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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.” 

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

The 2 Things Stopping You From Finishing

How many times have you started a writing project, but never finished it? And you always have a great reason (aka: excuse) for why–it was too hard, it wasn’t working, you’re no longer interested, you don’t have time, etc.

But here’s the thing: at some point you have to finish something.

‘Cause if you never finish, you’ll never be successful. Not ever.

​Successful people finish what they start. 

So let’s talk about what’s really causing you not to finish things: Fear and Resistance.

Fear comes in many forms:

  • Negative voices
  • Limiting thoughts
  • False beliefs you think are true

Here’s how fear often shows up:

  • Telling yourself things, like “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good enough”
  • Believing things like, “this isn’t meant for me” or “it’s too late” 
  • Having thoughts, like “the world doesn’t need another novel” or “why would anyone read my book?”

This fear gets in the way of you finishing your writing project(s).

As for Resistance, Steven Pressfield covers this extensively in his series of books (starting with the War of Art). For now, think of Resistance as self-sabotage.

Resistance is basically your comfort zone trying to stop you from doing something “threatening,” like publishing your novel.

Here’s how Resistance often shows up:

  • You spend months working on a novel, and then suddenly another story idea pops up that seems “so much better” and so you chase that idea instead of finishing the one you were already working on
  • You know you need to work on your writing, but instead you decide to wash the dishes, clean your house, and catch up on those emails that were unimportant until right now when you were gonna write
  • You have a drawer (or computer file) of unfinished novels, short stories, etc. 

I’ve had seven years of fear and Resistance; of finishing, but not really finishing (I wrote and started to revise a novel, but never published it).

And even now as I’m putting the edits in place and doing the final-final polish on my debut novel, I’m freaking out, I’m afraid, I’m questioning everything!

But I’m pressing forward anyhow. Because I’m ready to get in the fiction game. I’m ready for my stories to live out in the world instead of in my head.

People can judge me all they want, but I refuse to hide any longer. And you shouldn’t either. 

Now I’m not saying that you should just write something and throw it out there. Not at all.

The opposite, really.

I think you should spend time finding your story. Getting to know it. Asking it questions. Playing with scenarios and “what ifs.”

And once you know everything there is to know about your story–or at least ’til you have a cohesive story that works from beginning to end–then you sit down and write your heart out.

When you’re done, revise it until every plot hole is filled and everything that shows up in your story is set up, foreshadowed and flows together.

Then hire an editor and get it in front of some Beta Readers. Make the edits and give the story a final-final polish.

Then let it go and release it.

There has to come a point with every creative project when you call it done and call it good enough. There has to come a time when you say, “this is my best work to date and I know I will do even better next time.” 

This isn’t the last book I’m gonna write, and I know it’s not your last one either.

So that’s why you have to finish what you start. Because at the end of the day, all of your stories and writing talent won’t do you any good if you don’t launch.

That’s the realization I came to recently as I’ve been finishing up this novel. (Pressfield talks about this in the War of Art, as well.)

Screen Shot 2015-05-27 at 11.49.02 AMI have all these stories and novels I’ve written, but if I don’t finish the journey–not just writing, but publishing–then I’m wasting my creative gifts that are meant to be shared with the world.

So I set a date: June 16. 

And on that day, I will publish my debut novel. I’m releasing it and setting it free, out into the world, to be loved, critiqued, judged, hated and adored.

I know this is what I’m meant for, and I’m not gonna deny it any longer.

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Are you ready to step it up and call your book “good enough?” Tell us your launch date in the comments, if you dare.

Read to write your novel? Learn more about working with me.

 

Finish Line image courtesy of Sean MacEntee

 

Are You Suffering From Almost Done Syndrome?

I don’t know if I told you yet or not, but I’ve been working on a new eBook for the last few months. It’s an idea that’s been in the works for about a year, and I am finally thisclose to being done with it.

The problem is, I’ve been procrastinating.

My initial launch date was September 24, but September came and, truth be told, I hadn’t even started the rewrites yet.

So I came up with a new launch date–October 22. Which was yesterday.

And the book is still not done.

Why am I telling you this? Because I want to show you that, even though I’m a professional writer and published author, I’m still human. I still struggle with procrastination, just like you do. I still have doubts and fears that overwhelm me, and keep me doing avoidance behaviors.

I am not perfect, and I’m never gonna be.

I used to be afraid of not being perfect. I used to think I had to be, that my writing had to be, if I was gonna put it out there.

But now I see that imperfection is a beautiful part of the human condition. It’s who we are.

If we never made mistakes, then we’d never have opportunities to grow and to better ourselves. The same goes for your writing.

If you never put yourself out there; if you never finish anything; then you’ll never know what it’s like to have success. You’ll never experience the joy of seeing your words in print, and the love you feel when your writing changes someone’s life.

To quote one of my spiritual mentors:

Every masterpiece that’s ever been done, it could’ve been better. Just launch and learn.”–Danielle LaPorte

If you have a project you’ve been working on for awhile–or putting off working on–chances are you’re suffering from what I call “Almost Done” Syndrome.

