Maturity–The Difference Between the Amateur and the Professional

Not down yet.

Happy Friday and WHEEEEE!!!! Finally, a holiday weekend! I don’t remember the last time I needed rest this badly, and just so you know, no blog on Monday.

I’m honored to serve the writing community, and one thing I know for certain, is that being a successful author is not for the faint of heart, no matter which path we take. There are a lot of people who are more in love with the “idea” of success than the hard work that goes into making success happen.

As the WANA Mama, I feel much of my calling has been to teach you guys how to grow from baby writers to mature professionals. Those of you who have children know that it is no great trick to get them to eat dessert, but kids cannot grow up strong and healthy living on ice cream and candy. They need the spinach, broccoli and fish, too.

Same with writers.

I can be very inspiring, and get all of you stirred into a big happy dance of fun. Wheeee! We’re all going to be best-selling writers! Wheeeee! Feelings are great, but they aren’t enough. Feelings will fail you, especially if you try to do anything remarkable. To be successful we need to grow up. We need to mature, and just so you know, this process never stops.

This year, I have been taking on a new leg of my own adventure. I launched WANA International and a new social network for writers and creative professionals, WANATribe. I would love to say this has been one big fun party, but it hasn’t. I’ve had to grow up, and I am still learning and maturing. It is brutal, especially for me, to have to do math, figure out technical stuff, and even fire people. I’ve had to learn to be a boss as well as a leader and the process feels something like this:


See, even I am not always dignified. In fact, sometimes I am downright pathetic. Hey, they are not called “growing fluffy kitten touches.” The are called “growing PAINS.”

Accounting is tough and legal is a headache, but it is all a process. We cannot have the rainbow without the rain. Everyone wants to be there for the party, but how many people really want to be part of the set-up or the clean-up?

I’m not where I hoped to be, but I am still here, and too many people underestimate what a big deal that simply staying in the game really is. To have any kind of success in life, we must grow up, and this applies to anything we want to do in life that is beyond mediocre.

Writing is no different, and, in the new paradigm, maturity is probably more vital than ever before. Writers are in charge of roles they’ve never had to worry about (oh, but let’s remember there was a 93% failure rate to go with “only having to write books”). Most people will never reach success simply because they fail to ever grow up.

So, to help you guys out, today we are going to discuss some marks of maturity.

Mature People Stick to the Dream

Immature people always have a new calling. They don’t stick to anything, so they are never around long enough to enjoy any of the harvest. They flit from calling to calling, idea to idea, book to book, and they don’t finish what they start. Dreams take time to yield harvest. We can’t toss in some seeds and quit a few days, weeks or months later because the seeds “didn’t work out.” It is shocking to me how many people quit in less than a year.

Mature People Understand there Are No Bad Jobs

Sticking with the farming analogy, some crops are planted merely to prepare the soil for the real crop. Years ago, I moved into a house that had no gardens, and I like to garden. Well, Texas soil, for the most part, is good for growing Johnson grass and weeds. It’s sandy and rocky and has clay instead of nutrients.

What did I do?

I removed all the rocks and took a hoe and worked in top soil and fertilizer and planted plants and flowers.

And they died.

So I planted some more.

And they died too.

Then I planted even more.

And those caught on fire then fell over and sank into the swamp died too.

Each time a “crop” failed, I hacked up the crispy plant bodies into the soil and added more top soil and fertilizer, then I would plant something different. By the second year and numerous rounds of plants, something changed. The plants and flowers started to thrive. Everything I planted looked AMAZING, even varieties that had previously died.

Yet, let’s look at what happened.

Every failed “crop” added something that was missing in the soil. But what if I’d given up on the first round of dead zinnias? What if I’d started a new garden in a different area? What if I had just decided that gardening wasn’t my real calling and I needed to play the ukelele instead? I would have never enjoyed the lush beautiful gardens.

One of my Don Juan roses. Took OVER A YEAR to bloom!

Most of us start out as poor, rocky soil. We need to be “prepared.”

I remember when I left my sales job, I wanted to be a writer so badly. I wanted my first novel to take New York by storm and launch me to wild fame and success. Hey, at least I’m honest. I figured I’d have agents fighting over me, but instead I got a couple dozen form-letter rejections in the mail.

Yet, something strange happened. I didn’t get an agent, but out of nowhere I was offered a job as a technical writer. I would be the person who wrote instructions for software. *shivers*

In terms of writing jobs, let me tell you that this was the bottom of the barrel for me and my personality type. I rarely ever read instructions and now I was going to write them? And computer stuff? Were they crazy? I took the job even though I knew it wasn’t my end dream. I knew that this job was there to each me something. It was there to test my character, my discipline, and prepare me for the real dream.

I wanted to be a novelist, but I ended up teaching social media to writers. I look back at the tech job and realize it was preparing me for a destiny I didn’t even know I had. I understood technical stuff so well that I could make a frightening world not only accessible, but fun for people like me who were terrified of technology.

