Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

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Posts Categorized: Writer Wellness

Tyler Lastovich, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

We are now in 2018 and the months ahead are like a fresh notebook. January marks a new start, another chance to go after our dreams and goals. It is human to long for success, yet success can be highly vexing and even more elusive. Why? Simple. We must understand the success paradox or all our noble intentions, our planning, our goals are doomed to fizzle or fail.

Obey the Law

Whether we like it or not, there are underlying forces we can’t see and don’t fully understand that dictate our reality. Certain laws govern behaviors, patterns, habits, causes and yes effects. Understand the laws and work within their confines, and objectives become far easier to obtain.

Laws matter in many areas of life and we dismiss them at our peril. Seriously. Can you imagine NASA ignoring the laws of physics when launching a rocket into space? Or engineers ‘winging it’ while constructing a high-rise? What if pharmaceutical companies just let scientists mix whatever they wanted in a lab heedless to the laws governing chemistry?

Un-pretty.

I Believe I Can Fly

Bess Hamiti, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

What’s funny is so many folks will balk at any mention of laws that govern success as a bunch of self-affirmation silliness. Yet these same people have no problem flying in airplanes, taking pictures with their phones, or downloading an app from a satellite…that is IN SPACE.

WITCHES! Burn them!

Just because we don’t see or yet understand a law doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It also doesn’t mean these hidden laws are not fundamentally impacting you or me in a positive or negative way. The paradox of success can make us or break us and we need to get over having to understand everything before we give something a go. Seeing is NOT always believing.

There are plenty of ‘things’ we can’t see that can and will kill us. We can’t see Cesium 137 but I don’t recommend camping trips near Chernobyl.

Some forces are invisible and can only be realized, measured or understood via causation.

What is the Success Paradox?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

First, a paradox is a premise that appears absurd or even contradictory to ideas most people accept to be true. If we extend this idea, it means that what’s most commonly thought to be ridiculous regarding success is often the best (or only) way to reach and maintain our goals.

I get it is a brain-bender, but just chillax and we’ll unpack this.

First, just because something appears to make no logical sense doesn’t mean it’s therefore untrue. It means the concept is simply a paradox we’ve yet to fully unlock.

Secondly, if we want to reach our dreams—whatever those dreams may be—then we need to embrace the success paradox and do what’s necessary even when we don’t understand.

If we keep trudging the same path that ‘makes sense’ then it only ‘makes sense’ we’ll end up right in the same spot this time next year. Same list. Same resolutions. Perhaps a different plan but still bewildered why we can’t seem to break free of the cycle.

Hey, I am pointing one finger at you and three at me. We are in this together 😉 .

We must master our thoughts and words or remain enslaved to mediocrity and toxic beliefs. To be clear. NO. I don’t believe we can just believe we’ll be millionaires and money will rain from the sky. Nor do I believe if we simply claim we are already a New York Times best-selling author it magically will happen by Tuesday.

Um, we kind of need to write the book.

To fully embrace the success paradox, however, it’s necessary to reset your brains for 2018, clean out the cache, and maybe even wipe the drive and start anew.

What’s Your Programming?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

If I handed you a computer you believed was pristine and functional, yet it was loaded with hidden viruses and malware, would that possibly impact your results?

Think about it.

You obediently sit at your desk and use this infected computer day after day believing you’re doing a great job. Working hard! To your great vexation, however, everything you print out is an unreadable disaster.

Thus, you dedicate more hours, learn to type ten times faster and still everything the computer prints is a mess. You take computer classes, read books, and go to computer seminars. You have a NEW plan! Yet, you return to work using the computer loaded with malware.

The screen freezes, your documents vanish and your pages all print in Pig Latin instead of English. So you buy a new computer and transfer all your files to the new computer, but the same thing keeps happening!

No matter how many hours you work, the programs lock up even on the new computer. The printouts are a mess and all attachments are unreadable.

Sigh. Maybe you decide it’s time to get an MFA, MBA, or a DOA. Clearly you’re just destined to fail. You aren’t a ‘real’ writer after all.

Or….

GET RID OF THE MALWARE!

Taking a Quantum Leap

internal programming, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

I’m a total science nerd. One reason I believe many of the personal success tenets are so easily dismissed is that these ‘laws’ dictate cause and effect from the quantum scale. Meaning these principles operate in a realm that doesn’t obey laws we’re familiar with in our macro world.

When particles get small enough, these little buggers simply give no figs about how big particles act or react. Strange force does its own thing, and doesn’t take a popularity poll. This is a world very sensitive to wavelengths and energy (refer to Casimir effect) and they have their own laws…or we think they do (science still working on this).

We also are understanding more and more about memory and how what we think about or talk about impacts the human brain. Neuroscientists have an adage that neurons that fire together wire together. 

The more we think about something the stronger the wiring becomes. Talk about it? Wiring gets stronger. Add in kinesthetic layer (I.e. practice)? WAY stronger.

Thinking and talking about writing a novel is great. Actually writing one? Even a bad one? WAY BETTER. Thinking and talking about learning to play an instrument is good. Practicing? MUCH BETTER.

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

This is because the brain contains Glial cells, which have been called the gardeners of the brain. These cells water, fertilize and strengthen certain neurological connections.

Other Glial cells—known as ‘microglial cells—are in charge of cleanup. Unused thoughts, skills, or knowledge are the brain’s detritus. Microglial cells rake up the dead leaves, prune the dead branches and pull weeds.

