The Four Things Your Protagonist Needs In Your Story

I’ve been re-reading Screenplay by Syd Field lately as I gear up to write my first screenplay (I’m currently in the early developmental stages of it). Now that I know craft as well as I do, I love to read badass books on craft, because it really refines and clarifies and expands my current understanding of how stories work and how to write them.

Creating characters–and especially your Protagonist–is one of the big reasons why I love writing stories. I have a deep desire to understand the human mind and the human condition, and why people do and think the way they do.

And a story is nothing if not a study of the human condition.

But this is where a lot of fiction writers fall off track. Because while a story is about a character, that’s not the whole story. There’s so much more to it than that.

If you don’t know this or haven’t implemented it properly in your story, what you’ll end up with is an episodic narrative that gives the day-to-day account of a character’s life. Almost like a journal.

The reason it’s episodic narrative as opposed to an actual story is because there’s no definitive end point. You could just keep going, writing forever about what happens in the character’s life.

But that doens’t make it a story (OR a series of stories).

What makes it a story is that it has a character who wants something, another character who opposes what the other one wants, and a journey ensues toward a resolution.

And that’s just the starting point.

Your character needs to be three-dimensional, so they feel like a real person and are believable as a real person. Otherwise your reader won’t be able to empathize for them.

Without reader empathy your story is dead in the water.

As I’ve been reading Screenplay, I’ve loved gaining further clarity on creating a character–in this case, a Protagonist–and how to really bring them to life.

There are four essentials to creating a three-dimensional character and making them compelling and someone readers can empathize with.

1. Goal–this is what your Protagonist wants in the story. It’s the whole enchilada. This is the reason we’re even reading the story or watching the movie to begin with.

The main character has a goal and we want to watch and cheer them on as they go up against an Antagonist to achieve the goal (or have another goal introduced by the Antagonist, which then causes the character to have to overcome that before being able to achieve the initial goal).

2. Point of View–this is the internal landscape of the character. It’s what they believe about the world and themselves and their backstory. This is where you really have to go deep on what makes the person tick. And beliefs are the core of what makes up a person.

It’s true that what you believe you become, and the same thing works in fiction. So what beliefs does your Protatonist have and how has this shaped the way he sees the world and himself?

This is also where the character’s inner demon will come into play.

3. Attitude--this is the external aspects of your character. It’s how he presents himself to the world and the opinions that he holds. It’s his mannerism and way of being.

This is where you’ll figure out how your character acts or would act when presented with certain scenarios and situations.

4. Transformation–this is the overall change the Protagonist makes in the story. It’s when they’ve finally overcome their inner demon(s) and defeated the Antagonist.

This is the other thing a reader comes to a story for. To watch a character go through hell and come out victorious or at least changed for the better.

What transformation does your character make in your story? And how does that transformation stem from dealing with and overcoming the inner demon and Antagonist?

Creating compelling, interesting, engaging and empathetic characters is what will bring your story to life on the page. But you can’t just write a day-to-day account of their lives or even a specific time in their lives.

You have to write about a character with a specific need or goal they must achieve and the journey that ensues toward a resolution when another character steps into the story and tries to stop them from achieving the goal, or creates an entirely new goal for them to have to acheive before they can achieve the original one.

Do that and you’ll have yourself a story that’s actually worth reading.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. I’m currently accepting new email story coaching private clients. Spaces are very limited. If you want to work privately with me to plan and develop the idea in your head into a fully fleshed out story plan that you can use to write your first draft–or you want to rework a story you wrote that’s not quite working yet–send me a PM right now and I’ll send you more info about how you can work with me.

People Will Leave Reviews…If They Actually Make It To The End Of Your Book

A few months ago, I started seeing a ton of reviews popping up on my books on Amazon. Reviews from total strangers.

And I wasn’t even asking for the reviews. They were just showing up.

Then I discovered that Amazon added a new feature to Kindle where, after you finish reading a book, it pops up a message and asks you to leave a review. (I also recently started adding a “note from the author” at the end of my books, asking people to leave a review if they enjoyed the book.)

But here’s the thing about getting more reviews. Something really, really key that a lot of writers forget about.

People will only leave reviews if they actually make it to the end of your book.

No one leaves a review on a book they started and never finished. No one leaves a review on a book that didn’t keep their attention or that didn’t make them walk away feeling like they enjoyed their experience.

And they’ll only see the message from Amazon, asking them to leave a review, if they get that far.

This is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself as an author: is my book engaging enough that the person reading it will read all the way to the end AND have liked what they read so much they will take the extra few minutes to leave a review?

If you’re not getting enough reviews right now–or any–there’s a good chance it’s because no one is making it to the end of your books.

I’m not saying this to make you feel bad. But I am saying it to wake you up to the fact that you may need to take a serious look at what you’re putting out there and whether or not it’s actually any good.

Some things to consider:

Did you hire a good content editor who actually knew what they were doing? Did you listen to the feedback and suggestions from said content editor? Or did you just take it upon yourself to think that you know what you’re doing and you don’t need to listen to the editor?

Or maybe you didn’t hire a content editor at all, and instead assumed your book was good enough because you’ve read hundreds of novels so obviously you can write a novel? (Not true, by the way.)

Did you find Beta Readers–who aren’t friends with or related to you–to check the book out before you published it? Does the book have an actual plot and story structure? Or is it an episodic narrative of a character’s day-to-day life?

Did you give the reader something to sink their teeth into? Was the book actionable? Did it give them information they could take away and use right now in their own lives?

Does the book actually have an ending that’s satisfying to the reader? Or does the ending come as a total disappointment or not even actually feel like an ending because nothing really gets resolved?

All of these are errors I see writers and authors making. And it’s a big part of the reason why no one reads, finishes or leaves reviews on their books.

Harsh? Maybe. But I’m hoping it’s also a reality check for what it really takes to write a book that gets reviews. And not bad reviews, but 4- and 5-star reviews. Rave reviews. Reviews that say the person loved the book so much they couldn’t put it down or it totally changed their life and way of thinking and being.

What it all comes down to is knowing the craft of what you’re writing and doing due dil to bring the best possible story or nonfiction book to your readers. It means stepping into the identity of the pro writer you want to be and treating your book with the same care and professionalism that you’d get with a traditional publisher.

