You Can Have Any Writing Life You Dream Of, But…

Every writer I come across has big dreams. Not all of them will admit to it. Some will tell you they just want to write and publish a book for themselves, so they can say that they did it and if they never sell a single copy, that’s OK.

But you can see a fire behind their eyes when they talk about it. You can tell there’s a whole lot buried in there that wants to come out and see the light of day.

Except you’ll never see it, because some writers just aren’t willing to step up and claim what they want.

But you’re not one of those writers. I know this, because if you were, you wouldn’t be here right now reading this.

No, you’re a writer who has big dreams. Who wants to be a New York Times bestseller and see your novels turned into movies on the big-screen with big-time Hollywood actors playing your Protagonist, Antagonist and love interest. And you’ll get to help with the script and have a cameo in the movie, as well as walk the red carpet at all of the movie premieres all around the world.

Or maybe it’s just me?

Either way, here’s one thing I know: you can have ANY writing life you want. ANY.

If you want the kind of writing life where writing is a hobby and you keep your day job, you can have that. If you want to write full time, you can do that. If you want a writing life as massive as someone, like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you can have that too. (Yes, REALLY).

It just comes down to a few things:

  1. Are you willing to believe it? Belief is the number one thing needed to make a dream come true. If you don’t believe or can’t believe in the writing dream you want for yourself, it will never happen.
  2. Are you willing to show up every day and do the work? If you’re not, you’ll never have the writing life you dream of, and I can tell you that with one-hundred percent certainty. Dream all you want, but when it’s all said and done, the successful writers are putting in the work, day in and day out.
  3. Are you willing to write your own rules and create your own reality? An important question, because if you’re not (and that’s OK), it’s gonna be pretty tough to achieve the dream writing life. And the reason is you’ll get stopped by or stuck in the societal norms of being a writer that tell you things like, you can’t make money; being a writer is a hobby, not a real job; writing is hard and takes a long time to be successful at; you’ll never make it to #1…whatever limited things you believe right now. Those things will hold you back and keep you from the success you really dream of. So you have to be willing to step outside what other writers believe and create a new normal for yourself.

Hey, if it was easy to have the dream writing life, everyone would have it. It takes work–both internal and external–to make it happen.

But it CAN happen.

Literally anything is possible in today’s world, so long as you believe it is and then act like it every single day. 

And just ’cause I love examples, here’s one for ya: let’s say you want to sell 50 books a month. That means you need to find 50 people a month wiling to pay money in exchange for your book. As long as the book is available digitally and easy to access (like on Amazon or BN.com), it can totally happen. And pretty quickly, depending on the work you put in.

There are billions and billions of people in this world. A very large percentage of those people are online. And you only need to find 50 of them. Fifty out of billions and billions? Seems pretty doable, doesn’t it?

And that’s the thing I love the most about being an authorpreneur in the digital age. The internet has dropped all barriers between the creator and the consumer and you can connect with people from all over the world and sell your books, services, products, etc. to the people who want and need them most.

This puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you total control of your writing destiny–where you end up and what you create along the way. Empowering, isn’t it? Kinda makes you want to sit your ass in a chair and write something right-freaking-now.

So it’s true, you really can have whatever writing life you dream of. But you’ve gotta believe it and act on it every single day.

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Featured image courtesy of LassenNPS 

6 Ways to Defy the “Societal Norms” for Being A Writer

When it comes to being a writer (and a creative person in general), there are societal “rules” that will automatically be placed on you. Rules like, it has to be hard work, if you’re not working hard you’re not really earning it, you have to pay your dues and work your way up from the bottom and you can’t make a full-time living as a writer.

These rules are generally considered to be true by most of society, including a whole lot of writers. But that doesn’t mean you have to play by them.

You create your own reality and you do it with your beliefs, your thoughts and your actions. So that means you can create whatever reality you want to live in, including one where all of these bullshit societal norms do not apply.

You can choose to create a reality where you get to make up the rules and you get to decide what it’s like for you as a writer.

Here are 6 ways to do that:

1. Decide What You Want Your Reality to Look Like

This is the super-fun part. You get to make up what you want your reality to be like, look like and feel like. Because you create your own reality with your thoughts.

But before you can create what you want, you have to first get really clear on what that is (otherwise you might doom yourself to having default success). The clearer you are, the better.

The easiest way to get clear is to grab your journal and write down what you want your life to look like in every area: your writing life, money, relationships, possessions, your body, your health, your hobbies, whatever areas are important to you. Write about your dream life as if it’s already happening right now.

(Here’s a video that talks more about how to do this.)

2. Choose the “New Normal” You Will Live By

Now that you’re clear on what you want your life to be like, it’s time to set the rules for your new normal. Right now you’re living life based on societal norms, telling you things that are unsupportive of the dreams and goals you have for your writing life.

It’s time to buck that by instead creating the rules that you will live by, regardless of what everyone around you is doing (and I’m not talking about breaking actual real laws, like the kind that will put you in jail).

Here’s what I mean by creating new rules: if everyone in the writing world beliefs that “it takes years of hard work to write a good book,” you can decide not to live by that “rule.” You can decide that you can write a good book in one year, with ease.

