The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Ep. 6: An Interview with Memoirist Marion Roach Smith

Listen on  iTunes or Stitcher

Guest Bio:

Marion Roach Smith believes that everyone has a story to tell. The author of four books, all of which contain a large degree of memoir, her most recent book is The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing—and Life, an irreverent, quirky, provocative product of the countless memoir classes she has taught for more than a decade.

Under the name Marion Roach, she is the author of The Roots of Desire: The Myth, Meaning and Sexual Power of Red Hair; the co-author with famed forensic pathologist Michael Baden, M.D., of Dead Reckoning; and of Another Name for Madness. A former staff member of The New York Times, she has written for The New York Times Magazine, Prevention, The Daily News, Vogue, Newsday, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Discover, and The Los Angeles Times. Since 1998, she has taught classes in writing memoir and now does so both in person and online. She can be found at MarionRoach.com.

Show Notes:

I had the pleasure of not only hearing Marion speak on memoir writing at the 2016 TRIBE Writers Conference, but I also was lucky enough to sit at a table with her for three days. She is FANTASTIC and has so many incredible insights about writing memoir.

Here are some of my takeaways from the interview:

  • Memoir is about moments of transition and transcendence–this is one of my favorite pieces of memoir-writing advice Marion shared. I’ve always thought memoir was a genre I’d never touch, and now she has me thinking about writing a memoir (listen to the episode to hear the topic I’m considering!)
  • Write from a place of phobia–I loved hearing her say this, because I’m someone who overcomes fears by facing them head-on.
  • Read above you–rather than reading at the level you’re used to, if you want to learn how to write better, you must read above you, by finding authors who are better writers and studying what they do.

Be sure to check out Marion’s book–The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing and Life, available now! 

Share With Us

What’s your biggest takeaway? Share in the comments. 

And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher, and share it using the links below.

10 Steps to Making Shit Happen (aka: The “I Don’t Know How” Guide)

For a long time I dreamed of seeing my book at #1 on Amazon; of more readers finding my books and transforming their lives, because the books is at #1 and actually has a chance at being shown to potential readers.

Problem was, I had no idea HOW I was going to make this happen. I didn’t know anyone who’d done it. And I had never done it before, so the steps were unknown to me.

So because I didn’t know HOW I was going to get my book to #1 on Amazon, I didn’t allow myself to want it. I just pretended that I didn’t care and that it didn’t really matter to me.

I even recall making fun of authors who called themselves “best selling authors” just from hitting #1 on Amazon. (And now I do it–ha!)

The point being, I did everything I could think of to downplay the fact that I really wanted to hit #1 on Amazon. Just because I didn’t know HOW to do it.

Thankfully this year, I finally accepted the lesson that was given to me over and over again for years… the HOW is NOT up to you.

What that means: HOW you do something isn’t what matters. It’s DOING SOMETHING that matters.

My Story

In February I came across an author who has published 47 eBooks–46 of which were best sellers on Amazon. It finally made me realize that if she could do it that many times, I could do it at least once.

Suddenly my fear of not knowing HOW I was going to do it shifted to a belief that I could do it.

At that point, the specifics of HOW didn’t really matter, because I was finally to a place where I not only wanted it, but I believed I could have it. It finally felt possible for me to be #1 on Amazon.

So I started writing in my journal every day that, “I am a best selling author” and “I am #1 on Amazon.” And then I started talking about wanting to hit #1. I even told my accountability buddy about it.

And then I made a decision: I would hit #1 on Amazon in 2016.

(Still at this point had no idea HOW I’d do it.)

Not long after, I got an email about a tool called Bestseller Ranking Pro. Out of no way, a HOW had shown up.

I could use this tool to find the right category to put my book in, so people can actually find it. And that will help me get to #1. Boom! I bought the software.

After looking through the BRP categories and info, I decided I was going to write an eBook about the structure of love stories. The “craft” category was a good fit for this book.

I wasn’t totally thrilled with that book idea, but it was an idea to get me started. Thankfully, right after that I got another idea–what if I took the 30-day challenge I just did to help me revamp my writing habits and turned it into an eBook?

That idea really inspired me, so I decided to put that book together and publish it first, and then go back and write the structure of love stories one.

The more practical side of me also had a thought: if I’m going to hit #1, I need to write and publish more books.

