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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: how to become a published author

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb, writers, writing, writing a novel

It’s time for the New Year’s Resolutions. Countless people all over the world use this last part of December to declare how 2019 will be different. They will write lists, declare all the changes they’ll make, then ride the high for as long as it lasts.

Most New Year’s Resolutions last six months at best… and that’s being generous.

In truth, most crash and burn in seven days.

Some people refuse to make New Year’s Resolutions at all. And, if what I’m saying is true and most New Year’s Resolutions have a shelf-life of a week, why bother? Right?

New Year’s Resolution Haters come heavily armed with detailed reasons why New Year’s Resolutions are dumb and a waste of time. I know them by heart because I was a hater for years. I’ve used all the standard ‘good reasons’ why New Year’s Resolutions are stupid.

Why set myself up to fail?

New Year’s Resolutions are just a bunch of sugar-hyped hopeful thinking.

If I don’t get my hopes up, I can’t be disappointed.

Goals and ‘visioneering’ and dream journaling are just a bunch of self-help hooey.

I’ll stop now because I’m depressing myself.

For the New Year’s Resolutions Haters, I’d like to posit a thought. Resolutions are like relationships.

Sometimes, we keep failing because we’ve never taken time to reverse-engineer why everything went sideways in the first place. We fail to pay attention to when we stumbled and why so we can factor these obstacles into our future goal-setting.

Bear with me…

Bad Decision Besties

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Think of a friend who’s a disaster in dating, and we all have one. This friend just about gets free from one bad relationship, only to leap into a brand new relationship with the same guy/gal, only in a different-though-often-eerily-similar-body.

*face palm*

You watch from the sidelines in horror. How can your friend NOT see that the new fling is the SAME EXACT sort of @$$hat you’ve spent the past six months extracting them from?

Short of hiring those people who abduct then deprogram loved ones caught up in a cult, you’ve done everything to show dimwit friend WHY this ‘new’ relationship is more toxic than a Manson Family Holiday Special.

Now, as this person’s bestie, we see our friend is being a nitwit who’s repeating a nitwit pattern. But our nitwit friend, whom we still love despite being a nitwit, never changes. Why? Because our friend has never asked (and answered) the hard questions. Thus, they’re doomed to ‘Dating Groundhog Day.’

By the way, if you don’t have this friend, likely YOU are the friend 😛 .

Hey, I’ve been that nitwit friend too many times to count, which is why I believe I can speak with authority on ‘How to Outwit Being a Nitwit.’ We live in a world where it’s easy to fall into nitwit patterns because we’re bombarded with cheap, easy, FREE, and PAIN-FREE.

Ah, but here is the problem. When have humans ever IN THE HISTORY OF HUMANS valued what came to them cheap, easy, free, and pain-free? If we valued cheap, easy, free, and pain-free we’d hoard all those ‘free toys’ from fast food joints in a bank safety deposit box.

You can pry that stress ball from a real estate agent I’ve never met from my COLD DEAD HANDS….

…said no one ever.

New Year’s Resolutions: To the Pain

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Another year, another trip around the sun, a new chance to do better and be better. In this post, I’d like to deviate from the standard advice for New Year’s Resolutions. We all know goals need to stretch us, but not so much as to be unreachable (or plain stupid).

I will be a supermodel by my 45th birthday.

Also fairly safe to say we should avoid too many New Year’s Resolutions (especially unreasonable ones).

I will finish my novel by February, then lose twenty pounds by March, land a top agent by April, and pay off my house by May.

Okay, so I fast draft and it is totally possible to finish the novel by February. The rest? Er…yeah, maybe back off the throttle (and Pixie Sticks).

Lastly, I’m certain y’all know it’s good to write out goals, plan how to reach them in steps, take inventory of what you’ll need to reach said goal. Once this is done, maybe get an accountability partner, reward yourself for small victories along the way, and plan for a BIG reward once you’ve met the big goal.

This is all New Year’s Resolution S.O.P.

What I want to talk about today is how important it is to CHOOSE OUR PAIN. Why?

Because life is pain.

***I know. I totes should write greeting cards.

But seriously. No matter what we do, which doors we open or don’t open, we will have pain. If we want to be married, we’ll endure the pain of compromise, self-sacrifice, and more laundry.

Want kids? Kids are wonderful…but also come with drama, diapers, snot, and…more laundry.