Ever wonder why you can’t recall Algebra II or remember who or what started the Franco-Prussian War even though school dedicated a lot of time to this stuff? It’s because—unless you work a job requiring you to use Algebra II or apply European history—your microglial cleanup crew gathered up all these factoids into a mind mulch pile or bagged them for recycling.

Creating Our Reality

Why did I dedicate time to discussing quantum rules and Glial cells? Because this is fundamental to grasping the success paradox and to challenge you that maybe just maybe there is something real (and scientifically sound) to this ‘happy thoughts fluff.’

It’s the New Year and generally two camps will surface. One side will jump and shout and push positive affirmations, visualization and manifestation. The other side will tout that positive affirmations are a bunch of bunk and hard work is all we need.

Yet plenty of positive people never have anything to show for happy thoughts. With no plan, no action or unfocused action, the fruits of Happy Thoughts Only Club is eventually a) a person with a reputation as a total flake to avoid at all cost or b) a promising talent who ended up bitter and disillusioned after years of nothing to show for all the positive thoughts.

Simultaneously, countless ‘hard workers’ dismiss that ‘Hippie Guru Positive Manifestation Crappola’ and truly believe elbow grease is all that matters. Yet, with stinking thinking, after a while, they feel trapped on Hell’s Hamster Wheel. The only fruit for their hard work and sacrifice is burnout, bitterness, defeatism and loneliness.

Nature Abhors a Vacuum

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

It’s impossible for us to believe in nothing. Nothing is a vacuum and what do we know about vacuums? Something will rush in to fill that space. Thus, if something is going to fill that space between our ears, why not be deliberate about it and make it something good? If we’re passive and let whatever wants to fall into our brains take root, then expect more weeds than fruit trees.

Why are thoughts so important? Maybe you’ve heard this quote or some variation.

Watch your thoughts, they become words. Watch your words, they become actions. Watch your actions, they become habits. Watch your habits, they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.

                                                                               ~Frank Outlaw (Late President of the Bi-Lo Stores)

Back to those Glial cells. They will help the success paradox make more sense.

What Are We Planting/Pruning?

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

If we constantly think about all the ways we will/could fail, mull over our fears, and ruminate over every instance of bad luck or times people wronged us…then these are the thoughts in our minds.

When we speak constant doom and gloom, our words and thoughts signal the Glial cells to reinforce those bad memories and defeatist attitudes. Toxic beliefs act like the malware we discussed earlier. Thoughts and words literally alter our brains’ programming. This ‘negative programming’ then corrupts all we ‘produce’ (actions, habits, results).

Why?

The human brain has no opinions. It simply does as it’s told.

If we grouse, complain and rehash every time life went sideways, those memories and beliefs become stronger and stronger…at the very literal expense of the good.

The Glials rush to reinforce all the memories of when we were victims, times we screwed up, the pain of failure, and the hurtful memories of people (probably family) who told us we sucked or didn’t deserve anything.

Our Glial cells will dutifully buttress the list of the hundred ways we are ‘not enough’…which we then speak aloud either in self-criticism or with friends who also like to gripe and complain. This talking, in turn, will make the Glials work even harder to strengthen those ‘ideas’ since they must be important because we think and talk about them so much.

But what a heavy price to pay…

Stinking Thinking

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success
This is your brain on b*tching.

When we adopt stinking thinking, we unwittingly signal the Glials to make all things bad and self-defeating stronger. Simultaneously, we signal microglials to clean up the ‘trash.’ Problem is, we’re unintentionally directing the Glials to keep the weeds, crabgrass and stickers and instructing the microglials to dig up the roses, fruit trees, and flowers and bag ’em.

Thus, the microglials clip steadily away at countless positive memories, feelings and beliefs. Clip, clip, clip. Bit by bit microglials snip away all the good times, the blessings, the joys, the triumphs and pile them on the cerebral mulch pile.

What are we drawing from to create our reality? A garden or a landfill?

Manifestation

Lorenzo Cafaro, success paradox, Kristen Lamb, New Year's resolutions, science of success, neuroscience and success

The success paradox helps us realize we can only get from life what we sow into it. Plant a field of poison ivy seeds and that’s what we’ll get. People near us won’t break out in the itchies, they’ll break out in the bitchies 😛 .

Think and talk negatively long enough and eventually we’ll find ourselves depressed, wracked with fear, expecting the worst. We’ll self-sabotage in countless ways and our outer world will gradually mirror our inner world.

How?

First, who wants to hang around someone who complains nonstop? Ungrateful people are not a lot of fun. Folks who only can see the bad are unappealing to healthy people but like catnip to losers.

I can say this because I’m a Recovering Debbie Downer. When I was a super negative person, guess what kind of ‘friends’ I had?

Other negative people who shared my favorite hobby…complaining.

If a healthy person came near me and genuinely said I had talent, potential, or skill I pushed them away because their ‘Happy-Joy-Joy-BS’ didn’t line up with my mental programming that I was a hack. Surely they could see the 9,000 ways I totally sucked! It’s all I saw. Who could trust a person that blind? What was their angle? O_o

Is it any wonder I felt trapped and defeated? Since reaching our dreams involves the success paradox—which are behaviors and thoughts that seem to make ZERO sense—I was to fearful to even TRY.

Dare to Be Different

Now let’s flip this. Just because a story starts out badly doesn’t make it automatically a tragedy. It’s how the story finishes that determines if it is a story of triumph or tragedy.

