Writer Victory!—Change Your Mind

Image courtesy of Laura Hadden via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image courtesy of Laura Hadden via Flickr Creative Commons.

We’ve been working on an Author Acrostic for Victory. V for voluntarily submit. I for identify problem areas and defectsToday we are at C for change your mind. Most of us know where we need to try harder, come up higher. Yet, sometimes the simplest things to do are the hardest.

I lived my 20s like a Mountain Dew commercial. I taught Ju-Jitsu during the week and then camped, hiked, kayaked, and mountain biked on the weekends. I was the only girl on an all-male college Roller Hockey Team. If it was guaranteed to be dangerous and stupid? Sign me UP!

I’d grown up with two parents terrified of making decisions. Terrified to try and fail. In making no decisions they still made a decision. I fell into that same pattern as an adult, but thankfully was able to see that bad habit. I pushed myself to do what scared me.

Learning to Fly

I’d always wanted to go skydiving. In 1996, my boyfriend dumped me and I figured, “Why not?”

Skydiving is an interesting sport. There are only two categories—Grand Champion and Stuff On a Rock. The first time I jumped, I chose to go tandem because I wanted to do the jump from 16,000 feet without focusing on an altimeter or pulling a chute. I yearned for the free fall.

Be careful what you wish for ;).

So I get in the plane and all the sudden I’m buckled in and the plane is taking off. OMG. WHAT AM I DOING? And I had a good half hour to contemplate being Stuff On a Rock. I, of course, was not the first person to jump. I sat and watched with ever-ratcheting terror as seasoned divers did backflips and cannon balls out the small airplane’s door.

Finally….my turn. Though it was the middle of a typically scorching Texas summer, the air up that high is freezing. Also, the world disappears. You’re too high to make out anything other than a patchwork below.

My instructor says to me. “All right. We are going now. Remember. Let go. Trust me, and kick your butt.”

“Kick my BUTT?”

“If you don’t kick your butt we will lose control and can die.”


Mentally and analytically, I knew what he meant. If I spread my legs instead of tightening into a ball, then we wouldn’t be aerodynamic. In my gut, all I heard was AAAAGHHHHHH!

Trust me, when you jump out of a perfectly good airplane, the first step is the hardest, but man there is nothing to compare to the ride down. Free-falling over a minute, facing death, facing mortality and then POOF! the shoot opens and it is like the very hand of God just gently scoops you up to enjoy that last part of the journey you were so terrified to take only minutes before.

Image courtesy of Morgan Sherwood via Flickr Creative Commons.

Image courtesy of Morgan Sherwood via Flickr Creative Commons.

We glided down, the air becoming steadily warmer on my face. I laughed with abandon I hadn’t felt since I was a little kid. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life because I had the courage to fall.

I knew I had a control issue. I had a problem letting go. I had problems simply DECIDING. Still do.

But what a great lesson this can be for all of us. Let go. Trust. Kick your own butt.

We have all this training about success, and that’s great. I blog about it, too. But, we can’t become good at success until we get really good at failure. When we step out and dare to dream, to write a book or query or blog or freelance or do anything remarkable, we have to LET GO. We can’t have the glorious experience if others can’t scrape us off the door.

Let go of one thing for a possibly BETTER thing.

It’s okay to be afraid, but become good at letting go. Let go of ego and doubt and fear. Let go of toxic relationships. Risk being metaphorical Stuff On a Rock. Thus, today I hope to strip away your illusions. You will make far more wrong decisions than right ones. So will I! Own it.

We learn to make good decisions by making bad ones and learning and then living to tell the tale. And sure I want to motivate you. Let go. We can’t control everything and often the best experiences come with raw abandon. Um, falling in love?

But the other side of that is KICK YOUR OWN BUTT. You can’t make me write and I can’t make you write. I have to kick my own butt to finish what I start. To recognize when I’ve let things slip. Give permission for mistakes, but then Writer UP.

