We’ve likely all heard the phrase, The truth shall set you free. Truth is critical in all areas of life, yet we’re often afraid—okay, terrified—of truth. It’s dismally human to eschew truth because truth often hurts.
Truth and pain are inseparable, which is why great authors (or great people in general) are probably masochists.
What separates the amateur from the professional is the person’s willingness to face truth and embrace pain. If we think about it, authentic triumph always follows on the heels of pain.
Ask anyone who’s finished a marathon, completed an advanced degree, paid off a mountain of debt, or wriggled into max-control Spanx without losing consciousness….
Ask your mother about pain. Well, maybe not…
Ironically, the more pain involved, the greater the victory on the other side. Yet, how many of us long for victory…just without all that ‘pain’ stuff?
Truth increases self-awareness. It makes us face aspects of our character we’d rather hide in the bathtub with the piles of dirty laundry.
Don’t you judge me O_o ….
Today, I’m going to toss down some truth bombs. I’d love to say that I knew this stuff all along and am some mystic sage imbued with super powers.
But that would totally be a LIE (thus, likely unhelpful).
Truth About Time
One phrase I recommend banishing from your lexicon: If I could only find the time. Here’s the deal, we don’t find time, we make time. Time isn’t hiding in the couch cushions with the remote control.
Time isn’t wandering around crying until mall security hands it a balloon. It isn’t buried in the woods like some stash from a bank robbery. There is no map, GPS, or time-sniffing dogs to help locate time because time isn’t lost.
It’s right there asking us all, ‘Hey, buddy, what would you like us to do today?’
We choose. If we hope to find any success in life we must realize we are ultimately responsible. Everything else is an excuse. Why so many of us feel guilty that we haven’t done X, Y, and Z is we know we could have.
We simply chose NOT to.
I know, but don’t worry. It’s cool…
We’re All Human Here (Mostly)
What fascinates me is how closely great stories mimic great lives. This is why humans have loved great stories from the invention of fire until today.
Here’s the thing, though. No one likes a ‘story’ about a character whisked along passively caught in the riptide of bad stuff happening. Great stories involve choices, forks in the road, decisions…tough decisions.
Decisions we KNOW we could never make…so we read about/admire OTHER people who do 😀 .
We admire people who’ve made the brutal choices, choices involving time, effort, focus. This is why athletes, activists, authors, innovators, scientists, entertainers, and people with immaculate closets fascinate us.
As writers, we of all people should appreciate the power of words. When we keep espousing time ‘can be found,’ it’s a self-delusion, a cushion from reality.
Truth is, life is suffering. There is no way to escape suffering, but we can choose our suffering. If we are going to suffer anyway, why not be in control?
Truth About Talent
I wrote a post a while back asking the question all writers ask (or should). Do some people simply lack the talent to become authors? I would say talent is highly overrated. This goes back to our overall theme of truth, time and suffering. When I began blogging over a decade ago, I was clueless. There were so many bloggers who were better than me, BIGGER than me.
OMG, if I could ONE DAY get five-hundred unique visits, I would, like totally DIE.
***Probably good I didn’t.
When I decided to blog for real, I was thrilled when I got my first comment—A FAN!
I was so excited, I even commented back to my new fan knowing one day we would be best friends and maybe…meet in person! Squeeeee!
Of everyone who said I was an idiot for becoming a writer this one lone angel saw what no one else did (other than me and my mom).
This commenter found me and believed…in…me.
*moment of reverent silence*
My commenter’s name was *deep breath*…Akismet.
Odd name. Is that Russian, Albanian, Indian?
I ACTUALLY THOUGHT THIS!
Of course, when Akismet was so rude as to not reply I shrugged it off. Imagine my mortification when I learned Akismet was WordPress’s spam filter, and I’d tried to befriend an automated message.
And also been hurt when I was ghosted by an automated message.
I CAN’T MAKE THIS STUFF UP, PEOPLE!
Truth About Blogging
The truth is? I was a raging idiot (if you haven’t already figured that out). Like one of those people who is so stupid they can’t see HOW stupid they really ARE? Yep…me. With writing, blogging…life.
I was a raging idiot because I began as an unteachable know-it-all. It was only through a lot of failure and stupidity (like trash-talking my ‘fake friend’ Akismet) that I eventually saw myself for who/what I truly was.