Because when you self-publish, you are the publisher. And readers will still hold your book to the same standards that they hold books that come from traditional publishers.

A reader may not know the difference between a traditionally published book and a self-published book, but if you don’t do a great job with your book, they will be able to tell that something is off. Because stories require certain principles and criteria.

And readers have read enough books to know when a story (or nonfiction book) doesn’t work.

You’ll never fool your readers into enjoying your book if it doesn’t fit the principles and criteria of storytelling. For people who read a lot of books, even if they can’t tell you what’s wrong with the story, they will still have an innate sense of whether it’s good or not.

And even your beautiful prose will do nothing for you if your story isn’t compelling, engaging and cohesive. Beautiful prose is important, but it’s not the most important thing.

That’s why books without beautiful prose will still hit the bestseller lists and gain a huge readership and get turned into movies. Because it’s about the story more than it is about how beautiful the prose is.

Many people think Stephenie Meyer is a horrible writer. And I agree that her writing style is pretty basic. But her storytelling ability is so great readers can see right past the simple words and even cliche ways of describing stuff.

None of that matters when the story is awesome. When the story is awesome the beautiful prose is just icing on the cake.

But beautiful prose will never save a story that doesn’t work.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. I have 3 spots available right now for private story coaching. If you’re ready to take the idea in your head and turn it into a fully developed story plan with structure and a scene-by-scene roadmap that you can use to write your first draft… and not just any first draft, but a first draft that’s a revision and edit away from being publishable, send me a PM (private message) right now and let’s get this show on the road.

The Thing that So Many Authors Forget

When it comes to marketing and growing your author brand, there’s something really, really important that you need to keep in mind. It’s something that I think a lot of writers and authors forget. And that is…
 
An author brand is a personal brand.
 
Your author brand is not like having a name brand that represents a group or a company of people. Your author brand is YOU.
 
Which is why if you want to grow your following and actually have a readership and sell more books, you need to do you. You have to do things your way. You have to say what you really think. You have to be who you really are. You have to document your life for your audience.
 
And screw the “rules” or what anyone else thinks.
 
The whole point of a personal brand is for you to be yourself and grow your audience and following by letting people into your world.
 
That’s all I do, every single day. I just show up as me and write from my heart whatever comes out.
 
No, my blog posts don’t always follow the “rules” of blog posts, like having subtitles to break up the text. I know the rules and principles of blogging because I spent years of my life studying them and following them.
 
But now I do things my way. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want to follow a formula. I don’t want to do things how everyone else is doing them. And I believe that I don’t have to.
 
I believe that I can do things my way and just be me and the right people will find me and resonate with me and want to be part of my community and work with me.
 
Now this was a belief I had to create, obviously. As the belief I used to have was that I had to follow a formula or the “rules” of online marketing and if I didn’t do that I couldn’t be successful. But it’s actually been the opposite.
 
When I started to show up fully as myself and do me and unleash the from-the-heart messages I deliver on a daily basis to my community, that’s when things started to take off for me. That’s when I started making more book sales and more money. That’s when my business became consistent.
 
And not a minute before.
 
Why?
 
Because before I started doing that, I was playing by the rules and trying to do things using a formula and planning stuff out to the most minute detail instead of just operating from intuition and flow.
 
Don’t get me wrong–the formulas work and the principles and rules work. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow them (except in the case of storytelling principles; those you do have to follow).
 
Yes, it might take a little longer for you to get where you want to go, but you’ll eventually get there knowing that you were 100 percent yourself and didn’t compromise or sell your soul in the name of other people’s opinions about what you should be doing.
 
These are just the things I believe about creating success on your terms. And my ideal readers are people who agree and have these same beliefs (or want to have them).
 
That’s why an author brand is a personal brand–because the reader wants to get to know the author and decide if they like them as a person or not before they’ll trust them enough to buy anything from them. The Know-Like-Trust factor is the foundation of successful online marketing.
 
And you build that Know-Like-Trust factor by showing up every single day, being who you are and unleashing the ideas, stories and messages that you feel inside you.
 
So don’t be afraid to say what you think and do what works best for you. Don’t be afraid to throw the rules out the window (again–except in the case of storytelling principles!!) and live on your terms, doing things how you want to do them.
 
When you show up as you and unleash what’s inside, the right people will always find you. Like moths to the light. You call them in when you allow yourself to shine bright as exactly who you are.
 
Dream life or bust,
 
 
#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent
 

P.S. If you’re a blogger who is ready to create your first eBook, you’re gonna love my workshop that’s happening this Saturday, April 29 at Noon EDT. It’s called Blog to Book and it’s a 2-hour virtual workshop where I’ll be walking you step-by-step through the process I use to turn the content on my blog into eBooks that I sell on Amazon.

 
And you won’t just be sitting there listening to me talk about how to do it. You’ll actually start putting together your book right during the live workshop!
 
I know this is short notice… I meant to tell you about this workshop last week but with traveling and all it totally slipped my mind. So if you can’t make it live, don’t worry! Sign up anyhow and you’ll get the recording immediately after the live workshop is finished so you can put your book together in your own time.
 

Resolutions Are Made With Your Conscious Mind, BUT Change Must Happen At A Subconscious Level If You Want It To Stick