We control our story, but it will take work and intention and probably a lot of feeling silly. Remember the success paradox will seem to make no sense, which is why I needed to help you understand why your mind is going to be critical in the year to come.

Only someone deliberate can embrace then DO the counterintuitive actions necessary to reach higher and higher levels of achievement. The success paradox runs counter to what the world believes is true. Regular people will think we are insane and, in a sense, we are because normal is just another word for average.

Do what average people do, and welcome to average.

The success paradox maintains down is up and up is down because it, too, is a Strange Force. Want more wealth? Let go of money. Want more love? Give more love. Want more peace? Create stronger boundaries. Long for joy, be a blessing. Providence can only move after WE do. Open the hand and only THEN can it be filled.

Exercises:

Today was a longer post. Think of it as wiping the hard drive to make way for all the good stuff in the year to come. We can’t have anything good with corrupted files hanging around. We will talk more about the success paradox but to get rid of malware we need to locate it so we can delete/overwrite it.

Exercise One—Reflect on what you want, then articulate WHY you want it. If you want more wealth, why? If you want to sell more books, why? If you want to be a mega-author, why? If you want to be debt-free, why? If you want to be in better health, why? Y’all get the gist.

Exercise Two—Once you articulate what you want and why, think of people who already have what you want. Without over thinking, what is your first emotional reaction? BE HONEST. If you see someone in the house of your dreams, how do you feel? Or someone your age with a super fit body? Someone your age worth millions? What is your first emotional response?

Exercise Three—If you want to be rich, what do you actually believe about rich people? If you want to be a NYT Best-Selling Author, what do you believe about them? If you want to be fit, trim and healthy, what do you believe about those who are fit?

No judgement and no need to put in comments, but answering these questions honestly will help you get more out of the posts to come 😉 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

Do you want success but deep down really don’t believe it is for you? Maybe you don’t deserve it? Did you grow up in a home that fostered a lot of negative thinking? Did this explanation help the idea of affirmations and positive thinking seem less like fluff and more substantial for you? Do you have self-defeating habits and now see your thought life might be partly to blame?

Are you also a Recovering Debbie Downer? I still struggle. Every day is a challenge to will myself to be positive, especially lately. Been flattened with bronchitis and it was horrible!

Not so much being sick but I felt lazy and was beating myself up for being a slacker. I HAD A 101.5 FEVER! But, I am a work in progress too. In my family, resting=lazy. You’re sick? Fine, fold socks.

Come on, this is more than a blog, it’s free group therapy 😛

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).

ALSO, NEW CLASS TONIGHT! 

The Art of Character: How to Craft Dimensional ‘People’ in Fiction

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST

No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?

It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.

This class will cover:

  • Discovering Wounds;
  • Understanding Coping Mechanisms;
  • How Wounds Collide to Increase Dramatic Tension
  • How to Create Dimensional Characters
  • Using Character to Plot

***A FREE recording is included with purchase.

So…Kristen locked all the blog doors. She even locked the blog’s ground floor windows. HOWEVER, she forgot that I am a rock climber! I just did a little dyno, a little manteling, and a little down-climbing, and I was in. And she thought I couldn’t do this on a road trip!

*evil cackle*

Anyway, once I was in, past the lasers and over the alligator traps, I promptly went downstairs and opened the door for Kim, who will be here next Friday…since we now have a new feature: GIRL FRIDAY (well until Kristen figures out how to truly evict us. Squatters are crafty 😉 ).

For now, we are basically Girl Friday to Kristen Lamb to assist in her plans for global domination and after all the Wednesdays hanging out here, we got comfy.

I don’t have a picture of Denny Basenji today because I am (technically) on vacation. Which means, as a self-employed writing instructor, editor, and writer, I LAUGH AT THE CONCEPT OF RELAXATION! Let’s examine how I have turned two weeks at the beach in North Carolina into…

THE HOLIDAY TRAV-L-PARK WRITER’S CONFERENCE

Don’t hate me because it’s beautiful.

No, really, this is work. It’s like any other conference. For example:

The Accommodations. Trailer homes or BYOC (bring your own camper)
Shuttle transportation. And just like shuttles, zippy and tippy, depending on the speed and driver (*shifty eyes*)

Just like any conference. There’s a bar and a pool where you can hang out and network because we all know that networking is what makes drinking and arguing over whether zombies could take out Klingons a “work-related activity” #businessexpense.

The bar. If you want wine, you have to go to the expensive side of the convenience store.
The pool. And just like every crowded hotel conference, not a shade umbrella to be had…

I don’t know about you, but I always imagine I’m going to have SOOOO much time to work and write after the day’s sessions are done. I pack all kinds of notebooks, books, etc. in anticipation of enormous bouts of productivity. Yet, I always seem to end up dragged (okay, so, it’s more like static cling) into shenanigans that teeter on the edge of legal. For example:

I built a sand castle instead of reading background material for a WIP. BUT this wasn’t just any old sand castle! I put extra fortification around the foundations so it was impervious to sapeurs! #nerdatthebeach #youshouldhaveseenmyneolithicsettlement

There were some good moments of inspiration and crafting breakthroughs.

For example, I discovered how to do a travel-size version of my “Serial Killer Wall of Plotting.” The citronella candle is to keep away the mosquitoes who insist on texting during the sessions.

I’ve also made good progress on my TBR pile.

Missing one book. The cabana boy (erm, my husband) took one of the books with him to the beach.

One of the most enjoyable parts of any conference, however, is always meeting the fellow attendees and making new friends.

