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Kristen Lamb

Author, Blogger, Social Media Jedi

Kristen Lamb — Photo

Posts Tagged: who Dares Wins

Welcome to the thirteenth installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brandwill help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Twitter Tyrant

All of us have passions, and that is wonderful. Being passionate makes us feel alive and gives our lives purpose. But, when we are building a platform, especially in the beginning stages, we must be mindful to always express our passions in a positive way. Ranting on Twitter is never acceptable. I have had people I had to unfollow simply because every time they tweeted, I needed an antacid. Life is stressful enough without volunteering for an ulcer.

Ranting is unproductive and it creates a negative experience, even for people who might agree with us. Ranting is just that…ranting. It offers nothing but negative energy, whether at a party or on Twitter. It depresses others and makes them feel helpless.

Do I suggest that writers give up their passions and beliefs and become luke warm, melba-toast humans? Of course not. But we must be mindful that we are creating a positive experience for those who keep company with us. If our contribution to the Twitterverse just makes people want to crawl back in bed, then our efforts are doing more harm than good.

I would say that if you need to rant, do so with your close friends. But, then again? We should be nice to our friends. Ranting isn’t healthy for either party. We all have times that we get so frustrated we feel as if we are going to explode. What to do? Scream in a pillow, vacuum, mow the lawn, do yoga. Do something to burn off that anger. After that? Refocus that negative energy in a positive and constructive way. Our blood pressure and our friends will appreciate it.

Be a Twitter Activist

So say you are just fed up with people who abuse animals or you want to support the troops or even save the whales. It is okay to have beliefs, but as authors we need to be watchful that we are always being positive. That’s the biggest consideration. If you are tired of animals being abused, then feel free to tweet a link to support a local shelter. If you love the troops, then send a link to support the Wounded Warrior Foundation. If you love eating a vegetarian diet, then tweet great articles that inspire others to maybe embrace this lifestyle you love.

This is a far more positive use of our time. It doesn’t alienate or upset others and it does one critical thing ranting will never accomplish. This approach empowers people. We have given them a link to actively DO something. This is the responsible way to champion a cause or a belief.

My only concern beyond this is that we need to make sure that championing our cause doesn’t become our entire platform. We are trying to build an author platform, not run for office.

At the end of the day all this tweeting and retweeting and socializing is to forge relationships that, hopefully, will drive book sales. It is okay to be an author with a social passion, but it is easy to have the social passion take over and then people don’t realize we are writers with a novel to sell. As long as we remain positive and balanced, then people will enjoy our company and will eagerly support our career and our passions.

Tweet ya later!

Welcome to the eleventh installment of Twitter Tuesday. In the spirit of Twitter, this blog will be short and sweet and to the point. The tips offered here are all based off my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. If our goal is to build an author platform in the thousands to tens of thousands, then we will have to approach Twitter differently than a faceless corporation or even the regular person who does not possess a goal of becoming a brandwill help you rule the Twitterverse without devolving into a spam bot.

This Week’s Fail Whale–The Twitter Hermit

The Twitter Hermit signs up for an account, yet doesn’t interact a lot. He keeps to himself and only follows a handful of people. Twitter Hermit might be shy or not know what to say. Twitter Hermit might not see how it can be useful to follow a bunch of people he doesn’t know, has never met, and likely never will meet.

Regardless of his reasons, Twitter Hermit will not be very effective on Twitter because he never can reach a critical mass of people in his network. Thus, his Twitter experience will be extremely limited.

When we join Twitter, the more people we follow (and who follow us) the better. Why? We gain a pool of resources beyond anything we can imagine. If we are hanging out by ourselves or just with a handful of tweeps, we have severely limited how we can use the Six Degrees of Separation to our advantage.

Twitter will be a waste of time.

Twitter is one of the best ways to activate the Six Degrees of Separation–someone always knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. The more people in our network, the better odds we will connect to the right person at the right time. 