And it stung…a lot.
When I finally faced my true character (or lack thereof), that’s when my life started making authentic progress. I began blogging for the wrong reasons (affirmation of how AMAZING I was), but found something vastly different.
See, I’d been told my entire life I had talent, that I was a fantastic writer, and maybe that was true.
Problem was, I had the skin of a grape and no self-discipline. When everything wasn’t immediately stars and fame and unicorn hugs…I quit. I was lazy, self-absorbed, insecure and wanted to be a writer for all the wrong reasons—a desire for affirmation, approval, fame, glory, and more approval.
Did I mention needing approval? That’s okay, right?
Once these truths slapped me in the face like a school of dead fish, I had some tough choices to make. Where would I dedicate my TIME? Would I give up or press on? If no one ever read my blog, would I be okay with that?
I could continue choosing the pain of never finishing anything I started, OR I could push through and see what might be on the other side of that pain.
Initially, I blogged for fame. Then, I changed my reason and blogged to improve my character. Blogging trained me to hold myself to self-imposed deadlines. No one was going to arrive and toss me in ‘blogger jail’ if I failed to post. This helped me overcome perfectionism and SHIP.
Since I had no fans, if I didn’t post, the only one I’d be letting down was myself.
The Truth About Myself
As mentioned (a lot), I was addicted to approval. Could I keep posting when there was no chorus to sing my praises? Then, once people actually did begin reading, could I stick to my guns and keep blogging despite a long line of people telling me I was a hack, poseur, amateur, idiot, etc.?
I was addicted to perfection, always revising, redoing, tweaking. Blogging taught me to let it GO. Perfect is the enemy of the finished. Thus, when feedback inevitably slammed into me like a boomerang I’d forgotten I’d thrown, I saw stars (not the nice ones).
Initially, my voice was too preachy, so I lightened up. Followers responded far more favorably to my humorous side. Once I gained more confidence, I eventually let the comedy FLY! It was fantastic and fun and…
Ah, but then my jokes got SO good, readers didn’t realize I WAS joking…which I found out when I unintentionally started a panic.
When G+ launched, I wrote a hysterically funny parody MOCKING Facebook for copying Twitter. I say this humbly.
*gets cramp patting self on back*
Anyway, I blogged about Facebook’s new function Twit+ (a term I TOTALLY MADE UP )…and fielded emails for weeks from hysterical writers who couldn’t locate the Twit+ function on Facebook.
SHE TOOK IT TOO FAR!
Yes…yes I did. And I eased back on the throttle. But, blogging allowed me to hone my skills and my voice. By trial, error, and unwittingly starting a digital stampede—or ten—I learned more by DOING in a year than decades of ‘thinking about doing.’
When we choose our suffering and then dedicate TIME to that endeavor, eventually this reveals truth. The more ‘novels’ I wrote (and failed to finish), the more it became seriously clear I needed to do more studying.
With every blog, I gained progressively thicker skin and increased confidence. I learned that what had been true about me in 2004 was no longer true by 2010 and certainly isn’t true here in 2018.
Over a decade later, most of the bloggers I aspired to be ‘one day’…have quit. The critics who blasted me about the future of publishing, ‘experts’ who called me lots of names for suggesting writers needed a platform and brand? Most are no longer around.
The trolls who blasted me for calling out the exposure dollar SCAM, who rallied their platforms to flame me when I suggested writers needed to be PAID? They’re now…
Why is La Cucaracha playing in my head? Go ahead, throw a shoe at me! I’ll be waiting for you in it in the morning *evil laugh* Oh, and I licked half your Cheetos while you were sleeping. Which half? I’ll never tell.
MUA HA HA HA HA *coughs*
Truth About Motivation
Motivation is overrated and hangs out with ‘Talent’ in dark alleys. They sell dime bags of ‘Instant Happiness,’ ‘Noble Excuses’ along with sweet chasers of ‘Do It Later’ shots.
There’s a lot about being a writer (and blogger) that’s a TON of fun, but a lot of it seriously sucks. That’s life. Show me a job that is all awesome all the time and I will lovingly ask you to stop dropping acid.
Often our ‘lack of motivation’ is we’re afraid.
Maybe our fears are founded. I have no clue how to plot and am hoping no one notices.