We’re a quarter of the way into the year already, which means if you made any resolutions in January, you’ve probably long since fallen off track or stopped doing them. This is when gyms are the emptiest, a few months into the year, when most people have thrown in the towel or are just ignoring the goal completely.
I spent years of my life saying I was going to step things up in my writing life that year and then a few months would go by and my motivation would wane and that would be it, for the most part. I’d still do some writing and other projects, but never the fiction that was calling to my soul.
Sound familiar?
You blame yourself and call it self-sabotage. You say you’re a procrastinator and worry that you’ll never achieve your BIG writing goals, because you’re barely achieving your small ones.
But what if there was something else going on? What if there was something happening behind the scenes that was sabotaging you…without you even realizing it?
Here’s the real reason resolutions and new habits and good-intentioned people fail to make lasting change: those changes are being made with the conscious mind, but change must happen at a subconscious level if you want it to stick.
Your conscious mind is your awareness in the present moment, whereas your subconscious mind is the autopilot mind that’s controlling your body functions and running whatever beliefs and thoughts you currently have installed as your programming.
Or to make it even clearer, I’ll borrow an analagy from my friend, Jenn Scalia… your subconscious mind is like your computer operating system, it runs everything, and your conscious mind is like the apps or software you have open on that operating system that you’re currently using.
So if you want to make changes, you can’t just do it on a conscious level. You also have to address your subconscious mind and reprogram it along with actively making changes in your physical reality with your conscious mind.
At least if you want the changes to stick.
So, how do you do this?
1. Make a list of all the old, negative, limiting, BS beliefs and thoughts you currently hold about yourself, your potential, your ability to achieve your goals, etc.
2. Flip all of these beliefs and thoughts into new, empowering beliefs and thoughts. For example, if one of the old thoughts is “I’m not good enough,” then the new empowering thought is “I am good enough.”
Be sure to also include new belief and thoughts related to the goals you want to achieve. For example, I am a New York Times Bestselling Author, I finish all of my novels with ease, I am a successful novelist, etc.
3. Program these new beliefs and thoughts into your subconscious mind. This step is super important. You don’t just want to be saying these things with your conscious mind, you need to get your subconscious mind to pick up on them too. There are a few ways to do this…
> Read your new beliefs and thoughts to yourself (or out loud) first thing in the morning as soon as you wake up (your subconscious mind will still be active if you do it immediately upon waking)
> Read them again immediately before you go to sleep (your subconscious mind is active in prep for sleep)
> Alternatively, you can write your new beliefs and thoughts out in a journal first thing upon waking and/or immediately before you sleep
> Repeat, repeat, repeat! Repetition is how you reprogram your subconscious mind; the more you repeat something, the more it will hear it and take it in as real and true
It’s awesome that you’ve decided to make a big change in your life. That’s really the first step to achieving what you want–you have to decide that you’re going to.
But then you also have to make the decision to reprogram your subconscious mind to be supportive of the changes you want to make. Otherwise you’ll just keep sabotaging yourself or you’ll continue the pattern of making some progress, but then relapsing back to where you were before.
It’s true that making changes can be a bit of a dance… two steps forward, three steps back, five steps forward, three steps back. But you can minimize the time it takes and see progress faster if you make a commitment to making changes in your physical reality and also making them in your subconscious mind.
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. Doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are now OPEN!! If you’re ready to step into being the writer and author you’ve always dreamed of being… if you’re ready to FINISH… if you want to develop the habits, craft expertise, mindset, consistency and follow-through of a professional author, the BAM group is for you.

 
As a member you get:
 
> 3x a week live-virtual work sessions where we come together as a group and get our writing/writing projects done
 
> A monthly live-virtual workshop or group challenge –you either get access to a workshop I’m doing that month or I run a challenge inside the BAM group to get everyone motivated and taking action
 
> Daily accountability check ins
 
> Unlimited access to Jennifer in the private BAM Facebook group
 
> A monthly story deconstruction, and training in Revision, Publishing, Mindset and Productivity
 

> FREE access to all of Jennifer’s workshops and digital products that cost $100 or less

Create Your Habits with Intention or Continue to Suffer from Default Habits

 “We can either make a habit, or some habit will form and start making us,”—Ken Hughes

The other day someone on Facebook asked, “if you had to pick a song to be the theme song of your life, which would you choose?” 

Several people commented that there were too many to choose, but I knew right away after reading it which song I’d pick. I already call this song the theme song for my life.

The song, Make Yourself, by Incubus, has been the theme song of my life for more than a decade now. Because the lyrics fit exactly what I believe about life—that you have to create who you want to be and what you want your life to be like. 

Some of the lyrics…

“If I hadn’t made me

I would have been made somehow

If I hadn’t assembled myself

I’d have fallen apart by now

If I hadn’t made me

I’d be more inclined to bow

Powers that would be have swallowed me up

But that’s more than I can allow

If you let them make you

They’ll make you papier-mâché

At a distance you’re strong

Until the wind comes

Then you crumble and blow away…”

(You can hear the full song here.)

I consciously took the wheel of my life when I left for college at age 17 and went off on my own. But over the last few years as I’ve worked a lot more on my mindset, I’ve been consciously creating myself in a whole new way. 

Which started with a total revamp of my habits (multiple times over). 

The things we do every day are the things that are making our lives. The things we get used to; the things we do by default, those are the things we are living for. 

Which means you’re either living for your writing dream and for doing the writing that will get you there… or you’re living for Resistance or procrastination or numbing out with food and TV or whatever else you’re doing in place of doing your writing. 

The choice is always yours. You get to decide, every single day, what will make you.

Whatever habits you currently have—aka: the things you do daily—that’s what you’re giving your life for. 

So the thing that needs to be looked at here is—what’s your default? 

Because unless you’ve been intentional about your life and have created the things you want and the habits that will support you in getting it, you’re operating and living by default with whatever default programming you picked up throughout your life so far.

Really think about this one and don’t be afraid to take an honest look at the things you’re doing every day. It may even help to keep track of everything you do every day for a week and then look back at what you’re giving your life for. 

If it does’t look how you want, it’s time to consider a habits overhaul. 

To do this, just pick ONE habit… one thing that if you did it every day (or stopped doing it every day) a year from now would totally transform your life. And then start doing (or not doing) that habit every day. 

Be consistent. Stick with it. 

What you’ll find by changing one habit is not only will your life start to change, but you’ll want to add in more new habits (or continue removing old ones you no longer want). 

But the best thing to do is to pick one to start with. You don’t want to try and change everything all at once or go cold-turkey on everything because that’s just setting yourself up for a setback. 

Pick one thing. Choose something massively important that would actually transform your life. Do that one thing every day. 

And can I make a recommendation? Choose the one thing that will totally change your writing life first (‘cause you know you want to!). 

A couple months ago I tried to change EVERYTHING all at once. I started new daily writing habits, I changed my diet completely, I started new exercise habits…AHHH!!! 

It was all too much too fast. My body went haywire and it took me almost 3 weeks to get back to feeling normal again.

So I decided to take a step back and just do one thing. I picked building a daily habit of doing my writing (blog post and work on my fiction) every morning first thing before I do anything else. 