This Week’s Twitter Tip–Use Twitter as a Force Multiplier

Twitter is one of the best force multipliers ever, and probably THE best way to get great information FAST. For example, when I was toying with the idea of writing a novel about a female bounty hunter, I had a choice. Go to the library and search through all the data hoping I found what I was looking for. I could also spend hours on the Internet searching key words and hoping I would hit pay dirt.

I didn’t do either. My time is limited, so I need to spend it wisely (I am sure a few of you can relate).

I tweeted, “Hey, my tweeps! Anyone know some good resources to learn about bounty hunting?” My screen, within ten seconds, lit up with tweeps eager to help. Some even sent me links to bounty hunters they KNEW. I had links to sites and resources that it would have taken me weeks to do on my own. But, if I only had a network of 20 people, the responses would have been far more limited. With a large network of 1500 (at the time) I actually got some amazing information. With 1500 tweeps, my odds were better that someone knew someone who could help me out.

People, in general, like to help and want to serve. Let them. Twitter is an amazing community and a tremendous resource if we understand how it works.

Tweet ya later!

We have been talking a lot about the future of publishing, how e-books and indies and self-publishing are all changing the landscape that has been so familiar for a long time. It’s kind of like that earthquake that irreparably alters the mountain range that seemed to withstand time, itself. Change is frightening, but thanks to the mushroom-eaters it is getting less frightening by the day :D.

Mushroom eaters? Yes. You heard right. Come on. Haven’t you ever seen someone eat a raw oyster and you wondered, “Who was the first?” I guarantee you it was a group of cavemen, and someone lost a bet. Who ate the first sea cucumber? Or determined that snails actually were quite tasty with some butter and garlic? Squid? Are you serious? Fish eggs? Are you high?

Back to the mushrooms. There are 100,000 known species of mushrooms, and only 2000 of these are edible. In fact, many mushrooms are toxic, even deadly. So how do we know which ones to eat? Risk. Someone, somewhere took a risk. Why is publishing immune? We are entering an uncharted Age of Information!!! In the New World (of Publishing) we–writers, agents, publishers, editors, bookstores–are explorers landing on an alien beach, pioneers traversing unfamiliar territory.

Someone, somewhere has to test the mushrooms if we are going to survive.

I am reading a really cool book called, The Barbarian Way, and the author, Erwin McManus is actually who brought up this whole idea of mushroom-eaters, which got me thinking. Mushroom-eaters are the ones brave enough to try a bite. Innovators are the ones who eat the poisonous mushroom and die, whereas early adopters are the ones who watch and learn. But, as McManus states, “Someone has to be willing to take the first bite!”

Maybe we won’t die. Maybe, instead, we can take a bite, throw up and hallucinate and actually live to tell others…yeah, don’t eat the orange ones with the spots.

It’s great to be an early adopter, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, if there are no innovators (mushroom-eaters), then there is no one taking risks that pave the way for the early adopters and friends to follow suit.

I would like to believe that I have been a mushroom-eater with social media. Ouch! I’m getting a cramp from patting myself on the back. But, the truth is, there are a lot of mushroom-eaters out there who just continue to impress me.

I remember when Bob Mayer and Jenni Holbrook-Talty told me that they were launching Who Dares Wins Publishing. I was floored by the simple brilliance of a well-known author creating a publishing company, but the risk was enough to make your heart leap out of your chest. Being a seasoned sky-diving adrenalin junkie and known masochist (writer), I quickly begged for them to look at my social media book.

Get me a Mountain Dew. I wanted on board.

When it comes to WDW Pub, I don’t know if I was a mushroom-eater or not. I was their first outside author, and willing to risk my debut book. I was present before WDW Pub launched. I think Bob and Jenni just discovered a patch of pink toadstools and…

 I’ll eat one if you *giggles* eat one. No, you first *giggle*

Bob, by far, stood the most to lose, but he was a Green Beret so he was used to this kind of stress. Jenni? She’s a hockey mom, and blood doesn’t faze her. I was the one trailing behind asking if they were seeing double yet.

The point is that people like Bob ate the mushroom so the rest of us could stare and see if he started convulsing. We stood there, mushrooms in hand and knew that we could just as easily be dead before we hit the ground.  We did at least have the foresight not to wear matching jogging suits and Nikes.