Crazy? Maybe. But doesn’t it feel so much more inspiring and motivating to live by that rule? Doesn’t that rule open up so much more possibility?

Now, of course, there are specific actions you’d need to take to make that rule actually work (like mastering craft, hiring a story development coach, writing the book, hiring an editor, finding some Beta Readers, doing the revision work, etc). But it’s absolutely possible for you to write a good book in a year.

And it doesn’t have to be hard, either. You can decide that it will be easy (that, again, comes with specific actions, like hiring help to make it easier for you).

The point being, whatever you want your new normal to be, it can be. But you have to choose it and then step into it. You can’t just choose it and then keep doing the stuff you were doing before, hoping it will work.

You have to choose it and step into it.

3. Commit to It and Be Consistent

The next thing you have to do after you step into it is commit to it. You must commit to having it exactly as you want it, no matter what it takes.

And committing also means being consistent with it. Because it’s not gonna happen overnight. It will take time for it to manifest in your physical world.

The commitment and the consistency are what help it show up faster.

4. Don’t Stop, Ever

This goes hand-in-hand with number three, because at first your new normal will only be in your mind and on paper, but it won’t have fully shown up in your physical world. For this reason, most people who start to defy societal norms and ways of thinking will turn back soon after they’ve left the shore.

Because “nothing is happening.”

The funny thing is, there is more happening in the “unseen” that you can ever even begin to imagine. But to bring it forward to your physical reality, you have to show up, do the work, be consistent and keep going until what you want to see actually manifests, physically.

Think of it like a seed. When you plant a seed it takes weeks, sometimes months, before you see signs of life. Every day you look at your little cup of dirt and see nothing. Nothing is sprouting. All the watering and sunlight is for nothing.

But what you don’t see are all the roots growing under the soil, grabbing on and taking hold so that when the plant does finally pop through, it will have a foundation in place to actually stick around.

Same with creating your new normal. It takes time. When you start doing the “write your reality” exercise, you’ll feel things starting to shift internally before you’ll see the results in your physical world.

Let the internal feelings and shifts be enough for right now. If you keep it up, the rest will follow. I promise you.

5. Ignore Everything Around You That Doesn’t Match This

Another tough one. Because when you’re not seeing stuff happening in your real life, you may start to worry that it’s “not working.” Or, some things you’d generally consider to be negative might start showing up, and then you’ll freak out and really think it’s not working.

Just know there is a “clearing out” period that comes with any big transition. Right now you’re up-leveling your new normal, and that will come with growing pains.

You have to stay focused on the big vision and know that it will show up, and right now everything in your life is just realigning itself with the new normal you’re asking for.

Back at the end of 2014, I made the decision to give up freelance writing in order to focus 100 percent on story development coaching. It was a very scary choice for me, because at the time freelance money made up the biggest percentage of my income.

But I hated freelance writing. I hated being told what to write about. I wanted to have full control of my time and my writing.

So I made the decision to let it go and to focus on story coaching. And not only did I make the decision, but then I declared it to the Universe (out loud, to my coach, and on paper).

Before I could even start taking action on it, something crazy happened.

I lost my high-paying freelance gig. The company decided they wanted to save money by bringing the position in-house and so they ended my contract. I had one payment left from them and then I was on my own (although I’ll add we’re never really “on our own”).

Fucking scary. Especially because that project was bringing in the money I needed to pay for my bills and living expenses for the month.

And then even scarier, a long-time client I’d be working on a nonfiction book project with decided he wanted to take his business in a new direction and he was going to shelve working on his book for a while.

It was like the rug got pulled out from under me, twice. All the consistent work I had was falling apart. I wanted to cry.

But I held tight. I reached out to my support system (my coach, my accountability partner) and they talked me off the ledge of panic.

I stuck with it. And literally the same night my client and I parted ways, I received an email from someone who wanted to sign up for my 90-day program and get help writing his first novel. This told me that my new normal was already in play, and all I had to do was keep going.

Without even taking much action apart from making the decision to give up freelance and focus on fiction coaching, and then declaring it to the Universe, my life started rearranging itself to match what I was asking for.

Growing pains. Time-gaps. It’s gonna happen. Hold tight to the big vision and trust that when you show up and do your part, the Universe will show up to support you in making it happen.

6. Expect It to Show Up

This might be the hardest one, especially for writers who a lot of times tend to be very skeptical and overanalyze everything. This step is really about having faith. Not religious faith (unless that appeals to you), but faith in the Universal law of “like attracts like.”

If you’re putting something positive out there, you will get something positive back. That’s what like attracts like means.

That’s why writers who bitch and complain about how hard it is and how many hours they’re putting in and seeing very little result from or whatever they’re bitching about, you can see what shows up for them. Writer’s Block. Excuses. Life-chaos that distracts them from doing the writing. Procrastination.

And with an attitude like that, it doesn’t matter if they put in 10 hours of work a day, it still won’t make a difference.

Because they’re not aligned with the success they want to have. They’re playing by societal norms and having those same results show up for them.

It doesn’t have to be hard. You don’t have to give up your whole life and just write. You don’t have to spend 5 hours a day writing.

I wrote my #1 bestselling Amazon book in 15-30 minute blocks of time over a 30-day period. I no longer buy into the belief that it has to be hard or take a ton of time. I live by a new normal and I’m flourishing.

You get to choose. You get to decide which societal norms you apply and which you defy. And it’s OK if the writers around you follow different “rules.”

You don’t have to live in their realities.

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Are You Having “Default Success?”

Every single one of us has a history. A backstory. Somewhere we came from, stuff we learned while we were there and things that have been programmed in us from a young age (things like, beliefs, habits, thoughts, behavior patterns and standards).

So who we are today is the sum of all of that, plus anything we’ve done since then.

Problem is, if you’re not actively working on yourself and on goals you have for your life, you’re living by default. And default programming can be dangerous to your success.

The Default Setting

When you think of the phrase “default setting,” you likely think of an electronic you own that has a pre-selected “starter”  setting until you go in and specifically choose the settings you prefer. These default settings come from the programmers and manufacturers of the electronic.

But the Default Setting also applies to people.

The default programming you have comes from all the things you were taught, told, shown or that you inferred about yourself when you were growing up. It’s the “Default Setting” you’re operating with. 

And this setting will set the bar for everything in your life, including:

  • The standards you’re willing to accept and/or live by
  • The beliefs you hold about yourself, the world, life in general, etc.
  • The thoughts you think on a day-to-day basis
  • The amount of success, love, money, good feelings, positive emotions, wealth, worth, fame, etc. you’re willing to allow yourself to have

But if your Default Setting isn’t aligned with the dreams that you have or the success that you want, you are screwed. You will never get there. Not like that.

Because you can’t. You’r default programming won’t allow for it. You’ll either sit on your ass forever and never do the work, or you’ll do the work but half-ass it or quit, or you’ll make excuses and procrastinate, or you’ll almost get there but then you’ll self-sabotage and fail and then use that as an excuse not to start over again or to give up…

And you’ll never get what you dream of having.

Sure, you’ll get something, because it’s impossible to do the work and not land somewhere. But will it be exactly where you want? Probably not. And will you achieve the big dreams and big success that you desire? No.

You’ll accept less, you’ll be OK with a secondary option, you’ll take something mediocre and call it good enough.

You can’t not, because that’s what your programming is telling you to do. You don’t need to have it all. You can have some of it and still be happy. Being happy is enough.

Not very inspiring, is it?

And you wonder why you can’t motivate yourself to do your writing.

The only way to get what you want and to live life feeling like every day is a gift that you get to open, is to be aligned with it.

How To Get Aligned

Alignment is all about getting things in a row. It’s about matching pieces up so they create a straight line.

So when I say you need to get aligned to the success you dream of having, what I mean is you have to match what you want with the thoughts, beliefs, actions and habits you have going on.

You can’t be a bestselling author and make money from your books if you’re consuming more than you create, procrastinating on doing the work or showing up inconsistently or with no passion. Being a bestselling author and making money from your books requires specific actions, habits, behaviors and ways of thinking that won’t align with the way you’re acting, thinking and behaving right now.

But you can change that. You can shift it and start to see results almost immediately (’cause you know you’re all about the instant gratification. Who isn’t?).

You do this by looking at the details of what you want and where you want to go, and then taking a look at the specifics of where you are right now. Do this side-by-side so you can compare it. Anything that doesn’t align or match up is what needs to be worked on.

So if right now you’re only writing one day a week, but the author you dream of being is a bestseller with multiple books a year and you know you need to be writing on a daily basis to be that person…then you know what you’ve gotta do.

It really is that simple. It’s maybe not as easy to stick with it and be consistent, but it IS that easy to get aligned (or to at least know what you’d need to do to get aligned).

And what it all comes down to is this: intention.

You can either live your life with intention, on-fucking-purpose, pointing yourself in the direction you want to go and constantly focusing on what you want to create and who you want to be and show up as. Or you can live by default, on your pre-programmed default setting, getting the life and success that lines up with that default (regardless of what it is) and just floating along letting life happen to you and then reacting to it.

The choice is yours.

It really is the red pill or the blue pill. What kind of life do you want? A life where you get to create it and design it exactly how you want it? Or a life where shit just happens to you and you just stand in it, react to it and tell yourself bullshit stuff like, “that’s life” or “that’s just how it is?”

Yeah, that might be how it is… right now. But doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

If you want it to change, if you want to see something different show up in your reality, you must create a different picture. You must get in there and CHANGE the default setting. On purpose. With intention.

Your writing dreams are out there waiting for you. They’re out there available and totally possible for you.

But you’ve gotta step up to the plate.

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Featured image courtesy of DaveBleasdale

Want To Reach Your Writing Goals? You Need To Take These Two Actions

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If You Were Born For This, Then Act Like It

I’ve always known I was born to live a big life and to do great things. From a young age I took the world by storm, setting goals, creating stuff, being an entrepreneur (my first biz was a lemonade stand, my second was a craft business, I wrote a 120-page novella in three days when I was 13).

Back then it was easy. I didn’t know limitations or norms. I just did what I felt like doing and had fun with it.

But then it got hard. The people around me weren’t like me. They spent all their time playing outside and doing sports, while I spent a good portion of my time alone with a notebook and pen (or some other creative project).

And a part of me just wanted to fit in.

