be team players.

Chef Ramsay then eats the meal. It tells him the quality of the food and how good the chef is. How good is your writing? The best idea in the world has to be supported by solid writing.

A big problem he runs into time and time again is that no one is clearly in charge in the restaurant.  No matter how good your agent, editor, publisher, etc are, you are in sole command of your writing career.

Often the problem is the chef. But the owner is afraid to fire the chef. I’ve let go of three agents. I did it before I went looking for a new agent. It’s hard. It’s scary. But it is something you control. A key thing to remember as a writer is: pretty much the only power you have in the publishing business is the power to say NO. Close a door.

Ramsay goes back to the restaurant several months later to see how they are doing. What’s amazing is often the restaurant is out of business, or still teetering on the edge of failure because they have not implemented his recommendations even though they asked for his help.

Change is hard. In Force Five of Warrior Writer, we discuss the 5% rule. When I taught for Writers Digest I found that 95% of the students who had paid good money for the course, changed very little. They re-arranged deck chairs on the Titanic. (BTW, when I saw that movie, the young girls in the row behind us didn’t know the ship was going to sink. They were quite horrified when it did)

I think Chef Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares set a good example for author nightmares: change or be left behind.

I was watching a special on the band Coldplay. They talked about how they have a list of rules they post in the recording studio when they go in to cut a new album. One would think a rock band would be carefree and creative and all that other black beret poet-stuff. Nope. They said they learned to make those rules the hard way and they absolutely stick by them. It is the only way they can channel their creative energy into a quality product. In Special Force we call that Standing Operating Procedures. Under Force Seven, I discuss discuss why you need SOPs as a writer.