I presented the WANA Plan on Monday, and many of my suggestions are standard operating procedure at WDW Pub…which is EXACTLY why I wanted to be on board. I wanted to be an innovator even if it made my tongue grow fur. By being a part of the WDW Pub Team, I think I have learned to embrace to role of the mushroom-eater, and think like a mushroom-eater and continually ask, “Why not?”

Now, The WANA Plan had a few of my own unique suggestions and original ideas, but would I have been blessed with this perspective had I not walked among the WDW mushroom-eating clan? Could scientists have invented chemotherapy had Marie Curie not died asking questions? No such thing as a totally original idea. The WANA Plan surely stood on WDW Pub shoulders.

Self-publishing has a stigma, but that is changing. Some authors knew that self-publishing could mean career death, but they dared to wonder if maybe they could slice it differently. Think of the puffer fish. There is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Herb: Hey, this kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over*

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

Kait Nolan, a friend and loyal follower, charted off on her own, determined to make her way up the indie mountain…and it earned her the admiration and respect of an agent who saw her comments on THIS blog. This agent, also happens to be a super cool lady and a perfect fit for Kait and her work. But, before an agent came calling with an offer, I’m sure Kait caught a lot of flak that she wasn’t doing like everyone else.

Query. Rejection. Eat chocolate. Sugar coma. Repeat. Query. Rejection. Drink heavily. Repeat. Query. Rejection. Vow to give up writing. Repeat.

Kait was a mushroom-eating maniac and was willing to take a bite, chew and swallow…no matter what could happen. She studied where other writers went wrong (I.e. Didn’t take time to build a platform), and took steps to do it differently (Built platform using WANA methods).

In short? Don’t eat the butt.

Not everyone is meant to be an innovator, but perhaps we should at least strive to be early adopters. Pay attention to what the risk-takers are doing and be willing to take a leap of faith. We gain nothing of value if we aren’t willing to risk failure.

The more we risk, the greater the success…or failure. But we puke in our shoes, ride out the visions of Mr. Peanut with a Thigh Master and, like Bob and Kait, take notes. Don’t eat the butt.

For all you guys out there hiding behind monikers, afraid for people to know you’re a writer, maybe it’s time to walk among the mushrooms ;). There are a lot of publishing options out there beyond traditional publishing. Some of you are scared to go for it, believing (mistakenly) that this will shut the door on a traditional deal. If you are a solid writer and build an equally solid platform, just because you take the scenic route doesn’t mean the agent won’t find you. They have a nose for roasting portabella :D.

So who are your favorite mushroom-eaters? I already told you some of mine—Bob Mayer, Jenni Holbrook-Talty, and Kait Nolan. But I would like to add members of the WDW Pub Team, Amy Shojai (brilliant pet expert) and Joy Held (Writer Wellness expert). They were willing to take a risk too, and it has been awesome to work with such great people. Susan Bischoff, a friend and indie author, recently celebrated 10,000 sales in six months (she used WANA, too). I was also very impressed by Amanda Hocking, a self-published author featured in USA Today who sold 450,000 books last month alone. WOW. She credits her success to a strong social media platform (hint, hint ;)).

I want to hear about your mushroom-eating experiences. Or, do you have mycophobia? Fear of mushrooms. I had to look it up. Heck, feel free to share the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten. It counts! I’ve eaten conch, alligator, rattlesnake and some other things that I suspect were ookie parts of a goat (lived in Syria for a short bit). What’s your theory about the first person to eat a raw oyster?

Mint? 😀

I want to hear from you. And, 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. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention WANA in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel.

Also, I hope you guys check out my guest post at Writer Unboxed. Bring Back that Lovin’ Feeling–What to Do When You Feel Burned Out.

Happy writing!

Until next time…

In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.

Many of you reading this blog aspire to be professional authors, and that is a fantastic goal. I blog three times a week to help you guys reach that goal and far sooner than you imagined. Writing can be the best job in the world, but I feel too many beginners glamourize the profession and fail to get the proper emotional preparation before traipsing off to battle. That is a formula to get creamed. So, today I am going to give you some perspective and tools to be successful.