Yes, there is an indoor shower, but why not shower under the sun, sky, and trees…especially when you get to converse with…
This little guy! (I was in the middle of a shower, so I couldn’t get an actual photo of him). He was perched on top of my shampoo bottle and made some rather pointed comments about how I need to use more conditioner. (“Tree Squirrel Frog” Photo by duggiehoo on DeviantArt)

I also ran into an old friend, which one tends to do at these events.

Miss North Carolina Blue-Tailed Skink and I go way, way back. It’s always nice to catch up with friends you wouldn’t see anywhere else but at a conference! (Photo: Wikipedia)

Don’t forget the SWAG!

And they say I don’t think of you…

Finally, like most conferences, there’s always an element of dress-up and costuming.

Personally, I am jazzed for any occasion that allows me to break out my parasol.

In all seriousness, despite the books and notes and that my brain never shuts up with story ideas, getting away and out of the HOUSE is actually essential for creativity. No, we may not crank out two thousand words a day like we planned the day we left for the con, but that’s cool.

We gain so much more.

Friendships, XP points, and a little R&R goes a long way. Sometimes writer’s block might just be code for “Take a vaca. Like, NOW.” That vaca might be a beach or, if you are Kristen, an extra hour at the grocery store wandering the aisles in search of new GF foods.

Take a drive, a walk, or watch a movie in an actual theater. GASP! I  know, movie tickets are expensive but you have my permission to sneak in your nibblies.

Thing is, a break is a break and we need to snag ’em where we find ’em!

Trust me. Your muse will thank you.

Next week, Kim Alexander will be back and actually share some useful insights about writing as opposed to this brief yet colorful order to CHILL THE HELL OUT.

RELAX.

And enjoy your weekend. It is an order *stern face*

Oh and while you are enjoying your weekend, give yourself an additional challenge. REST. To parlay off Kristen’s last post, Invoke the No, this is a great way to exercise that flabby or maybe even atrophied NO muscle.

Say NO to the gazillion tiny demands of others, chores you will do out of mindless habit or spineless obedience. Tasks and chores you won’t likely remember by the next week.

Meaningful NOs free up space for the YES to something fun.

Which is hard. I get it. Baby steps. Maybe you can meet Kristen at the grocery store. She finds it relaxing…whatever *rolls eyes*

In the end, when we refuse to relax and have fun and chain ourselves to the “busy”…this is what we look like.

Actual Footage of Writers Who Won’t Rest…

Anyway, it’s time for me to head out to the beach…erm…I mean, another conference session *waves*

One major advantage of being older is the blessing of perspective. Us “older folk” have lived enough years to have gained decades of experiences, failures, mistakes, victories, setbacks, trials, and tests. This means we have the benefit of context. Many of us also have a clearer picture of what “success” really looks like. What is important and what’s worth our time and what is not.

Stuff we freaked out over and that was world-ending as a teen? We laugh at now when we see that same drama in our own kids or the children of others.

We may even shake out heads and think, “I wish I would have known this when I was younger.”

Of all the lessons I’ve learned, there’s one that surpasses them all—a linchpin to any kind of meaningful life, love, success, peace or prosperity. Good news is the lesson is simple. Bad news, it’s far from easy.

I challenge you to…INVOKE THE NO!

The Power of NO!!!!

Yes, invoke the NO. NO to the wrong stuff makes room for the YES for the right stuff.

Seriously, give yourself a quota of Nos. Start with 5 and work from there. No to yourself, no to others. The word NO is the key. Yeah, this song below is about pickup-lines in clubs and is cute and I bought it and work out to it and recommend it. It doesn’t specifically apply to our NO lesson, but the chorus is actually highly useful as an ear worm.

Just retool it for your specific needs.

Kristen’s version?

My name is…NO.

My sign is…NO.

My email is…NO.

My best day to bake cookies is…NO.

I gotta let you go. My answer still is no.

Setting Boundaries Using the NO

I could and probably will write a whole book on this one day but trust me when I tell you it is impossible to enjoy any kind of success, meaning, joy, peace or prosperity unless we become masters at setting firm boundaries, which again means invoking the NO.

TIME is a treasure, the most valuable possession we have.

Every minute a gold coin, every hour a jewel, every week a necklace, every year a crown. We are given this treasure at birth (though we never are aware of the treasure’s actual size). We take time for granted, thus too often fail to guard it with the NO. We give into the easy “yes” which steals our treasure one coin, one jewel at a time.

Then we are clueless as to why we are emotionally bankrupt and have nothing to show for all this work. Truth is there is a HUGE difference between being busy and being productive and that difference is two letters long.

N-O.

We Can’t Have It All

Why is saying NO so tough? Because, we are flawed humans who have a tendency to get greedy (including me). We don’t want to believe we really cannot have it all.

Blunt truth time…

“Having it all” is a marketing LIE used to sell us stuff we won’t use, don’t need, can’t afford and frequently cannot even FIND. “Having it ALL” is a tactic to rook us into spending time instead of investing time 😉 .

INVOKE THE NO!

Anyone who tells us we can say “yes” to everything is a) a fool or b) playing us for the fool. Yet part of growing and learning and maturing is we too often DO fall for the delusion we can have it all and this makes us, for lack of a better word…a dumb@$$.

This dumb@$$ery is usually most visibly witnessed January 2nd of every year.