Maybe your dream is to run your own business. Fabulous dream! Welcome to spreadsheets, eighty-hour workweeks (at least in the beginning), managing people, inventory, dealing with contracts and lawyers.

Also, when you do get a day off…likely you’ll be doing laundry.

Pain and Process

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

I’d like y’all to notice how even the opposite of all these goals and dreams (above) come with just as much pain…it’s just different pain. Being single, childless and working for someone else all have advantages. But they ALSO have just as many disadvantages (code for pain).

Since life is pain, we have some hard decisions to make. First, for the New Year’s Resolutions Haters, you’ll still have pain. Only you’ll have pain with little to no agency.

Since you aren’t the captain of your own ship, the Currents of Life will take you where they will and all that’s left is to hope they deliver you to a lovely sandy shore in Fiji and don’t smash you on a coral reef, instead.

Whether we like it or not, no decision is still a decision.

This said, studies have shown that those who write down their goals are 42% more likely to reach them.

But, y’all know this already.

You’ve done it before. You wrote out your goals, bought the unicorn stickers, put together a Pinterest board of what your fulfilled dreams will one day look like.

After doing ALL of this…you ended up losing a week of your life to binging on Game of Thrones, then the cat got sick, your car broke down, and by the time you found your planner? Why bother?

I know I’m mixing metaphors more than a 90s DJ, but y’all are sharp so I know you can keep up. Try baking a cake with every ingredient BUT sugar (or any form of sweetener). When we remove even ONE simple ingredient—sweetener—we don’t end up with cake.

We end up with cake-shaped sadness.

Now, we could have bought all the tools for cake-baking, binge-watched baking shows, pinned every cake recipe we could find on Pinterest and meditated to ‘You Are an Amazing Baker’ every morning. Alas, if we fail to ever add in SWEETENER, none of that other stuff matters.

Why do I use such a silly metaphor? Because too many of us have ALL the ingredients but the most critical…the grind.

Do We Love the Grind?

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

To achieve anything remarkable, we have to be willing to embrace and love (or learn to love) the process/the grind. If I had to list the single largest reason most writers fail, it would have to be that they wanted the summit without the climb.

It’s why we have so many unreadable ‘novels’ listed on Amazon.

Everyone wants a book to hold in their hands. It’s thrilling to see your NAME on the cover of a book. What writer doesn’t dream of packed book-signings, book clubs dedicated to dissecting our work, awards, accolades?

But why so many writers don’t make it and won’t make it long-term is because they fell in love with the end result and wanted to skip the process. That or they simply couldn’t endure the grind.

In fact, many believe innate talent is a GET OUT OF PROCESS FREE card.

Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha! #Cute 

Nope.

Hey, I’m not judging. I was that person who was too dumb to know I was dumb. I’d made a goal to be a New York Times Best Selling Author by 2002…2003…2004……..

*weeps*

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

Though I had dream boards, did visualization exercises, and read every inspirational guru I could find, I failed to read any novels…or craft books (probably important).

Also, I wrote when I felt like it. I started books then stopped when it started feeling less like fun and more like work. When critique groups shredded my pages, I defended myself instead of listening and learning.

Finally, after far too many years of failure, I had to make a tough choice. Did I love writing enough to stick with it even in the dark times? Could I throw myself into learning everything possible about my craft then practicing over and over?

Was I willing to hang up my ego and be humble enough to LEARN?

Was I willing to develop rhino skin? Did I LOVE writing enough to do it even if NO ONE EVER READ IT? If I never landed a Big Six (now Spiffy Five) deal, would I still write?

Should I go to my grave having NEVER hit a major list, would I embrace that as success? If I NEVER got the book signing, the book club, the hardback, the movie deal, the house in Bora Bora, would I still LOVE writing and all it entails?

Would I still BLEED for my writing even if I never sold a single book? To be transparent, there have been times I couldn’t answer these questions, namely because of all the snot bubbles and ugly crying. But, eventually I had to commit—YES or NO?

Do or Do Not, There is No TRY

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

A major reason we don’t want to write down goals (make New Year’s Resolutions) is because we don’t want to be held accountable. There is something about committing, REALLY committing, that puts us on a hot seat. Because if we make a New Year’s Resolution to finally write that novel, and in June we’ve only typed up twenty pages?

The people around us are going to—rightfully—question our dream.

There’s a good reason many of us in artistic professions have a bad rap for being flakes. We can be flakes.

