Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: motivation for writers

It doesn’t matter what area of life we long to improve, mindset is absolutely critical. Where we set our sights? That’s where we will go. But I get it, life is exhausting. Many of us are still on summer mode, perhaps struggling to get in gear and on a schedule.

The magic has fizzled and our flame has all but gone out. I feel your pain *fist bump* That’s why today we’re gonna dive into the deep and explore three ways to reignite that MOJO! Mojo…you know. Magic, passion, story sorcery?

That thing your kids probably drown in Cheerios and milk over summer vaca OR you put it someplace you’d remember where you put it? Yes, that.

It’s cool. You’ll be all right.

First, an illustration 😀 .

My newest favorite book is The Book of Mysteries by Jonathan Cahn, and what I like about it is there are 365 mysteries, one for each day of the year.

The Parable of the Straight Path

One of the stories in the book talks about an ancient and powerful king who promised that any man who could make it to his kingdom walking a perfectly straight line would be allowed to marry his daughter (which essentially would put the suitor in line for the crown of this vast and wealthy kingdom).

Key fact to note: The castle could be seen from all around because on top of the highest tower a large flame burned day and night.

Suitor after suitor tried and failed to complete the challenge even though the terrain was a rough, rocky, mountainous mess. They’d get there, but none managed to complete the journey walking a completely straight path.

Then, finally, one man achieved this seemingly impossible goal. The king, awestruck, asked how the young man managed to accomplish such a feat.

The suitor replied, “I set my eyes on that beacon on top of your castle and walked toward that, one foot in front of the other, no matter what.”

Yeah, it’s the Great Wall of China but work with me here. Pay attention to the FLAME.

See, the other suitors (who failed) took their eyes off the beacon and, instead, paid attention to the paths, the roads, the rocks, the thickets and thorns and hills. They focused on everything but what mattered most…the end goal.

In life, we run into this same scenario all the time. Many reading this blog have a goal of being professional authors who are paid well to do what they love.

But then we see laundry, and housework and bills, and all the KDP drama, and Amazon and the competition and on and on and on. Not only does this make for a formula to get utterly lost, it’s also a recipe to give up because we get overwhelmed.

Thus, today, I want to hand on some lessons I’ve learned through almost two decades of doing some things right, but most things wrong. Smart folks learn from their own mistakes, but wise folks learn from the mistakes of others 😉 .

#1—REMEMBER Talk is Cheap

Oh this one was a toughy for me. Still is. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. We need to be really careful who we allow access into our lives, who we partner with for any kind of a goal. Sure, they may make promises with a silver tongue, but pay close attention to their track record.

I’ve been burned by this one so badly, I practically needed ego debridement. Remove all the damaged singed stuff and hope to heavens it healed.

Folks I delegated important matters to, knowing these people had a history of flaking out or bailing when stuff got hard. Oh, but they promised…

Yeah. Talk is cheap and your time (my time) is valuable.

I have to use this on lecture myself as well, btw. Less talking and more doing. It isn’t real until it’s on paper. Period. We want to set our goals (our MOJO) on fire…not ourselves.

#2—UNDERSTAND Failure is Priceless

Talk might be cheap but failure? Failure is priceless. Failure will teach us a million times more than success ever will. Humans are wired to learn from failure.

Not a single human has ever been born and, on Day One, could run track and quote Shakespeare (or these oddities were born, then promptly flown in black helicopters to Area 51 for study).

We learn by failing. This doesn’t apply only to babies but to all of us at all ages and in all things.

Why?

Because when we fail, often this happened because we were reaching for something beyond our current abilities. We were adding weight to the bench press machine beyond what was easy. Trying and failing and going again makes us stronger, smarter, faster and wiser.

No entrepreneur creates a juggernaut business by magically knowing all the right moves. No marriage lasts twenty or fifty or sixty years without mishaps and mistakes and pressing on through the pain.

Failure is the greatest gift we can be given.

It can show us where we are weak, strengthen what is lacking, reveal flawed ideas or tactics and help us learn better ones.

“Failure” can also reveal happy accidents, success we never actually planned in the first place. Check out this post on 10 Products Discovered by Accident, which includes but is not limited to Viagara, coffee, and chocolate chip cookies 😉 .

The odd thing about Western culture is we SAY we value innovation and breaking rules…then we send kids to school to teach them to follow rules, not to question and that failure is bad, mistakes are terrible and to avoid both at all costs. BUNK!

This means there is a lot of loser-indoctrination we need to unwire from our brains.

Fear is not always the enemy. Fear is often a sign we might be onto something…or not. But we won’t know unless we try.

So, go hit it with a stick. See what happens and if you can create a spark, then a fire, then a BLAZE. We fail. Okay, big deal. Dust off. Assess, adapt and try something new.

#3—DIVE Into the Deep

I tend to be a rather fearless (okay stupid) person. I’ve traveled to some of the most dangerous places on the planet, climbed cliffs, jumped out of planes, and even worn stretchy pants with patterns on them *shivers*.

I am not proud of that last one. Thighs like mine with patterns? Warn any epileptics. Just saying.

Anyway, I DO have a phobia of open deep water or Bathophobia. Figures I would get a phobia with a lame name. Pyrophopia? Way sexier.

But seriously. Hang me off the side of an ocean liner in the middle of the Atlantic and I’d confess everything down to the time I shoplifted bubblegum from the drug store when I was three. Heck, I’d confess to stuff I hadn’t even done just to get back on deck.