Becoming a professional writer isn’t all rainbow and unicorns. Let’s face it. Many of us are screwed from the beginning. We have our basic personality working against us. What do I mean? To put it bluntly? Writing is a vortex of flakes. We creative people are not usually known for our self-discipline. I’ve been there. I don’t know about you guys, but I am a notorious procrastinator. I was once the High Queen of Do-It-Later Land, a sorrowful place of forgotten Post-It Notes, where the roads are paved with shiny good intentions.

What I have observed over the years is that very often, the personalities that are the most creative, also tend to be free-spirits who flutter around like fruit flies with severe ADD high off a case of Red Bull. Now, we are great at being creative, but unless it’s channeled and focused, creativity just looks like that kid who likes to run head-first into a wall over and over while giggling. Thus, it is easy to see why people might roll their eyes the day we announce we want to be a writer.

Writing is a very emotional business, and to write well, we must reach into the deepest parts of our being…and then place them out for public display. After running countless critique groups and helping hundreds of writers, I will share some advice that will help you reach your dreams. We will resume talking about craft next week. But all the craft classes in the world will not benefit you if your heart and mind aren’t in the correct place.

Persistence can look a lot like Stupid

Oh Twitter. It is so fun to watch all these writing quotes float by. One of the favorites of the newbie writer (Yes, it was mine too :P) is You know what you call the writer who never gives up? Published. I have no idea who said that, and it doesn’t matter anyway. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great quote. But, it really kind of needs a caveat, because persistence can look a lot like stupid.

My goal can be to climb Mt. Everest, but if I am on Mt. Shasta then I am not persistent, I am a moron.

You are on the wrong mountain!

Can’t hear you! I’m climbing! Never give up!

But you are on the wrong mountain you idiot!

What??? You’re just a dream-stealer! My motivational coach said you would try to stop me! I’m climbing! Never give up!

I teach at a lot of conferences, and every year I see the same writers shopping the same novel that has been rejected time and time and time again. These writers show year after year spending good money, believing that they just haven’t found the right agent who will see the beauty in their vampire-mystery-romance-YA-horror-memoir. It is as if they are stuck in a feedback loop. They can’t move on until this book gets an agent. They believe that if they don’t get an agent for this book, then they are a failure. No!

I have been there. I shopped my first novel for three years then woke up one day and realized I was swimming against the current carrying a corpse. When you make a decision to become a writer, you will be swimming against the current. People are fascinated by people who dare to dream and do great things. But….deep down, while they admire them, they also resent them.

Do not expect your family to embrace your decision. In fact, expect them to believe your writing group is really a cult (see Writer Reality Check). So expect to be swimming upstream, which is a heck of a lot harder to do carrying dead weight. If your book is being rejected time and time and time again, move on. Maybe you will grow enough to fix that first novel at a later time. Or, maybe you will take it for what it is…a learning experience. Always be moving forward.

Persistence is a noble trait; tunnel-vision is not. Be persistent. Read more books on the craft. Sign up for on-line workshops. Read…a lot. Be persistent the right way and the payoff will eventually come.

Learn to Fail Forward

One of the biggest frustrations I have with writers is their attitude toward failure. I think we like being tragic. Goes with our artsy side.

Hand over the beret. Give. This is for your own good.

Learn to have a healthy relationship with failure. One of my favorite books is Failing Forward by John Maxwell. I highly recommend everyone to read it. This book changed my life.

I used to have constant panic attacks. I was absolutely paralyzed by fear. All I could see was what I hadn’t accomplished. I magnified my failures and minimized my progress. Instead of looking forward, I was always looking over my shoulder to the past, crying over the broken dreams and what ifs? That is a load of crap.

Want to know the difference between winners and losers? There are 2 critical differences.

1)      Winners have a healthy relationship with failure. Losers cry and whine and self-flagellate when they fail to meet the mark. Their focus is always on failure so that’s where they stay. Winners, however, look at failure as a stepping stone. They land on their tush and scratch their head and ask critical questions.

Why didn’t this work?