Your day job is there for a reason. What is it teaching you?

Yes, right now you might be working for another person’s dream, but what tools is this job giving you? Is it teaching you how to use certain computer programs? Is it teaching you accounting? Are you learning to meet deadlines? Work with difficult people? Are you learning to prioritize? Are you learning to meet self-imposed deadlines?

Let me be blunt. When we turn pro at anything, we have to be willing to work no matter what, no matter how we feel and when there is no boss standing over our shoulder. We also have to understand (as NYTBSA Bob Mayer states) that writing is the entertainment business.

How many artists make millions only to end up penniless because they didn’t understand the business side of their business? How many actors, musicians, and writers taste the dream, yet it all crashes down because they missed the lessons that would have matured them into responsible efficient business owners who would have spotted a thief or an embezzler?

Mature People Do the Hard Stuff

We will have lots of friends and cheerleaders in the beginning, when everything is shiny and new. But when it gets hard? Prepare to do this alone. To be successful, we need to be willing to do the work even when it is hard.

Yes, blogging can be hard. I’ve had only a small handful of days off in three months. On Wednesday, it took me almost FIVE hours to write my blog, but I showed up. Might not have been the best blog, but I was there, and attendance counts in the Game of Success.

I wasn’t always that person. I was the person who would have felt the first push-back and decided that maybe I didn’t have the right dream. I would have given up and found a new shiny.

If you go pro, I will tell you that I can almost guarantee that you will have to fire people. It could be an agent who doesn’t return e-mails, a web person who is taking too long, a cover designer who failed to deliver what you wanted. It is an uncomfortable spot to be in, but it is part of growing up. Grownups do the hard stuff.

Mature People Do the Boring Stuff

This is in line with the last point. Being a writer is not always a glittery unicorn hug. Some of it can be downright tedious. Revisions are a pain. Revisions will make you question your own existence. Revisions separate the amateurs from the professionals. There is a lot of boring stuff that goes with being a professional anything, including being a professional author.

Mature People Honor Their Commitments

One thing I have learned over the course of my career is that “Talk is cheap.” Many people will promise the moon and the second it gets tough or boring, they will find excuses to dump the mess off on someone else so they can start something “funner”. Hey, I used to be one of those people, but until I learned that this behavior was bad, I had very little victory to show for my life. I had to grow up and start taking my commitments seriously if I hoped to be successful.

This is one of the reasons that the uber successful are called The 5%. All of us want to believe we are a 5%er, but are we? Our actions, choices and decisions testify to where we sit on the bell curve. It takes no great character to start new projects, to pursue new callings, and to leave the mess for others to clean up. The Spawn does all of these things at least 20 times by breakfast.

The Spawn’s “Work History”

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t sit on some high seat of successful piety. I am still learning all of these lessons every day. Even I struggle with temptation. I fight the siren’s song of a new idea, calling, destiny. I struggle not to throw up my hands and walk away. It would be so easy just to give up, and I’ll be blunt, there are days I wonder what the hell I am doing.

But they pass.

And I show up, day after day, step after step, even when it sucks. Our trials can defeat us or define us. The choice is ours. Success is a journey, and we will never find a time we won’t face opposition. In fact, if we aren’t facing opposition, then we aren’t doing anything remarkable.

There Will Be Blood

The picture at the top of this blog serves as testimony. I’d had the worst week and it just kept going downhill. I’d had some people flake out, fail to deliver, and then quit at the worst possible time. I stepped off the plane in LA exhausted, ill-prepared, overwhelmed, and discouraged.

As I was leaving from doing my keynote speech for the RWA WF pre-conference, I realized I didn’t have my phone. I leaned into Jenny Hansen’s trunk to see if my cell phone was in my bag, and the trunk lid crashed down into my head slicing an inch and a half gash in my head. Blood went everywhere, and I narrowly escaped a trip to the ER.

But, I iced my head, Jenny helped me clean the wound (because she is an amazing person and a phenomenal friend), and I got up the next day and got back at it even when I could have called in sick, and let me tell you there was a time I would have. No one would have blamed me for staying in bed. My head hurt and throbbed the entire next day (I had a mild concussion), but nevertheless I found my work shoes and my smile.

***And, yes, I know I shouldn’t have had a glass of wine after getting bashed in the head, but it was all I had for the pain and I was fine. It also made the picture funnier, because it was all I could do not to break down and give up.

Anyway, I don’t tell you this story to brag. I tell you this story to show you that maturity is a process. I wasn’t always the person who would have gone back to work with a busted head. I was a whiny wimp who quit the second stuff became difficult. To this day I have my wimpy moments. Just ask Jenny Hansen, Piper Bayard, Rachel Heller and Jay Donovan (TechSurgeons), some of my dearest and closest WANA peeps who have had to talk me off the ledge more times than I like admitting to.