Aye, I did spake with the Devil and gaveth him cookies and he gaveth me blog ideas…

But why am I so terrified of open water? Lack of control. Who knows what is beneath me? My fairly definitive position at the top of the food chain evaporates. And my swimming skills? Are on par with Frank Horowitz from Accounting’s breakdancing skills.

As we back away from the metaphor we see that most of us are afraid of the deep. We like the shallows.

Shore is close. We have more control. We aren’t fully committed. Problem is, most of the good stuff is going to be out in the deep, the place we are most afraid to go. Where MOST OTHER people are afraid to go.

When it comes to writing (or business or love or family or sports or whatever) we need to go where others are afraid to. Where WE are afraid to because that is where the most growth will happen the fastest.

I guarantee you my swimming skills would vastly and immediately improve if tossed off the side of a Carnival ship. I would definitely be FIRED up to swim so fast Michael Phelps would be eating my wake.

We won’t (can’t) gain new skills, better skills or even mastery in the shallows. We need to go out into the deep because the deep scares us and fires our @$$es UP! Thus, today, I challenge you to define your “deep.”

Years ago, my “deep” was starting a blog. O…M…G. I was petrified.

When I started blogging, I had the skin of a grape and absolutely fell apart at any kind of criticism. Additionally, I had the self-discipline of a possessed chipmunk with a bad crack habit and unlimited access to Pixie Sticks.

Not exactly ingredients for a NYTBSA (which was what I longed to become).

This meant I needed to fire my muse. She was too nice and resembled my grandma who gave me all the candy I wanted and told me to take lots of naps. Instead, I had to hire Samuel L. Jackson who yells at me and is unafraid to make me cry.

Most of all, I had to jump into the deep. The more I blogged, the better my writing. The more haters I got, the tougher my skin (and the more SLJ Muse yelled at me and promised to bust a cap in my @$$). The more I trained, the more disciplined I became, but this never would have happened in the shallows.

So TODAY. Define your DEEP (and maybe hand your muse a pink slip). Then, while you pursue YOUR DEEP remember talk is cheap and failure is priceless. Keep pressing and moving forward with your eyes on the beacon of flame (the goal). And hey, unlike me? You have help, a team.

We are not alone 😀 .

What are your thoughts? Do you struggle with doubt? Distraction? What distracts you most and why? Is it fear you might really do something remarkable? Are you afraid of failure? Have you overcome that fear? What is your deep? Does it have a name? Have you even taken time to ponder what it is?

Do you need to fire your muse? Who would you replace him or her with? Inquiring minds want to know!

I love hearing from you!

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).

NEW CLASSES FOR SEPTEMBER AND MORE!

All classes come with a FREE recording!

We’ve added in classes on erotica/high heat romance, fantasy, how to write strong female characters and MORE! Classes with me, with USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds, award-winning author and journalist Lisa-Hall Wilson, and Kim Alexander, former host of Sirius XM’s Book Radio. So click on a tile and sign up!

Villains & Anti-Heroes: The Characters We Love and Hate. $45.00 USD. Tuesday, September 12, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Hooked: Catching Readers in the First Five Pages. $40.00 USD. Thursday, September 14, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
How to Dominate Your Sex Scenes (No Safe Words Here). $45.00 USD. Wednesday, October 11, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Painting With Words: Using Description and Sensory Details. $40.00 USD. Saturday, Monday, October 9, 2017. 7:00-7:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Social Media for Writers. $35.00 USD. Thursday, September 21, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Blurb Writing Blows - But, It Doesn’t Have To. $45.00 USD. Friday, September 22, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Turn Your Passion Into A Business: Making Money As A Writer. $40.00 USD. Monday, September 25, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Guilty Pleasures: Writing Suspense, Thrillers, and Crime. Tuesday, September 26, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
When Your Name Alone Can Sell: Branding for Authors. $35.00 USD. Thursday, September 28, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Outside the Box: How to Read More, Write Less, and Up Your Fiction Game. Friday, September 29, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Peeling Away the Flaws: Self-Editing in Layers. $40.00 USD. Saturday, September 30, 2017, 2:00-4:00 p.m. EST. Click the image to register!
Bullies and Baddies - Understanding the Antagonist. $50.00 USD. Tuesday, October 3, 2017. 7:00-9:00 p.m. Click the image to register!

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

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.

Give

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.

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 cumulation 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 or 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.

Relentless

Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….
Moments before Kristen gets her tail kicked….

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

Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons
Image via Demi-Brooke Flickr Creative Commons

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.

No

No is one of the most powerful words in human language.

We must learn to say NO. We have to say it to ourselves. Right now I am training for my blue belt in Jiu Jitsu. After being sick so long my cardio is less than stellar so I am cycling in the mornings. Trust me, it ain’t easy being a chubby girl on a bike … which is why I am glad it is dark 😀 .

When the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. and I want to sleep? NO. When I want to stop at 5 miles instead of 15? NO.

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 World was 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

Dare

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 you 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!

Quick Announcement: Due to popular demand, THIS SATURDAY I am rerunning my Hooking the Reader—Your First Five Pages at the end of the month and I am doing something different. Gold Level includes me looking (and shredding your first five) but I have added in some higher levels and will look at up to 20 pages. This can be really useful if you’re stuck. I can help you diagnose the problems. It’s also a great deal if you have to submit to an agent and want to make your work the best it can be.

Again, I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JULY, 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). 

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 AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook