Lies that Can Poison Your Dreams–Don't Eat the Butt in 2013


Happy New Year! Today we are going to revisit a favorite series of mine that I call Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. Besides, when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I guarantee most of you vowed to 1) start your novel 2) finish your novel 3) land an agent 4) self-publish 5) be better about checking in with your parole officer.

Maybe that’s just me :D.

Kristen, Why Are We Talking About “Butts” and What Does This Have to Do with Writing?

We’re getting there! Geesh! Patience.

I like to think about stuff.

A lot of stuff.

Probably far too much stuff.

Anyway, I wonder about the first person who ate an oyster. Was it a dare? Someone lose a bet? What about mushrooms? There are 100,000 known species of mushrooms, yet only 2,000 are edible. How do we know this? Someone had to eat the bad ‘shrooms then pass that knowledge down for posterity (after he stopped seeing snakes).

Who volunteers for this kind of stuff?

But the most fascinating culinary assassin, in my POV, is the puffer fish. There is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Marty: Wow, crazy, Dude. This puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over foaming from the mouth*

Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.

This idea of the puffer fish made me start thinking about our careers as artists. There are a lot of common misperceptions that can leak poison into our writing dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, the DETB (Don’t Eat the Butt) lessons are designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. My assistant Chuy (pictured above) is here to help.

In short, Don’t Eat the Butt, It’s Chuy.

This shall be your mantra.

I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. (Romance authors stop sniggering, please. Thank you.)

No butts about it.

bada bump *snare*

Some of us have been there, done that and got the butt-tasting T-shirt. I am here to hand down what I have learned from being stupid enough to eat the literary puffer butt and survive. Watch, listen and LEARN. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others.

Yeah, you’ve got all these shiny resolutions. Yay, for you. But I am here to help you turn resolutions into reality so we need to get your thinking straight. Battles begin and end with the mind.

Without further ado…

DETB Lie #1 I’m not a real writer until I have

  • a finished manuscript
  • landed an agent
  • am traditionally published
  • am selling enough books to quit my day job
  • am writing full time
  • have spent my retirement funds earning an MFA in Creative Writing

This is crap and don’t eat it. What yahoo decided that we aren’t real writers until we meet some silly outside standard of validation? On what plane of existence does this make ANY professional sense? We are writers the second we decide to take this career decision seriously.

Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer..

Think of it this way. As writers we are entrepreneurs (refer to this post). Do entrepreneurs use the term aspiring? I am an aspiring restaurant owner. Oh, I am an aspiring landscaper. I am aspiring housekeeper.


If I want a house-cleaning business, the second I gather all of my cleaning supplies and a vacuum together in the back of my SUV and print off some business cards, I am a house-cleaning business. Even before my very first client.

In fact, I cannot land my first client until I first call myself a business. Who is going to let me into their house wielding a toilet brush if I approach them with, “Hi, I am an aspiring housekeeper. I’m still learning the best ways to get rid of soap scum, but maybe you can hire me even though I am not, per se a “real” housekeeper?


The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment. 

Here’s a news flash. There is no license requirement to write books (though it might be a good idea).

Profession by Certification

Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and nurses are professions that require outside certification. This is why they cannot call themselves “Doctor” or “Counselor” or “R.N.” until they take certain exams and pass various levels of professional vetting.

When it comes to being a DOCTOR, we are not a REAL DOCTOR until we have gone to medical school.

Profession of Results

Writers are not the same type of profession. We don’t need a license, an MFA, a finished novel, or an agent to call ourselves writers. We are writers when we decide to write.

Now, we might be bad writers, lazy writers, untalented writers, unpublished writers, pre-published writers but we are still real writers. We are a profession defined by results, not intentions or certifications.

Lose the Literary Training Wheels…NOW

Why Writers Fear the Title

When we decide to use the professional title writer, it is a sign to others that we are no longer hobbyists. Others will expect a certain work ethic to go with our title.

I feel many writers fear using a professional title because we invite a new level of accountability. We fear failure and so we hedge with euphemisms like “aspiring author” so that we can goof off and write when the fancy strikes.

We can never become a professional author if we won’t first claim being a real writer. How we define ourselves affects our choices, how we spend our time, and what we are willing to sacrifice. Those who will not first call themselves WRITER are almost certainly doomed to fail.

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work. ~Stephen King

Writers are professionals who treat their writing as if it is their first, second or even a third job. They have a solid work ethic and they know that they have to ante up and take the consequences for better or for worse. They are mature and no longer playing Literary Barbies with their characters.