Some days we are the windshield, but most times, we’re the bug. But those interested in real success keep going back again, and again and again and our WANA pals are here to support us in those dark times.

We are not alone!

Enjoy your holiday weekend and stay safe. Rest, relax and recharge. Prepare for battle, because it all starts again come Tuesday. I can’t promise this journey will be easy, but I can promise it will be worth it and I will be here day after day ;).

What are your thoughts? What would you add? Where do you struggle? What is your biggest area of weakness?

I LOVE hearing from you guys!

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. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. 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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books.


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  1. I keep thinking WOW Kristen comes up with THE blog I need on the day I need it. Then I finally realize I need all the blogs and kicks in the seat you can come up with. Thank you again and yes, I am working on growing up, before I grow too much older

  2. “Mature People Understand there Are No Bad Jobs”
    So true! I have to make the best of a bad situation EVERY.. SINGLE… DAY!
    If i gave up and let the hospitality industry roll over me years ago, I would never have started two blogs,wrote a book or made new cyber-friends like you, Kristen!

  3. The thing about growing up? It’s a never-ending process. If we’re lucky, it doesn’t stop until the day we stop living.

    Thanks for the reminder, Kristen. Hang in there. You are all sorts of amazing.

  4. You inspire me Kristen. Today I don’t want to be the windshield or the bug… I want to be the windshield wipers and get something done!

  5. I guess this means I’m gonna have to eat my vegetables.

  6. This post is perfect for me today Kristen! I literally (just now) complained on FB about how I didn’t want to do any of the things I had to do today. Now, I’m just going to be mature, plunk down and get ‘er done!

    • Sheila on August 31, 2012 at 11:48 am
    • Reply

    Mature answer from my 16 year old to my question “When should I give up on writing?” Her response: “When you die.”

    1. I love it! Tell her she gets a nod of respect for that one. What a great kid! 🙂

  7. I am totally cracking up about the Monty Python joke thrown in there! ROFL!!!!!!

    And you are so right as usual WANA Mamma!!!!! 🙂

  8. Great post! My mantra: be faithful in the little things. I’ve struggled with the difficult times, but I keep pulling through. Like a bulldog or a snapping turtle, I’ve clamped down on my dream and I’m not letting go. My struggle is living a life balanced between reality and dreams. I’ve got a three year old and a one year old, and I’m constantly fighting for my time to write, edit, research, critique, etc…The constant interruptions leaving my brain slower than molasses in January, that is if you’re from the north, not so much down south. Then there’s my over-committing & my impatience. Ha! I hit the lowest of my lows last month or so, and I was ready to just throw in the towel, wondering if all the fighting was worth it. But I’m still here, learning and plugging away.

    Your post is affirmation. Balm on a healing…ego? heart? dream?

  9. Reblogged this on Harsh Mellow – Blue and commented:
    Writers and authors have always struck me as a whiny bunch, and I guess that is because we are a sensitive and creative lot. Kristen Lamb nails it when she addresses the topic of maturity in this blog post that I believe is one of her very best! At the very least, it’s what I needed to hear, today.

  10. Awesome post! I blog only as one aspect of executing’s mission, but your words apply as much to other long-term endeavors as they do to writing. With CC’s one year anniversary fast approaching and the readership not being quite where I, too, had envisioned at this point, I can empathize with you.

    Thank you, Kristen, for your constant, humorous, no-punches-pulled encouragement!

  11. You are so right on all the points provided. I spent twenty-five years building roads with different contractors and learned how to hone my craft over the years. We have a saying in construction “if you’re not making mistaes, you aren’t trying.” Yeah, I made share of disasters and cost overruns, but each incident was a learning experience. Some good some bad, but overall very educational. Many folks have asked me how long it takes for a book to take-off. There is not all encompassing answer. Time and perservance is who I respond. I know how difficult it is to start a businees and get your name on the street. The main points I learned over the years which I believe applies to aspiring authors are” 1) Be honest, 2) Admit mistakes 3) Listen to suggestions and 4) Provide the best possible product.

  12. Thank you, thank you! I am so glad to have read this wisdom from you today. My job involves loads of writing, but I have discovered a strong desire to write for ME and to share with others on a much more human level. I could not have read this at a better time, being a whole WEEK into blogging! I think that the victory comes only after being pressed on every side, but instead of folding we dig deeper and “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”!
    Have a fantastic weekend!