That and too many wannabes hop into our profession, and they really don’t wanna be an author. They want to ‘play author’ and ideally win the Literary Power Ball (write one book that, for no discernible reason, sells a bazillion copies).

These Armchair Authors throw all they have into more ads, more marketing, more social media and when the book doesn’t turn into gold?

They quit.

Before y’all get too discouraged, remember we all start somewhere. I once was an Armchair Author, but it’s because I was NEW. Embrace the days of small beginnings. We don’t know what we don’t know.

This is why we have to embrace the process.

We have to embrace the PAIN. If we can’t learn to love writing even when everyone is calling us a fool, when no one knows we exist, when rejection letters pile up?

Then don’t set a goal to be a NYT Best-Selling Author.

Firstly, because we could write a book so amazing angels weep and Kim Kardashian’s Shopping Adventures (ghost-written by a super smart gerbil) would make the list and our book could die in obscurity.

This profession is NOT a meritocracy, and fair is a weather condition.

When it comes to writing, we have to do it because we LOVE it. We LOVE the process, the pain, the suffering and if our ability to write/create was ever taken away it would be akin to losing our limbs.

REAL writers don’t write because they can write, they write because they can’t NOT write.

Pop the Question & BE HONEST

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

When it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, we need to pop the question if we really want to succeed. The question being, ‘Do I really want to succeed at X?’ Then BE HONEST.

If you want to write a novel, then great!

Are you willing to take craft classes, hire a coach to train you, build a brand and platform, stick to the novel until it is finished, gut through revisions, pay for a good editor/proofreader?

Can you endure obscurity, rejection, and even scorn? Is being a novelist more than a mental postcard with you standing on the literary summit? Can you enjoy and outlast the valleys?

What are you willing to sacrifice?

Are you willing to use money you’d normally spend on eating out or shopping to attend a conference or take a class? In 2019 are you willing to stay up later or get up earlier day after day after day?

After day?

New year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

This applies to ALL New Year’s Resolutions, by the way. If we can’t deal with sore muscles and waddling like a penguin for days, then that dream of getting swole is just that…a dream. To become financially free, we’re going to have to math. Mathing is tough. We’ll have to do without, cut back and clip coupons. Even tougher.

Yet, I firmly believe that if we would take just a little bit of extra time to imagine the pain that comes part and parcel with the dream, we’ll get FAR better results.

We must ask and honestly answer: Can I LOVE the PROCESS as much, if not more than the END RESULT?

No Pain No Gain

New Year's Resolutions, Kristen Lamb

First, pondering the pain (process) will keep us from making dumb New Year’s Resolutions that waste time, resources and leave us feeling like failures. I once made a New Year’s Resolution to participate in a Spartan Race...but I HATE running. Seriously, even though I am in fantastic shape, I would rather be WATER-BOARDED than run.

The IDEA of being in the Spartan Race and sporting the tee was SUPER cool, but it was never gonna happen.

Ever.

Because if you see me running? Someone has unleashed a bear…that is wielding a chainsaw. I was unwilling to endure the process that would make me good at running.

Secondly, being honest about pain and process weeds out stupid goals and unveils better goals. I gave up on the Spartan Race goal and, instead, vowed to make going to the gym part of our family routine.

Thirdly, if we’re honest about ALL it will take to achieve the dream, we can plan our pain. We’re less likely have our goals hijacked because we were prepared for the soreness, the fatigue, the extra hours, the plateaus, etc.

Ultimately, we’re wise to consider why we want to achieve any goal. What is our why? Then be really HONEST. Are we doing this to prove ourselves? To outdo someone? Because we think we ‘should?’ Once we are honest about why we want the goal/dream count the cost.

Think of the process and then grill yourself. Can you embrace ALL of what that dream entails? REALLY. If not? Cool. You just saved everyone a lot of time, money and hassle. Now, ask if you could possibly modify the goal. Are there some ways to prepare ahead of time that will keep you on track?

In the end, I’m a huge fan of setting goals. It’s shocking how much time we can waste if we don’t have a vision. Life is short and it’s like Pac Man. It just gets faster and faster and harder and harder until we DIE. But, in the meantime we CAN have a great time.

Remember, humans don’t appreciate what is cheap, easy, free, or pain-free so even if the cost is WAY MORE than you’re prepared for, it’s cool. You can grow into it. You’ve got a whole year 😀 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

I’m always writing To Do Lists and Goal Lists so sometimes I make New Year’s Resolutions, and sometimes I don’t. I do, however, notice that I’m a LOT less stressed if I have lists and deadlines. I’m always redoing my goals because I change, life changes, desires change. But what about you?

Do you think you might do better at achieving goals if you also through through the process? Maybe you might modify or clarify your goals? Are you bad about setting too many goals or goals that aren’t achievable? Have you struggled with self-sabotage?

I LOVE hearing from you! Comments come with REWARD…

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

Also, if your goal is to write that novel, build a platform, be published, then check out the FANTASTIC HOLIDAY DEALS we have!

A lot of our On Demand classes need to be wiped from the server to make room for more training, so if you want professional training AT HOME? While in jammies during December when calories don’t COUNT? Grab you SOME! Gift it to yourself, a friend, YOURSELF!

In the meantime, opinions!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

LIVE CLASSES! REMEMBER TO USE Holiday18 for $10 off! OFFER ENDS DECEMBER 24th so GET YOUR SPOT!


The Publishing Triple Threat Bundle

Instructors: Kristen Lamb, Cait Reynolds
Price: $155.00 USD (buy now and get that last tax deduction in before the end of the year!)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: (see below)

Normally, it would be $210 USD for these three classes.

With the Triple Threat Bundle ALL THREE CLASSES (10 HOURS LIVE and RECORDINGS) for ONLY $155 USD. (Three classes for the price of TWO!)

You can also purchase each class individually.

***Registration is open until an hour before the final class. If, however, you want to attend ALL THREE CLASSES LIVE, MAKE SURE TO SIGN UP BEFORE THE FIRST CLASS ON JANUARY 10th.


ON DEMAND CLASSES!

ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Author Branding TKO

New Year New YOU! As they say, fail to plan and plan to fail. 2019 is almost here and the Author Branding T.K.O. delivers the training you need to make 2019 a success.

In this bundle, we’re going to take on then tame the three most terrifying topics. By the end? Easy peasy! You’ll wonder why this stuff ever had you so freaked out in the first place.

Normally all three classes would be $155…as well as spread across the entire year. But now, with the T.K.O. BUNDLE, all three classes in one place (your place) for only $99.

***Get your bundle TODAY. Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018. Gotta free up space on servers for 2019….


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – The Author’s Toolkit: Go PRO in 2019

Maybe have a New Year’s Resolution to write that novel? Have you started far too many promising stories, only to get stuck and never finish? Perhaps you just want to learn how to write FASTER without compromising quality? This bundle is the training you need to be a lean mean writing machine.

The Author’s Toolkit Bundle is six hours of intensive training that will help you write at a professional pace while minimizing revisions.

SIX HOURS of PROFESSIONAL TRAINING all at the same time, delivered to your computer. $165 when purchased separately, but in The Author’s Toolkit Bundle ONLY $99.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


Blinding them with Science: The “X” Factor Classes

Tired of writing Soylent Green? Too many unfinished books trapped in the Twilight Zone? Ready to get weird…but way faster and at a professional level of weird? You came to the RIGHT PLACE! Cait and I are professional weirdos….(that sounded way more awesome in my head).

Anyway, the Blinding Them with Science Bundle is SIX HOURS of professional level training in speculative fiction at your fingertips.

***Just promise us that when you enslave the human race, we get cookies.

Three mind-bending classes for one low mind-blowing price. $165 in classes for only $99. ON DEMAND. Meaning enjoy at home in jammies.

***Only available for purchase through 12/24/18. Get your bundle before these classes go away with 2018…


ON DEMAND BUNDLE – Dangerous Dames: Creating Strong Female Characters

DOUBLE TROUBLE WITH KRISTEN & CAIT! Get the One-Two BAM! Two Power Classes with ONE T.K.O. PRICE!

Dangerous Dames BUNDLE. Regardless of time, place, or planet, these classes will train you to craft legendary bad@$$ females audiences can’t get enough of.

Normally $90 for both classes. With Double Trouble Bundle, enjoy BOTH classes for ONLY $75.

These classes are pre-recorded and won’t be offered again. This is the last chance to enjoy these classes before we free up space on the servers.


About the Instructors:

Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in Boston with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. She likes history, science, Jack Daniels, jewelry, pasta, and solitude. Not all at the same time. When she isn’t enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.