Perhaps they’re a lie. Your book is awesome and will never be perfect so STOP MESSING WITH IT AND SHIP!
Sometimes, we just gotta do it afraid. Fear is a feeling and feelings LIE.
Our entire consumer culture rests on the fulcrum of ‘feelings.’ We’re trained to live by emotion. Why? Because emotion makes us stupid and stupid people buy more stuff they don’t need and probably can’t afford.
While the advertisers are employing feelings to pick our pockets, we can easily catch a nasty case Emo by Osmosis.
I just don’t feel like writing today.
Creatives get away with this ‘feeling’ excuse more easily than, say, brain surgeons, firefighters or Navy S.E.A.L.s…which is why it’s more likely to become a bad habit for us.
Feelings rarely have much to do with truth. They are also crazy fickle and, in an act of awe-inspiring irony, show up to work when they feel like it.
Motivation, enthusiasm, exultation are fabulous feelings. But the REASON they FEEL fabulous is because these feelings are RARE. They’re the creative endorphins only earned by working super hard.
Unless we artificially create these ‘feelings’ with Pixie Sticks, cocaine, or a steady diet of pricey self-help retreats telling us we’re special?
Tears, sweat and blood, baby 😉 .
Motivation is the result of starting. Start when you don’t feel like it and eventually, feelings WILL catch up because feelings are attention whores who hate being left out.
Don’t argue. It’s science.
What Are Your Thoughts?
I love hearing from you!
Are you not finishing that novel because you’re afraid you’re really terrible? Or maybe actually awesome? Do you make excuses for why you can’t write or blog or train circus ferrets? Have you taken time to examine those excuses? What they might be telling you?
Have you ever set out to accomplish something and were shocked at the truths about yourself (or others) you failed to see? Do you find ‘good reasons’ why you can’t blog, write, finish that novel?
Hey, it is OKAY. We all struggle. We learn by DOING and DOING IT AFRAID.
In fact, to help you guys, I am running the ‘Write Stuff’ DO IT AFRAID Special, where I do a detailed line and content edit on your first 20 pages. ONLY TEN SLOTS AVAILABLE.
What do you do well? What’s falling flat? Are you nailing the hook? Are there ways I can help your story hook DEEPER?
Treat yourself! I don’t bite…..that hard *whistles innocently*. I can tell you from experience is it WAY better to have someone who cares about your work and is vested in you to critique your work and make it the best it can be.
As for comments…
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).
Also NOW OFFERING MORE CLASSES PLUS ON DEMAND…
Retelling Myths & Fairytales
Instructor: USA Today Best-Selling Author Cait Reynolds
Price: $65 USD Standard (Cool Upgrades Available)
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY May 25th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST
Myths and fairytales are as fundamental to human existence as communication itself. We grow up hearing these stories, being formed by them, and often rebelling against them.
One of the hottest trends in publishing right now is bringing these stories back and giving them new life with creative interpretations and retellings.
Done right, a retelling can capture the public imagination, give us new insights into our society and ourselves, and sweep us away to a time and place where everything, including justice and happy endings, is possible. Get your spot today! HERE.
The Yarn Behind the Book: Backstory
Instructor: Cait Reynolds
Price: $55.00 USD
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: Friday, June 1, 2018. 7:00-9:00 p.m. EST
Behind every good book is an entire story that happens before the reader ever opens to page one. This is the backstory, and done right, it is what sets the stage, provides clues and cues, and rescues you from writer’s block.
A good backstory will help with logic and consistency in the plot, developing complex motivations for characters, and sorting out exactly what needs to happen going forward as you either plot or pants your way to the end.
This class will cover the following topics – and much more:
- The elements of a backstory;
- How to take your current plot idea and work backwards into a backstory;
- Integrating character profiles and the backstory;
- How the backstory relates to the logline and synopsis;
- Using the backstory to dig yourself out of corners and shake off writer’s block;
- Why a backstory is crucial to writing a series.
SIGN UP HERE!
A recording of this class is also included with purchase.
About the Instructor:
Cait Reynolds is a USA Today Bestselling Author and lives in the Boston area with her husband and neurotic dog. She discovered her passion for writing early and has bugged her family and friends with it ever since. When she isn’t cooking, running, or enjoying the rooftop deck that brings her closer to the stars, she writes.
On Demand Training!
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.