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!
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
No, really, this is work. It’s like any other conference. For example:
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.
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:
There were some good moments of inspiration and crafting breakthroughs.
I’ve also made good progress on my TBR pile.
One of the most enjoyable parts of any conference, however, is always meeting the fellow attendees and making new friends.
I also ran into an old friend, which one tends to do at these events.
Don’t forget the SWAG!
Finally, like most conferences, there’s always an element of dress-up and costuming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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?
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!
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)
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
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
Okay so y’all know I finally released a novel The Devil’s Danceafter 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.
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).
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.
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?
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
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 Worldis 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.
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?
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.
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 😀 .
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!
Last time we talked about quitting. Successful people quit all the time. They quit bad relationships, toxic partnerships, dumb ideas or projects that fail to bear any fruit. They step back, assess and then change direction.
What do you want? How badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice? These are the questions we must ask not once, but daily. There is no success without the GRIND.
Or perhaps, the G.R.I.N.D.
Every day we have something to give that will keep propelling us forward. I love, love, love the movie Rocky. This is among my favorite quotes:
The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. ~Rocky Balboa
Life does hit hard. I’ve been there more times than I can count.
Some of you know I was a high school drop out twice. I had the chance to simply get a GED but I chose to go back and finish even though I was embarrassingly older than my peers (19 in a class of 14 year-olds).
I worked hard at a community college until I won a full Air Force scholarship to become a doctor. Before I could enjoy that? I fell in an ice storm and broke my back.
My free ride was over. I took a job in a tiny mall store that sold motivational material. At the time, I couldn’t walk without a cane and while my coworkers spent the slow times chatting with friends on the phone, I read every single book in that store over and over and over.
I knew physically I was a mess, but I also appreciated that this was a meantime. It was the span of suck before my breakthrough. What could I do for my will? For my mind? How could I keep my spirit healthy while my body mended?
Life hits and worse, it will sucker punch you. We may not always be able to do the big stuff, but we can keep pressing with the small stuff because greatness is not a singular moment. Rather…
Greatness is the accumulation of a lot of hidden moments that have no glory.
We give our best because our energy is seed. We plant our dreams and faith in the world and in others and trust that eventually it will bear fruit and eventually give back.
If I don’t have enough of something? I give it. That is a huge reason for this blog. Today, I need encouragement, so I am giving it. Want more love? Give it. Want more skill? Help others hone theirs. Want more passion? Give it.
Life is an echo.
You want to do anything remarkable? Learn to be relentless. I heard someone once say that the richest place on earth is a graveyard because we cannot imagine what we’ve lost; the dreams, inventions, ideas that people took to their graves because they were afraid of failure.
One of the reasons I’ve always been such a pit bull is that my father was an extraordinarily talented man. Probably far more talented then I ever was. But he died penniless and working for $8 an hour in a bicycle shop. Why? Because the second anything got hard or gave pushback, he folded. For all we know, we lost one of the greatest writers of the 20th century because his fear was bigger than his faith.
One of the greatest lessons I have learned is that the harder life is pushing back? The better. Usually that is a sign we are doing something right.
Look back at your own life and I will guarantee you’ll see those times. You had a goal, a plan, and were actually seeing forward momentum then?
The AC in your house died, the car broke down, the kids got sick, the family decided to all go crazy simultaneously. You went from being ON FIRE to putting out nothing but grassfires.
Truth is, that’s a good sign. Keep pressing.
Invest in yourself. Talent is natural but it isn’t anything all that remarkable. Talent is nothing if it isn’t paired with skill. Skill is only something we can earn with blood and sweat and pain. We can’t earn skill on the sidelines, only on the mats. Hammering on our will, our mind, our craft day after day after day.
Skill only comes with failure.
Skill only comes with getting back up knowing we could fail again. Skill only comes when we appreciate that if we aren’t failing, we aren’t doing anything interesting. Skill eventually rises out of the ashes of our failures because we have made all the wrong moves and so we begin to recognize the right ones.
Skill comes from reaching out to those who are better, wiser and asking for help. Skill comes from humility. Read craft books, take classes, ask questions then do it again and again and again. If we want to improve, we must look to those who are better to train us.