We have to decide to change and KICK OUR OWN BUTT. Don’t analyze problems and patty-cake with them and talk about them. Just do the hard stuff. Recognize the problem, make a plan then act. If that plan doesn’t work, revise and do it differently. Fail spectacularly.

Yes, when I jumped out of that plane, maybe my chute wouldn’t have opened and I would have ended up a SPLAT on some poor cattle rancher’s property. But what a way to go :D. And I’m not pushing anyone to be reckless, but be fearless.

Live a life worth dying for.

What are your thoughts? Do you have things you know you need to change but you simply aren’t stepping out? I know I am guilty. Are you afraid? Afraid of failure? Are you learning to embrace your failures as learning experiences? Are you balancing grace with some kicking your own butt?

I love hearing from you!

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).

If you need help building a brand, social media platform, please check out my latest best-selling book, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World.

ALSO, Remember WANA has a KILLER Class on Dialogue Coming Up:

Need More Help With Dialogue?

Check out my book How to Write Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide. In it you’ll learn how to format your dialogue, how to add variety to your dialogue so it’s not always “on the nose,” when you should use dialogue and when you shouldn’t, how to convey information through dialogue without falling prey to As-You-Know-Bob Syndrome, how to write dialogue unique to each of your characters, how to add tension to your dialogue, whether it’s ever okay to start a chapter with dialogue, ways to handle contractions (or the lack thereof) in science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, and much more!

If you prefer live teaching, I’m running a webinar called Say What? Techniques for Making Your Dialogue Shine this Saturday, May 17th.

This 1.5 hour live webinar will…

* cover the seven most common mistakes when it comes to dialogue and how to fix them,
* explain how to ensure your dialogue makes your story stronger,
* show you how to create dialogue unique to your characters, and
* answer some of the most frustrating questions about dialogue such as how to handle dialect, should we use contractions in historical novels, science fiction, and fantasy, and is it okay to begin a book with dialogue.

As a bonus, all registrants receive an ebook copy of my book How to Write Dialogue: A Busy Writer’s Guide.

The webinar will be recorded and made available to registrants, so even if you can’t make it at the scheduled time, you can sign up and listen later at your convenience.

Click here to sign up for Say What? Techniques for Making Your Dialogue Shine.


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  1. Don’t worry about what others will think of your writing, because someone will always think your creations are the work of a fool. Jump out of that plane and WRITE!

  2. I grew up shy and reserved. After I published “Betty Tales,” things changed. I walked into the reception area of the local TV news station and sold the idea of an interview to the receptionist. I figured, what’s the worst they can tell me–no? Less than 24 hours later, I was on the news being interviewed. I’ve removed my worst enemy from my path and I’m forging ahead. I’m not looking back, either!

  3. LOVE!!!!

  4. I kind of needed this today. I’ve already jumped, and the worries are trying to take over. Thanks.

  5. You always say just what I need to hear. Thanks.

  6. It can be scary to take that jump and put yourself out there! Great message! I only wish I could go skydiving. 😉

    • jillhannahanderson on May 16, 2014 at 11:13 am
    • Reply

    I love all your posts, Kristen, but this is an especially good analogy. Maybe because I’m so terrified of heights, I’ve “made” myself parasail and rock climb, but skydiving would give me a heart attack.
    And yes, I’m a control freak. Yet you’ve made some very good points. As writers, it would be so easy to just write, not submit ourselves to rejection by agents, editors and readers. But that free-falling feeling we get from accomplishing something we never thought we could, makes up for that terrorizing fear. Thanks for the reminder!

  7. Fixin’ to go kick my own butt. Thanks, Kristen. I needed to hear what you had to say. I’m too worried about being mush on a rock. But hey, we all gotta go sometime. Right?

  8. You’re like a preacher at a revival, Kristen, and I’m the lady in the back row who thinks, “OMG, she’s talking to ME!” One of my biggest flaws is indecision, and right up there with indecision is self-doubt. Put the two together and it’s a little scary being me sometimes. Yes, I push through it, but, oh, the personal angst! :/ I will say this—I’d rather jump from the plane (query) and stress over whether or not the parachute will open (acceptance/rejection) then not make the jump at all. I just wish I could learn to enjoy that free fall.