Even I’ve had stupid ideas/life plans like:

I’m going to have a bikini body, build up the home business into a multi-billion-dollar franchise, have an immaculate home, an organic vegetable garden, romantic getaways with Hubby, write ten novels, bake gluten-free nut-free vegan paleo cookies for Spawn’s school bake sale, and volunteer rescuing homeless baby pygmy goats, which I will then crochet onesies for—obviously made from yarn I will spin myself.

*hair flip*

Imagine my shock when, at the gym, I realized Spin Class had all these bicycles that were only producing pain and sadness…and NOT yarn for my pygmy goat onesies.

Boundaries INCREASE FOCUS—Use Your NO Lens

NO is a lens that focuses energy and amplifies our actions. By the power of NO, we accomplish more with less. When we say no to all but that which is a priority, our energy transforms from diffused white light to a laser that can cut through diamonds.

We’re working smarter, not harder.

Boundaries on OURSELVES

Again NO.

Earlier I said the secret to everything is boundaries. It IS simple. If I set a priority (finished novel) I must then place boundaries around that priority starting with myself by invoking the NO.

Two hours on Instagram watching makeup tutorials….NO.

Binging on HBO series….NO.

Joining in on FB drama…NO.

Volunteering to beta read everyone who asks me…NO.

Boundaries set in place by the Power of NO makes the right YESes easier to spot and harness.

Dedicate two hours working on novel…YES.

Boundaries on OTHERS—N to the No to the No, No, No

Actually takers never WILL.

Placing boundaries on others (family, friends, social media pals, kids, etc.) is the really tough part that requires probably even more training (especially for women who are taught to be “nice”).

Train your NO.

Invoking the NO has power, and the more we use it the stronger it gets.

In many females, our NO is a withered, forgotten muscle. At first when we invoke the NO, it will be painful, uncomfortable and weird. But that’s temporary. It will pass (perhaps like a kidney stone but it will pass).

If we have friends or family who never remember our number until they need money or help moving or free therapy or a place they can unload all their toxic waste (drama) on us?

NO.

Learn to ignore the call (or block the number/unfriend).

When I’m working (writing), I put my phone in Airplane Mode so no one can call or text me. There is the added benefit of silencing the siren’s song of FB pings that could distract me.

I invoke the NO using my Settings. My iPhone is strong so I don’t need to be 😀 .

We also—wait for it—do NOT need to constantly check emails. There’s no law that states we must instantly reply to all messages. We merely must respond in a reasonable amount of time because it is polite.

Anyone who gets pissy because they don’t get “instant” response can get over it. They want instant, they can buy some Sanka.

We have no Make You Happy Meals for sale. So…N to the No to the NO, NO, NO!

Yes, today I have my Sassy Pants on, but I really wish I would’ve understood this simple yet vital lesson in my 20s or 30s or even…four weeks ago.

I love helping and serving and nurturing but there’s only so much of ME (or YOU) to go around. When we focus on US by invoking the NO, we get stronger, and when we are stronger we serve better.

We have more energy, more resources (I.e. great books sales), and more discernment. YES is not always a good thing. If that person who feels the need to vent all over you suddenly can’t reach you to get all the answers spoon fed to them?

Then maybe they will have to grow up, suck it up buttercup and FIGURE IT OUT like adults DO. No is just as good for others as it is for us.

Many emerging writers want to complete NaNoWriMo. My advice? INVOKE THE NO. Want to trim down, lose some fluff? INVOKE THE NO. Want stronger finances, to be debt-free? INVOKE THE NO. Want to finish a novel? INVOKE THE NO.

Y’all get the gist 😉 .

BRING ME NOs! I WANT THEIR HEADS!

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with invoking the NO? I’m getting better but, until very recently, I’d failed to make NO a deliberate plan and strategy. I’d failed to see I needed to make it stronger.

Which is why I am now paying my STUPID TAX honoring commitments I didn’t say no to but should have.

Like I tell my son:

When the mind is stupid, the body suffers.

Applies to me, too. Sigh. Anyway…

Do you have a hard time saying no to Facebook? Family? School bake sales? Making your kid a sandwich instead of letting him/her figure it out? No to the BIG CLEARANCE SALE? Are you getting better at saying no? What have you said NO to that you are super proud about? Share your victory and inspire us!

Do you think you could invoke the no 5 times a day? Ready to take the INVOKE THE NO CHALLENGE?

Are you an older person who now has wisdom you wish you’d have had when you were young? What do you wish you would have learned earlier in life? Share your stories OH WISE ONES!

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU! And I am NOT above BRIBERY!

What do you WIN? For the month of September, 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).

We are in the process of moving classes around due to the two MONSTER hurricanes so a fresh class list will be available next post. You can also dash over to W.A.N.A. International to check out what’s coming up and get your spot!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of jayneandd

My goal for this blog has always, always, always been to be honest with you guys, to offer tough love and guidance and support. Because the world has three kinds of people, but two are the most common. Two are not exactly helpful and can be downright toxic. We will start with these folks, then move on to how to win that race!

The Discourager (Enemy)

This is the person who’s going to tell you what you’re unable to do. That it’s too hard, that you’re stupid for even trying.

You want to be a successful author? Seriously? Everyone can be published. It means nothing. Do you have any idea the competition that’s out there? You need a mega-marketing budget and even then you’ll probably fail.

Okay I need to stop there because I’m depressing myself.

These people are poison and I’ve dedicated many a blog to showing you why they need to go and giving tips for getting these people OUT of your life. They need to go if you hope to do ANYTHING remarkable.