 

Kristen Lamb is the author of the definitive guide to social media and branding for authors, Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World. She’s also the author of #1 best-selling books We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer. She’s just released her highly acclaimed debut mystery-thriller The Devil’s Dance.

Kristen has written over twelve hundred blogs and her site was recognized by Writer’s Digest Magazine as one of the Top 101 Websites for Writers. Her branding methods are responsible for selling millions of books and used by authors of every level, from emerging writers to mega authors.

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Permission. This might seem an odd word to discuss when it comes to success, but we need to hash out some dos and don’ts before January 1st. New Year’s resolutions are often more about taking freedoms away instead of permitting new ones. In my opinion, this is why a lot of well-intended changes fail to stick, but that’s for another post 😉 .

I’m a HUGE fan of discipline, though admittedly, I’m definitely a work in progress. I confess that, in my drive to be disciplined, I can become rigid, legalistic, and ridiculously hard on myself if I’m not careful.

The trick (as in most endeavors) is finding balance. Balance is and can only be achieved with granting ourselves the right kinds of permission. These permissions are especially vital if we hope to achieve success as authors.

Permission to Be New

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Last post we discussed the writers’ journey from newbie to mastery. This ‘permission to be new’ might seem like an easy one. Do NOT be fooled. This permission might very well be the toughest of all. Why? Because our world has a perception problem.

From a novel, to a movie to an HBO series, the audience is ALWAYS witnessing the final product. They’re enjoying the cumulation of countless hours (or years) of work and the efforts of more than one person.

Even with a novel, audiences don’t stop to think that 99% of authors are not, in fact, publishing their first draft. They also don’t realize that FINAL draft came to fruition with outside assistance (editors & proofreaders).

Yes, there are novelists who claim they publish their first drafts, but (aside perhaps from some anomalous savant) they don’t. Not really. Often this I-only-publish-first-draft-novelist writes an excruciatingly detailed outline which they slash, correct, rearrange, etc. THEN they write the novel. Thus, technically, the outline was draft 1-50.

Also there are writers like Dean Koontz. He writes X amount of pages a day and never revises. But, Koontz wrote a gazillion books using many methods until he was so well-trained he could do this ‘magic.’ Remember, though, that even the great Dean Koontz was once new.

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Thus expect the world won’t understand why you’re not richer than J.K. Rowling a month after you finish the first draft of your first novel. They’re outsiders who don’t ‘get’ our craft, that it IS a craft with an actual learning curve like um…learning to play an instrument.

People generally don’t appreciate that even J.K. Rowling was a single mother on welfare rejected by more than a dozen publishers. Even her first (reluctant) publisher actively encouraged her to get a ‘real’ job.

Permission to ‘Suck’

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

This permission goes hand-in-hand with being new, but permission to ‘suck’ is one we’re wise to keep our entire career. Getting words on the page is the most important part of the job. No ‘great idea’ for a book ever became a New York Times best-seller. I cannot recall any half-finished ‘perfect’ manuscript ever becoming a runaway success, but plenty ‘meh’ finished ones have.

And no, I can’t explain it either. There are more than fifty shades of why audience tastes are vastly unpredictable. Suffice to say, the world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.

Also, be aware that sometimes we’re not the best judge of our own work. We could be tired, have a hormone out of place, woke up too early to the cat puking on the carpet SIX INCHES FROM TILE and we’re hypercritical. Everything word is dreadful, tedious, and pure tripe. Our characters are one-dimensional tropes and a hamster with a traumatic head injury could’ve concocted a better plot.

Face it. We’re loathsome poseur hacks who don’t deserve access to Word…or even to live.

Um, eat a Snickers and take a nap. Then keep writing and resist the urge to edit. There are GOOD REASONS WHY this is a dangerous time to edit.

Odds are you’ll look back in revisions and realize you were being a drama queen. Imperfection is where the true beauty of story resides.

Even if the WIP does need to be ‘fixed’ you’re more likely to fix it, not SMITE it. You’ll actually edit and revise instead of going all Old Testament burning to ash, poisoning wells, then salting the earth….after characters wiped out by Backspace Death.

Permission to Write

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

First of all, it is perfectly acceptable to write as a hobby and for fun and not to be paid. I crochet. Additionally, I kind of suck at crocheting, but I enjoy it and it relaxes me. My scarves are pretty enough *shrugs*. I’ve ‘mastered’ ONE stitch in four years. Be assured, you will never see my creations for sale for big bucks or any bucks on Etsy because it’s a hobby.