    1. Next week we dance with SNAKES! 😀 ((HUGS))

  9. LOVE this! I just wrote “Writer UP!” on my laptop, above the screen, in yellow Bible highlighter pencil. I’m going to make it permanent with my silver Sharpie if I can ever find the darned thing …

    1. Awesome!

  10. I really enjoy your posts, Kristen. I’ve even sent some to my daughter. And when I figure out how, I’ll post your blog on my blog – “Writer Up.” I would never jump out of a plane – willingly – but I am in the process of self publishing 2 picture books. It was definitely a “let’s jump and do this” decision. Once they are published, then I have to market them – another scary thing. I can do this. Thank you for your encouraging and fun posts.

  11. “In making no decisions they still made a decision.” It’s amazing how many people don’t understand this concept. It’s even more amazing how long it took for me to understand it. I shook off the fear and published this week. It’s a poetry collection and my way of taking that first step. The fantasy novels will follow, but more important is that I’ve done it. I’ve been through the process and didn’t die. I survived purchasing ISBNs, I tackled applying for an EIN, and I did all those little things that are easy to obsess about and worry over. You, Kristen (and your book, too!), were significant in my reaching this place. Thank you.

  12. Wonderful post! Also, I’m going to get your book.

  13. Hey, I was the only female member of an all-male cricket team in my twenties. I particularly loved the homemade cakes that the wives and girlfriends of the cricketers made for the tea at half-time. I’d never be brave enough to jump out of a plane as I hate heights. But I did something brave with singing.

    When I was at school, I was too terrified to do anything in front of an audience, especially if involved me having to memorise something. I remained like that until the age of 40. Then one of my friends asked me to sing a responsorial psalm at her boyfriend’s funeral. After that, I started singing solos at weddings. Then my biggest self-dare, egged on by a fantastic singing teacher, was to learn 17 songs off by heart (art songs and arias, some of them in Italian) and do a solo recital. My teacher said it was just a case of re-wiring my brain and telling myself I could do it.

    Now I’m injecting that same self-belief into succeeding as a writer. And yes, I agree, it is a case of Kick Our Own Butt. My current nightmare is writing a synopsis of the non-linear novel I’ve just completed, which is ready to go but for this task. I’m letting the sunshine distract me, but need to tell myself off and just get on with the task in hand.

    Thanks for that post, I really enjoyed it.

  14. Love this. Echoes my own new mantra of “failure isn’t”. Every time I start to get down or scared about something, I slap myself in the face with, “It’s just not failure woman!” There is always something to be learned, something to gain, something to realize, something to let go of for greater health….easy to say, harder to emotionally internalize and really change a daily mindset. This was a much needed reminder, thank you 🙂

  15. Wow, this post was truly inspiring. “We learn to make good decisions by making bad ones and learning and then living to tell the tale.” I love that! Thinking of getting a tee shirt with those words on it. By nature, I’m an introvert. I have to kick my own butt to be social. I love my family and friends and all the new acquaintances I meet, but my preference would be to sit alone on a mountaintop, soaking in the silence. So for me, one of my biggest fears is success. I find comfort in obscurity. How on earth will I be able to handle it, if people actually start to notice me?