So I announced that I was going to write and publish 9 books in 2016. And then I got inspired to invite people to watch me as I wrote and published these books and turned one of them into a best seller.

(Still no real idea HOW I’d do this. Just some nudges and ideas.)

I published “Align Your Writing Habits to Success” in May and two days after it went live it hit #1 on Amazon. (And then my book, “The 15-Minute Writer”hit #1 in multiple categories two months after!)

I had achieved the goal of hitting #1 and being a best selling author on Amazon.

Looking back, I never had any idea HOW I’d do it. I just took whatever actions I could think of.

And that’s the whole point.

It’s NOT about the specific actions that you take. You can take actions that seem random and if you’re still moving in the direction of your desired outcome, the right HOW will eventually show up and you’ll get there.

My story is the perfect example–I was planning on a totally different book hitting #1 by me using the BRP tool and writing a book for a specific category; and a book I never even expected to have hit #1 did, multiple times. (Pretty much shuts up the “you need to know HOW” argument, right?)

How I achieved a #1 best seller on Amazon didn’t happen because of any one thing I did. It happened because of ALL the things I did–this year and all the years leading up to this one.

The HOW that gets you to your desired end result can only be found by creating momentum. And you create momentum by taking action–any actions–that move you in the direction you want to go.

The actions can be simple, easy things and still be powerful enough for the Universe to meet you half-way.

Because the Universe doesn’t care what actions you take. Big or small. Super risky or playing it safe. It just cares that you’re DOING SOMETHING. (Although the bigger, bolder actions always pay off more than staying in your comfort zone.)

Want to become a published author? Write a book. Show up every day and put words on the page. Learn the steps in the self-publishing process. Do your research.

The specific HOW that gets you to the desired end result of being a published author will show up as a result of you doing all those other things.

What you don’t want to do is decide you want something and then sit on your ass thinking it’s just going to show up one day. ‘Cause it doesn’t work like that, sorry.

10 Steps to Making Shit Happen

If you’re been feeling stuck or frozen because you don’t know HOW you’re going to achieve something, or because you’re overwhelmed by HOW much there is to learn and know and do… I’m gonna simplify it for you in 10 basic steps:

  1. Take a deep breath and relax–it’s not that serious.
  2. Remind yourself that you’re in the right place, exactly where you are right now.
  3. Write down your desired end result (one or more).
  4. For each end result you want, make a list of all the things you can think of right now that you could do to move in that direction. It doesn’t matter if the steps are out of order, totally random, or make no practical sense; just write everything down that comes to you.
  5. Choose one of the steps/actions you listed and do it right now.
  6. When that action is done, do the next one. (Whichever one pops out to you as the one to do next.)
  7. Repeat steps 5-6.
  8. Add any new inspired actions and ideas to the list as you go.
  9. Act on as many of the actions and ideas from your list as you can.
  10. Trust that any specific HOW you need to get you to that final end result will show up as a result of you doing steps 5-9.

And there you have it–get the hell out of the HOWS and stay focused on the end result.

Share With Us

What have YOU been holding off or playing small on because you don’t know HOW you’ll make it happen? Share in the comments!

Are You Born to Write? You Need to Hear This

You know that day when you finally realized you’re meant to be a writer? That day you knew there was nothing else in the entire world you could see yourself doing forever except writing? That other things will come and go–as is typical for a multi-passionate person–but writing will never say die.

Because you are born to write. It’s in you. It’s who you are.

You couldn’t separate you from your writing, because it would be like separating yourself from a vital organ. Impossible.

If you’re born to write, you know it. You feel it in every cell of your being. And even if you’re not totally 100% confident yet, you know what you are called to do.

Write. Put words on the page. Inspire, motivate, teach, instruct, lead, entertain… with your words. Tell stories, share experiences, pass along messages that connect us all.

I believe those who are called to write have a responsibility–to show up every day; to put words on the page; to hit publish and get those words, those stories, those messages, out into the world.

You have a RESPONSIBILITY.

You were gifted with the written word for a reason. You were born to be a vessel for the ideas, thoughts, lessons, messages, experiences and stories the world needs to hear.

Those things you hear inside you–the characters, thoughts, stories, ideas–they’re REAL. And they want to be let out.

But only YOU can let them out. There is no one else.

They came to you for a reason. Because you’re born to write them. And no one else could ever come close to doing it the justice you will do it.