So I tried. I spent less time doing the stuff my soul wanted to be doing and I spent more time trying to be like my friends. It never worked, of course, because I kept evolving past all of the people I hung out with and then things would go south and we’d no longer be friends.

Growth can be really hard.

It followed me into young adulthood. I kicked serious ass in college, jumping on as many opportunities as possible. My senior year I became the first person in the history of my school to be the editor of the newspaper and the editor of the literary magazine at the same time (and I had totally amazing managing editors on both projects who helped keep things in check).

When I graduated, I went straight into a paid internship for what I thought was my dream job: magazine editor. I was hired on and worked as a magazine editor for several prestigious pet publications, and went from Assistant Editor to Managing Editor within two years of working for the company. I even helped launch a brand new magazine.

I was finding so much success in the work I was doing. Except I wasn’t doing very much writing. Real writing, the kind that I cared about and that had meaning to me.

Sure, I was writing on a daily basis for the magazine and it was fun, but I had stories inside me that wanted to come out. So when I left my magazine job and moved halfway across the country to Texas to work in online and social media marketing, I decided it was time to take on my novel writing dream. For real.

In 2008, I started my blog and committed to writing one blog post a week talking about my journey to writing my very first novel. I was fired up, but then I fell off and ended up doing more blogging than working on my novel.

It took a lot, but I got motivated to write my novel as my deadline came closer, and by my birthday, I had the completed first draft.

But I wasn’t committed to it. I wasn’t committed to being the writer I really wanted to be. So I wasn’t consistent with it.

I was scared, and worried that I’d never get any further than that. One draft.

As the next few years passed by, I saw that I wasn’t at all where I wanted to be. So I finally stepped up and finished a damn novel and then published it.

But I still wasn’t committed. I wasn’t all-in. I didn’t have any consistency with what I was doing.

Yes, I did have consistency with my blogging and my marketing stuff, but not with my soul writing, my books (and especially my novels).

Viva ut vivas is the Latin phrase for "live a full life" or what I like to call "live life to the fullest."

Viva ut vivas is the Latin phrase for “live a full life” or what I like to call “live life to the fullest.”

And the thing that makes no sense is I’ve always known I was born to be a writer, a storyteller, a creator. I’ve always known I was born to inspire and motivate people to get off their asses and live their lives to the fullest. (I even have that phrase tattooed on my inner wrist; see pic.)

But I haven’t always acted like it.

I’ve played small and hided out. I’ve been inconsistent with my art because I’ve been afraid to be the full-out, insane, crazy version of me that I used to be (back when I got bullied for it). Afraid to say the things inside me that I know writers need to hear, but things it’s scary to say.

I’ve been afraid to be the hardcore version of me who holds myself to really high standards and smashes my goals and wants to have it all and believes that I can. And also who DOES THE FREAKING WORK.

That’s all over now. These last few months have been life-changing for me.

I’ve cleaned up my writing habits. I’ve aligned myself with the success I want to have as an authorpreneur. And I’m all-in, doing, as my mentor says, “what it takes, for as long as it takes, until it takes.”

I’m now fully living the writer’s life. Where before I was only dipping my toe into the water, I am now day in and day out living and breathing being a writer, a creator and an entrepreneur.

Because I know I was born for this. The more I’ve stepped into it the more I can feel how aligned it is with my soul. This is who I’m meant to be.

I am an authorpreneur.

Were you born to write? Born to put your words and your stories out into the world? Have you known for a very long time that you’re meant to do big things?

Then start acting like it.

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It’s Not About Discipline, It’s About This

The other day one of my mentors posted a picture of her dinner on Facebook. She was at this nice restaurant and had ordered a meat and veggies dish–no carbs in sight–that had my mouthwatering (and I’m not a big meat eater).

Lately I’ve been working on eating healthier, and have actually been free of refined white sugar and even natural sweeteners, for almost two weeks now. But it’s been TOUGH. Like, really tough.

And yet my mentor seems to eat the way I want to eat almost effortlessly. She doesn’t even like carbs.

I commented on her pic and said, “I wish I had your discipline when it came to food.” (Because I love carbs, especially French fries, salt-and-vinegar chips and anything with sugar. )

As I’m sure you guessed it, her reply to my comment sent me into a tailspin that I’m still rolling around in my head. She commented back: It’s not that I’m disciplined, it’s that I’m committed to having the result.”

BOOM!

Kinda smacks ya in the face, doesn’t it?

You don’t need discipline when you’re committed to the result you want to create, because the result automatically tells you what choices you need to make.

Easier said than done, sure. But is it really? When you’re that committed to seeing what you want show up in your life, seems like taking the actions would be a natural progression.

And I’ve been rolling this around in my head for days now. It’s really bugging me!

Because it’s made me re-think all the things I thought I was committed to. Made me question which results I’m really willing to do the work for, and which I’d be OK having something else in place of what I really want.

Annoying.

Who wants to look at the fact that they’re not as committed as they thought they were?

If you want to write your novel (or whatever you dream of doing), are you so committed to having the result (aka: a published novel) that you’re doing the work day in and day out? If you’re not, maybe you’re not as committed to the result as you thought you were.

