It’s only human to want a drive-thru breakthrough, a dream in a box, the winning lotto ticket to life. Yet, I posit instant success is about as healthy as instant rice (and just as suspicious).
To achieve anything remarkable, it’s critical to become an OUTLASTER (a term I learned from Craig Groeschel, who happens to have a fabulous leadership podcast, btw).
Dreamers are born, but Outlasters are forged 😉 .
I had years of honing this skill. Some of you may not know, but I dropped out of high school twice.
***Note: I am the reason for the current Texas truancy laws 😀 .
Returning to high school and graduating at 19 was seriously humbling. My GPA was so low, my classes (very literally) were one step above Special Ed. When I took my SAT, the scores were so bad, I thought they might check me for a pulse.
Super glad they gave me some points for spelling my name correctly.
After a year and a half of junior college I won an Air Force scholarship to TCU to become a doctor. Six months in, the school didn’t close when we had a bad ice storm and I slipped and fractured my back…losing my scholarship.
This was before the days when places were required to have handicap access, so for two semesters, I trudged up stairs on a cane and had to stand during all my classes because I couldn’t sit.
Not awkward at all.
It took me six years of working crap jobs, but I finished. Maybe not with the best grades, but I finished. In the years that followed, I drifted without purpose working sales and I got in a really bad habit of making way too many excuses and quitting when anything got too hard. It took yet another health disaster to show me my poor character in Technicolor and remind me to become a finisher.
Time in a Bottle
We all have heard the saying, ‘DaVinci had the same 7 days and 24 hours.’ I would actually make a different point. Folks like DaVinci, Mozart, Shakespeare actually had LESS time.
There was no electric lighting and pulling all-nighters was a good way to go blind by candlelight. Thus, I’d say the difference is that these artists lived intentionally.
We all want to know the secret to success. First of all, I am going to add a caveat. Success is a very personal thing. What is success for you isn’t success for me.
***Mine includes a secret lab, bouncy house and trebuchet.
Yet, study after study shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to reach them.
Mission Impossible–> Mission I’m Possible
Mission statements help our subconscious guide us where we want to GO. A mission statement also helps us know what activities are a time-suck, time-waste, what can go, what needs to stay, what should be added, etc. All this helps us be proactive instead of reactive. We’re thinking, acting and deciding with intent.
Living intentionally requires we learn to be OUTLASTERS.
We can take craft classes, join a gym, type on the WIP, start a blog, but the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is that those who make it KEPT GOING, even if it was just a tiny bit of effort daily.
Blogging & Writing
When I started blogging, I was THRILLED to have a hundred hits a day. Granted, most were spam bots, but I was in no position to be picky. At least CheapViagraBargainPrice cared enough to comment.
I so lick your blog. What brilliant words using you do. Must tell my brother.
If CheapViagra had not licked my blog…I very well may have given up.
Now, my blog gets an average of 1.1 million hits a month. My site grew from likely 100 visits from dedicated followers (actual humans) to my website a month to now almost 100,000. This did NOT happen overnight and there was a lot of ugly crying along the way.
Suffice to say, those who started blogging when I did have mostly dropped away. Blogging is crucial for a brand and selling books. It is the strongest and most resilient form of social media and yet?
Most people give up.
I’ve also noticed how many people in 2009 were super passionate about writing. They claimed they’d do ANYTHING to publish and write full-time. Now? Most are gone. New dreamers regularly fill the vacuum. But, how long will they last?
***Refer to The Real Odds of Author Success.
Here’s the thing. Starting is crucial, but also easy—okay, easier. It’s fresh and wonderful and emotional. There might even be all kinds of people to cheer you on.
But how will you fare when the new wears off and those who pledged undying support and loyalty move on to a new shiny because we weren’t an overnight success?
The key to making it in ANYTHING from writing to business to marriage to losing weight is to become an OUTLASTER.
Traits of an Outlaster
Outlasters have clear and achievable goals.
Notice I didn’t say realistic goals. Reach for the stars and we may hit the moon. BUT, my goal to be a NYTBSA is an achievable goal because I’m a writer. If I have a goal to become a professional NBA player? Last I checked short middle-aged women were not in high demand in the sport.
Outlasters write down goals and have CLEAR Mission Statements.
The Mission Statement keeps us focused. We learn where to say yes and where and when to say no.
If my goal is to become a NYTBSA in the next five years, I know it is unwise to volunteer for every church event, school event, and family drama need. It becomes clear that I need to set word count based off MY goals. My word count will be very different if I want to write ONE book a year versus THREE.
Outlasters understand the power of letting go.
Yes, Outlasters MUST hold on, hold on for LIFE! But to the right things.