And I’ve kept it up. I’ve been on track for almost 2 months now with doing a daily blog post and working on my fiction. I give myself a break on the weekends, meaning I still make a point to write something, but I don’t force myself into it has to be a blog post or I have to work on my novel. 

Usually that’s what I end up working on anyhow, but I give myself the freedom to write or work on whatever I want on the weekends, as long as I write something. 

I’m starting to feel pretty stable with my daily mindset practice habit, as well as my daily writing habit. So I’m to add in some food-related habits, a little at a time. 

Creating yourself exactly as you dream of being is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. 

The important part is that you make the decision that you will consciously create yourself and who you want to be, and not continue to live your life based on default programming that may or may not actually align with who you want to be.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. Writing Life Rehab is happening later this month!! This workshop will kick your ass and get you out of default mode and into creating your writing life exactly as you want it to be. Best of all, if you’re a member of the Bestselling Author Mastermind, you get the Writing Life Rehab workshop for FREE! Doors to BAM open to new members next week. Get on the waitlist so you’re the first to know when the doors open.

The Only Reason You’re “Time Poor” Is Because You’re NOT Doing What Matters

There was a point in my writing life where I made way more excuses than I did put words on the page. Back then, I used to say, “I don’t have time” on a regular basis. I was working a full-time day job and trying to run a blog and write books and maintain a personal life. 

It was a lot to fit in.

So I’d constantly find myself saying, “I don’t have time” or “there’s not enough time in the day” or [insert whatever other time excuse you can make]. But then one day a thought hit me…

What if “I don’t have time” and “there’s not enough time in the day” are just limiting beliefs that have been programmed into me… and I can choose to create new beliefs around time?

So I started writing in my journal every day: I am productive as fuck today. I bend the fuck out of time today. 

I’ve now instilled beliefs in myself that there’s always plenty of time for everything I need to do, and I can bend time at will. And funnily enough this has become true for me.

My productivity is at an all-time high right now, and it gets better and better every day.

I can now intend that I will bend the fuck out of time for the next 30 minutes or whatever, and somehow I always manage to get everything I need to done in that time. 

Why? 

Because time is an illusion. Einstein proved it. So that means you get to decide how time feels for you. 

You know when you go to work on a slow day and time seems to drag on? Eight hours feels like 20 and when you finally get to leave at the end of the day you’re spent. But then when you go on vacation to your favorite beach resort, the week flies by faster than you can blink.

That’s a perfect example of time feeling different based on the situation. But you can change the way time feels at any point during that work day or that vacation. 

You can choose to live in the moment on your vacation and savor every little second of the day and fit in as much living as possible. Suddenly it feels like enough. You can choose to take advantage of your work time and work on something you’ve been wanting to work on, but didn’t have time for, and suddenly your day flies by. 

You can make it feel like you have time abundance. 

And here’s the other thing about time abundance: it will always feel like you don’t have enough when you’re not doing what matters every day.

When I look back at the years of my life where I felt like I didn’t have enough time in my day, it was the years when I wasn’t doing what actually mattered each day. I was putting the things that mattered off to do all these other things—a lot of which I didn’t really want to do. 

But as soon as I started doing what matters every single day and doing it first, before I do anything else, suddenly I had all the time in the world. Suddenly by dedicating 1-2 hours of my morning to what matters, my entire day opened up. 

And because what I really wanted to be doing—journaling, writing, creating—was finished early in my day, my mind was free for the rest of the day.

When I wasn’t doing what matters, I’d find myself thinking about my writing or my stories all day long. But when I sit down and do my writing and work on my fiction first thing in the morning and get it done, then I’m not thinking about it all day long, which gives me free mental space for other things that need to get done.

Sure, my story may stay on my mind as I go through my day, but I’m not feeling resentful that I’m having to be doing other things, because I’ve already done what matters.

Time abundance comes from doing what matters, doing it daily, and doing it first things first. 

Action Steps

Here’s what to do next…

1. Figure out what old, limiting beliefs you have about time (there’s not enough, etc), and then flip them into new beliefs that will allow you to feel differently about time (There’s plenty of time for everything that matters” etc).

2. Start doing what matters, every day, first things first. It will change your life, I promise you. 

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. I get it now. I saw this light around doing what matters a year ago around this same time, but somehow managed to forget and get lost again. But thankfully it came back to me, and this time around I’m holding on to it and creating the discipline and habits that I need to have to turn it into a daily thing. 

I’m now fully, 150% committed to doing what matters, every day, before I do anything else. I can’t wait to see where I’ll be a year from now!! 

Want to join me in doing what matters, every day and doing it first? Stay tuned! Doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are opening soon!! And since it’s the one-year anniversary of the group, I’m doing some MAJOR celebration bonuses, including a workshop that will kick your ass into finally making your writing a priority. 

BAM is a high-level community and mentorship for writers who want to create the habits, mindset, consistency and follow-through of a bestselling author. You get insanely awesome tools and resources every month to help with whatever stage you’re at in your writing journey, plus we do 3x weekly work sessions where we meet up virtually and work on our writing projects together. 

There will be a bonus for anyone who signs up that was on the waitlist, so get on the waitlist here: www.jenniferblanchard.net/mastermind 

Embrace The Chaos And Carry On

As I sit here writing this, there are dishes in the sink and on the counter; there’s a pile of towels and pajamas on the big-red chair in my living room, which my dog, Weiland, has now made his little nest for the day; while we’re at it, my living room could definitely use a vacuuming; and don’t even get me started about the laundry baskets and clothes rack in my bedroom with last week’s laundry still hanging-dry on it. 

But this blog post is getting written.

And when I’m done writing this blog post, I’ll work on my novel revisions. Then I’ll work on my sections in the eBook I’m coauthoring with a friend. 

The dishes and laundry and vacuuming will still be there. But my writing will be done. And I will have made progress on my goals and my writing dreams.

This is the way of the writing warrior—the writer and author who refuses to let anything get in the way or stop them from getting their words and stories out into the world. 

There will always be life chaos. Wait, let me repeat that one… on stereo… THERE WILL ALWAYS BE LIFE CHAOS!! 

It never goes away. If you do the dishes, there will be more soon after. If you put the laundry away, more will take its place on the drying rack. 