What went wrong?

At what point did my plan go south?

What can I do differently next time?

Do I need to adjust my goals?

All through the month of November I kept my eyes on the #nanowrimo hash tag column. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, a # symbol will put you in a group bound by that topic. Time after time I wanted to scream as writers posted crap like this:

My goal was 1000 words today. Only wrote 300. #nanowrimo #epicfail

I saw that stupid #epicfail over and over and over. Now how do you think the Epic Fail group fared for National Novel Writing Month?

But, I also saw tweets like this:

My goal was 1000. Only made 500. Hey, 500 more than I had. Will start earlier tomorrow. #nanowrimo

Which writer do you feel will have a better chance at success?

Hear me now—Where the mind goes, the man follows.

If our mind is always on our failure and where we blew it, then that is where we will go. But here is the thing, we are in control. We are the boss.

I’m going to give you guys a great tactic to keep your mind on the positive. I want you guys to picture a monster crouched in your soul. Every time you beat yourself up, call yourself names, whine about how life isn’t fair…you feed it. As you feed this monster, he grows larger and larger and hungrier and more demanding.

How do you kill him? You can’t. We are human and he is a part of us. We can’t kill him, but we sure as hell can weaken him. How?

We starve him.

Every time you go to open your mouth and gripe about some way you failed to make the mark, stop yourself. Take a breath and rephrase in the positive.

I didn’t make my goal of 1000 words…..BUT I did write 300 and that is 300 words in the right direction. Every day I am getting better and better. I’m not where I want to be, but I am not where I was.

Starve that monster in your soul and he will get skinnier and smaller and weaker. Eventually he will be starved long enough that he will lose his appetite, and you will be a happier, more optimistic person for it.

2)      Winners have an internal locus of control.

Your locus of focus is very important. People with an external locus of focus believe other people or things hold all the power to their lives.

Well if my family would just take me seriously, then I know I would write more.

If I just had a better computer, then I’d write more.

If I just had quiet time, then I would be more productive.

IF we want to be winners, our goal is to maintain an internal locus of focus. We are in control of all things. We cannot control others. We cannot control events. The only thing under our power is our attitude and how we react to other people, events, and circumstances.

Well, my family thinks I’m a nut. I hope that changes. The only thing I can do is work hard and maybe one day my work ethic and commitment will change their opinions.

This old laptop crashes every other time I use it. What can I do to get a new one? In the meantime, maybe I can borrow one, or go to the library, or even write long-hand. It isn’t ideal, but Shakespeare didn’t have a Mac. I can do this.

I know I need quiet time to be productive. Can I stay up later? Get up earlier? Either I need to actively seek quiet time, or I will just have to be happy with a lower level of productivity. At least I am being fruitful with my time.

Be the captain of your own ship; the master of your soul (Invictus). No one is control of your destiny but you, and you have a lot more power than you believe.

Face Your Fears

I owe my friend and mentor Bob Mayer a lot, but the biggest lesson he taught me was to learn to face my fear. Do what is counterintuitive. I know that if I start feeling a flutter in my gut, then I am likely on the right path. The best writing in you lies behind your greatest fears. Think of it this way. Just expect a dragon to be guarding the cavern of treasure. In fact, the bigger the treasure, the bigger the beast standing sentinel.

Courage is not being without fear.

Courage is feeling fear, but then doing it anyway.

Only idiots and sociopaths are devoid of fear. Fear is your friend. Fear is like a water witch guiding you to your greatest reservoirs of creativity and strength. When you feel fear, keep going. Likely you’re onto something. No one ever accomplished anything great staying in the comfort zone.

I hope you guys feel fired up, and that you’re ready to take on 2011. I’ll be here to help you every step of the way. So what are your biggest challenges? Any advice? Suggestions? Do you see fear differently? Do you feel more hopeful? What are your deepest fears? Toss them out there. Sometimes the monster in the closet is only a coat when you turn the light on ;).

Happy writing!

Until next time…

Give yourself the gift of success so you can ROCK 2011. My best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books. Put that gift card you got for Christmas to good use.