Often letting go is more important than holding fast. This can involve letting go of hobbies, hangups and habits or even WIPs that just need to be put to bed. But the toughest? Letting go of people.
The best analogy I can think of for this is climbing Everest. If we want to climb Everest, there are teams of sherpas that guide you to the first base camp. As you go to each higher level, the team becomes incrementally smaller and this is necessary.
Not everyone in our life is meant for the summit. Some might even get us killed.
We will mourn people we need to let go of, but often letting go is a good thing. True friends believe in us even when all outside evidence says we are a failure. Anyone can claim to be our friend when life is all kittens and unicorns, but what about when everything goes horribly wrong? This is where true allies are revealed. We find them (and they reach for us) in the darkness.
Luck is fabulous and would LUV me some luck. But I still believe the harder I work, the luckier I get. This said, working smarter is key. Feel free to make all your clothes by hand, but running to Target for new t-shirts might be a better use of time if your goal is to be a pro writer instead of a clothing designer.
There are no shortcuts. We MUST endure. And endurance can be small. It can mean we are so ill we can’t see straight, but we post a couple things on Facebook or ask a friend to guest blog…then go back to sleep. It is the small deposits and investments that accumulate over time.
But we write that book, remove that debt, lose that weight little by little. That’s what endures. Fad diets and quick fixes don’t change our character. Just like eating well and exercise should be a lifestyle, being a writer is a WHOLE new way of living. It isn’t a hobby or a thing or our little fun…it is who we ARE. Writers WRITE.
Outlasters Understand the Long-Tail
If we look at life day by day we will get discouraged. It’s kind of like going back to the gym and then getting on the scale every hour to see what’s changed. Formula for a breakdown. Outlasters just keep writing, keep failing, keep learning, keep trying and they do it over and over and over and over.
Outlasters CANNOT Succeed Alone
Part of why I built and pay for W.A.N.A. Tribe (We Are Not Alone—W.A.N.A.) is that we are who we hang around. We’ve been running writing sprints in the main Chat for over three years, M-F from morning to night. Sure, it costs me money but I’m investing in my success and yours. We can enjoy a place free of ads, spammers, politics, drama, data mining, and distractions.
We are all about hard, focused WORK…with fun and play and goofing off in between the 40 minute sprints.
I view W.A.N.A.Tribe as my office, my workplace, my support team. Trust me, my tribe members will notice if I’m not showing up, if I’m not working.
The committed are there every day, and just knowing this is enough to dissolve excuses that might have derailed me otherwise. If they’re vested enough to show and work, then I need to get my @$$ in gear and honor them.
Find positive, professional, driven people and you WILL come up higher. Psychic vampires, whiners and complainers need to GO. Take inventory and seek out those you admire. Study them. Listen and learn from them. This is a tough road, but no one ever said we had to do it alone.
We all fall, bump our noses and bloody our knees. That is GOOD. Keep pressing. You got this 😉 .
I love hearing from you!
(And am not above bribery.)
What are your thoughts? Have you been struggling to keep pressing? Discouraged? Do you put everyone and everything ahead of your goals? Have you taken time to even define your goals? Does life seem to stretch you like taffy? Are you overwhelmed? Why? Have you learned to set goals and boundaries? What did you do differently that make the BIG difference?
Or the small difference that eventually grew BIG?
What do you WIN? For the month of MAY, for everyone who leaves a comment, I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Heads Up! May 3rd 7-9 EST I’m teaching Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS.
****Free recordings are included with all classes.
Want to know how to write a synopsis? I will teach you HOW. Synopses are vital for any form of publishing and this class will walk you through how to write a query and synopsis that sizzles!
Also NOW OFFERING…
The first five pages are the most essential part of the novel, your single most powerful selling tool. It’s how you will hook agents, editors and readers. This class will cover the most common blunders and also teach you how to hook hard and hook early. This class is two hours long, 90 minutes of instruction and 30 minutes for Q&A.
***A free recording is included with purchase.
General Admission is $40 and there are some SUPER COOL upgrades! Get your spot HERE.
Ready for Book Beast Mode? I Live to Serve…Up Some TRAINING!
For anyone who longs to accelerate their plot skills, I recommend:
Two hours of intensive plot training from MOI…delivered right to your computer to watch as much as you like 😀 .
The Art of Character is also now available for ON DEMAND.
And if you’re ready for BOOK BEAST MODE and like saving some cash, you can get BOTH Plot Boss and Art of Character in the…
Almost FIVE HOURS with me, in your home…lecturing you. It’ll be FUN!
I also hope you’ll pick up a copy of my debut novel The Devil’s Dance.