You can always find something that needs cleaning or organizing or repairing or whatever. It’s a never-ending cycle. 

But if your writing—your soul work—isn’t getting done at the expense of the cleaning, organizing, repairing, etc., it’s time to make some changes. 

You’ve been waiting your whole life to be the writer and author you dream of being. How much longer are you willing to wait for? How much longer are you going to put your dream on hold for bullshit excuses and housework (or whatever you’re doing that stops you from writing)? 

I used to think all that stuff mattered. That I had to have a perfectly clean house and everything had to be put away and neat and organized before I could spend time doing what I really wanted to do. 

And some days I’d procrastinate and resist my writing so much that I actually made the housework more important, even though deep down I knew it really wasn’t. 

Do you know what happened? 

I had a neat, clean, organized space to live in, but was dying on the inside from not letting the writing out. 

It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I finally allowed myself to do the writing—the stuff that really mattered—before I did the housework. It was magical, because after I finished writing and finished doing what really mattered to me, not only did the other stuff get done, but I didn’t resent it anymore. 

The laundry, the dishes, it all gets done eventually. (You can even hire someone to do it for you, amazing, right?) And now so does my writing. 

I’ve learned to embrace the chaos. I’ve finally accepted that I’ll never get it all done and I’ll never really keep on top of everything in my life. But so long as I’m keeping on top of and doing the things that really matter to me—my writing, creating and teaching—then everything else will work itself out.

How can you embrace the chaos in your life and get your writing done anyhow? 

Write with a purpose, live with intention!

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. Could your writing life use a pick-me-up? Then stay tuned… more details about the Bestselling Author Mastermind, my high-level community and mentorship group for writers who want to create the habits, mindset, consistency and follow-through of a bestselling author, are coming soon. Get on the waitlist here so you’re the first to know when the doors open (and you’ll get access to a waitlist-only bonus!): www.jenniferblanchard.net/mastermind 

How To Be A Bestselling Author

While so often writers want to believe otherwise, most of what makes someone a bestseller is marketing. But while marketing is a hugely important part of the bestseller process, it’s not the whole thing.

Because you have to also consider what got the writer to the point where they were able to do the marketing to become a bestseller—the mindset, the habits, the consistency, the visibility, the follow through. 

You may not be able to replicate the exact results of a bestselling author’s marketing campaign, but you can replicate the thoughts, beliefs, behaviors and actions that made the result possible.

Here’s how:

1. Develop A Pro Writer Mindset

Bestselling authors are pros. They think like pros and that’s what allows them to have pro results in their writing careers.

And they also believe in themselves.

That combination of pro-thinking and confidence is a key in becoming a bestselling author. You have to not only believe it’s possible, but you have to believe it’s possible for you.

Action Step: start a daily mindset practice that gets your thinking aligned with the bestselling author you dream of being

2. Create Aligned Habits

If you want something, like to be a bestselling author, you have to take a look at your habits and daily activities to see whether or not they’re aligned with the goal that you have. This is huge, because you can’t get where you want to go without being in alignment with it.

Alignment simply means, is what you’re currently doing on a daily basis gonna get you the results you want? If you walked on a straight line, would you eventually end up at your goal? Or you on a totally different path?

For example, if you want to be a bestselling author, but you’ve never finished or published anything, that’s not in alignment. You need to finish and publish something before being a bestselling author is even a possibility for you. If you haven’t finished or published yet, you’re not even in the game.

Action Step: take a look at what you currently do every day (your habits) and determine if they’re in alignment with your writing goals or not. If they are, great! And if they’re not, time to make some changes so they are.

3. Be Consistent (No Matter What!)

This is probably one of the hardest parts of being a bestselling author. Consistency is tough. There’s so much going on in life, and chaos happens at seemingly random times. It’s hard to know what things will look like day-to-day, so committing to doing something daily is scary.

You know what I call that? Excuses.

Because consistency is only tough when you’re allowing yourself to make excuses. (I do it at times too.)

But when you’re focused on the results and outcomes that you’re after, and you’re all in and unwilling to let anything stop you or get in your way, consistency is easy. You just show up every day and do the work, and then repeat it the next day and the next day and the next day…

You either have excuses or you have results. Which do you have? 

Action Step: pick one thing that if you did it every day for a whole year would totally change your life. Commit to doing that one thing consistently every single day from here on out.

4. Get Visible 

This is another very tough one for writers. Because writers are mostly introverts who like hiding out behind the scenes.

But in the digital age, hiding out spells death to your success as an author. Visibility—especially online—is a must. It’s a nonnegotiable. 

Bestselling authors become so because they’re visible. People know who they are, they like them and they trust them.

With a big enough following that spells instant bestseller status.

Action Step: how can you start to be more visible as an author? Again think of one thing you could do daily to be more visible online and then commit to doing it every day from here on out.

5. Finish What You Start. Repeat.

Ah, follow through. Probably the toughest out of all the things I’ve listed here.

Starting a writing project is easy. You’ve likely done that dozens of times. Maybe more.

But finishing? Finishing is a whole other thing.

Finishing means following through with the project until it’s done. 

And done doesn’t just mean completed first draft or even revision. It means published. It means the book is out in the world, ready to be read.

You have to train yourself to become a finisher. It’s a skill that takes practice. 

I’ve trained myself over the last decade+ of my life to be a finisher. It’s not always the easiest thing, but I always find a way to just do it anyhow. That’s how I became a finisher.

Action Step: don’t give yourself a hard time if you’ve not finished up ’till now. Just choose a writing project right now, commit to finishing it and then do the work to actually follow through on that commitment.

When you get your mindset and habits aligned, and then create consistency, visibility and follow through in your writing life, you’ll be on track to eventually hit bestseller status. You just have to commit to it, keep going and never look back.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. Do you want to create the mindset, habits, consistency and follow through of a bestselling author? Then stay tuned… doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are reopening to new members soon. 

The Idea Is You… It’s Not Separate From You

As a multi-passionate writer, creator and entrepreneur, I find myself bursting at the seams with ideas for things I want to do and create. It’s almost annoying at times, because I know I’ll never have the capacity for EVERYTHING.
 
Or so I thought.
 
But then last week I began a journey called “be consistent, do what matters and put first things first.” And it shifted everything for me.
 