And that’s what I’m contending with right now. Because I have big, HUGE dreams for my writing life and my life in general. But there are some things I don’t really feel like doing most of the time (i.e. going to the gym). So what that means is I won’t ever really have what I want in those areas of my life.

Because to have what you want, you have to be committed to the result.

This is a whole new level of accountability and commitment. It’s a whole new level of assessing what you really want and picking it all apart to determine what you really care about and what you can die never having accomplished and not be bothered by it.

That’s the way to get to the core of what you really want for your writing life.

It’s tough–this being a professional writer stuff. When you write as a hobby you don’t have to worry about how much writing you get done, but when you’re an authorpreneur, you can’t lose focus. You have to know what you want, be very clear on it and specific about it, and then take action.

But if you’ve got goals or dreams in your head that, underneath the surface you don’t really care about or if you didn’t ever make it happen you wouldn’t lose sleep, you can give yourself permission to drop them. To drop them and no longer pursue or even think about them.

Now you’ve just reigned your focus in even more.

That’s what alignment is all about. It’s about knowing what you want, truly, deep down, knowing, and being willing to let go of the other stuff (the stuff you’re holding onto because someone said you should do it or because that’s what everyone else is doing).

And alignment, much like success, is a daily practice. Life happens, it’s always going to. It’s always gonna come in and get in the way.

You’re going to lose your focus sometimes, you’re going to fall off the wagon and be unproductive for a bit. It happens to all of us. Checking in with yourself on a daily basis is a great way to stay aligned with what you want and where you’re going, and also to pick yourself back up faster when you do lose focus.

But please, stop forcing yourself into dreams and goals that have other people’s names on them.

Here’s an example… maybe you’ve been telling yourself you want to write a novel. You’ve tried a few times, but nothing seems to be working. When you look deep-down, you know it’s because you don’t really want to write a novel. Novels are hard work and take way too much time. You’d be happier writing a series of short stories. But every fiction writer has to write a novel, right? So you have to as well.

Ahhhh…wrong.

You don’t have to do anything. You should only do the things you truly care about, the things you’re passionate about and actually want to be doing.

Don’t be afraid to go deep and really question the goals and dreams that you have. If you’ve been after something for a while and you’re still coming up short, maybe deep-down you don’t really want to do it and it’s time to let it go. Or, maybe you’ll find you want it more than anything and now it’s time to step up your commitment to the result.

There is no right or wrong here. It’s all about what works for you and what you want.

And what it really comes down to, is if you know that you truly want something and wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you didn’t get it, maybe it’s time to get clear on the result and then commit to having it. No discipline needed.

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I’m Totally Selfish With My Time And Here’s Why You Should Be Too

Being a professional writer and authorpreneur is tough. For more reasons than one.

But one of the biggest reasons it’s tough is because in order to do it successfully, you have to be really freaking selfish with your time.

And most people won’t get this. Most people won’t understand and will think you’re a workaholic or that you only care about work.

Most people aren’t living life on purpose or with any kind of mission or intention. They’re just floating along letting stuff happen to them and then reacting to it, complaining mostly, and continuing to live in Mediocre-Life Land.

But I’m different.

I have a plan, a dream. I have goals for my writing life that are so big they scare the shit out of me 99 percent of the time.

And yet I press on.

I keep showing up and doing the work and playing the game. I live with intention, purpose. I am fueled by passion and my message. I’m insanely ambitious and unwilling to accept anything but my dream life.

And I’m really freaking selfish about my time. I spend most of my day in front of my Macbook. Pretty much every day. (Although I try to take Saturdays off and maybe even part of the day on Sunday).

jen_13Yeah, it’s because I’m a workaholic. But it’s also because it doesn’t feel like work to me. It feels like play. It feels like I get to have recess all day, every day.

What could be better than that?

And even on the toughest days I still walk away feeling fulfilled and like I made shit happen. When I go to bed I’m accomplished and super hungry for more.

How many people can really say that about their lives and mean it?

Living the writing life, the creative life, is not for everyone. I’m guessing since you’re here with me, you resonate with this. You want more for your writing life and you know that you can have it if you do the work and stay focused.

And that’s great. It’s awesome.

Now you’ve gotta prove it–to yourself more than anyone else (I don’t believe in proving things to other people). Now you’ve gotta step up and do the work.

And it starts with being selfish with your time.

That’s not to say you don’t have a family life or a social life, you can have all of those things and more. But the biggest focus needs to be on doing the work, on taking the action to make your dream happen.

When it’s not, you’ll find yourself getting cranky because there’s a desire burning inside you, but you’re not seeing results. That used to happen to me a lot, until I finally committed to being the writer and author I dream of being.

Now I show up and I do the work, every day. I lock myself in my writing room or I leave the apartment and go to Starbucks or to my husband’s band room where I have no internet access, and I get shit done.

When people call themselves writers but then tell me they’ve gone months without writing a single word it kinda blows my mind. That’d be like calling yourself a gym rat and yet you haven’t gone to the gym in years.

Not gonna cut it.

Professional writers and authorpreneurs don’t take months or years off. Hell, many don’t even take weeks or days off.

It’s not because they don’t need a break (everyone does from time-to-time), it’s because they’re so driven by the passion and the desire to put words on the page that they can’t not. Taking a day off is like torture to their souls.

