The Lies that Bind: What Do We Really Believe?
Today we’re going to have a talk about LIES. Deception, half-truths, misinformation, and twisted realities. In my post about the success paradox we discussed how thoughts impact us in very real and tangible ways.
Our belief systems are like our ‘programming’ but malware abounds, very often in the form of lies. If we fail to recognize the lies and internalize them as ‘truths’ it’s akin to opening that infected PDF in our e-mail….
Welcome to the Blue Screen of Doom. Only it’s in our head.
For those who read the post, I suggested some exercises at the end to get a bead on what you really believe regarding success. Before I dive into this, I want y’all to grasp one fundamental fact about the human brain.
The mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie. What we tell it, it simply accepts and obeys. Keep that ‘in mind’ as we continue.
A World of Lies
Why are you really doing this writing thing? If it’s for fun or a hobby then read no further. For those who want to be professionals? Take heed.
Lies can come in the form of all-or-nothing-thinking. Cute sayings that sound noble, self-effacing, humble and make us appear super nice. They seem innocent, but they’re progress poison.
Let’s use some common examples. Every time I write any post regarding wealth or success, inevitably I get responses in the comments like:
There are more important things in life than success.
Money doesn’t matter the most. What about love?
I’m here to write great stories, not for the money.
All three? LIES. Utter and complete garbage. Bear with me as we unpack these.
There Are More Important Things Than Success
Just because success isn’t the most important thing doesn’t automatically make it therefore unimportant. Prioritizing our dreams doesn’t immediately necessitate we a) abandon our families b) give no figs about world issues or c) seek to GUT anyone who might stand in our way faster than Cersie Lannister on bath salts.
If we’re constantly declaring success isn’t the most important thing in life, then why are we shocked when we can’t seem to get ahead? Success IS extremely important.
No one starts anything—a marriage, a family, a business, a novel—and thinks, ‘OMG, I cannot wait to fail at this. It will be AWESOME. My goal is to spend a ton of money, time and energy on my dreams for…NOTHING.’
When we say stupid things like, There are more important things than success we’re unwittingly programming in self-sabotaging behavior. We’re far more likely to put off our writing and treat it like a cute little hobby. We won’t invest money in learning to be better because who invests in the unimportant?
Also, we’re inadvertently dooming ourselves to amateur/hobbyist status because guess what, my sweeties….
To professionals? Success is VERY important.
Money Isn’t THAT Big of a Deal
*cough* Bu!!$#!* Yes, I know love, joy, happiness and self-fulfillment are important and matter. But here again we’re back in the same dumb@$$ thinking we had with success.
Which ‘matters most?’ Your heart or your lungs? Come on! Tick tock. Choose!
Money matters. Despite what people might say, money’s a pretty big deal. In fact, the lie that money doesn’t matter has been one of the main ways MEGA MEDIA brands have gotten away with using writers as their personal serfs. Convince writers money is bad and that asking to be paid for their work is dirty…and they’ll line up to work for likes, feel-goods, and ‘exposure dollars.’
When money matters, we start thinking like professionals. A hard lesson I am still learning:
You don’t get what you work for, you get what you negotiate.
Plenty of bloggers churn out amazing content for absurdly wealthy brands for free (exposure). If we claim money doesn’t matter, this sets us up to be preyed on by those who value money…a lot.
Um…the hell? No offense Mr. Editor, but…
Blogging aside, let’s talk books. A lot of authors work hard and are still broke. Even authors with great books. Why? Because when we claim ‘money isn’t all that matters’ we’re less likely to learn the business side of our business.
This leads to a) ignoring it b) delegating it. Delegating our business isn’t necessarily bad but unless we’re educated we’re unable to discern a good plan from a bad deal.
When writers prioritize being paid, we’re more likely to invest time, energy, money in areas where we’ll eventually benefit financially (I.e. blog on our own website). We’ll also step up our game, value our work and believe we’re entitled to reap the rewards.
That is What Businesses DO
Businesses want to be successful and also believe money is a super huge deal. Even non-profits prioritize money! The Red Cross doesn’t run on thoughts and prayers. We writers need to reevaluate what we believe about money and how it relates to US.