  13. Great advice as usual. I love the one about the day job. I have a Masters in Social Work and spent a lot of time and effort on getting into that career. I worked in it for a few years and now I’m a writer and stay at home mom. I’ve had many people make jokes about–well, guess you shouldn’t have wasted all that time getting that degree you’re not using. (They think this is extra clever because I write erotic romance–which obviously wouldn’t require any skill *insert sarcasm font*.) But I wouldn’t be the writer that I am without those experiences and that background. A friend pointed about the other day that my overarching themes in all my novels are healing and self-acceptance. And you know what? That comes from that former day job. I was a therapist. Now I write stories about people healing from past hurts and traumas. Go figure. : ) Every life experience adds to the well, embrace it. : )

  14. I’m still giggling over “growing fluffy kitten touches.” I might have to draw a scribble over that one. This was the best Friday, pre-holiday weekend blog post ever! And I like that you mention sticking to your day jobs. I know some aspiring writers who quit their jobs to write. That’s all well and fine, but for those of us stuck in endless bills land, we must trudge on with what precious time we have to write. I think it’s made me a stronger writer, and I also think there would be too many life experiences I would miss sans-job. It keeps my life full of variety.

    Keep it up fearless WANA leader. Your writer babies are counting on you and enormously appreciate what you do!

  15. “Your day job is there for a reason”–that splatted right between the eyeballs for me. I took this job last spring as I was teetering on giving up the dream or committing more to the dream, and it is maturing the little girl right out of me. I am a boss, actually a pretty big boss. I have to be the adult when any of my staff don’t want to be. I have to make hard decisions, and I have to be more organized than a rat learning a maze. I come in when I’m sick but not contagious, I come in when I don’t want to. I have to learn more stuff and yet more. I coax and chide and rebuke and encourage. Your post made me realize how much of all this I am transferring to my writing life.

    Where do I struggle? I don’t believe in myself, not in the day job, not in the writing. Although I will say that writing this comment helps. 🙂 Thank you, Kristen, for showing your vulnerability.

  16. Sitting here feeling tired and doing sums – so much for a cover designer (the current cover escapes me and I need a pro), where to go to ask for an editor and how much for that. Necessary stuff that I’ll spring for, but I’m really, *really* tired from a very bad week. You do what you have to do, I know, but I’m tired.

    The image of working the topsoil and fertilizer in over and over again somehow resonated with me. I can take a deep breath, shrug, and get on with my polishing….

    (Have a great holiday, everyone!)

    • Ed on August 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm
    • Reply

    Kristen, thank you, THANK YOU for your words of inspiration. I have been facing some serious doubts about my path in life after a disappointing internship. I know I still want to write, though, and happily, with this bit of vacation between the two, I have even begun a new WIP. As I start to draft it, though, I’m already feeling the burn, so to speak, but reading your blog about maturity is a nice, fresh dose of reality to keep my going.

    I love hearing from someone who has blazed her own trail and is further along the path than I am. If there’s anything I appreciate, it’s a straight talker. Yet you have a way of presenting the truth in a very encouraging way.

    On those days you feel down, look at the empire you have built with WANA!

  17. Maturity doesn’t mean you don’t feel the tantrum or the whine or the lash out. It means you keep it inside. Great advice.
    The other benefit is if you have a little slip into the immature, people usually forgive it – an mature people so great apologies.

  18. Kristen, you were awesome at RWA. Best presentation of the conference for me. Get some rest this weekend because you are the best mentor out there and my week wouldn’t be complete without your posts. BTW, I may have to share that windshield and bug quote but I promise to give you all the credit!

  19. Awesome-sauce! (and yes I stole that…). I wanted to be a novelist. Instead I was asked to write nonfiction–and that built my brand and audience, and taught me what I needed to know! Every failure teaches a lesson if we can just take our tantrum-fingers out of our ears long enough to listen. *s* Firing ain’t fun or easy. It’s especially not fun to fire volunteers–been there, done that, gave back the tee shirt. Thank goodness my pets don’t mind when I whine to them. *s*

    • amyskennedy on August 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm
    • Reply

    Yikes! What, do you have a camera in my head? I show up for the hard stuff in everything but my writing. And it’s so stupid, because when I do show up, I get results and friends. D’uh. And, I don’t just mean sitting down at my computer, I also mean cultivating some good writerly relationships through WANA and blogging and tweeting.

  20. I can’t agree more about the day job preparing me for the writing. I worked as a graphic designer for over ten years, then moved into web development. I figured it would be nice because I didn’t have to worry about hiring a web designer or someone to do promo materials. Then I self-published, and it’s 100% led up to this – the only thing I have to hire out is editing. I’m in no rush to quit the day job, though – I am blessed to do work I like, with a great bunch of people, some of whom are also my readers! Where the growing “pains” come in is in the platform building part, and luckily we have somewhere to go for help with that!

  21. This was a timely message for me because I worked an 11 hour day at my “day job” with no break and I left feeling FRIED. I had surprise vendors show up, a last minute interview come in, a discrimination issue to deal with, open shifts to fill, and oh yah – my job to do! It was a day I left feeling trampled over. Now, you’ve given me some perspective to stop sulking over it by watching chick flick marathons on TBS and to get back to what I love doing. Writing.