There is incredible power in being born to write, because words are powerful, stories are powerful, and sharing your thoughts, experiences and message is powerful.

Being born to write isn’t for the faint of heart. No, it’s gifted only to those who can handle it. Those who truly have what it takes to go all the way–to finish and hit publish and get those stories and messages into the hands of the people who need them most.

Writers who are born to write often struggle with it more than writers who choose to write because it’s a hobby they enjoy. This happens because we often have a deep Resistance to doing our soul’s work, our creative work. (Read “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield for more on this.)

And because that Resistance is inevitable–as it is for ALL creative people–writers who are born to write must be that much more committed and that much more disciplined to put words on the page each day.

Even if it’s only for 15 minutes. Even if it’s right before you go to sleep. Even if you have a million other things that seem way more important.

Nothing is more important than putting those stories, experiences and messages on the page and getting them out into the world.

Nothing.

The sooner you see that, the sooner you will start to have everything in your life fall into place. Because here’s the thing–when you’re born to write, you’re connected to writing on a soul level. It’s part of your being.

For that reason, when you ignore your writing, when you skip your writing sessions, when you tell yourself your writing is not that important, when you put it off for later–THAT’S why things are a mess–internally and/or in your life.

Because you cannot ignore your soul and think anything else will work. It might feel like it’s working, even without your all-in on being an author. But I promise you, it can and will work a ton better if you’re putting first things first and getting your writing done.

Every day. Writing is a priority. Before anything else.

If you do this, even 15 minutes a day is enough time to start creating the writing life you’ve always dreamed of having. The writing life you were born to have. And along with it the success, money, fame and whatever else you dream of having.

It all starts with making your writing a priority. Because when you’re born to write, writing is your tool for creating everything you desire.

Share With Us

Are you born to write? Declare it in the comments. 

———–

Along with having a responsibility to write and to publish, born-to-write authors also have a responsibility to get their writing in front of the people who need it most. My Sell More Books masterclass will show you exactly how to do that. Details and sign up here.

Are You Choosing “Thriving Author” Or “Starving Artist?”

So many writers and creative people hold the belief that, “it has to take a long time” and “you’ve gotta pay your dues.” And yeah, it’s also true that A LOT of people hold this belief.

But you know what isn’t true?

That belief. It’s not true. Not even remotely true.

Unless YOU decide that it is.

I’ve decided that 2017 is the year I break six-figures from my book sales. I’ve decided it’s the year I’m going to thrive in my writing career like never before.

Sure, this year has been amazing and I’ve built up some killer momentum. But it’s not enough.

Because I want to blow the ‘starving artist’ mentality OUT OF THE WATER. And, yes, it IS a mentality. One that’s keeping most authors insanely broke and unfulfilled.

But here’s the great part–you can change a mentality. 

You can actively choose the thoughts you think and the beliefs you hold. You can choose to create exactly the writing life you’ve always dreamed of having.

But you have to CHOOSE. Consciously. Actively. Every single day.

You have to decide that you’re not going to accept the ‘starving artist’ mentality as truth for you. You have to decide that you’re going to be an author who THRIVES. 

Yes, it will take time to create this in your physical reality. But it will happen a whole lot faster if you get your mind there first.

And yes, there are people in the world who refuse to see past the limitation that is the ‘starving artist’ mentality. These are the creative people who say things like, “I can’t quit my job and become a full-time writer or I’ll end up living in a cardboard box” or “writing is a hobby” or “one day I’ll make it happen” or “writers are broke” or “it’s just a pipe-dream” or [insert whatever lame excuse you give or have been given for why you can’t thrive as a writer].

Those are the creative people who will never see their full dreams come to fruition. Because it’s impossible to create a big, successful, thriving creative career with a belief like that.

And what’s sad is, just by changing that mindset and by seeing themselves as thriving artists, those same creative people could have a totally different experience.

Because you create your own reality. And you do it with your thoughts, your beliefs and your actions (or inactions). 

So if you’re looking around and you don’t like what you see; if you’re dreaming of being a thriving author, meanwhile you’re still holding a day job and barely making book sales, it’s time for a mindset intervention.

It’s time to go within, dig around, pull out those limiting beliefs–the ones that are stopping you and holding you back–and GET RID OF THEM!!!

And you really don’t even have to dig around. If you want to know what limiting beliefs you currently have, you can find out by doing 2 things:

  1. Looking around you–your reality is a reflection of all that you’ve thought, believed and acted on up to this point.
  2. Start telling yourself new, empowering beliefs–just by doing this, you’ll start to catch all the limiting beliefs because they’ll show up as that negative voice inside that tells you you’re wrong or that you can’t do it, etc., whenever you say the new beliefs.

You really can change your life by changing your thoughts. 

So your choice is to either continue buying into the ‘starving artist’ mentality, and believing that it has to be a struggle, that you have to work insanely hard and pay your dues, and that even if you do eventually make it, you’ll be lucky to earn low five-figures a year from your creative work.

OR, you can tell yourself something different.

You can tell yourself that you make millions from your books. And that you quit your job and become a full-time writer who thrives and has more than enough, always. And that your books hit the NY Times Best Seller list and get turned into Hollywood movies. (‘Cause that’s what you’re really dreaming of, right?)

Which one inspires you? Which ones makes you feel better? Which one motivates you to take action?

Exactly. The thriving artist version.

And when it all comes down to it, it’s just a perspective. If you choose to believe in ‘starving artists,’ then that’s what you’re going to find in your experience. And if you choose to believe in ‘thriving artists,’ then that’s what you’re going to find in your experience.

The reality you choose to experience is totally up to you. 

For example, a few months ago I decided that I’m well-known in the writing industry and that big-name people contact me and want to partner with me and work with me. I decided that my podcast is a must-listen for writers everywhere and that big-name people want to be interviewed by me.

This past weekend, I booked a big-name guest for my podcast AND I got contacted by a big-name author who wanted to talk to me about how we can help each other out.

Your reality is what you decide it’s gonna be. So decide you’re going to be a thriving author and you will be.

Share With Us

Do you choose “starving artist” or “thriving author?” Declare it in the comments! 

———–
Are you ready to drop the ‘starving artist’ mentality and learn how to sell more books? Check out the masterclass I’m hosting: www.jenniferblanchard.net/sellmorebooks

Are You In It For This?

A common complaint I hear from writers is this–why does it take so long? 

And when they say that, they mean: why isn’t my book selling? Why am I still revising when I want to be published? Why have I been looking for an agent for a year now without any bites?

And, most of all, when am I finally gonna make some money?

I know it’s tough. You’ve been at this for years, possibly even most of your life so far. You’ve dreamed about it, you’ve set goals around it. And yet things just seem to be moving like molasses.

And here’s what I always say to the writers who make this complaint: I feel you, but it takes as long as it takes. 

Because the truth about this whole being a pro writer thing is that it’s long-term. Being a writer and having a successful writing career doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of hard work, commitment and consistency to start seeing the results you want.

So you either have to be in it for the long-haul, or you may as well get out now. 

Because, like everything in life, writing success is a journey, it’s a process, it’s something that builds over time. And you may not see it at first, but when you look back 10, 20, 30 years down the road, you’ll see how far you’ve come and how long it actually takes to create success.

No one does it overnight.

I started freelance writing professionally in 2007, and launched my writing blog in 2008. I wrote and published my first nonfiction eBook in March 2010. Since then, I’ve written and publish 7 other books, including one novel. And it’s only since mid-2016 that things have finally started to take off for me.

This year, I’ve written and published more books than I ever have before. This year, I had 2 of my books hit #1 in multiple categories over multiple days on Amazon. This year, I’ve started making real money from my books, anywhere from $400 to $1,000+ per month, and growing.

But I had 8 years online and another 7 years before that learning and training and practicing and working toward the moment when I would hit a tipping point and my writing career would finally take off.

It happened this year. 

And if it happened for me, it can and will happen for you. But you’ve gotta give up the idea that it’s gonna happen fast. It’s not. It’s gonna happen when it happens.

For now, you need to keep going and do whatever you can to create good writing habits, get in alignment with the goals you have, and be as consistent as possible. Because it’s in the consistency over an extended period of time where results really come from.

When you look at the stories of successful people, you’ll see it wasn’t just one thing that got them where they are today. They didn’t find a magic bullet that changed everything.

No, it was all about the daily habits and actions they took, over years and years of their lives, that got them where they are today. 

Because that’s what it takes. Daily: Consistency. Commitment. A never-give-up attitude. And some serious elbow grease.