  16. Just the kick in the butt I need right now! thank you!

  17. well many thanks for writing this ..
    you’ve just put my thoughts in the perfect wording to describe the situation fair enough..
    i felt as if u r talking about my life; starting from growing up with the indecisive parents to realizing this habit & overcoming it..
    comparing ur experience of flying i did parasailing as the first action of going wild in my life it was the first activity i have ever done in my life & i just wanted to prove to myself i can do it on my own..
    and it made me realize that we need to step out from a lot of stuff; it showed me the importance of taking urself out of situations & have a look on the whole thing from above.. be outside the situation; coexist with the vacuum & u’ll have different insight then..

    when it comes to the point that u mentioned experiences, succes & failure
    i agree thousand times; i never regret anything that happened to me at least i learned something;
    but the hardest part of all what u talked about is letting go ( letting go of the toxic relationships, the feeling of fragile strength, and the worst is letting go of the past ) & sometimes doing the hard job putting the plan to change; it just takes long time..
    Thanks again for pointing this out; just wanted to share what i think with you as well..
    it looks like the perfect timing for this post 🙂

  18. Reblogged this on travelertobe and commented:
    Let go. Trust. Kick your own butt.

  19. Fear is probably my biggest enemy at this point in my life. Hence, why I usually just lurk and don’t even dare leave a comment. But this time I had to, since, well…your topic obviously fits. I’m on novel number 4 and still quake in my boots when thinking about publishing, whether I’m pondering sending out queries or self-publishing, both of which I’ve done and still fear being that Stuff On a Rock. My self-confidence is so poor I even have trouble interacting with other writers since I assume they’re all better than me anyway. Ugh…I know. At any rate, thank you for your post. The last couple days my mind has been hard at work on this very topic, so when I read your words today, I had to chuckle at the timing. I appreciate your thoughts and advice.

    1. You can do it! 🙂

  20. Okay…Let go. Trust. Kick your own butt. annnnddd repeat as necessary! Thank you for such an inspiring post. The visual I am forever taking away from this is – next time I ‘sit’ with a problem (as us philosophical types do) I will imagine myself ridiculously playing patty cake with it. Be well. ~Karen~

  21. This was a great post! When I work on my novel, I fear that people will find it boring, offensive or stupid. But thinking that way doesn’t get anything done, so I continue.

  22. Writer up, don’t give up. I needed this kick in the butt from you today. So close to finishing final revisions and getting the manuscript to a proofreader – and I’m terrified of the next step.
    I have tickets to a conference. I am submitting 20 pages for a critique with a published author (not Larry Brooks – I was too intimidated, plus it’s not his genre). I have paid for 15 minutes to pitch my top choice agent. Dizzy…ready to faint…no, make that puke.
    Self-doubt central. I’m going to kick my own butt now. Thanks for reminding me to stay the course.

  23. I generally just lurk, but I have to say that this is the most helpful series of articles I’ve read in a very long time. I appreciate your truth-telling mixed with honest hope (along with a generous amount of humor). Thank you for that!

  24. I find that fear is not a big an issue as the feeling that I already smacked my head into this wall. Still, the cure is the same. If what you’re doing isn’t working, nail your courage back together and do something else…

  25. I’ve pretty much lived as you’ve suggested, moved to the other side of the country, moved to foreign countries (I live in Japan), went skydiving (once), and still my greatest regret is that I haven’t been more fearless, so I love reading your blog and getting inspired.

    Where I was most fearful was in submitting my writing for publication (fear and a complex disliking of the entire process), but when Kindle Direct Publishing came on the scene, I said, that’s it, I’m doing it. So prepared the “most completed” manuscript (a collection of poetry) and published it in August 2012. I’ve sold over 300 copies so far and last year published my first (co-authored) novel.

    And even with all of that, I still need the kick in the pants, so thanks.

  26. Very cool. At 70, I’m looking for my next challenge. It won’t be skydiving, even though I have a friend who is 85 and did an assisted when she was 70. Love your blog!! I’ll link to you in my post today.

  27. can i let go without jumping from a plane, please. 😉

  28. What a well-themed post! I, too, took the jump once literally (for my 30th birthday) and likewise adored it, in fact, I have my own analogy for the experience. However, I recently took the jump metaphorically and absolutely, completely have become Stuff On A Rock. I am most assuredly understand the ‘failing spectacularly’ concept. Any ideas on how to stop the free fall when the ‘chute doesn’t open?