The ideas start piling up and soon they feel like exploding.

Or maybe it’s just me?

I write every day, because I can’t not write. When I don’t write, when I don’t create, I feel dead, like I’m just occupying space.

So that’s why I’m selfish with my time. That’s why I go out of my way to avoid people and events as often as I can in favor of getting to spend time alone with my Macbook.

Deranged, I know.

Most people don’t get it and won’t ever get it, and I’m OK with that.

I chose the creative life, the writing life, and everything that comes with it.

And I choose it every day, over and over again. Because success is a daily practice.

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The Mentality You Have to Get Rid of If You Want to Make Progress With Your Writing

I’m writing this one to me as much as I’m writing it to you. Because I need to hear it too (and so do you).

There’s a mentality going around that’s doing serious damage to writers (and creators, in general). And that mentality, when left unchecked, can pollute your entire system, causing a major breakdown that you may not come back from for a while.

Or maybe ever.

And this mentality, it’s the reason why you’re not getting nearly as much accomplished in your writing life as you want to. It’s the reason why you’re so far behind where you wanted to be or even thought you’d be by now.

It’s All Or Nothing

The mentality you need to get rid of RIGHT FREAKING NOW if you want to make real progress on your writing goals is this: it’s all or nothing. It’s black or white. There is no in-between. 

Because that’s total bullshit. And you know that, right?

All or nothing is the opposite of the mentality you need to be successful. Successful people do not think this way.

Because the all-or-nothing mentality says that if you can’t do it all (or can’t do something all the way), you’re better off not doing it.

Now I agree to a point that yes, you have to go all in on what you want for your writing life and you have to be willing to do the work and keep doing it, come hell or high-water, come failure, come whatever may.

But that doesn’t mean if you can’t do all of it, you shouldn’t do any of it. That’s a very bad way of looking at it.

Problem is, that’s how most writers look at things. Instead of realizing they can use a 15-minute block of time to make serious progress on their writing each day, they’ll tell themselves it’s not enough time, writing can only happen if I have thirty minutes or an hour or a whole day to dedicate to it.

Nope. Total BS that you need to let go of RIGHT NOW.

The truth is progress is made in the “pockets of time” that you have in your day, in your life. 

But most writers will ignore that. Most will hold onto the all-or-nothing mentality, if-I-can’t-spend-an-hour-on-my-writing-I’m-not-gonna-write-anything bullshit excuses that keep them from making progress, seeing results and achieving the things they want to achieve.

Here’s What To Do Instead

Write when you have time. Write when you don’t. Use the pockets of time–while waiting in line, when dinner is cooking, instead of watching some stupid show on Netflix–and get your writing done.

It’s as simple as that.

Most writers try to make it complicated and put all these restrictions and rules around it, by telling themselves lies like, I can only write when I’m inspired or I need at least 30 minutes.

You don’t. It’s just an excuse.

I wrote my new eBook that became a #1 bestseller on Amazon in 15- to 20-minute increments over the course of a month. Every day I sat down and set a timer for 15 minutes and I worked on that book.

I made excuses and told myself I didn’t have enough time, but then I got over it and sat my ass down in front of my Macbook and worked on the book. Every day. Every single day.

Because it’s only 15 minutes.

Even in the busiest of days I can find 15 minutes for my writing (although these days I spend anywhere from 1.5 to 2 hours a day writing). Even on the days when I can’t find time to do anything else, I have 15 minutes for my writing.

It’s a choice. 

There are days when I’m insanely busy and running around and have no idea how I’m gonna get anything done. But I still manage to write on those days. And it’s because I’m committed to the result of getting my writing out there. I’m committed to being the writer and author I want to be.

And so I write.

When everyone else would take a nap or call it a night or go to bed early or just veg on the couch in front of Netflix, I write. I stay up late and I write. I get up early and I write.

I make writing happen every day, because making writing happen is my focus. It’s what I work my life around.

I am a writer, and that is more than just a hobby or a thing that you do. It’s a lifestyle. It’s who I am at my core.

Yes, at first it might be really freaking hard to make yourself sit down and write something, especially when you only have 15 minutes and you’re feeling totally uninspired. But the more you do it, the easier it gets.

It’s just like anything else. It’s a habit. It’s something you need to work up to.

And you do it in the pockets of time. The little in between time when you would usually distract your mind by scrolling through your Facebook feed or watching a stupid meme video on YouTube.

That’s when you do the writing. That’s when you make it happen.

You pull up a chair, whip out a notebook, open your Evernote app or sit in front of your computer, set a timer for 15 minutes (or however long you’re trying to kill time for) and you put words on the page.

But you can’t do any of this with an all-or-nothing mentality. Which is why you need to drop it PRONTO and realize that anything done is better than nothing done. Fifteen minutes of writing a day is better than no writing.

Any day of the week.

It’s about progress, not perfection. And if you’re seeing results–even just a little bit–every single day, then you’re making progress.

Now keep going.

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What can you do to give up the all-or-nothing mentality for good?

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The Upper Limit Problem: What It Is and How To Deal With It

My dog just choked! (No, that’s not my dog in the picture. This is my dog.)