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 10.22.29 AM

The world does not reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.

So best of luck with 2013, and I will do all I can to help you guys grow and mature and have the dreams of your heart.

Remember! Don’t Eat the Butt…It’s Chuy

For those who need some writer love and support, please join us over at WANATribe, the social network for writers. No ads, no spam, all awesome. We have digital Jell-O shots.

We are not alone!

We also have a wonderful lineup of classes at WANA International. Our digital classroom is state of the art. Learn from home and at your own pace. I HIGHLY recommend Agent Secrets taught by Literary Agent Laurie McLean. She is a FABULOUS teacher and is very savvy with the new options in the Digital Age.

What are your thoughts? Opinions? Fears? What keeps you from claiming the professional title?

I love hearing from you!

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. 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 January 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 always enjoy your posts, but this one is a cut above. I will be posting the link to your post and your book title in my blog this week. Thanks for the laughs and the good advice.

    • TLJeffcoat on January 2, 2013 at 12:38 pm
    • Reply

    Don’t eat the butt. Got it! I even felt different the day I dropped the Aspiring from my profiles and just wrote writer. Like I was suddenly a professional. Still learning, but I won’t give up.

    I’ve got a couple “aspiring” writer friends who need to see this.

  2. How about the first European traveler to North American to say, “Here, kitty, kitty,” only to find out it was a skunk, which are indigenous to the Americas.

      • TLJeffcoat on January 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm
      • Reply

      That would have been awesome to witness. I’m sure the Native Americans shared that story for generations.

  3. Love it, good stuff. Now, let me get off MY butt. 🙂 I Am a writer – and an author.

  4. It takes a long time to have enough confidence to drop the “aspiring” title. Once you drop it, people assume you’ve already been published, and it’s hard to say “not yet, but someday”. But having to say that certainly does get your butt in the chair!

  5. A pork butt in the slow cooker with green chilies can be pretty darned tasty. And then there’s the fun of taking bites out of…oh, wait, this is probably a PG blog. Gimme a second to scrub that image. Right, moving on.
    What a great way to start the new year, with a Kristen kick in the butt–I can say that here, right? And a reminder to suck it up buttercup and write. You don’t paint your brilliant images by waiting for someone else to guide your brush strokes, you pick up your own darned brush.
    Back to the keyboard and thanks so much for being you.

    1. As far as “who thought of that!” did you ever wonder about who came up with making yeast bread from ground dry grains? Genius!

  6. Love it. Love everything about it. You gotta wonder about the guy who accidentally poisoned himself with a puffer fish. Why would one even eat a puffer fish to begin with?

  7. Love it, Kristen. As usual, you line it up tight and then pull the trigger. Good job. I sometimes forget that we are writers regardless of our latest review, or someone else’s dire prediction or happy news. The only thing I can control about this business is my daily word count. The rest will come, is coming, is already here.

    Thank you.

  8. Gack! Puffer fish…who EVER thought that looked appetizing?

    Love the first post of the year. 🙂 Here’s to an amazing 2013!!

  9. will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. ok I got it now , moving on I look forward to 2013 with you and the knowledge you shall impart to this “non-aspiring writer’ !!! Great first post:)

  10. I lived in Japan in Shimonoseki, the puffer fish capitol of the world. The locals’ favorite pastime is ‘feed the foreigner blowfish’. Despite the expense, I must have had it at least six times. I’m still alive, though I can’t insist that it didn’t mess up my brain.

    As for the “I’m a writer” thing, most of my friends who refuse to say they are writers went through MFA and college writing programs, where their professors repeatedly insisted to them that unless they were “critically acclaimed”, they were not “real” writers. I always thought it was silly.

  11. Great advice! I have a friend who always introduces me as an author. It made me uncomfortable the first couple of times, but now I’ll run with it. 🙂

  12. This was so funny! Great info though, i needed it!! I am a romance writer and almost chokd on my water when i got it LOL.

  13. good points, the proof is in the doing.

  14. These are very good points. I’ve considered myself an aspiring writer more then once and it was true, I was just going through the motions. Not writing daily and hitting the keyboard only when inspiration struck.

    Things have changed now and I do consider myself a writer. Dedication is the key. Thanks for the post!

  15. Love the post. Made me think. Made me laugh. Favorite part: “The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment.” Thank you for sharing!

  16. Thanks Kristen! I sooo agree with this! I think the idea of “aspiring writer” was a traditional writer’s or editor or publisher’s creation for anyone who did not have a book in their publishing house!