    • Lin Barrett on August 31, 2012 at 12:56 pm
    • Reply

    Awe-some. In fact not just “some” but “awe-all.” I had a day yesterday that almost pulled my plug; I wanted to sit in a corner and howl. Instead, I dredged up from somewhere (maybe reading your previous posts) the guts to show up on the page.

    And this morning, it wasn’t dreadful. Phew …

    But as always, you have hit the nail on the head, Kristen, although in the photo it rather seems that the nail returned the favor. So thank you, yet again, for another great post. You pretty consistently bat 1.0000.

  22. ‘Sometimes we are the windshield, but most times, we’re the bug.’
    Thanks for the great post! I’ll remember this one the next time I feel squashed. 😉

  23. AND not only did she show up – she gave a kick-a$$ presentation at 9 PM, to people who had been listening since 11 am. And she ROCKED THE JOINT!

    Loved this post, Kristen. So true. Soldier on.

  24. “Where do you struggle?”

    With too many things unfortunately. I can’t market much, as it was so ingrained in my in childhood not to blow your own horn. You would think 42 years of adulthood would have helped me over that hurdle, but I find it has not. Plus, I suppose I’m not much of a salesman based on grace, gifts, and usefulness. I don’t know that I could sell a fire extinguisher to the owner of a straw house.

    So I don’t market. Consequently I get almost no book sales. Consequently I get depressed. Consequently I eat very bad-for-you comfort food. Consequently my weight, blood sugar, and probably my cholesterol are too high less than a month before my annual physical. Might as well give up.

    1. Nah, marketing doesn’t sell books. I have a post about that. Network, write more books and write better books. Talk to people and create relationships.

  25. Best writer quote EVER:
    “Being a writer is not always a glittery unicorn hug.”

    You rock!

  26. As you say Kristen, the showing up is lifelong but one thing about aging is that the positives of showing up become much more obvious much more quickly. However, as you are wise beyond your years, you already experience this.

    It took me more than half a lifetime to know how true your words are. Although I am not proud of all of the moments that I cowed in fear and didn’t show up, every moment I have now reminds me I am one who shows up. It makes all the difference especially in the really hard moments.

    Enjoy this holiday weekend, and thank you for showing up in our lives.


  27. I just LOVE your blogs! Whenever I get a little distressed about writing, you seem to have a way to get me back on track. This blog was inspiring. I have friends who “flitter” from one thing to another and wonder why things don’t work out. I tell them to “Plan the work and work the plan” and they look at me like I’m from outer space. I learned a long time ago that the harder I worked, the luckier I got. All the best!

  28. Awesome! Thank you for your words of inspiration and your example. Love it, WANA mama! I am a mom of 5 boys and I see the similarities…yep!
    Thanks for every kick in the booty and arched eyebrow that helps us newbies get where we wanna be. ‘Preciate ya!

  29. Reblogged this on Honesty and commented:
    Oh, I needed this and I have a feeling you, my writerly friend, may need it too. Enjoy! 🙂

  30. I draw inspiration knowing it took you 5 hours to do your blog. I thought I was the only one who took 4-8 hours. I had to get a reality check and now blog once a week so I can actually write another novel. Knowing our limitations, we keep going and find another way around (through, under or over–as the case may be). Thanks for the encouraging, inspiring post.

  31. New look for you, Kristen! I know just being silly helps me when maturity gets on my last living nerve. I know you have some in you; just calling your child The Spawn shows lots! Remember, you are whipping your disciples, even some old reprobates like me, into shape, And because of your work, I’m finally making some in-roads. Baby steps, but I’m keeping at it. So take your kudos, finish with an exaggerated bow and enjoy some well earned time off. Of course, I’ll be working. (Be proud … be very proud.)

  32. Hey, WanaMama, I hope you have a really good break this holiday weekend. You do such a good job of helping everyone else, you deserve a break. I was just telling my group on Wana, that my oldest son came home from overseas. First time we’d seen him in 3 years. Instead of the trou riding his lower hips and his underwear being on display, he was wearing shorts in the right place and a belt! He’s grown up. I feel the same way where my writing is concerned. I put the belt through the belt loops every day, whether I feel like it or not!

  33. UGH! First, I am so sorry about the car trunk lid conking you on the head.OUCH!!! I totally feel your pain ’cause it happened to me twice in the same week a few years back. I mean, what were the odds? Like the universe had whacked me over the noggin’ with a cosmic 2by4! But like writers that we are, I used it as an opening scene in a story. I mean, I might as well use it, right?

    Kristen, I admire and respect you for your positive attitude. And I appreciate everything you do for us writers. You’re a great role model. Thank you lots and lots!!!!!!

    And thank you, Lynn Kelley, for your persistence and bugging me till I joined WANAtribe. Now, I can’t imagine not being a part of this awesome group.

    Have a restful & relaxing and much deserved holiday weekend, Kristen!