He was eating and started having hiccups (from his acid reflux) and then he sucked a piece of his dog food into his throat. I screamed for my husband, while pressing on the dog’s stomach, trying to force the obstruction out, and then when my husband got over to us I handed Weiland off and ran to Google how to do the doggie Heimlich Maneuver (dog owners–this is something we need to know! I don’t know why I never learned it before now.) Meanwhile my husband was able to remove the obstruction and Weiland was breathing again.

I skipped the gym this morning… so Weiland got my heart rate up for me.

After it was over I felt totally relieved and also like I just ran a marathon while being chased by a serial killer. Panicked and out of breath.

And the first thought that hit me wasn’t what I expected.

I expected my first thought to be, thank you God, Weiland is OK. But instead it was a three-word phrase I’ve been uttering a lot lately.

Upper Limit Problem (aka: ULP).

What’s An Upper Limit Problem

This is a phrase coined by Gay Hendricks, author of the book, The Big Leap. In it he talks about how we all have an internal thermostat that’s programmed to tell us how much love, money, success, happiness, good experiences, positive emotions, etc. that we’re allowed to feel and experience on a day-to-day basis.

And when something happens to trigger that thermostat and send it higher than it’s set to go, chaos will break out in your life to force it to go back down to where it usually is.

That’s why you’ll see people win the lottery, but then spend all the money, or you’ll win an award or complete a major project you’ve been working on and then you get sick.

It’s an Upper Limit Problem.

Hendricks talks about how the ULP is often triggered when you’ve done something that’s in your Zone of Genius, but you’re used to living in your Zone of Excellence. The Zone of Excellence is your comfort zone. It’s that place where you can coast along, being mediocre and mildly good at what you do. 

But your Zone of Genius is that place where you shine. Where your true gifts come through and where you could work all day long and feel like you’re playing.

Well, I hit my ULP yesterday.

Because I not only published a new book (my ULP is always triggered by me publishing a book), but it became a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.

Talk about a shove out of my usual thermostat zone. That shit skyrocketed out.

And then my poor dog choked. Just to bring me back down. Still feeling good, but not as good as I was feeling the day before.

How To Bust An ULP

This is something I’ve been working on for months. Because I’ve been on a major upswing this year, and I’ve challenged myself to insane heights that I’ve never even dreamed of soaring previously.

And I’ve been making shit happen.

But yesterday when my book hit #1, all the noise (aka: negative, limiting thoughts) came in full-force, and with even more uncertainty:

Great, you’re a bestseller. Now you’ve done it. You’ve gone and put all this pressure on yourself. Telling the world you’re going to write and publish 9 books in one year. Shouting from the rooftops that your book was a bestseller. Do you know the kind of expectations you’ve now put on yourself? If your next book isn’t a bestseller, you’ve failed. All of your books have to be bestsellers now, otherwise you’re a hack. And nine books? Are you insane? I mean, really, should we take you to the mental institution and have your head examined? Most people would be happy to write and publish one book in a year. And you want to write and publish nine. Delusional. Unrealistic. Fucking stupid. Why didn’t you say five books? Why nine? Why put that much pressure on yourself?

And on and on it goes…

Until I stop it. Until I actively choose to not listen and to instead say, I know what I’m meant to do. I’m intuitively guided and no matter what happens I’ll love myself anyhow.

And then I start a chain of new thoughts, ones that support my dreams:

You did great. Really great. I’m proud of you. Good job. You did it and you can keep doing it. There’s no pressure. None whatsoever. Because what other people think doesn’t matter. You live life on your terms. You’re defining success for yourself. And that looks however you want it to. Brilliant. Keep it coming. I love you.

And then I keep going. I keep taking action on my goals.

I could’ve totally freaked out and let what just happened with Weiland ruin my whole day. Maybe even totally derail me from all my goals for the week. I could’ve called myself names and said I’m a bad poodle-mom and how did I let this happen to him and blamed myself and worried and helicoptered over him all day.

But that’s what my ULP wants me to do. It wants me to stop doing the work. To crawl back into a safe space and protect my poodle from everything that could potentially harm him.

Which is why I can’t do it (and also why I didn’t). I made sure he was OK. I calmed myself back down. I cuddled with him ’til I knew he was over it and had moved on.

And then I sat my ass in a chair and I wrote this blog post. Because the writer and author I dream of being writes a blog post every day (or at least 5-6 days a week).

Shit’s gonna happen, doesn’t mean you have to stand in it.

The ULP is exactly what the name suggests: it’s a problem creator. When things are going well, it steps in to throw a curveball at you. To give you a problem to deal with.

What allows you to push through the ULP and not let it stop you is dealing with the problem and getting back to work.

What you don’t want to do is let the problem totally distract you, changing your focus and your thoughts to panic, scarcity, limiting thinking or anything negative. Because that’s what happens most of the time.

You’re working hard on your novel. You’ve made more progress lately on your story than you ever have before. And then you get sick. You come down with the flu and are bed-ridden for a week. Can’t lift your head off the pillow. Can’t work on your novel.

What determines the level of success you’ll get to in your life is what you do AFTER you’re not sick anymore. If you get right back to work (and maybe even work as much as you’re able while you’re still sick), success is inevitable for you. You’re not gonna let anything stop you.