So, again, I ask you: are you in it for the long-haul? 

Are you willing to stick with it and do whatever it takes?

Even if it looks like it’s not working?

Even if it looks like it’s never going to happen?

Even if there’s barely a shred of hope left inside you?

Did you answer “yes” to those questions? If you did, congratulations. You’re gonna make it. You’ve got what it takes.

And yeah, it is gonna take time. Some days it’ll feel impossible. Other days it will feel easy like Sunday morning.

But every day you show up will feel worth it. And eventually that worth-it feeling will grow into more than just a feeling. It will grow into an actual writing career where you get paid to write and put your words out into the world. 

Because you can’t not get where you want to go if you show up every day and keep going no matter what. It’s literally impossible. 

It might take blood, sweat, tears and time, but it will happen. That much you can count on.

And whenever you find yourself freaking out, panicking or worried that it’s all for nothing, I leave you with one of my all-time favorite quotes, from the book, A Course In Miracles:

“Those who are certain of the outcome can afford to wait, and wait without anxiety.” 

Share With Us

Are you in it for the long-haul? Say YES in the comments! 

The Pro Writer Mindset Podcast, Episode 3: The Bestselling Author Mindset Formula

You can also listen to this episode on iTunes

Show Notes:

In this episode, I talk you through my bestselling author mindset formula–the one that helped me go from unfulfilled author to 2x best selling author in multiple categories, with 5 new books written and launched in the past 5 months, and selling an average of 1,000+ books a month. THIS will change EVERYTHING for your writing life, if you let it.

Here are links to things I mentioned in the episode:

Share With Us

What’s the biggest takeaway you got from this episode? Share in the comments. 

And if you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on iTunes and share it with your writer-friends (share links below)

7 Ways to Build Your Tribe (Hint: It’s Not What You Think)

I learned a TON at the TRIBE Conference this past weekend. And when I was going back through all the notes I took, I looked for 5-7 specific things that really nailed the overall “how to build a tribe” thing. (Oh, and “tribe” in case you didn’t know, is just another name for fanbase, audience or following.)

Something that I found interesting is when I pulled together those overall points, none of them had to do with specific ways of marketing or growing your audience. They were all foundational pieces that you really can’t build a tribe without.

And the 7 things I came out with are as follows:

1. Authenticity

Being real is the name of the game. If you’re not real, you’ll never build a true tribe. These days there’s so much fake BS out there, that people are looking for authenticity. They want to see humanity and vulnerability.

That’s the stuff that really connects you to your audience.

2. Live Your Message

Whatever your author message is (and yes, you need one), you need to not just share it, but you need to LIVE it. You need to walk your talk and be a full representation of the message you want to get out into the world.

My message is that you can create anything you set your mind to, and so I live that message day in and day out, in my actions, thoughts, behaviors, and the content I create for my tribe.

3. Speak Your Mind

People want to know what you believe and how you really feel about things. That’s how they self-select and decide whether or not you’re someone they want to hang with.

So don’t be afraid to put out there what you really think and how you really feel about things. I know it can be tough, but this goes back to the authenticity thing.

People want to follow people who are real. And speaking your mind is as real as it gets.

4. Pay Attention

You’ve got to pay attention to what your tribe needs, to what they’re asking for, and to what they want from you. And then you’ve gotta give it to them.

There are ideas for content and stories EVERYWHERE, and your audience is a great starting place to figure out what to create or write about.

I’m constantly thinking about my ideal readers to determine what I should write my blog posts and books about and the topics I should create workshops around. So pay attention to everything around you–you never know where your next content idea will come from.

5. Be Generous

This goes without saying, but people love free stuff and they love to follow people who are giving. One of the things I hear most from people is that they love how much stuff I give away to my audience for free.

Yes, I charge for some things, but I mostly give stuff away for free. This is my way of giving back to the writing world because it has given me so much over the years.

So find ways to be giving with your audience, whether that’s with the content you create, or doing giveaways, or offering free 20-minute phone sessions–whatever you can come up with.

6. Give Yourself Permission

This goes for whatever it is you need to give yourself permission to do–write that book, publish that book, make money from that book, make money from your creative gifts, grow a massive following, etc.

I’ve decided to give myself permission to be imperfect. As a perfectionist (it’s the Virgo in me), it feels really freeing to give myself permission to not have to be anymore. What a relief!