  34. Beautifully written. Thanks for the reminder. Have a great holiday weekend.

  35. Thank you Kristen! Your consistency is inspiring, and your frankness is so needed. I enjoy your posts so much because you do not sugar-coat or make anything look unrealistically easy, plus you have a kick-ass sense of humor : ) As a self-published writer, I’m learning all of the tedious steps that go into a book, and that the writing is the easy part. I whine “Why can’t I just write?! Why can’t someone else do ‘the rest?'” Of course all of my other jobs prepared me well for doing ‘the rest’.

    So, thank you for reminding me to put on my big-girl pants and just do it.

  36. Right on, Kristen! I love your analogy with gardening. So very true. It takes a looong time to become an “overnight” success! (and some of us are still working on that )

  37. I still love that picture… And I can’t believe you told them THIS is what the universe does when you don’t listen to Jenny!! LOL…

    Soldier on, my friend. You’ll look back at the path when you get to the other side and marvel at it. It’s gonna be incandescent! 🙂

    1. Oh, and p.s. I still say Lady Gaga needs to model her next hat after that ice pack….

  38. Thanks for the words of wisdom. As always, it’s a much needed kick in the pants for me. 🙂

    Have a great weekend. You deserve it so much!

  39. I ran a preschool for a while, and I can honestly say that firing people as part of that role was the hardest task I’ve had in any job. It beat cleaning up kid vomit by a long shot. But I learned so much through that experience. I wouldn’t trade that work history because it grew me in so many ways. Best wishes with your projects, Kristen! Your encouragement to persevere is wonderful!

  40. Your garden analogy is spot on, especially in this black clay we Texans call soil. I took (and still have) a tech writing job, too! I’ve grown to love it because it’s taught me so much about setting goals and not giving up on them. Now I’m applying those to my creative life–later than I wanted to, but I’m doing it. Thank you for being straightforward and inspiring all at the same time.

    1. Of course, I hit the Post Comment button as soon as I saw the typo on the first word. Sheesh.

      1. Fixed it. I am magic like that :D.

        1. “I am magic like that.” – And don’t you ever forget it, Kristen.

    • lynnkelleyauthor on August 31, 2012 at 5:12 pm
    • Reply

    You’re such a trooper, Kristen. To think you didn’t let a concussion stop you and then even if you didn’t felt up to the WANA party, you still took part. I’m so glad you did. And Jenny hosting the party with her baby being so sick that week, I was so impressed. Amazing examples of pushing on through trials.

    You’re so right about the hard work it takes to reach our goals. This business ain’t for sissies.

  41. Hello Kristen –
    This is a timely post for me to read. As usual, your posts are filled with wisdom to help us write, but you cannot lead everyone of us to our desks and be out our personal cheerleader, menor, coach, editor, etc. Like you say here, & times before, we are the ones who have to put in the hard work to increase our skills & be better story-tellers.
    I started my blog April 1st and continued blogging through July when I had to stop. I was sick all the time. At first, I was so upset & felt like a failure. A month later, I realized that hot/humid summers may not be the time to write. I have some ideas to remedy that (how to keep “writing” when I am physically unable) for next summer. For now, when I was healthy enough to read & comment occasionally, I have been reading my craft bks & reading some blogs. But there were times when I could not read. But that’s ok. As soon as I feel a bit better (which will probably coincide with cooler/less humid weather), I will blog again! And I am looking forward to it! Thanks for giving me other ways to look at this “break” and other ways to take advantage of it. After all, I have to do the work!


  42. HI Kristen, my friend Jenny Hansen speaks so very highly of you. And I look forward to following your posts on a more regular basis. As a life coach (and CEO of an entertainment company, band manager, fellow blogger, and mother of three boys) I know how easy it is sometimes to get side tracked by a sense of “why…???” when the going gets dangerously close the edge…. And often it is when we conquer that block in what we perceive as futility that the greatest rewards pop up in front of us. Napoleon Hill and his talks with the Devil about definiteness of purpose… that is where I get my inner boost and perseverance. Keeping directionality while eyes, ears and hearts are open to new possibilities…. we trot ever onwards knowing that each task is ultimately aligned with our greater purpose…. How cool is that?

  43. Thank you for another inspiring message, Kristen 🙂

  44. Re: your paragraphs, ‘mature people honour their commitments’ and ‘there will be blood’: I totally agree, I work freelance in design for print publishing, it is not a glamourous job; only the other day I was asked to clear the heads out of the gutters. Most people would have squirmed at this medieval sounding task, but I got on with the job without batting an eyelid – a gutter (in publishing) is the inner crease/margin between two pages and the heads of illustrated characters can get lost if placed in this space. The book was a children’s Dickens adaptation – how did I feel about my routine day’s work? In truth I felt good, at least my humble photoshopped efforts had helped the poor out of the gutter.
    My point? Acceptance of responsibility and a sense of humour go a long way.