But if the sickness would derail you. If it would cause you to drop your project, spending more time planted on the couch with a bag of chips and a movie on Netflix, then you’re doomed. You may as well hang up the towel now and take up a new hobby, because you don’t have what it takes.

I’ve always had what it takes, but I haven’t always been stepping up. There was a period of time in my life where my excuses and my bullshit was a lot more important than my dreams.

But that time is over now. Now there’s only the results I want to see and the taking action to get there.

That’s what I’m committed to. How about you?

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How do you deal with your ULP? 

If you’re ready to bust through your ULP and step up to the next level in your writing life, a life where you’re committed to the results you want for your writing and taking the actions to make it happen, check out my Bestselling Author Mastermind group. Doors will be opening to new members in the near future.

Featured image courtesy of Steven Carlton

Watch Me As I Write and Publish 9 Books in 2016

I recently declared that I’m starting a motherfucking writing revolution. And what I mean by that, is I’m starting a revolution of writers who proclaim what they really want, unapologetically step up to the plate and take the actions to make it happen.

Because there are just too many writers out there playing small, not doing the work and not stepping up to claim the dreams they have locked inside them. 

Yes, especially as writers, we’ve been programmed from a young age to believe a whole lot of nonsense about what being a writer is really all about. One of the biggest pieces of nonsense are the leaders–the teachers, the coaches, the author-mentors– who teach writers that it’s all about the writing.

I mean, duh–of course it’s about the writing. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a writer, you’d be something else.

But the problem comes in when they act like it’s ONLY about the writing.

Because it’s not.

It’s about SO much more than that.

It’s about craft. It’s about storytelling. It’s about connecting with a reader, pulling out the truths of life that lay buried in your soul and spilling them onto a page with clarity and resonance. It’s about learning what it takes to spread the word about your book and get it into the hands of the people who most need to read it.

And, most importantly, it’s about doing the work and, even more importantly, FINISHING.

There are way too many writers out there who never finish anything. They start a draft and drop it 20,000 words in or they have an idea for a story and make a whole bunch of notes, but then never actually write it.

Or, even worse, they write a draft and spend time revising it for the next decade, never finding an end point or being able to call it done.

And then it happens… they die. They die with their stories still buried inside them, still dancing around. Unwritten and unread.

Graveyards

As writers, we’re born to write. But you’re throwing away your gift to the world if you never step up to that next level and actually finish and publish your writing. Whether that’s a book, a blog post, an article in a magazine, a guest post or something else completely, your writing is meant to be out there.

That’s why you were born with this gift, with this desire to tell stories and put words on the page.

And the most important questions you can ask yourself right now are: do I want to die not having fulfilled everything I came here for? Do I want to get to the end of my life and look back and know that I could’ve done so much more, but didn’t?

Because you’re afraid. Because there are unknowns. Because you’re uncertain or unsure of what to do.

It’s a sad reality that most writers will never, ever publish their books. They’ll never finish anything.

Just So You Know–The Bare Minimum Ain’t Good Enough

And maybe you’re not totally in that boat. Maybe you have finished or even published something.

But unless you’re still at it, motivated and always focused on the bigger vision for your writing life (the dream vision–the one you never really quite allow yourself to want), what you’re doing isn’t enough. There’s more you can do.

That was something I faced recently, as I started working with a mentor who has 47 published books (46 of which have been best sellers on Amazon). Yes, 47!!

And it blew my mind because the woman is only 36 years old. But she’s a freaking firecracker. She’s an ass-kicker. She’s a writer who’s in the world with a purpose–to spread a message and inspire the masses to wake up and live.

And she doesn’t let her excuses get in the way. She shows up every day, she does the work and she gets her writing out there.

I resonated so much with her and with the work that she does. She made me see that I wasn’t doing enough. That I haven’t been doing enough.

Sure, I’ve published a bunch of books, including my debut novel in 2015. But that’s not enough. Not nearly.

Because I have an insane amount of books inside me. Nonfiction writing and creativity guides, and fictional stories just waiting to be told.

But here’s the thing… at a one-book-a-year pace… I’ll never get all of these ideas and stories out into the world. One book a year isn’t enough for me to be the writer and author I dream of being.

So I gave myself a challenge. An insane one.

Write and publish one eBook (nonfiction) a month and at least one novel in 2016. That makes 9 books total (I started the challenge in April).

2016 Writing Challenge: Book 1 of 9

Align YourYes, I’m totally insane. But I’m also inspired and motivated and on freaking fire with a passion to get my ideas, my stories, my message out into the world. To help change writers lives by inspiring and motivating them to turn off Netflix and make their writing a bigger priority in their lives.

Today, I took a huge step toward meeting my challenge. I published my new eBook. One of nine books that I am writing and publishing this year.

That book is Align Your Writing Habits to Success, a multimedia, interactive guide that will take you from “procrastinating writer” (or wherever you are now) to “inspired, productive writer.”

In only 30 days, you will completely overhaul your writing habits and your mindset, so you can step up to be and act like the writer and author you dream of being. When you align your writing habits to success you will be unstoppable in your writing career.

And that’s what I want to help you be. That’s the writing revolution I’m starting.

Are you in?

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How are you going to go big and really step up your writing this year?