Also, I highly recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. Learn all about plotting, how to write great characters, and even how to self-publish successfully…all from the best in the industry. I will be teaching on social media and building a brand in March. For $20 a workshop, you can change your destiny….all from the comfort of home.

 

It’s New Year’s Eve, and we are standing on the threshold of a shiny new year. It’s almost as good as getting new school supplies. The smell of virgin paper not yet touched by a ballpoint. A new start. No mistakes. Nothing but potential.

Okay, so if you are anything like me, your initial New Year’s Resolutions might look something like this.

  1. Lose 20 pounds by February 1st
  2. Run a marathon
  3. Go to gym 5 hours a day
  4. Win the Nobel Pulitzer by my birthday
  5. Save 85% of my income
  6. Go on vacation to Bora Bora (Note to Self: Look up actual location of Bora Bora)
  7. Clean out garage
  8. Paint house inside and out
  9. Finally have all my socks match
  10. Write 3 award-winning novels by summer

There is something about facing a new year that instills us with such hope that we lose all touch with reality (and I haven’t even started drinking yet). It’s great to set goals, but most of the time we are our own worst enemy.

Odds are, if you are a fan of this blog, you are likely a writer, an aspiring writer, or this is a condition of your parole. Regardless, all of you need to learn to set effective goals and learn habits that will keep you from sabotaging your success. Hey, I hear ya! I am the world’s worst.

But this past year, 2010, has been one of my best. I reached a lot of goals. Why? Because I learned some good lessons and applied them consistently. I hope to do even better this year. So I am going to pass these lessons on to you and hope that you will benefit as well.

1. Grant Permission to be Imperfect—Perfectionism is a noble trait taken to the extreme which can serve as an excuse for mediocrity and a mask for fear. Perfectionists tend to be self-saboteurs (I would know nothing about this *whistles innocently*).  We perfectionists nit-pick over every single detail often at the expense of the big picture. Perfection is noble, so it makes a great shield. I mean, we just don’t believe in churning out shoddy half-ass work, right? Um…maybe. Or maybe we have a fear of failure, or even a fear of success. So long as nothing is ever complete, we never have to face our demons and can happily fritter away our days perfecting our scenes and dialogue.

            Here’s the deal. No publishing house ever published half of a perfect book.

2. Give Baby Steps a Chance—All or nothing thinking, a close relative of perfectionism, can tank the best projects. It is so easy to fall into this trap of, If I can’t do X, then I do nothing at all. Baby Steps are still steps. It’s like the question, “How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.” Small steps, over time, with consistency add up. It’s sort of like working out. We can choose to show up January 2nd at 5 a.m. and work out three hours, but that is a formula to end up sore, injured and burned out.

So often when I go to the gym I am so tired I want to die. I used to be the person who went hell bent for leather, only to end up sick or injured. So two years ago I made a key change in my attitude. Now when I go to the gym I tell myself, “All I have to do is ten minutes walking on the treadmill. Ten minutes. If I still feel tired, horrible, sick, fatigued, disenchanted, etc. I can stop, go home, and climb back into bed. In two years I have only stopped twice. Usually all I need is to push past that initial wall and then I am off like a rocket.

Same with writing. Make small goals. “I will write 15 minutes.” “I will write 100 words.” Sometimes all we need is a little momentum. Can’t rev the motor if we never turn the key. A good way to get going is to use kitchen timers. Set the clock and write for 30 minutes. I use sticky notes and set my big goal, then I divide it in half. One sticky note is on the left-hand side of my monitor (starting count). I then place the half-way point in the middle, and I am not allowed a break until I make that number (even if all I write is pigeon poo). The finish line is on the right. Getting started is always the hardest part. I generally find that if I can make it to the mid-point, I am golden.

3. Establish Accountability—Earlier in the week we discussed the pros and cons of a critique group. Critique groups and partners do keep us accountable. It is easy to blow off writing when it is just us, but when we will be a let-down to others? Different story. This is one of the reasons I LOVE blogging. Blogging has done so much to change my character. I adore you guys and love helping you and hearing your comments. I feel that you have given me your trust and that I need to always put my best effort forward. The funny thing is that this change in my writing habits, has sifted into other areas of my writing. Sort of like, when you get in the habit of going to the gym, you also start noticing that you take the stairs or don’t mind parking at the back of the parking lot.