  45. I loved the gardening analogy. The trick to growing [at] anything is fertilizer… bring on the shit!

  46. At first glance, I thought you were wearing a funny hat in that first picture. That is too funny.

    As usual, your words are inspiring and motivating.

    You are so right about writing not being easy. It is hard work. It is a lonely work.

    Regardless of how many years we write without giving up, without quitting, if we do not improve (condition the soil – great analogy), then we are merely spinning our wheels in the mud going nowhere.

    My biggest struggle has been solitaire. Oh, that is not what you may think. I love my solitude and writing – creating characters, putting them up a tree to see how they will get down, and creating amazing sentences that I hardly believe I wrote. When my eyes are heavy from not enough sleep, or working full time, I fight it by playing solitaire on my computer. Often times, solitaire steals precious time that should have been spent writing, editing, or rewriting.

    As far as all the “work” involved in being successful…when I get to that bridge, I will cross it one step at a time. When I went back to college, the syllabus about scared me into going home and forgetting the whole idea of going back to school at my age. Determined, I placed the syllabus in the back of a notebook and only checked it as needed. It was better to focus on each task in order, and take care of the end-of-course requirements upon arrival. I have applied this to writing: First, write the books. Second, rewrite the books after learning. Third, rewrite again after learning more. Fourth, write another book utilizing acquired knowledge and experience. The list goes on and on, one step at a time. The key word to each step is…write.

    Thank you again for another wonderful and inspiring blog. Have a great and safe Labor Day weekend (I am going to play with my four children, who are grown and married, and my five grandsons.)

  47. It’s one of those weeks that has made me as in need of a three day holiday as much as you. Tomorrow is another reality. I have to clean the construction dust out of my house. Good post though. I did tweet.

  48. Hi Kristen,
    Great post and I love the Don Juan’s. My grandmother’s favourite!
    I did add a Mark of Maturity over on my blog:
    Hope you’re all healed up 🙂

  49. Do I comment to win the prize? Sometimes. But at least I’m honest.

  50. Holy crap. Fantastic. One f my favorite posts. I lost my entire computer. It crashed and I’ve been in a funk since I learned the files are irretrievable. Twenty years of curricula. Poetry. Photos. And my completed second draftbof WIP. Duh! I didn’t have an external hard drive. (Yeah, I’ll be blogging about this soon.) Point is, I needed this kick in the ass. After I read it, I ordered a new computer. So I’m starting fresh. Okay. But I’m not quitting. Time to rebuild.

    And get a hard drive. 😉

    • Karen McFarland on September 1, 2012 at 12:03 am
    • Reply

    Kristen, wow, what a post! It has been said that we all are a work in progress. I remember at Jenny’s house, you had said that you were experiencing growing pains associated with the upstart of a new business. And oh, there are many. It’s very stressful and a lot of work. I understand what you’re dealing with. Been there, done that. Funny, this goes hand in hand with what I blogged about this week. Unless we’re face to face, we really don’t know what others are dealing with. And that’s what bothers me about the internet. Without personal contact, it makes it too easy for us to misinterpret others.That’s why I said in my post that if “we apply a little respect to the other person, it gives them dignity and makes it pretty hard for us to judge one another.” How generous of you to share your experience with all of us. If we’re smart, we’ll learn from one another so that we won’t make the same mistakes. Thanks Kristen! 🙂

  51. I’m sitting in my quiet house (which has happened approximately 0 times in 15 years) enjoying a cup of coffee with no one up my butt or asking me where their shoes are. I was reading over my blog and facebook page and wondering WHY I keep doing them. And then I read this. And I remember why. Thank you.

  52. Kristen, What a pleasure it was to meet you a few weeks ago. Reading this blog I had to nod or shake my head frequently. Preparing the soil by replanting was a perfect analogy of what we writers do, and then do again when we’re subjected to flood or drought. Still yet, even at my advanced age, I’m not always as mature as I should be. Thanks for reminding us that we are not alone.

    • grigoryryzhakov on September 1, 2012 at 2:06 pm
    • Reply

    Nice blog, Kristen. Personality work should be done every day, – if we don’t progress, we degrade. And as the British put it concisely – Keep Calm and Carry On

  53. Nice post, Kristen.

    I think the biggest sign of a mature writer is the ability to make it through revisions without giving up. I’m working my way through mine right now and good god, it’s so damn hard sometimes. lol

  54. I shall never again complain that it’s taken me over an hour to write a blog post, knowing you have spent five hours on one. Thank you for all your effort and dedication.

  55. I have over a hundred fruit and nut trees growing on my 2 acres. Planted a thousand or so.

  56. OK. Fine. You just had to write this.
    I was considering dumping my current project because it wasn’t coming together. “It’s just too hard.” But, if attendance counts in this game, as you say it does, then I have to keep showing up. Darn.