I don’t desire to crochet products consumers would pay money to wear. This means I can put it off until I feel like crocheting. I also can be more laissez-faire with what the final product looks like, because crocheting is NOT my profession.

If, however, we desire to make a living as an author, then this ‘writing thing’ is our job/profession.

Being an author might be a second or even third job, but it IS a job—a ‘real’ one. Writing isn’t our hobby or our ‘little thing’ and it merits serious priority. Laundry, toilets, and figuring out how to get gummy worms out of the XBox can wait or be delegated.

For more on this, I strongly recommend you read one of my older posts Good Girls Don’t Become Best-Sellers (applies to Nice Guys, too, btw).

Permission to Fail

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

Show me a person who’s never failed and I’ll show you someone who’s never done anything interesting. Afraid to fail? Good, welcome to being human. In my vast experience, only talentless hacks steeped in self-delusion believe all they write is gold.

There’s a balance. Simpering, spineless slackers are as useless as narcissistic, unteachable, know-it-alls. Our goal is to find a happy place in the middle of this bell curve. We should be open to criticism, suggestions and growth while simultaneously being confident and knowledgable enough to know when to stand our ground (lest we end up with a book-by committee).

Humans are wired to learn by failing. Our brains are literally designed to learn by trial and error, which is why I’m adamantly opposed to chastising kids for failing.

I firmly believe our culture’s over fascination with the ‘born genius’ and ‘naturally gifted/talented’ is TOXIC. Kids mistakenly believe if they don’t do whatever ‘perfectly’ the first time or at least super quickly, then there’s something wrong with them. This then carries into adulthood.

Failure shaming, in my POV, generates underachievement (afraid to even try, low self-image) or neurotic perfectionism (hiding oopses, overworking, septic overachievement, terror regarding asking for help). I know because I was reared to be terrified of failing.

This is why as an adult and a MOM, I make sure that failure is embraced and celebrated in our home. Failure is an event, not an identity. I want my son to understand mistakes are stepping stones on the road of progress.

Another reason we’re wise to grant ourselves permission to fail, is a that ‘failure’ isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, failure can actually be a happy accident in disguise.

Two words: Ivory Soap.

Permission to Succeed

permission for success, success, writing success, fear of failure, fear of success, Kristen Lamb, how to become a published author, mastering New Year's resolutions

To succeed, strangely we must give ourselves permission to win. Bizarre, right? Mmmmmm, not so much.

Fear of failure and fear of success are frequently linked and this paradox could be a blog (or book) on its own. It seems stupid for people to fear success. Yet, many do and for a multitude of reasons. First, humans generally dislike change. Success means massive change. We might feel we are ill-prepared to traverse such unknown territory. We fear what we don’t know and places we’ve never been.

We could also worry that, if we succeed, we might not be able to duplicate whatever it was that brought us ‘success’ in the first place. That we’re a fake, a fraud and never actually ‘earned’ the win.

Perhaps now it’s a tad clearer why fear of success and failure are linked.

There’s another reason many of us fear success, one I haven’t seen discussed much. This manifestation is most common for those brought up in a dysfunctional home/background. We are afraid to be happy and our fear of success is linked to a version of PTSD. Always waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’ so to speak.

For folks who’ve been through trauma, our brains often cannot discern healthy excitement/arousal felt when experiencing success from the anxiety/arousal before ‘the bad thing’ to come. Our brain believes all ‘arousal’ is bad, thus super scary and to be avoided at all costs. This means when we get close to ‘winning’ we might self-sabotage to alleviate the nerve-shredding anxiety.

It takes some retraining of the old gray matter, but it’s worth it. Yes, give permission to succeed. I know I’m not the only one out there who’s self-sabotaged, procrastinated, or up and quit because I was wracked with fear I couldn’t explain. Trust me, I was as mystified as everyone around me until I understood what was causing this behavior.

It’s okay. Being messed up generally makes for better writers 😛 .

What Are Your Thoughts?

As long as I’ve been at this, I still struggle to some degree with all five of these. Permission to write and to succeed are still the biggies. I struggle with guilt that I’m writing when there is so much laundry to do and drawers to sort and on and on. Additionally, I still procrastinate when I might just succeed because I already admitted I’m messed up and that writing is cheaper than therapy 😛

What about you guys? Gonna ‘fess up and be brave? Are you too hard on yourself? Self-sabotage? Petrified of failing? Ashamed of being new? It’s okay, we are all in the same boat here 😀 .