    1. You get to be Stuff On a Rock and learn 😀 ((HUGS))

  29. Very true! I love the energy behind this post, kinda felt like i was in a motivational speaker’s class – or back in the dojo with my old Kenpo instructor, that man could light a fire beneath one’s bottom. I have admitted before to still having fears of failure due to my upbringing and my family, so I often have to kick myself in the butt and just go for it too. Thx again for your inspirational words.

  30. Reblogged this on remnantscc and commented:
    If you are ever afraid – just jump!

  31. Wow, awesome post! I’ve been kicking my own butt lately (minus the jumping out of airplanes part) to force myself to move ahead with my writing and with my life. It seems I’ve been stuck in a rut for years, but now that my kids are grown, it’s time to focus on me, dammit! 🙂

    • fariba on May 17, 2014 at 10:50 pm
    • Reply

    Wonderful! I had this same experience in scuba diving!

  32. “Live a life worth dying for.”

    Great quote. I tweeted about it with a link to your blog. https://twitter.com/JLGryphon.

    Thanks for this. I’ve been working on kicking my butt lately, even using the same terminology (go figure), so thanks for the pick-me-up.

  33. You are such a rock star, Kristen! In writing and life. Great post!

  34. Great and well-timed post. Recently, while trekking through a desert of rejection, trying to get some writing credits towards my goal of getting a novel published, I thought I finally had a break. A charity wanted to publish my article on being the parent of a teen with OCD. My son refused to give his permission. I was devastated, and yet the strength of my feelings was a wake-up call. I realised that, working full time, I devote all my energy and time to a job, and only the left-overs to what I deeply care about.The job is a gilded cage, but I have the key to the door. I know that now. Things are going to change!

    • NS on May 19, 2014 at 11:29 am
    • Reply

    I have wanted to skydive and write for a long, long time! In fact I recently wrote about a dream of mine where I own a book store that teaches skydiving too. The writing race began a few years prior to skydiving. But boy, do these two make my blood bubble!!! So now I have jumped into the unending sky of words. For now I am loving it even though I have no idea where this free-fall will take me. As for skydiving, it remains on top the list. I will not only have to kick my own butt to make the final plunge, but I will also need someone standing behind me to kick hard! This sort of happened with my writing too. A few soul-searching conversations with my husband and there was, diving head on! Loved your post as always:)

  35. Great metaphor for letting go in so many areas of life. Just letting go and living is a wonderful, free-falling experience sometimes.

  36. As always, your words of wisdom inspire me. I mention you on my blog here. Thanks for keeping me motivated! http://www.naomibellina.com/blog/change-your-mind-let-go-ride-motorcycles

  37. Thank you – I needed some butt-kicking. I’m just getting started but this “writer victory” series of posts is really helping. You get full credit 😉 here: http://plantedinthesky.wordpress.com/2014/05/21/a-post-a-day-for-30-days-twenty-one-little-miss-perfectionist/

  38. Did you continue skydiving after this experience? 🙂

    1. Went three times. LOVED it but it is a super expensive hobby :/

      1. I know. *sigh* This is why I finally gave up – after a few years and a broken parachute. But still: I loved it too. 🙂

  1. […] « Writer Victory!—Change Your Mind […]

  2. […] Every day in this profession is about writing better than we did the day before. C was for Change Your Mind. We can only achieve what we can first conceive. Make your mind and set it and keep it set. T was […]

  3. […] acknowledge. Our profession hinges on us writing better today than we did yesterday. C was for Change Your Mind. We can only achieve what we can first conceive. Make your mind and set it and keep it set. T was […]

  4. […] acknowledge. Our profession hinges on us writing better today than we did yesterday. C was for Change Your Mind. We can only achieve what we can first conceive. Make your mind and set it and keep it […]

  5. […] of my favorites:  Rachel Aaron – Don’t Stomp on My Cake!  ;  Kristen Lamb – Writer Victory series  ;  Lauren Sapala – Self Doubt: The Writer’s Constant […]

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