Why is it okay for the owners of websites like Huffington Post to make hundreds of millions off the hard work of unpaid labor? And to act as if they’re doing some benevolent service by grifting thirteen thousand creatives in the UK alone?
What other industry could get away with this? Can you imagine engineers, surgeons, or even construction workers being paid in exposure? NO. Why then is it okay to do to us? Why are we enabling profiteering parasites?
The reason writers aren’t calling out this injustice is we’ve been groomed to believe their LIES. Too many of us believe big brands are doing US a favor by posting our work to their vast audience, but riddle me this….
If our writing is so shoddy we need to give it away for free (and be grateful), why do the big brands want our posts in the first place? How are these MEGA MEDIA brands raking in hundreds of millions of dollars (via ads) off writing that isn’t even worth paying the creators a single solitary dollar for?
The fundamental difference is businesses believe a) success matters b) money is important and c) they’re offering a product consumers want. The mega media brands know those surfing the web are in search of great content. Readers want to click on blogs about fashion, dating, family, gardening, pets, etc.
Yet, be careful. These brands also want writers posting for THEM so THEY make the money…which means they’ll also post a bunch of blogs about how blogs are dying and no longer popular.
How the hell does that make any sense on any level? Critical thinking here.
If blogs are dying, then what the heck are we reading when we’re being told blogging is a dying form? Smoke signals? Jazz hands? No, we are reading a BLOG telling us BLOGS are dying.
It’s a mental game to make us insecure, a lie to convince us we can’t do it on our own. The mega brands know if we blog on our site and create our own following, we (eventually) make the money and not them.
I Just Want to Write Great Stories
Wonderful! All the more reason to take success seriously. Professionals hone their skills. They read and study and take classes and seek out mentors. Also—just pointing this out—why are we acting like this is an ‘either-or’ scenario? Why not both? Why do we believe we must choose?
FUN FACT: We can write great stories and also make money. #MindBlown
In fact, the more money we make, the more time we can dedicate to writing even better books. The more capital we have on hand to invest in training, refining our skills, and creating a better product…the more good books there are in the world.
Society likes to promote this caricature of the ‘starving artist’ when, in reality, the highest paid people in the world technically don’t work ‘real jobs.’ Last I checked J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson and George R.R. Martin aren’t panhandling at stoplights for spare change.
Our culture spends billions on entertainment, but the entertainers making money aren’t working for free. These entertainers (authors included) believe they have a right to be paid for what they create.
Also, if Amazon can make billions of dollars of profit, writers can make bank, too. Write excellent books and price them to reflect actual value. If our book honestly is good enough to be published at all, then we don’t need to cat-fight over fractions of KU pennies. And, if we are playing that ‘game’? Then deep down maybe our book wasn’t quite ready to be published after all.
Food for thought.
What Do You Believe?
Why are writers blogging for super wealthy brands for free? Why are so many writers churning out a gazillion hastily scribbled books for Amazon? A number of reasons.
As we mentioned, we’ve been groomed to be nice. It’s bad manners to self-promote and gauche to talk about money. We’re afraid of business because we don’t understand it and thus the ‘starving artist facade’ allows us a pass when it comes to learning skills and subjects that scare the crap out of us.
We want someone else to do that icky stuff so we can create *hair flip*.
Get good at the icky stuff and make money? We’ll have time to write more books and make even more money. Make enough money and eventually we can PAY people to do that icky stuff 😉 .
Another reason writers (and creatives) are so willing to work for free or for pennies is deep down we don’t really believe what we’re writing is worth paying for.
And *grimaces* sometimes we might even be correct. There is a learning curve to this. First we must LEARN, then later we can drop the L.
It’s easy to self-publish on Amazon then blame the lack of a marketing budget or our poor promotional skills for shoddy sales. You know what’s hard? Brutal even? Taking an honest look at our work admitting it needs to be better…a lot better.
Hey, I’ve been there. Y’all have NO idea how happy I am self-publishing wasn’t an option when I wrote my first ‘novel.’
The one that pees on the carpets and bites.