  57. Most days I am mature- or at least I like to think of myself that way but I definitely fall into the pit of whiny pathetic pouting, but I like to think I stay there shorter amounts of time each time I’m there and I try and find the reason, what is dragging me down- what emotions am I not dealing with? what goals seem too far away to ever reach? Have I not been exercising, eating sleep or getting enough sleep? Thanks for the reminder of what mature is supposed to look like.

  58. glittery unicorn hug……hehe, oh I so want one of these! Timely, perfect and just what I needed to hear. And, I believe one should always drink wine when one has an ice bag on their head! I mean what better time could there be?!

  59. I think you’re spot on here. Maturity is such a big part of it.

    Finish what you start. Do the ENTIRE job. Enjoy the boring. Keep going and going, and going some more.

    A fine start to the day 🙂 thank you…

    Matthew (Turndog Millionaire)

  60. I had to laugh when you said you were a technical writer, because that’s what I do as my day job now. I actually enjoy it to a large degree since I’m obsessed with details, though I’m not as technical as I feel I should be for interpreting engineering-speak. I’ve definitely learned a LOT about editing, since that’s a huge part of this current gig, and writing/publishing articles on an internal wiki is slowly making me less long-winded (still working on that). Thanks for sharing your personal struggles. I question myself a lot because I’m not actually writing my stories a lot of the time – should I give up the dream, should I quiet kidding myself, but I keep going because the alternative is to not write, and I just can’t accept that. I need to actually do the work, as you say. Thanks.

  61. You are an inspiration, Kristen. Self-discipline and seeing things through are my biggest challenges. You delivered the perfect pep-talk for the wimpy moments. I’m printing out this one.

  62. Growing up is tough, but we all get there, eventually. Maybe writers just take longer. Love my Wana and I’m so glad you came up with it!

  63. Great post. I needed to hear this.

  64. Thank you for this lovely post. It resonates volumes as I look at my own writing journey. Sometimes I want to give up, but whenever I feel as though the rejection is too much, the long hours staring at a flashing cursor waiting for the inspiration to come and it doesn’t … waiting, waiting, waiting. I know, just like you said, the worst adversities seem to come right before something spectacular happens … if only we don’t give up.

  65. “Revisions will make you question your own existence.” Yup. That’s the evil demon sitting on my desk right now.

  66. Thanks for the post. I’m a grown up myself and am working hard at marketing my first. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

  67. You rock. 😉

  68. “Too many people underestimate what a big deal simply staying in the game really is.” Yes! As a dancer, I’ve seen more than I can count come and go. People who couldn’t stand me 20 years ago call me friend just because we’re still standing together today. In the end, it’s consistent, uninterrupted dedication that gets the job done.

  69. Love this! Especially the analogy about the soil. 😀

  70. Excellent post,Kristen. I have been meaning to and have finally joined WANAtribe.

  71. I loved your blog on maturity and growing up as a writer. It resonated. I certainly agree that there is no bad writing. Each piece of writing we work on serves to teach us to refine our craft. As with any other creative pursuit, a writer generally must give him or herself a good ten years to grow up, to ripen, and to develop a unique style that both resonates with the reader and has the potential of becoming marketable. That said, I would encourage writers to be passionate and jump into the depths of their writing. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They too are our teachers. How blessed we are that as we write we auto-teach ourselves at the same time, kind of like having a tutor sitting on one shoulder and an editor on the other. At the same time, however, letting one’s stream-of-consciousness go to uncharted places can be a delightful diversion. After all, each adult still has that carefree, playful little child waiting to come out of hiding.

  72. You’ve received a LOT of comments here and most all of them echo my feelings after reading this blog. THAT’S what I’m looking for…someone to be honest (brutally, if need be) and tell me real truth. I don’t want to swim with the 93%-ers, I want to surf with the best! Thanks for your straightforward inspiration!!!

    1. I still read all of them :D. I would reply to everyone but I think that would overwhelm people following the comments. Yes, the truth sets us free, even when it’s tough…especially when it is tough.

  73. I read this post late but, really it has perfect timing for me. I’m glad I left the tab open to remind me….this is the one you NEED TO READ!!! It took me a while to finally read it but, so glad I did when I did. I hear you! Excited we are not alone! Excited I’m not giving up and will carry on to work hard in making something of myself and my dreams. YOU ROCK!!!!

    1. Never too late, Molly. Keep pressing!

  74. Wow — so many comments in just two hours. You obviously hit a nerve, Kristen. As always you are on the money. The nurturer in me admonishes you to take care of your head — ya can’t do the job if your head explodes.

  75. Okay, okay. I WILL finish book 5 in my series. And I WILL figure out Pinterest.

  76. This resonated with me:

    Most of us start out as poor, rocky soil. We need to be “prepared.”

    Thank you Kristen!

  77. Good Blog…. I hope to become a writer whom everyone wants to read…… irrespective of being Mature or Amateur

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