In Jiu Jitsu I worked harder than anyone (being the only female and about half the size of most of my competitors). I struggled and worked and killed myself. Then, I finally gave in and got personal coaching. Just ONE session made all the difference. A pro taught me what ten months of killing myself never did and never would.
THIS was the first guy I got to fight upon earning my blue belt. Just….seriously.
But some good rounds of coaching taught me how to instantly position better, no matter how big or strong my opponent. Instead off getting crushed? This dude is moments from being flipped over and arm-barred.
Yes, the devil is in the details.
I have busted apart and repaired hundreds of plots. Virtually every one of my consulting sessions involves some poor writer who has spent a year or more trying to repair a plot that I can fix in less than three hours. Sometimes we need those outside experts. Getting help isn’t weak, it is smart! If you are in a mess, e-mail me ;).
No is one of the most powerful words in human language.
We must learn to say NO. We have to say it to ourselves. When I’d rather putter around the house and clean than edit or write my blog or research? NO.
I tell myself that I have a choice. No to now? Or no to later? I must give up what I want now for what I want most.
Learn to say no to toxic people. They will always have more drama they want us to fix. Learn to say no to the small leaks deflating your energy.
Quit expecting average people to help you accomplish the extraordinary.
Conversely? Don’t take NO.
Back when I was in sales, my managers could not get over how good I was at cold calling. Most salespeople loathe cold calling with the power of a thousand suns because it is 99% rejection. Why was I successful? Because when they said “No” I heard… “Not yet.”
A lot of you are attending conferences. You might be pitching agents or sending out query letters. Expect rejection. Rejection isn’t always bad. Rejection isn’t NO. It is “Not YET.”
Go back and fix what you can. Move forward. Invest in your skill and then ask again. And again. If they won’t budge and you’re ready? Go around. Find your YES.
My book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital Worldwas with a major NYC agent for over a year. New York was unwilling to publish a book about social media even though my book didn’t rely on technology. I wrote it in such a way that it would always be relevant, and so didn’t have the typically short shelf life of this type of book.
I didn’t wait for them to change their minds, I published it anyway.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam. We will find a way or we will make one. ~Hannibal
I hate those scams on late night TV that promise vast riches with no risk. That’s bunk. Our rewards exist in direct proportion to our risk. Risk big win big. Risk small and…yeah.
When we risk big, we can lose big. But we can also learn big. If we never fall from that kind of height, how can we learn to roll out of it? Dare daily. Dare to do something different, something meaningful. Nothing miraculous ever happened in the comfort zone.
When we dare to push ourselves outside of what we believe is possible, we discover talents we never knew existed. Yes, invest in your future but remember that today, THIS day, is the only one that matters. Because THIS day adds up. The only question is…
How are we going to use it?
Do you find yourself making excuses? Heck, I do. Do you find yourself spread too thinly “helping” others who are unwilling to help themselves? Are you afraid of failing? Do you feel selfish going after your dreams? Do you find yourself “waiting” on others? Does success seem unreachable? What dreams or goals have you attained that you never thought possible? What did you do? Sacrifice?
I love hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of AUGUST, 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).
Check out the other NEW classes below!
All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.
Blogging for Authors (August 26th) will teach you all you need to know to start an author blog good for going the distance. Additionally I would also recommend the class offered earlier that same week (August 22nd) Branding for Authors to help you with the BIG picture. These classes will benefit you greatly because most blogs will fail because writers waste a lot of time with stuff that won’t work and never will and that wastes a lot of time.
The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is 90 minutes long, 60 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.
Your First Five Pages Gold Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique your first five pages.
Your First Five Pages Platinum Level
This includes the webinar and a detailed critique of your first twenty pages.
All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.
This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold
This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding bookRise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World onAMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.
What is a brand? A platform? Why do we need one? How do we get one? Better still how can we crate a brand with the power of driving book sales and still have time left to do THE most important part of our job? Writing more books.
This book demystifies branding and social media and harnesses the same passion and imagination we authors use to write books, then uses that to locate and cultivate a devoted fan base. The methods taught in this book can weather any technological upheaval, and is virtually fad-proof. The new cool social site might change, but your platform will remain. read more »