This is why writing down your goals is imperative. If nothing else, it is a cue to your subconscious that you are committed to something. You will feel a lot more conviction if you write out a goal than if you decide to let it float around your gray matter. I would even advise taking it to the next step and sharing your goals with others. I feel this is why so many writers have a hard time saying aloud, “I am a writer.” To say it means we have to own it and that people will be watching. We are going to invite a whole other level of accountability and people will notice if we are screwing off. But I say that accountability is the best way to reach your dreams faster, so bring it on!

4. Small Change Will Grow into Big Change—Good habits have a way of filtering through our lives. I have a saying, “Smaller truths reveal larger truths.” We don’t have to do mind-blowing alterations in our routines to start seeing real change in our lives. I guarantee that if you just start making your bed in the morning that other things will fall in line. Soon, you will notice that your bedroom is neater, and then the kitchen. As your house gets tidier, so does your purse and your car, and so on and so forth.

Just start with small writing goals and I guarantee that bigger better changes will follow suit.

5. Understand that Feelings LIE—Modern pop psychology loves to ask about our feeeelings all the time. Feelings are important, but they are a lousy compass to guide our actions. Why? Feelings can be affected by so many things—fatigue, diet, too much sleep, too little sleep, jerks at the office, kid toys underfoot, PMS, hormones, too much caffeine, not enough caffeine, cat vomit in our house slippers, and on and on and on. If I can pass on any lesson that will change your life it is for you to understand that your feelings will almost always take the path of least resistance. If we are going to accomplish anything in life we cannot let our feelings have a vote.

I blog whether I feel like it or not. I don’t wait until I feel like writing to sit my tuchus in a chair. Feelings can be the enemy and steal your dreams. The Crappy Excuse Trolls and Procrastination Pixies will capitalize on your feelings and do everything in their power to convince you that you will get to it later when you feel like it. Shut them down. Don’t give your feelings a vote.

The best way to shut down your feelings is to make lists of goals. I make lists every day and it keeps me focused. I can be exhausted, disenchanted, disillusioned, but it doesn’t matter. I look to the list. It’s like my earlier example of the gym. I say, “Okay, I will just do the first three.” Funny thing is that once I get started, I usually keep going. Like most things in life, overcoming that initial inertia is the hardest part. Lists keep us focused and don’t give feelings a say.

6. Make a Plan—There is a saying in sales, Fail to plan, plan to fail. A good plan will keep you focused, accountable, and give you clear benchmarks to measure success. I recommend buying NY Times Best-Selling Author Bob Mayer’s Warrior Writer. He teaches how to craft a plan for a writing career. In fact, at WDWPUB, they are running a special and you can order a special bundle package of Warrior Writer along with my agent-recommended book We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media AND Bob’s Novel Writer’s Toolkit that will take you from idea to finished product. These three books are the basic pillars to a successful career. I also recommend the Write It Forward Workshops. For $20 a workshop, you can learn everything about self-publishing, writing a novel, social media, and on and on…all from the comfort of your home and for less than the cost of eating out one meal.

In the end? Just Do It. Put that slogan on a Post-It notes and paper your house if you must. Put a Troll doll on your computer to remind you to be wary of Crappy Excuse Trolls in your midst. If any of you are new and don’t know the M.O. of the Crappy Excuse Trolls and Procrastination Pixies, go here. They make 12% commission off your shattered dreams.

And remember:

  1. Grant Permission to Be Imperfect
  2. Give Baby Steps a Chance
  3. Establish Accountability
  4. Trust that Small Change will Grow into Big Change
  5. Understand that Feelings LIE
  6. Make a Plan

What are some struggles that you guys have? What are tactics you use to keep focused? What are your goals for this year? Be brave and put them in the comments. What are some goals you’ve always wanted to reach but haven’t? Why? What is your advice?

Happy writing!

See you next year!