The Sugar Coater (False Ally)

Original image via Lucy Downey from Flickr Creative Commons

Then there is the sugar-coater. This person might tell you it’s easy to make a million dollars writing a book…if you just BUY and DO this plan. A lot of folks out there willing to sell a dream. So caveat emptor there. This type of sugar-coater has lots to gain, namely money.

Yet, when we are chasing gimmicks, we’re not doing the two most important activities every writer must do—writing more books, building that platform/brand.

The sugar-coater might also be people around us in, say a critique group, who tell us everything we write is better than unicorn hair. Friends who think everything we write is genius.

While these folks are great encouragers, they might not be what we need. Too much sugar bad for us 😉 .

We might really need a tough and honest editor/critique partner to show us that maybe we don’t know as much as we believed we did. That we still have a LONG way to go and in love, offer constructive criticism.

The True Ally

Original image courtesy of Flickr Creatinve Commons, courtesy of Ali Samieivafa.

I want to give you guys a balance of love and encouragement because, to be blunt, most of us have an entire family filled with discouragers. Conversely, I also want to be honest. This is a tough job. Writing a work that spans 60K-120K words (and having that sucker actually make frigging sense) is NOT EASY.

I want you to be gentle with yourselves. There IS a learning curve. But, also step it up. We’re often capable of far more than we realize.

Parkinson’s Law states that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion. Often we think that if we could only write full-time we’d be machines, turning out book after book. Not always the case and this is why deadlines are crucial.

I find that if I have all day to do something, I get sidetracked and I’m inefficient. I wander off, start on unrelated tasks. Yet, shorten the time I have to do something? And I am ON FIRE!

This is one of the reasons that I’ve run writing sprints on WANATribe every day for almost 18 months…even when I’m the only one there. I set the timer for 40 minutes for the push. How much can I get accomplished in 40 minutes?

Often? A hell of a lot more than I would have believed.

The ally will call us on our own BS. If we’re overextending ourselves? They’ll tell us to knock it off, eat something green and for the love of all that is chocolate…take a NAP.

If we’re going day after day and week after week not producing pages? And we whine we haven’t had time. The true ally will remind us we had time for Facebook and that Firefly marathon and to get our ass to work.

As Your TRUE ALLY, Here is Some Advice

I can carry you, Little Buddy.

Okay so y’all know I finally released a novel The Devil’s Dance after years of writing only non-fiction. Totally new gig for me. It was also pretty terrifying for a number of reasons beyond the usual.

First, I teach craft and have been haunted by that terrible saying: Those who can DO and those who can’t TEACH. Deep down I know it isn’t true, but stuff doesn’t need to be true to still freak us the hell out and keep us up at night.

My fiction would be out there. Did I happen to learn any of what I taught?

Second, I also teach that platform is critical for any kind of success. I’ve released books with a platform and without and can—from experience—tell you which is preferable. My first NF took months to be a blip on the radar versus the second NF launching to the top five of major categories on Amazon like Business and Marketing in less than 24 hours. #GoMe

But I’ve also claimed that if you build a platform the way I teach that we can switch genres, that the brand is US. So, when I was releasing a mystery-thriller when I was known as a NF branding expert? I got to be my own test case.

Did I instantly become a USA Today runaway best-seller hitting #1 in ALL categories AND have a movie deal by the weekend because Reese Witherspoon read my book and loved it and just HAD to produce it?

YES! I DID! #OMGOMGOMG

And then I woke up from my nap. *sobs*

I didn’t. But I did really well for a first novel, breaking the top 200 in multiple categories. Got a bunch of great reviews, reviews that made me sob with joy that 15 years of hell had been worth it. Additionally, my theory on platforms held solid. I already had a base of people eager to buy and read and spread the word.

But let’s face it, fiction is a whole new leg of the race for me and I need to earn my stripes. I have more of my theories to test, namely that it takes more than one book to gain the real traction. I saw this with NF and now? Get to test it with fiction, too. We shall see how it goes.

The RACE

Image via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of Pedro Travassos

We are all in a race and we are racing with the goal of winning. Thing is though, we all have our OWN race. What is success for me is not necessarily success for you. But the key to winning your race is to keep your eyes on your finish line.

Ever run track? Most of us have even if it was forced upon us in P.E. class. When you’re running toward that goal line, the fastest way to trip, to even fall, to lose momentum and any kind of lead? Look at where other racers are.

You know, you turn your head to check and see how far your lead is and then *ass over elbows*.

Same with writing. Truth is, writers are not in actual competition with one another. Books are not so cost-prohibitive readers cannot buy more than one. Readers can have multiple favorite authors.

You guys know I am a huge fan of writers helping writers, connecting, learning, supporting. In fact, the genius dream team Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi…creators of the, well this is easier… (do yourself a favor and just get them all ) I recommend the paper versions.

I knew these ladies before they’d ever even completed The Emotion Thesaurus (their first resource) and was even a very happy guinea pig. Since that ground-breaking resource (as you can see from above) they have come out with many more and even launched an on-line resource One Stop for Writers.

Yet, despite their AMAZING success, they took time to support ME. They wrote a post We’re in This Together: How to Help Other Authors Succeed and not only are there some fantastic tips in here I didn’t even know (but will now do), they are raffling off copies of my book. I never asked them to do this, which explained the tears. SO much love there.

Ergo why I hammer platform, platform, platform. That community we build is going to be SO critical.

Yet, it would be easy for me to look at The Emotion Thesaurus and go, *sniff* Angela and Becca have 1,252 reviews. My book only has 168. Or Such-and-Such is at this rank and I am only here. Or they hit number one and I can’t even break out of the top 100,000.