  17. Great post!

  18. Thanks Kristen, this post said a lot. I was leery of using the term writer and clung to aspiring writer because I didn’t feel like I had earned the title of “Writer”. I think this is what scares people from using it and you’re right. The moment you have a story to tell and want to make the leap, you are a Writer. Did you all see the capital letter there? That’s the title and you’ve earned it, wear it with pride!

  19. Kristen. I have a link to your blog in my sidebar for a reason. You teach. You encourage. You share. And… you make me laugh. Imagine me. Every morning. Flipping the switch on the technology. Swilling the decaffeine and reciting – Don’t eat the butt, don’t eat the butt, don’t eat the butt. 😀 Mantra 2013!

  20. Great post, Kristen. You’ve helped me a lot as a writer. I love your writing voice (it is refreshing and always makes me laugh)..

  21. Good points. I agree.

  22. I still struggle to tell people I’m a writer – I tend to say “I’m unemploy… I’m a writer” because I have yet to make any money from writing and to me a job/career/business is about making money first and foremost! That and it’s always tough when the next question is “Oh, what have you written, will I have heard of you?” 🙂

  23. I love it! I will not eat the butt! And I am no longer aspiring – I AM A writer! Oh, and great quote – about finishing!

  24. I totally agree with the concept. Stop thinking you want to be something and be it

    • malindalou on January 2, 2013 at 6:04 pm
    • Reply

    I think even certified professionals need to act the part in order to truly be professionals.

    And great post! Chuy’s cute.

    • Rachel Thompson on January 2, 2013 at 6:12 pm
    • Reply

    I decided to freelance as part of my long term plan to write and publish novels. So, when an editor showed up at my writer’s group looking for stringers I jumped in and went on to write hundreds of features, op-eds and later tow regular columns. Journalism forced me to work hard and learn fast. I acquired balls-to-the-wall habits. Deadlines wait for no one. Best part, anyone can do this; all it takes is guts. I’ve written two novels and 40 short stories all while serving newspapers. The lesson is: never say no to writing. I didn’t know what I was doing when I started, all I said was “yes, I’m a writer.”

      • naomihattaway on January 2, 2013 at 7:12 pm
      • Reply

      If THAT isn’t encouraging, Rachel! Thanks for sharing that!

  25. I love this!

  26. Oops, stupid laptop. Anyway, I love this post. And I’m not pushing your book for a critique, I push it because I hate being spammed by rookies! Thank you for all you do for the writing community.

  27. Um, Kristen? Teachers are also under the heading of “Those who need certification”
    (I’ve got the battle scars to prove it. )

    Great post, though. More and more often, I feel justified in looking people in the eye (without scratching my nose or giggling) and telling them I’m a writer.

    1. Depends on what you teach. When you write NF, that’s very often teaching. And they let me do it :D.
      …wait, ok bad example.

      1. I teach Composition I (and,some semesters, Comp II, which is based on literature). Either way, I had to have that M.A. in English in my grubby, little fist.

  28. When people would ask me what I do, I used to hesitate to say, “I’m a writer.” I would think about the movie “The Four Seasons” and how the photographer’s friends would snicker about her vegetable still life photos behind her back. One man’s artist is another man’s poseur. I decided, however, that until I was willing to own it, embrace it and live it, I was. I’m a writer. ‘Nuff said.

  29. Kristen, thanks for the kick up the butt. I dropped the ‘always wanted to be’ tag in 2007 and have never looked back. Good to be reminded.

  30. It took me a long time to call myself a writer. Even after I received the call, or in my case the email they accepted my novel, I had a hard time. Suddenly I had to share with people what I was doing. I was pleasantly surprised with all the support I received. Now I don’t hide it anymore.

  31. Bwahahaha. I want a t-shirt that says “being a writer is not always a glittery unicorn hug.” Or maybe, to take a page from Chuck Wendig’s book, the t-shirt could say “Writing: It’s not all glittery unicorn nipple cookies.”

  32. Inspiring (not aspiring, but maybe ass-piring?) words 🙂 I will NOT eat the butt! The word makes me giggle too!
    Your “bada bump *snare*” reminded me of a joke: two drums and a cymbal fall down the stairs …
    I hope you’re chuckling.

  33. Excellent as always!

  34. Such a wonderful blog to start the New Year. FYI – Aspiring is no longer in any of my profiles.

  35. When life kicks you in the butt, make butt-er!

  36. Thanks Kristen for the refresher post! Great way to start the year. 🙂

    • Mandy on January 2, 2013 at 11:34 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you, SO much for this post. I have been beating myself up all year and now that I’m facing a new year. I felt lifted after this post. Thank you.