To be fair, I’ve started this journey before. About a year ago, and about five years ago, when I quit my day job to become a full-time writer, creator and entrepreneur. But somehow something always got in the way and I’d stop.
 
Excuses. Life chaos. The old BS stories I’d been telling myself about what was true for me.
 
And I have a tendency to overcomplicate things, because I used to believe that it had to be perfect or things had to be fancy and have a lot of bells and whistles or they weren’t valuable enough.
 
So when I’d get an idea for something I wanted to create, I’d go crazy complicating everything about it so that it ended up feeling like this huge, overwhelming project and then instead of taking action on it, I’d set it aside.
 
For example, at the end of last year I had a Divine Download for a daily email called the Daily Think Different. And it would be a daily email for writers, authors, entrepreneurs and creators that motivated, inspired, educated and empowered you to think different.
 
I bought a domain name for it. I wrote up a whole page of notes on how I’d set the new site up where people could go sign up to get the daily email. And that’d be another thing to add to my writing task list for the day (at this point I’m writing between 5k-7k words a day). And I was excited about it.
 
I think about it all the time. I feel it’s something I’m meant to be contributing to the world. I know that my calling and my purpose in the world is to inspire, motivate, educate and empower writers and creators to change the way they think and challenge what they believe is possible.
 
But months went by and I still didn’t take action on it.
 
And then two weeks ago I met an entrepreneur in one of the groups I’m in who helped me make a huge shift. She had posted in the group talking about how she wanted to start getting up early every day. And I commented back that I wanted the same thing, but never thought I could make it happen because I’m a night owl.
 
She commented back—want to help hold each other accountable to getting up early? I felt like it was a nudge from the Universe to jump into the challenge.
 
So we agreed to check in with each other first thing in the A.M. to say what time we got up. And just knowing I had to check in with her and tell her the time I got up, made me get up early, even when I didn’t want to.
 
And since I was already getting up early, I decided that i would also challenge myself to be consistent, do what matters and put first things first—before I let the rest of the world in.
 
Every morning I’d get up, send her a message to confirm the time I got up, and then I’d do my journaling and mindset practice, write my blog post and work on my novel. I did this every single day for five days.
 
And then the weekend showed up and I had a choice—I could do what I usually do, which is skip the weekends, or I could just keep going and accept that when you’re creating a new habit, you don’t get to take days off.
 
So I kept it up over the weekend. By Monday morning I was feeling AMAZING! Not only had I been consistent all week on doing what matters and putting first things first, and feeling insanely free and productive in the process, but I discovered something… I was already writing my daily think different emails! I just wasn’t calling them that.
 
For so long I thought the Daily Think Different emails had to be something outside of the stuff I was already doing and I had to keep it separate from my Jennifer Blanchard brand. But here’s the thing—you can’t separate yourself from the idea. Because you and the idea are one.
 
So when you’re multi-passionate, like I am, there’s no way for you to keep everything separate and still be able to juggle it all.
 
Being multi-passionate and allowing yourself to indulge in doing it all requires you to be able to juggle a lot of things all at once. Totally doable for a multi-passionate person, by the way.
 
You just need to stop trying to separate yourself from it.
 

You are the brand. You and all the things that come with you, including your thoughts, feelings, opinions, likes, dislikes, preferences, non-negotiables, and multiple passions, talents and interests.

 
Trying to separate it will just stress you out.
 
When I first started out online, I had a blog called Procrastinating Writers. Back then I was seriously struggling with doing the writing. It was a losing battle, but I was fighting it and I kept going. Years later, I created InkyBites, a site that focused on creative wellness. And then years later I realized that I if I wanted to be a successful author, at some point I’d have to brand under my own name.
 
So I launched JenniferBlanchard.net (‘cause someone else already had the dot-com, damn it). And I was trying to run three sites at once. Trying to balance and juggle all three brands, creating content for each one and promoting it on social media and I was failing epically. (I eventually merged all of the brands and content into my Jennifer Blanchard brand.)
 
Which is why when I get amazing Divine Downloads like my Daily Think Different emails, I get excited and want to take action… but then I often don’t. Because I still default to thinking that it has to be kept separate from my personal brand.
 
But here’s the thing—I’m me. Which means everything that I create, every idea I have, everything I write…that’s all me too.
 
I’m the multi-passionate writer, high-achieving, big-dreamer and believer in magic who I’ve always been. And my words are my legacy.
 
So it doesn’t make sense to separate it. (And let’s be real–it’s not really possible to separate it.)
 
But it wasn’t until I started doing what matters and putting first things first that I got clarity on that fact. This new habit made me realize if I don’t separate things and just let it all be me and be a part of my personal brand, I really CAN do all the things I want to be doing.
 
Doing what matters and putting first things first freed up so much of my time and mind space to focus on the other things I want to be doing (and am doing).
 
And that clarity forced me to see that what I want to do and the impact I want to have on the world, extends far beyond just writing about writing.
 

Sure, I’ll always write about writing because I’m a writer and it’s in me to do that. But now I’m allowing myself to let out that other side of me. That side of me who wants to see others succeed. That wants to inspire, motivate, educate and empower others to live their dream lives and know that anything is possible when you believe it is and and change your thinking around it.

 
THAT is what I’m here to do. Everything else that I do is secondary to that.
 
So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to create and live my dream life and I’m going to be the writer and author I want to be. And I’m going to write about it and share my thoughts on it and share the things I learn, and inspire and motivate and empower you to create you own version of your dream life where you get paid to do what you love to do (write, create).
 
Now this isn’t unlike most of what I’m already doing. It’s just now I’ll be doing it with a vision and even more purpose and intention than before. (Purpose and intention are big for me.)
 
Over the next few weeks, you’ll be seeing some changes in my branding and website. I’ve got a new tagline (Dream Life Or Bust), I’m doing daily emails/blog posts and I have a new approach to the business that I’m creating.
 
I’m finally giving myself permission to fully be the writer and author I see myself as. To act like and think like and BE that writer and author RIGHT NOW. Even though I know some people may not like it.
 
Because there’s no point in waiting. Or trying to separate yourself from it. You are who you are.
 
The truth is, you’ll never be ready to go after your dreams or your dream life. You’ll never be ready to make the leap, invest in the course, step into the work you desire to do in the world, or write that book. You’ll never be ready.
 