What do you need to give yourself permission to do?

7. Go Pro

When you “go pro” you’ll finally start treating your audience like a pro writer would. You’ll write to them regularly, you’ll reach out and connect with them on a consistent basis. You’ll do what pro writers would do.

And going pro doesn’t always mean getting paid. TRIBE speaker, Shawn Coyne (author of The Story Grid), says that “a pro self-validates.”

What that means is, you don’t wait for outside validation–a published book, another person, making money from your writing–to decide that you’re a pro writer. You just decide that’s what you are and then you live into it. (This is like what I call “acting as if” you already are the author you dream of being.)

If you do these 7 things, you will not only grow a following, but you’ll keep them for life.

Share With Us

Which of these 7 things will you implement starting today? Share in the comments. 

And if you’re ready to act on these 7 things, be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind–a high-level accountability, strategy and success mindset group for emerging authors.

This group isn’t just about serious productivity (although that’s a big part!), it’s also about having access to the tools and resources you need to grow the tribe you dream of having, to finish the books you want to write, and to GO PRO in your mind and in reality.

Here’s Why You’ve Gotta Put First Thing’s First

The last few days I’ve been Upper Limiting like a mofo and I’ve been feeling really annoyed and even resentful of all the stuff I had to do (especially work-related stuff). I was also self-sabotaging by napping too much and only doing the bare-minimum work every day.

And that was making me even more annoyed.

This past weekend it all just got worse. I seriously found myself questioning everything I’m doing and literally wanting to tear down my entire business and rebuild it from scratch. It took me ’til last night to finally realize what the real problem was.

Last night I realized that over the last few days–and especially the days where I was feeling the most annoyed and resentful–I hadn’t been working on my novel revisions. 

Instead, I kept putting everything else I had to do before the revisions, and was watching the draft sit on my coffee table , but I wasn’t touching it. BIG PROBLEM!

Because writing novels–writing fictional stories–is my soul’s work. It’s the one thing I am meant to do, more than anything else that I’m meant to do. It’s the one thing that truly feeds my soul and fuels me to stay motivated and productive in other areas of my business and life.

But I wasn’t doing the work.

After I realized that’s what the problem was, I hit up my accountability buddy about it and she suggested that we support each other in making sure we do AT LEAST 15 minutes of work on our fiction every single day, no matter what.

‘Cause that’s the thing about your soul’s work. If you don’t do it and if you don’t make it a priority, it will ruin everything else in your life. It will make you feel angry, annoyed, resentful, and a whole array of other things that you don’t really need to be feeling.

This morning, before I did any of the other work I needed to do, I spent 30 minutes working on my novel revisions. After that I was able to quickly complete the other tasks on my list.

But on the days when I don’t do that? On the days when I think all the other stuff I need to do is more important than my fiction?

That’s when my life, my business and my happiness starts to suffer. 

And it doesn’t have to be like that. You can intentionally choose to put first thing’s first, every single day, and do the work your soul calls you to do.

The thing you’ve gotta remember is that it’s a CHOICE. It’s a choice to put your writing–your soul’s work–before everything else. And even if it’s a tough choice–or sometimes feels like an impossible choice–choose it anyways.

Because in doing the soul’s work first–in making your soul’s work a PRIORITY–everything else will work better. Everything else will fall into place, and you’ll be happier and more motivated and productive, because your soul work is done for the day.

Fifteen minutes a day. That’s the bare minimum you need to focus on your soul’s work. And if you do that, you’ll find yourself a totally different person. 

Your soul’s work is important. It’s imperative. And if you’re not doing it, that could be why other parts of your life aren’t working as well as they could be.

You can’t ignore your soul’s work and still be happy. You can’t ignore it and be motivated and productive. You can’t because you’ll walk around feeling resentful of all the stuff you have to do or all the stuff you’re doing that doesn’t feed your soul.

And your creativity will suffer.

Don’t do that to yourself. Make a commitment right now TODAY that you will put your soul’s work first. That you will spend at least 15 minutes a day, every day, working on the writing that makes you feel ALIVE.

If you do this, I promise you, you’ll see significant improvements in your mood, your productivity, your motivation, your personal relationships and more.

Share With Us

What’s your soul’s work? Share in the comments. 