  37. Kristen, I love your blog so much. I got a Kindle Fire for Christmas (yeah, me!) and the first thing I did was buy both your wonderful books. I’ve never been so entertained by social media coaching. Thank you!!!

    1. Awwwwww BUG FAT SUPER *HUG*

    • SweetSong on January 3, 2013 at 2:14 am
    • Reply

    I LOVE that Stephen King quote! It’s so true. I used to wait for inspiration. Now I have two manuscripts written. Here’s to being writers!

  38. Great post as usual Kristen. Speaking as a butt connoisseur, I can tell you that you are spot on! But with 2013, we’ve decided to head North, away from the butt, and start This post had fantastic points that writers can take and apply while staying light-hearted. Our favorite. Will be sharing this with networking friends!

    • Aerisa on January 3, 2013 at 6:07 am
    • Reply

    Thanks, great and timely post! 🙂

  39. I’m so touched that you liked my sky photo enough to use it on your blog.

    Great post! I am a writer and photographer.

    Thanks for the affirmation.
    Becca 😉

  40. Great post, and timely reminder to treat writing like a business, and to work at it, even when the muse has gone AWOL

  41. I love this. Pull on your big girl panties. Sit down. Start working. We do not aspire. We ARE. Thank you for the “permission” to be a writer w/o the MFA, the agent, the whatever. If you build it and do the best you can, you are all that. Results, not credentials; pages not business cards. Somebody’s bound to notice. Thank you!

    p.s. Could you supply a link or more words about the tribe? Sorry if I missed something there.

  42. I am going through my online profile today to remove the word aspiring. Thank you.

  43. Reblogged this on Fifty Shades of Tribute and commented:
    This reblog is for all my friends in FF world who are writing better stories than the original but are hesitating to take that leap. I include myself here, I eat a lot of butt. It might be time to step out of the shadows and claim your rightful place in the world. I challenge you to remove the word ‘aspiring’ from your profiles as a first step!

    1. Do it Sasha. You are not alone. *nod to WANA*

      1. Thanks, babe. Love your work! 🙂

  44. My goal obviously is to write more. I’m bumping it up each month, starting with the doable and ending with the impossible. But trying to reach the impossible will still make me work so much harder. January will be 1000 words and they must be on a continuous story and not just notes.

  45. I think you need to make this into a t-shirt: “I Survived Eating the Butt.” I love that you continue to encourage writers with what you have learned! Great advice here, Kristen.

  46. Only you could make aspiring a dirty word and eating butt a thing of literary beauty! TY. Now, on to 2013 the year of the butt and time to get rid of your asp….iring b.s.

  47. Loved your aspiring housekeeper example, so true.

  48. I’m sharing this far and wide. Thank you very much. These are words we all need to hear.

  49. With middle grade fiction, butt is not a bad thing. I had a copy of The Day My Butt Went Psycho that fell to pieces.

  50. “We can never become a professional author if we won’t first claim being a real writer.” So very true. This topic comes up frequently in my various writer’s groups.Just left a Facebook conversation about naysayers stomping on a writer’s dream. I’ll be sure to pass this post on.

  1. […] Happy New Year! Today we are going to revisit a favorite series of mine that I call Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. Besides, when it comes to New Year’s Resolu…  […]

  2. […] stands for We Are Not Alone, the lovely book by Social Media Jedi, Kristen Lamb. The WANA Phenomenon has become much more than a book, at least it has for […]

  3. […] Happy New Year! Today we are going to revisit a favorite series of mine that I call Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. Besides, when it comes to New Year’s Resolu…  […]

  4. […] Lamb goes on about butts in her post Lies that Can Poison Your Dreams – Don’t Eat the Butt in 2013. She tells us to embrace the writer […]

  5. […] lovely Kristen Lamb about taking yourself seriously as a writer. The blog was fabulously called Lies that Can Poison Your Dreams–Don’t Eat the Butt in 2013 It included a great quotation from Stephen […]

  6. […] post by Kristen Lamb focusses on getting things done. No more excesses or giving into fear. No more talk talk talk, […]

  7. […] before we first put pen to paper (or pencil, or ink, or…you get it I’m sure) with Lies That Can Poison Your Dreams and followed up with three days of excellent writing tips, culminating in Talent is Cheaper than […]

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