Yes, I want writers to understand the business of our business because it improves odds of success and protects y’all (and me) against predation. A MAJOR part of business involves brutal honesty about the product. If something isn’t selling, WHY?
If it can be fixed, then how? Fix it. If not? Then stop throwing more money at it. Nobody wanted New Coke no matter how many celebrities promoted it. If our book sucks, write a better one. Up our game and hone our skills. More promotion isn’t going to sell a crappy book nobody wanted in the first place.
Want to BE Free? Stop Being FOR Free
I’d like to posit a friendly challenge. Take some time and consider what you’re worth. What is the actual value of your writing? The MEGA MEDIA brands have almost all jumped on the exposure dollar bandwagon, paying writers with bragging rights while using euphemisms like ‘contributors’ so that profiting off a massive unpaid workforce seems less ‘icky.’
Tossing out a challenge.
Is that post you created for X MEGA BRAND worth at least one dollar? If it is, then they need to pay you that dollar or don’t post. This all has to begin with us. If we don’t value our work, no one else will either.
And yes, I blog ‘for free’ here, but free is part of a larger strategy that serves my goals. I own my content. My blogs build MY brand, MY following, MY SEO, MY credibility. I’m here cultivating MY future fans by serving them. My blog is a mechanism to drive class sales and book sales.
Anyone who guest posts here usually is teaching a class where they are paid generously BY ME. Because I VALUE them. Also, because I’m able to make money with classes, this means I can afford to tip the photographers at Pexel (a site that’s created ways their ‘contributors’ can be rewarded financially).
Our books? What are they truly worth? Might be time to get brave and raise the price. We had a saying in sales: Value perceived is value achieved.
The Lies END HERE
We should be grateful for exposure (LIE). Exposure is a worthless currency and has been since Paris Hilton was cool. We need the power of big brands to build our tiny brand (MAJOR LIE). Major brands will use our own writing to destroy our brand by cannibalizing our SEO. Notice there’s no place for a shopping cart to sell our BOOKS where we might make money, but plenty of space for ads where THEY make millions.
When we blog for free for a MEGA MEDIA brand we enhance our resume and up our value (LIE). We are a battery.
Amazon, iBooks and the Big Five have all the power (LIE). Write excellent books and cultivate a following (via social media/blog/multiple books) and you can bring your terms to the table.
I need to price my books low because of competition (LIE). Last I checked George R.R. Martin was not the only epic fantasy writer, so why aren’t his books 99 cents?
Yes, I have on my sassy pants today. I know this is scary but we can do this. Do it afraid, but do it. According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the year of the Dog. Don’t know about you but, while I’m willing to work like a dog, I’m nobody’s b*tch 😛 .
I love hearing from you!
And am not above bribery!
What do you WIN? For the month of JANUARY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Taught by Kristen Lamb AND Cait Reynolds…together…in same room. It’ll be fun! Class is NEXT FRIDAY January 19th, 7-10 PM EST in our W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom. $75 for a three hour class of intensive education and lots of shenanigans.
A free recording is included with class purchase…though we reserve the right to edit out anything that can and will be used against us in a court of law.
Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $65.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
Date: Friday, January 26th, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
We all have a story to tell, something worth preserving or even sharing. This might be the tale of our own life, or the life of someone dear to us. Maybe we long to capture oral histories of relatives before the living past disappears forever.
Regardless, the memoir is a genre that requires an approach, voice, and technique vastly different from fiction.
Topics we cover in this class include:
- Developing the thematic frame of the memoir;
- Creating a compelling narrative structure out of facts and timelines;
- The art of the follow-up question: going beyond the generic questionnaires to dig deep and mine memories to get the extraordinary details and important information;
- Developing and refining your memoirist voice;
- Knowing when extra research is needed, what is needed, and how to find it;
- Filling in the gaps when no information exists;
- Understanding legal constraints (i.e. libel) and how to maneuver around them yet maintain story integrity;
- Recreating dialogue and excerpting from original documents (letters, journals, etc.);
- Positioning your memoir for multiple markets.
****As always a free recording is included with class purchase.