THIS is when we are looking at other writers, but not in the correct way. This is the way that makes us stumble and fall because we are taking our eyes off OUR race.

Where Comparison Begins, Contentment ENDS

We need to embrace the whole of the writing experience. The challenges, the failures, the setbacks, the wins…ALL OF IT. If we are looking to another writer it needs to be to 1) love and support them or 2) learn from them.

If I compare my first draft of Sin Eater (the second Romi book) to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, the book I am currently reading? I am going to give up…right after I lay waste to every carb in the house.

First, not even the same genre. Then Neil’s been at this a smidge longer than I have and also? I am reading a FINAL product.

We have to stop comparing our behind-the-scenes footage to the highlight reel of others. Comparison is a nasty, nasty habit and puts us on a path that leads nowhere we want to go.

And we all do it. Even me. Jealousy and comparison is natural and human, and research shows humans write better books than robots. But feel it (blip) then press on. This is me…

BE CONTENT BUT BE HUNGRY

Okay my first novel was so bad it’s now being kept in my garage because it bites. But so what?

Millions of people say they want to write a book if they could only find the time. Well I made the time and I finished. I was (eventually) content I had passed that threshold, but I had to remain hungry. Learn, improve, press on, make allies and on and on.

In the end, choose who you will run alongside of…a pride of lions or a pack of hyenas. It matters. Then run your race, keep your eyes there on YOUR finish line (then the next and the next). I cannot promise you this is easy, but I can promise it will be worth it.

What are your thoughts?

Do you struggle with comparison? I do. I’ve just learned to see it, turn away FAST and get my mind on MY race. It takes practice. Trust me. Are you getting too down on yourself? Failing to see what you HAVE accomplished and too focused and what you’re not? Where you lack? Where you could have been better, faster or whatever? Or have you gotten too content and forgotten to be hungry?

It’s okay. We have all been there.

LOVE hearing from you guys!

****The site is relatively new, and I am sorry you have to enter your information all over again to comment, but I am still working out the kinks. Also your comment won’t appear until I approve it, so don’t fret if it doesn’t appear right away.

Talk to me!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of MAY, 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).

NEW CLASSES!

Obviously, I have my areas of expertise, but I’ve wanted for a long time to fill in some gaps on classes I could offer.

Cait Reynolds was my answer.

She is an unbelievable editor, mentor and teacher and a serious expert in these areas. She consults numerous very successful USA Today and NYTBS authors and I highly, highly recommend her classes.

OMG, Like How to Write Fleek YA July 7th $40 with Cait Reynolds

How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here) July 14th $40 w/ Cait Reynolds

Gaskets and Gaiters: How to Create a Compelling Steampunk World July 21st $35 w/ Cait Reynolds 

Lasers & Dragons & Swords, Oh MY! World Building for Fantasy & Science Fiction 

July 28th w/ Cait Reynolds $35/ GOLD $75/ PLATINUM $125

Classes with MOI!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS May 25th $45

Plotting for Dummies July 13th $35 ($250 for GOLD)

Blogging for Authors July 20th $50 ($150 for GOLD)

Branding for Authors  July 7th $35

OTHER Classes with Cait Reynolds

Research for Historical Romance Writing – Or, How NOT to Lose Six Hours on Pinterest July 8th $35 for Basic/ $75 for GOLD / $125 for PLATINUM

Shift Your Shifter Romance into High Gear June 30th $35 Basic/ $75 GOLD/ $125 PLATINUM

Classes with Lisa Hall-Wilson

Growing An Organic Platform On Facebook June 24th $40

 

 

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I read a lot of books on business, sales, and success. I love motivational books and yes, even self-help. Why? Because so much of success is mental. Study the sports greats and the practice on the field is only one component of their overall performance. The truly great players spend countless hours getting their head right.

And this makes sense if we think about it. Take a horse for example. No matter how large that beast is, man can control the direction that animal goes with ONE thing…controlling the head. Where the head goes the rest will follow.

So I challenge you with this question each and every day…

Where is Your Head?

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Granted, there are days, I don’t know if I could find my head. I have been down with a really bad cold for a week and I think I finally found my head in the couch cushions all sticky and plastered in dust bunnies and Cheerios. I am all over the place this morning, still foggy with cold medicine.

And guess what? That is okay…so long as I get my head cleaned off and put back on straight.

This is not an activity we do ONCE. Life is not static.

At times? Our head WILL fly off the wrong direction. It is just up to us to be aware of the fact that it needs to be put back right.

See we need to have a different kind of self-awareness when we decide to go pro at anything. We can’t afford the mindlessness of mediocrity. We can’t afford day after day of being reactive and permitting life to happen TO us.

We need to get our heads on straight.

Now, to do this, we have to adopt habits that are very different to the rest of the world and that might even seen a bit strange. And guess what? They are strange! Habits of the 5%ers are GOING to seem odd to regular people. Being excellent is going to force us where it is uncomfortable. In fact, the more uncomfortable it is, the better the results.

So to make y’all super uncomfortable…

Declare What is Untrue Until It BECOMES True

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Did you know that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie? It just believes what we tell it. Yet how many of us are in a habit of constantly talking about our faults? We are constantly declaring weakness and so the subconscious shrugs and says, “Okay, well if you are disorganized then I will make sure to put that important paper where you will never find it.”

Our subconscious mind dictates our unconscious habits. The mind and the body are connected and we need to appreciate this fact or we are doomed to self-defeating behaviors.