The new-and-improved Bestselling Author Mastermind will be opening its doors to new members soon! Get on the waitlist here so you’re the first to know when the doors open. 

“Will It Ever Get Any Easier?” One Writer’s Journey Into Craft

NOTE: This is a guest post by Stephanie Raffelock 

The very first novel that I ever wrote was one big face-plant, replete with a black eye. Like so many writers before me, I believed that because I’d read a lot of books, I could write one. I mean, how hard can it be, right?

A story analysis with writing guru, Larry Brooks, revealed a crucial missing element to my efforts. My 65,000-word narrative was not even remotely close to an actual story. Enter Jennifer Blanchard, courtesy of an introduction via Mr. Brooks.

She remains one of the most important relationships in my writing life.

Deciding to work with Jennifer was a big investment, both in time and in money. Nonetheless my eyes had been opened to the fact that creating a novel was going to involve a little bit more than just reading one.

In fact, I was slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t realized learning the craft of something before claiming it as your art was arrogant as well as ignorant. So it was with a fair amount of humility that I gave myself to becoming a student of story. I gave myself to the pursuit of craft.

 Enter the Process

Meeting on the phone one time per week, Jennifer started me out by brainstorming a dozen “what ifs.” This was the how she ushered me into “discovering my story.”

Writers have lots and lots of ideas, but the story must be discovered, courted, wooed into existence. Each week she took me to the next step. Concept and Premise. Synopsis. Character background. Plot Points. Pinch Points. Resolve. And then we started the beat sheet, which would grow into a detailed scene list. As the structure came together, I created a personal code by which I worked: Complete the assignment. Finish on time. Don’t push back. Stay open.

By the time I was given the green light to begin writing my prose, the process was easeful. I knew my story, knew exactly where I was going and I skated to the finish line. I completed two sets of revisions and then sent it off to a professional copy editor.

In the end, I birthed–with the help of a wise “mid-wife”–my first real novel, a novel that garnered me representation with a good New York City literary agency. 

Novel Number Two

Yes, I worked with Jennifer again, certain that I would need her expertise to help birth another creation. On this go around however, she pushed. She held back answers, offering instead more questions. It was a more difficult task, but again I completed a novel. However on this novel, I decided that the execution, meaning the narrative, was off somehow, so I shelved it, promising that I would return and revisit once my ideas about the piece had cooked and simmered a bit more.

I have no issue whatsoever with shelving something that doesn’t feel like it’s my best. I am not in the business of saving or salvaging work. I crank out about 150,000 words per year between novel writing and essays and I know that not everything I write is going to be good.

Third Time’s A Charm

Jennifer guided novel number three into existence with just four phone calls. From there, I sprinted to the finish line. I like this manuscript a lot. I know that it’s a good story. It is on its first set of revisions and my goal is to have it on my agent’s desk by December 1. It is my Plan B novel.

Here’s the thing about traditional publishing; first of all it moves at glacial speed. Second, there are no guarantees that your first novel will sell, so you need to keep writing and keep writing well. Sometimes your first novel sells because your third one did and the publisher decided to go back and pick up the first one. I am in it for the long haul, so I will keep writing.

Integration (AKA: “Will This Ever Get Any Easier?”) 

I will start a new novel in January 2017, unless I am lucky enough to be re-writing one of my first two novels because a publisher wants it. The next project will likely begin with a phone call to Jennifer. I’ll get to go through my synopsis and each plot point with her. Then I’ll be on my own. After writing three novels, I’m to a place where I understand craft and how to use it in my own story.

Most good authors have a team. Go-to people with whom they can discuss and hash out their works. Jennifer will always be a part of my team.

Here’s What Makes You Integrate the Craft and Novel Development Process

Here’s what will help you integrate craft: Repetition and study. Read all of Larry Brooks’ books and all of Jennifer’s blog posts on story. Participate in her Facebook group. And find a few blogs that emphasize craft and sign up for those too. I like Steven Pressfield, Larry Brooks and Kristen Lamb. Take workshops and keep reading the novelists that you admire.

In the beginning, working in the long-form format of the novel will seem daunting. As you keep studying and practicing it becomes easier. Then you’ll be able to see for yourself when your Midpoint is thin, and you will begin to notice when you need more conflict and tension. It will occur to you one day that dialogue is in fact, action.