Hey, there are goodies involved for being bold…

I love hearing from you and am not above bribery!

What do you WIN? For the month of DECEMBER, 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).

ALSO, NEW CLASS! 

The Art of Character: How to Craft Dimensional ‘People’ in Fiction

Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD (Only $36 with discount)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: January 4th, 2018 7:00 P.M. EST—9:00 P.M. EST

No matter what genre we write, the key to writing unforgettable stories always rests with character. How do we create intriguing characters who hook readers and never let them go? What makes a character unforgettable? How do we write stories that endure?

It is easy to fall into tropes and caricatures if we lack a fundamental understanding of human nature and how this plays out in the dramatic narrative. This class will delve into how to add depth to our characters which will, in turn add, resonance with our plot.

This class will cover:

  • Discovering Wounds;
  • Understanding Coping Mechanisms;
  • How Wounds Collide to Increase Dramatic Tension
  • How to Create Dimensional Characters
  • Using Character to Plot

***A FREE recording is included with purchase.

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Tim Simpson.
Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Tim Simpson.

It’s been amazing and terrifying to watch the changes in our industry just over the past six years. For generations, there was only a handful of items a writer needed to do. Write a book. Query. Get an agent. Land a deal. Hopefully continue writing more books. Though this was far simpler, there was a horrific failure rate and most writers never saw their works in print.

In The Digital Age, we live in an exciting time. E-books have offered new life to many works that were simply a bad investment in the paper-based world (novellas, epic fantasy, poetry). Yet, with new opportunity comes new responsibilities.

We must understand the business side of our business. And, as someone who teaches at many conferences, I know that until recently it has been rare to find an in-person conference that offers training outside the old paradigm.

I’ve been to conferences with all NY agents, only a class or two on social media, nothing about formatting or indie or book covers. This leaves a majority of writers ill-prepared for anything other than a traditional path (but this IS improving).

Yet, as we watch the trends, we are seeing that even authors who traditionally publish are still pursuing other paths as well to 1) increase income harnessing the power of combined sales and 2) maintain fan excitement 3) broaden/strengthen the platform.

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As it stands, NY is limited to putting out a book, maybe two per year. Also, bookstores only have so much shelf space (which is negotiated by an agent/sales team). Due to the new mega-bookstore model, stores like B&N make more money off items other than books. Go into any B&N and the entire front of the store is filled with Nooks and Nook accessories (instead of books).

Additionally, they only can offer discounts by stocking only so many books and for a short period of time. This means authors with backlists generally will only have the most recent title for sale, unless they happen to be one of the big names (J.K. Rowling).

Writing now has merged art with entrepreneurship. We are essentially beginning a business (even if we choose traditional). Any successful business has a business plan. Also, we must invest in ourselves and our dream. There are a number of hard truths.

Regular People BELIEVE Writing is EASY

The average person out there has no concept of how hard it is to write a book. They think we sit and play with imaginary friends all day, which we do, but making those friends cooperate can be nothing short of a nightmare. Readers only see the final product. They only see what took months or years to complete. There is also this mistaken notion that because we have command of our native tongue, that writing a book/novel is only a matter of sitting down and writing.

Image with Twig the Fairy
Image with Twig the Fairy

Yes, butt-in-chair can be the greatest challenge, but developing dimensional characters takes profound understanding of human nature and psychology. Then we have to create realistic and interesting dialogue. Add in enough description and detail to build the world without boring the reader. We have to maintain tension on every page, know how to balance scenes and sequels, understand narrative structure and on and on and on.

But, it is this misguided perception that writing is easy that can derail us.

Forget What Other People Think

Often we are afraid to take risks because we fear failure. Yet, any true success is birthed from risk. We can’t think about what other people think or 1) we’ll quit 2) we’ll slack off 3) we’ll listen to bad advice.

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Everyone has an opinion. One way humans show love is by offering “advice.” This is fine, but we have to mature enough and grab hold of what we want so tightly that we can allow other people the right to be wrong.

When I started writing, my family didn’t talk to me for two years. I even had a church elder laugh and tell me essentially that I had a better chance of being abducted by terrorists than being successful as a writer. Other family members felt I should go to law school. For a time, I listened. I even took the LSAT and gained entrance to law school.