This is one of the reasons my left eye twitches when people declare they are “aspiring writers.” Go look up synonyms for “aspiring” and you will see words like “wishful” or “trying” or “longing” and so is it any wonder that writers groups across the world are filled with aspiring writers who never finish (let alone publish) anything?

By contrast look at synonyms for “professional” and you will see words like “efficient” and “skillful” and “competent.”

When we declare we are professionals, then our subconscious will 1) match our behavior with our words and/or 2) convict us when our behavior is out of line with what we have declared to be true.

We will get that niggling sinking feeling when we don’t do our job.

But guess what? Keep acting like a pro long enough and people see us as a pro and so guess who gets the paying work?

I keep a notepad where I constantly write things that are untrue and it has been shocking to me over the years how often reality has caught up with what I might have written off as a pipe-dream if I hadn’t known this trick.

Almost ten years ago when I was first starting out as a blogger and wanna-be expert, I was living with my mom and writing software instructions for a living *shoots self*. I was a total newbie with two regular commenters on my blog. If I didn’t have spam bots I wouldn’t have had a following at all. But I wrote:

I am the definitive voice in branding and social media for authors.

I didn’t even have a book finished. Now? I’ve written three and Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World is the definitive guide for branding for authors. I had a goal of writing a branding and social media book that would be evergreen and was told it was impossible.

Well, yeah about that 😉 .

I also wrote…

I am regularly invited to speak at conferences.

Then it happened. So I wrote something SO unrealistically big I erased it four times before I finally left it.

I am the keynote for the Romance Writers of New Zealand.

Guess where I am keynoting in August?

I have 55,000 subscribers to my blog.

Looking back? Maybe should have dreamed bigger but I wrote that when my mom was my only fan.

My writing heroes come to ME for advice.

And this still freaks me out when they do, LOL.

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Was this some sort of hoo-doo-voo-doo magic? Not really. It was getting my head on straight and focused on where I wanted to go. I listed out the habits and behaviors I needed to support these assertions. I blogged week after week after week even when no one read and there was no evidence to support what I had declared to be true.

This doesn’t mean I just kept posting crap. No, I studied other blogs, read books, read articles, asked questions, tried new things and above all I was consistent. Then once I reached my goals, I didn’t remain there. I dreamed bigger dreams, different dreams.

Now that social media has become part of our culture as I once envisioned, and I have provided the ONE manual necessary for owning that space. I’ve adjusted my goals back to fiction.

I am a #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author.

I am a #1 USA Today Best-Selling Author.

Is it true? Not yet 😀 . But guess what? If I keep declaring this it holds me accountable to WRITE THE BOOKS. I can’t become a best-selling anything with NO BOOKS. And since I want to hit these lists, not only do I have to write the books (finish the books), I also am wise to study what sells. When I am not writing, I am very literally reading the best-seller lists.

I have made my MISSION from these declarations.

So even though I might look silly to you claiming, I am a #1 NYTBSA! don’t you think my odds are vastly different because I have claimed this then adopted the behaviors of someone obsessed with this goal?

Head Trauma

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I see so many writers out there focused on all the wrong things and they are psyching themselves out. Remember if we declare it to be true then it will be.

There is too much competition. My book can possibly be seen.

Okay.

People just don’t read anymore. 

As you wish.

No one makes money writing books anymore. At least I can do this as a hobby.

See where I am going here?

I know when people like me start talking about the power of the mind, folks start rolling their eyes but tell me this. When did you ever see a sports superstar who declared, I am the best basketball player in the world who then became successful without shooting any hoops? You know, he wrote out affirmations and went to positive thinking camps and watched inspiring movies and never had to get on the court but he still rose to become an MVP?

Yeah hadn’t heard of him either.

Conversely, show me any super star anything who constantly complained and declared failure who then succeeded. You know, he shot a thousand hoops a day and said, “I’m terrible. Look at all I missed. Why do I even bother? The odds of me playing pro basketball are the same as winning the lottery and being struck by lightning on the same day.”

Hell, I am depressing myself just writing that.

Being a successful writer has a lot of moving parts and is not for the faint of heart. But declare what is untrue until it becomes true. Align your actions with your mission. Yeah discoverability is a nightmare, so learn how to do social media, how to build a brand, how to do what it takes to overcome the odds. Hey, I got sick and had to move up the dates for two of my social media classes, so sign up and let me help you!

In the meantime, just say….

People might not read books, but they DO read MINE 😀 .

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What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself getting off track? Focused on all the wrong things and bogging your spirit down? Do you find yourself talking about all the things you aren’t instead of what you could be? Do you feel strange declaring success? Heck, I do. Feel like a loon. It’s okay to be crazy here. Do you find it easier to believe all the bad? Have you overcome being your own worst enemy/critic?

I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, 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).

SIGN UP NOW FOR MY UPCOMING CLASSES!!! 

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it in person? No excuses! 

All you need is an internet connection!

Branding Master’s Class Series with Kristen Lamb THREE social media classes, ONE low price. Only $99. It is literally getting one class for FREE!!!! 

Craft Master’s Class Series with Kristen Lamb THREE craft classes, ONE low price. Only $89. One class is FREE!!!! Includes my new class The Art of Character.

Individual Classes with MOI!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS January 28th

When your Name Alone Can SELL—Branding for Authors February 10th, 2017

Social Media for Authors February 11th, 2017

NEW CLASS!!!! The Art of Character January 27th, 2017

Blogging for Authors February 3rd

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on