Start At The End and Work Your Way Back

36017490_sThere are people that make a study of the last lines of books, of songs, of people…and it got me thinking.

What if you wrote the last line of your book first?

Often we write our stories from the beginning; thinking in chronological order, A leads to B and then to C and so on. But what if we flipped our thinking on its head and started from the end and worked backwards.

When we read the last line of The Great Gatsby, we know in an instant that no matter what came before, the future is still open and available.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

– from The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The same is true of a life. Amelia Earhart’s final words as she struggles to maneuver her plane through the storm, offer hope and inspiration. She lets us know that no matter what, it has all been worth it.

“Please know that I am quite aware of the hazards. Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others.” Amelia Earhart

In an article entitled Begin with the End in Mind, the author, Deborah Chaddock Brown gives us food for thought:

If you were to begin with the end in mind, what would be your first step toward your goal?

Would you hurry on your way, mindful of your life’s clock ticking?

Or would you savor each step, confident in the fact that you’ll get there someday?

Begin with the end in mind and then start walking.

Let’s apply that to our marketing goals for our self-published books. What if we first pictured the end? What would it look like?

Are you sitting next to Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show talking about your sensational book? Or are you leading a workshop on the Avalon Waterways river cruise talking about your book? Are you on the NY Times best sellers list?



Start with the end and then develop your marketing plan to help you achieve your goal.

Author T. Cagley, reminds us that the 2nd habit Stephen Covey shares in his highly acclaimed book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is to being with the end in mind:

The second habit in Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is ‘Begin With The End In Mind’.  This translates to understanding what is really important to you and work to achieve that, rather than a single destination.  Reflecting on who I am, some of the scripts I use to direct my day-to-day behavior I adopted from my parents.

To an extent, I absorbed those scripts as I formed my Parent Ego State, therefore I have become what I am by default rather than by explicit design. To a greater or lesser extent our long term mission is shaped either by accepting scripts by default or by trying to shape how we behave and act.

You can control the direction of your life if you can step back and take the time to reflect on what really matters to you.  Reject being controlled by default and instead follow your own mission.  Covey points out that it is possible to take control because we have an imagination and a conscience.

Who better to use their imagination than a writer?

Bottom Line: Whether you are writing a new book or marketing a book already written; consider the benefits of starting from the end and working your way back to the beginning.

However, do keep in mind that not all last lines are gems. I’ll leave you with Oscar Wilde’s final words.

“The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”