But, I remember standing there with my acceptance letter and I had to make a choice. Did I really want to be a lawyer? NO.

Thing is, other people can give advice, and often they do this from genuine care and concern, but remember…

Only YOU will pay the price.

Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons
Image courtesy of Cellar Door Films WANA Commons

When we allow others to talk us into “real jobs”, they won’t be the ones who die a slow death every day. They won’t be the ones who throw up every day on the way to work (been there). They won’t be the one with a broken heart, an empty life and a mental spiral of what-ifs that keep them awake at night.

Commitment is the Cure

Lately, we have been talking about WANACon, which is coming up next weekend and today is the last day to use the code Valentine for $15 off. It’s an affordable way to learn from top industry experts, learn about ALL kinds of publishing—self-pub, indie, traditional—social media, branding, craft, platform-building and all for a reasonable price and from HOME. New York Times and USA Today Best-Selling Author Shirley Jump will be the keynote and agent pitch sessions are available. We have over 20 presentations from top professionals.

WANACon is largely volunteer because I was living of Ramen my first conference. Even though it was local, it still cost me over $300 and a lot of driving. I wanted to offer something for those who might be on a budget or have time or geographic challenges.

Yet, here’s the thing. Do I want you to come to WANACon? Yes, we have a lot of fun and it will spoil you. Regular conferences are costly and a physical beating (especially for introverts). Most conferences also will charge extra for recordings and we provide them for free because we want you to succeed.

BUT, I don’t care if you go to WANACon or some other conference. Just go to a conference. Commit. Attend/ join RWA (Romance Writers of America) even if you don’t write romance. Surround yourself with what you want to be. Connect and learn from professionals.

Publishing can feel a little like THIS...
Publishing can feel a little like THIS…

I want to encourage you to take true professional steps that transition a dream into a reality. Invest in your domain name (the NAME that will be on your books). Commit to building a platform or blogging. Platforms capable of driving sales can’t be bought or POOF out of the ether. They take time and some money.

NY will not represent an author with no platform. Most agencies will google an author and if they can’t find us? Game over. Come back when we have a platform. If we go indie or self-pub? We’re dead without a platform.

The publishing world of today offers a much better chance for success, but we have to be educated and have a plan of action. We need to invest in that dream. I can’t tell you the difference my first conference made in how I viewed my career choice and even myself.

Perception is REALITY

The world thinks most writers are just wannabes typing away at a Starbucks. Why? Because a lot of us do that. I did. In the beginning, I didn’t take myself seriously. Why would others? But, when we commit and invest, this is when we change and others often do, too.

Image via Tumblr
Image via Tumblr

If you met someone who claimed to be an artist, but they simply carried around a notebook and drew cool pictures, we’d think one thing. But, what if we talked to them and realized they had a web site with their work, that they’d worked an extra job to train with professional artists?

Someone who sings in the shower or in the church choir is one thing. But what about the person who gives up every extra hobby to take voice lessons and record their songs? Or a chef who creates beautiful dishes for people at home, but then later takes out a loan to start a catering business?

Our level of commitment is a reflection of our passion and our genuine desire to do this thing for real. 

This is February. Most of us are struggling with the New Year’s Resolutions. We all do. But whether you attend a conference a professional workshop, take classes, begin building your platform, make that shift. Otherwise, our “dream” will remain an intangible. Sacrificing time and money, risking failure, ignoring naysayers, these are the things that separate the “aspiring writer” from the “pre-published author.”

Regardless of what you write, which path you choose, which conference you attend, we support you 1000%. It’s why WANA works so hard to offer you all the tools for success: classes, conferences, WANACommons (for blog images you can use worry-free), WANATribe (social network for writers), #MyWANA and Facebook’s WANA group. We want you to have education, encouragement, resources, and a support network. The rest is in the doing ;).

As a gift, we have a free recording of Gabriela Pereira’s “How To Get the Most Out of a Writing Conference.” Use this for WANACon or any conference of your choosing. You can sign up for WANACon HERE and use the code Valentine for $15 off.

What are your thoughts? Have you been bombarded with naysayers and dream stealers? Is it hard to believe that your writing is a “real job”? I know I still struggle with that, too. What are your biggest challenges, fears? What are some of your successes? Share and inspire us!

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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 novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less)