But you have to be committed for the long haul. You never stop being a student of story. You never stop investing in yourself. If the first novel doesn’t sell, you don’t cry, you create a Plan B.

 Eventually it gets easier and you start to feel like a pro, because honestly writing novels is not for the faint of heart. It requires the strength and courage of determination and tenacity. It demands that you keep learning the same thing over and over again, each time on a deeper level.

To some this may sound too hard. For me, it sounds like a perfect way to spend my days. I say of prayer of thanks each morning that I get to get up and write today!

About the Author: Stephanie Raffelock is a novelist and a blogger. Her debut novel is represented by Dystel Goderich Literary Management in New York. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter and receive an appreciation gift: “The Writers Dinner,” a unique vision for an entertaining evening. 

 

I’m humbled to hear my students and clients sharing experiences like the one you just read in Stephanie’s guest post. My mission is to EMPOWER you to UNDERSTAND and be able to effectively IMPLEMENT craft in your stories. 

I want you to walk away from working with me–regardless of if you’re doing private coaching or a group workshop–and feel like you could do this again, all on your own. (Not that you have to be on your own, but I want you to be able to be.)

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year and DON’T want to waste your 50,000 words, but want to write 50,000 words that you can actually do something with, be sure to check out my sixth-annual NaNo prep workshop, Novel University: NaNo Edition. It’s an idea-to-draft workshop that uses the power of story planning combined with the momentum of NaNoWriMo to help you say, “2016 is the year I FINALLY wrote a cohesive novel!”

Not only will this workshop help you plan and develop your story before you write it starting November 1, but it will give you a REPEATABLE PROCESS that you can use with every story you write from here on out. You’ll know what questions to ask, what information you need to know, and how it all works together.

Process and an integration of craft are PRICELESS when it comes to being a successful novelist.

>> Learn more about Novel University: NaNo Edition here 

Why I Decided Not to Publish My New Book

This week was supposed to be the week I published my new eBook. I set a publish date for Tuesday (that was yesterday) and then I re-set a date for Thursday (that’s tomorrow).

But something was up. Something wasn’t feeling quite right.

At first I thought maybe it was just Resistance. That happens sometimes, even to an author who has hit publish 8 times.

Except it wasn’t that.

Yes, I was Resisting finishing the book… but not for my usual reasons. Usually if I Resist it’s because I know I need to put the book out there.

But this time felt different.

Something was going on deep inside me. I had that feeling I often get when I’m on the verge of a revelation or a major shift of some kind.

I felt annoyed and pissed off. I couldn’t sit still. I felt like there was something bubbling inside me that needed to come out.

So I sat down and I did some journaling. And then I finally discovered what was going on.

I was Resisting because… THIS ISN’T THE BOOK I’M SUPPOSED TO PUBLISH.

I knew it was true the minute it came up, because it felt right. I felt like I immediately got back into alignment with my writing dream.

For 17 days now, I’ve been writing an eBook about how to write a really good eBook. And yeah, it was a decent start. But it just wasn’t feeling right to me.

And that’s because the topic is not in alignment with who I am and what I’m meant to be writing books about.

I’m meant to be writing books for writers about alignment, motivation, inspiration, mindset and getting shit done. All of the books I’ve written so far–and all of the ones I’ve had become best sellers–are aligned with those topics.

All of them.

And that’s not to say I shouldn’t step out of my comfort zone. I should.

But there’s a difference between stepping out of your comfort zone on something you know you’re meant to be doing… and forcing yourself to do something that’s not really in alignment with who you are.

This book made me feel stuck and not in flow, which is the complete opposite of how my books make me feel.

And yes, I can absolutely teach someone how to write an eBook. I’ve done it 8 times now. But my journaling last night led me to one very simple conclusion: I DO NOT want to write books about how to write books.

So I decided to let it go. To go with my gut and listen to myself.

Yes, I did mention the book to quite a few people and I will have to explain to them my decision. But regardless of what they think or the reasons they think I’m doing it… I know the truth.

I choose to create my dream writing life all on my terms. And that sometimes means trusting your gut and knowing what you’re meant to be doing. (Or not doing.)

The outside world will tell you that this is wrong. That you should never “listen to your gut” or “trust your intuition” when making business decisions.

But that’s how I roll. It’s the only way I can roll.

Because here’s one thing I do know… You can’t be a successful author writing and publishing books that aren’t aligned with who you are.