And if you wait ’till you’re ready, it will be too late.
 
So that’s why you have to just jump, right now, into creating your dream life and creating yourself as the writer and author you want to be. Because tomorrow is never guaranteed. All you ever really have is right now.
 

And right now, you get to decide if you want to keep being who you’ve been being. Or if you want to be who you know you really are and who you know you’re capable of being, if only you gave yourself permission to play full out, trust that what you feel inside is real, and go after all your dreams.

 
Going forward, I’m choosing the latter.

Share With Us

If you gave yourself permission to play full out in your writing life… what would you do? Share in the comments. 
 
P.S. If you also want to choose the latter (fully being the writer and author you want to be), here’s an opportunity for you to step into that identity right now AND get your book written and published…join my Write and Publish Your Nonfiction eBook in 10 Days workshop. We’re hitting the ground running on Day 1 and will be writing, revising, prepping and publishing our eBooks over the course of the 10 days.
 
Jim Turnbo III, author of “Brainhacks: 10 Simple Strategies to Keep Your Mind Strong For A Lifetime”  had this to say about his journey in the workshop:
 
“I’ve been sitting on this “Brainhacks” book for the last 16 months. It was slowly hacking away at my brain. Never thought I would finish it. Too many thought processes to go here. But I finished it! The information is so valuable it would be a shame to let it sit tucked away. Thanks to Jennifer, I got the kick I needed to get it done. Getting a good quality book published ready for people to digest is very hard. Only a few will do it. But if you come into this class with an unstoppable attitude, failure becomes obsolete. The price of the class will easily pay for itself. I will use the 10 days template for all my nonfiction writing.”
 
If you’re ready to give up the excuses, get out of your head and get into action, this is the workshop for you.
 

How To Create Value For An Audience

Marketing is a big part of being a successful author. It’s almost as big as writing a book that’s worth publishing and selling (as that is definitely the pre-requisite to marketing).

Problem for most authors is they have no idea how to do marketing. They either never learned, don’t want to learn, are afraid to learn or think they don’t have enough time/don’t have what it takes to build a following.

I often hear writers in my free Facebook group say that they have no idea how to market themselves. And while it’s totally fine to not know what you’re doing, it’s NOT fine to let that be an excuse that stops you from learning what to do and then doing it.

I talk to a lot of writers on a regular basis, and one of the commonalities is their ultimate dream—to make a living from their books, to have their novels turned into movies, to have millions of readers all over the world, to land on the NY Times Best Seller list.

Sure, not all writers want this, but I’d argue most do and just aren’t willing to admit it or to fully allow themselves to want it because they have no idea how they’ll bring it to life.

And the truth is, all of those dreams stem from one thing: marketing.

If you’re a professionally self-published author (or are going to be) or even if you go the traditional route, marketing is absolutely a skill that you must master. Because in the digital age, authors aren’t just writers, they’re also marketers and sales people.

I know—SCARY, right?

Because now you can’t just sit in a room all alone writing your books. You have to actually put yourself out there and be seen and get known.

At least if you plan on accomplishing your dreams of making a living from your books, hitting the NY Times Best Sellers list and having millions of fans all over the world who love your books so much Hollywood decides to turn them into movies.

None of those dreams can be achieved without visibility and mastering marketing (unless you hire someone to do all the marketing for you, but even then, you still have to be visible).

And one of the BEST ways to do marketing that doesn’t feel sales-y or self-promotional is to learn how to create value for an audience.

Now I’ll that there’s nothing wrong with being sales-y or self-promotional IF you are creating massive value for the people who follow you (aka: your audience). Value + Selling = Making Money from Your Books. Selling or Self-Promotion by itself does not.

Example: I create a TON of free value for my audience on a daily basis. And that’s also why I sell 30+ books a day and growing, and get people signed up for my workshops and programs that I offer.

Because when you create value for an audience, they will buy from you. Multiple times over.

So what does “create value” even mean?

Value just means creating something useful. Something your audience can enjoy, be entertained and/or educated by.

I did a livestream the other day all about creating value for an audience (you can watch the replay here). If you want to become a master of marketing so you can grow your readership and your author brand, and sell more books, here are 8 ways to create value for an audience:

1. Share Your Thoughts and Feelings On A Topic You Care About that They Also Care About

This may sound strange, but people love to see what other people think and feel about a topic they care about. When I go off in a blog post, ranting about my opinion on professional self-publishing or believing in yourself or whatever other topic I decide to share my views on, that’s when my audience becomes most engaged. It’s when I get the most emails from people, replying to what I sent out, sometimes even sharing their opinion back to me.

So consider the topics that would be of interest to your audience and share your thoughts and feelings on it with them. Doing this builds the Know, Like and Trust factor, and gives them a deeper look at how you think and what you believe, and why.

I know this may seem strange—why would anyone want to hear me talk about my opinion on a topic? But that is what connects people.

Think about anytime you’ve met someone new. When you’re conversing with them and discovered all the things you have in common, didn’t it just make you like them more? Didn’t it make you feel more connected to them as a person?

Well, the same thing works for your audience.

Sure, you have to know who your audience is and what they care about, but once you figure it out, you can create some seriously awesome value for them by starting a conversation around a topic you all care about.

2. Teach Them Something They Want to Learn

People go online to be entertained, educated or both. So think about ways that you can teach your audience something they want to learn.

I’m always teaching in my free content (this blog post would be a great example). Because I know my audience well enough at this point to know exactly what they care about and the struggles they have and where I can most help them.

I teach the stuff my audience most needs to know. And that creates massive value for them.

3. Teach Them Something They Need to Know But Don’t Realize They Need to Know It

I love this one. You may not have realized that you need to learn how to create value for an audience if you want to grow your readership. But now thanks to this blog post, you know.

And not only are you now aware that you must create value, but you have a whole list of ways to do it.

That’s what it means to teach your audience something they need to know but don’t realize they need to know it.

The awareness alone creates a ton of value—because not knowing what you don’t know can cause you to get stuck or to feel like nothing is working.

4. Entertain Them

Like I said, people go online to learn how to do something or to be entertained because they’re bored. So if you can find ways to entertain your audience (and as a writer and author, you ARE an entertainer), you’ll be able to create value that makes them want more from you.

Think of all the stupid memes and videos you see online. While you may not think about them as marketing (especially when they’re random and have nothing to do with anything) they are still creating value.

Because when you watch or read, you’re being entertained. You’re laughing or having fun or enjoying the moment.

And that’s what makes it valuable.

Most people aren’t having enough fun or laughter or enjoyment in their lives. So if you can give that to them with the content you create, you’re giving them something they badly need in their lives.

5. Make Them Think

I love this one. Because as humans, we’re thinkers. It’s a part of our nature.

Which means if you can create content that makes people think, you can also give your audience value that connects them to you and makes them want more.

Making them think can be as simple as asking a question that goes deeper than just the surface-level stuff. Questions like, what would you be doing right now if you already achieved your dream life? or if you were already the author you dream of being, what would you do first thing in the morning? actually help people figure things out.

Questions create an open loop in our minds and we have to find an answer. So we think about it. And in the thinking about it we come to a conclusion of some kind.

That conclusion or response to the question could be something that totally changes your life.

And that is valuable. Insanely valuable.

6. Share Your Message

I talk all the time about how authors need to have a message to share. And that message becomes a part of your marketing and a big part of the content that you create that gives value to your audience.

For example, my message is that you can create anything you set your mind to. That is the core message in my life and in my writing business.

I share this message every day, in all different ways, through the free content that I create. And sharing this message is valuable for the people who need to hear it.

I sent you an email yesterday that talked about the fictional stories that we tell ourselves. In it, I mentioned over and over again that you can create and achieve anything you set your mind to. I may not have said it exactly like that, but it’s the overall message you pick up from reading the blog post.

I shared that post over the weekend on my personal Facebook page. And one of my college professors loved it so much she shared it on her Facebook page and told people to follow me. From there, another woman saw it and reached out to me to tell me how much it resonated with her and that she wants to step up her career as an author.

And then she joined my free Facebook group.

So by sharing my message, I connected with people and created new audience members who love what I have to say and want more of it. And, of course, created a ton of value for whoever read it and agreed with it.

Now your message may not be for everyone and some people may be turned off by it. That’s OK! Those are not your people.

A really important thing to remember about marketing is that you don’t want to reach everyone and you don’t want to target everyone. You want to think very specifically about who needs to hear your message the most or who will resonate the most with it.

For me, I know multi-passionate writers, authors and creators are the people who need to hear my message. And that’s who I tailor it for. Because those are the people who make up my audience.

7. Tell Them A Story

You may not realize this, but stories are valuable. Not just fictional stories that you make up for a reader’s enjoyment and entertainment (although those are insanely valuable too), but also stories about your life and your experiences.

When I share stories about things that have happened to me, I always get people who respond and resonate with it.

For example, last week I told you I’ve been dealing with an annoying health issue that flared up from making a massive overnight change to my diet. I didn’t even share a ton of detail, just that little bit and that I’d been a lot less productive because it was causing me to need more downtime.

From sharing that little bit of story about my life, I received a bunch of emails from people wishing me well, telling me to feel better, giving me suggestions for how to move forward, and even sharing their own experiences with annoying heath issues.

I created a connection with my audience by sharing this story. And that is valuable, especially since humans crave connection.

8. Get To Know Them

This also comes down to creating a connection. When you know your audience and know them well, you will know exactly how to create value for them.

I no longer have to think about what to write my blog posts on or what freebies to create or what workshops or programs to offer. Because I know my audience super well. I know what makes them tick, I know what they love, I know what they hate, I know what they dream of.

And all of this came from spending time getting to know them.

I run a free Facebook group which creates a ton of value for my audience and allows them a safe space to learn and grow in their writing lives, and get support and guidance when they need it. And when I first launched my coaching business, I gave away a ton of free sessions so I could get writers on the phone and get to know them better.

You can create value for your audience by getting to know them too.

Ask them questions about themselves. Offer up a free call to anyone willing to let you interview them (so you can ask them the questions that will help you get to know who they are and what they need and want from you).

The value you create—aka: free content—doesn’t have to be fancy. But I always recommend mixing it up if you can and giving your audience a variety of content, like: 

  • Blog posts
  • MP3 audios
  • Videos
  • Livestreams
  • Worksheets
  • Checklists
  • Cheatsheets
  • Whatever you can think of

Now if you’re a fiction writer, you may be thinking—this would work for a nonfiction author, but not for me. And if you think that, you’re totally wrong (sorry!).

Because what works for a nonfiction author can work for a fiction author. It’s all about knowing your audience and understanding who they are and what they want.

If you write fiction, your audience is readers of a specific genre. So what do they want? What would be super valuable for them? The same ideas I listed here apply for fiction too.

My recommendation is to take some time to go back through the list and brainstorm ideas for how you could create value for your audience using each of these 8 suggestions.

One thing I will add is that no matter what kind of free content you create, you always want a Call to Action (aka: a CTA) to tell the reader what to do next. A Call to Action can be anything from, “buy my book” to “go to my website and grab the free eBook I created” to “subscribe to my YouTube channel.”

There’s nothing wrong with being sales-y or self-promotional when you’re giving enough value.

I sell stuff in pretty much every email I send out. I promote my programs, workshops, books and offers in pretty much every piece of content I create. And some people may have a problem with it.

But most people don’t mind at all, because they know I’ve given them a ton of value for free… and if they’re not interested, they can just ignore the promo and they’ll still walk away from my blog post, video, livestream, etc., with something valuable they can use in their own lives.

And that’s what creating value is all about.

Share With Us

How do you create value for your audience? 

———–

If you want to learn how to build your following and create massive value for your audience so you can sell (more) books, today is the FINAL DAY to join the Six Figure Author Society—a membership site for authors who want to sell (more) books.

We’re covering everything you need to know to build your marketing foundation, create valuable content for your audience and bring in more readers and more book sales.

The best part is that we’re all working on the monthly activities together, so you have community, support, accountability and you’ll be more productive because everyone around you is too.

Making money from your books doesn’t have to be hard. The Six Figure Author Society will show you how to be a badass book marketer, without feeling sleezy, sales-y or self-promotional.

>> Details and sign up here