“Almost Done” Syndrome is when you’re thisclose to being finished with the final version of a writing project, and then suddenly you start procrastinating and put off finishing it.

Been there, done that.

What about you?

We All Suffer From “Almost Done” Syndrome

The good news is that “Almost Done” Syndrome is something all creators suffer with from time-to-time. This is especially true when you’re working on something that is extremely close and personal to you (as this book I’ve been working on for the last year is to me).

The reason you’ve never heard about this syndrome before today is because most people never talk about it. Most people who’ve launched something don’t want to share the truth. They want to cover it up with the false idea that everything is roses.

I call bullshit on that.

I’d be lying if I pretended like everything I’ve created has been amazing and that the process from start to finish was simple.

The truth is, finishing a book is fucking hard! It’s an emotional roller coaster. It’s a process that tests everything you’ve got in you.

I’ve wanted to quit so many times during the process of writing my new book. But I didn’t. I did procrastinate and complain, but I didn’t give up.

Because I know I’m meant to write this book. I know that this book is meant to be one of my gift’s to the world.

And that’s what’s kept me pushing forward, slogging through all the doubt and fear. So I can launch a book that I am proud of; that I want people to read and share with others.

Almost Done Syndrome–What’s Beneath the Surface

On the surface, Almost Done Syndrome looks like:

  • Procrastination
  • Excuses
  • “Reasons”
  • Thoughts of giving up or quitting
  • Doubt

But hiding below these surface symptoms is the true cause of Almost Done Syndrome…

FEAR.

Fear is the underlying cause of all the symptoms you’re experiencing.

Now the good news is fear is perfectly normal. It’s something everyone who has ever created and launched anything has felt.

Again I share words of wisdom from LaPorte:

Respect your fear. It’s part of the creative process,”–Danielle LaPorte

You have to know that anything worth doing in your life is going to first be met with resistance. Resistance is fear’s way of trying to keep you safely in your comfort zone.

It’s your job to bust through that resistance. To feel the fear and do it anyway!

Healing Almost Done Syndrome

Healing Almost Done Syndrome is an inside job, meaning it can only be resolved by looking internally and finding the strength to carry on.

Here’s my process for busting through fear and continuing on with your writing project:

  1. Realize You’ve Got the Bug–the hardest part is finally realizing and accepting that you’ve been suffering from Almost Done Syndrome. Once you do that, the rest is easy.
  2. Feel the Fear–Almost Done Syndrome is a sickness of avoidance. Right now you’re avoiding the fear you’re feeling by not finishing your project. You have to stop resisting and instead just let the fear be there. Wallow in it. Feel it ’til your fingers get pruney and you don’t think you can take anymore.
  3. Acknowledge the Fear--admit that you’re afraid. Tell the fear you see it and you know it’s there. Acknowledging fear takes away its power.
  4. Take A Deep Breath–hold the breath for a few seconds, then let it out slowly. Repeat two or three times.
  5. Let It Go–now that you’ve felt the fear, you can push through and do it anyway. Fear has no power over you or your life if you don’t let it. Choose to rise above the fear.
  6. Remember Your Why–when you’re feeling afraid, doubtful, like you want to quit, just remind yourself why you started this project in the first place. What was your intention? Why did you want to write these words? When your “why” is big enough, there’s no space for fear.
  7. Do It Anyway–take another deep breath if you need to, then move forward and begin working on your project again.

Repeat this process anytime you get stuck and feel like quitting.

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What writing project are you suffering from Almost Done Syndrome on? What’s holding you back? 

Image Courtesy of Daphne Depasse

5 Steps to Reaching the Writing Finish Line

“No matter how long it takes, if you keep moving,
you will reach the finish line,”-anonymous

 

Every writer, no matter what writing project they’re working on, has a goal in mind. A personal “finish line” they are trying to reach.

 

But for many writers, that finish line is so far in the distance they can’t quite see it (or even imagine reaching it).

 

Procrastination is a silent, but deadly killer. Well, deadly to your writing anyhow. Luckily, there’s a way to transform yourself from procrastinating writer to completed writer. And according to Cynthia Morris, author of the eBook “Cross the Finish Line! 5 Steps To Leaping Over The Hurdles to Completion,” it only takes 5 steps:

 

1) Identify your Motivation–start by answering the question: “What is important about becoming someone who finishes?” Understanding your motivation for wanting to write/work on your writing project is the way to align yourself with your personal finish line.

“A single affirmation or reminder of your commitment can do a lot toward achieving the finishing line,” Morris says. “Develop your own version of the Little Red Engine’s mantra: ‘I think I can, I think I can!'”

2) Commit to a Project–Oftentimes writers take on more projects than they can handle and end up not finishing any of them (I’m extremely guilty of this!). Morris suggests narrowing down where you will focus your time and energy. One way to do this is to make a list of all the writing projects you’d like to complete at some point. Go thru and number the list in order of importance to you. Then (no matter how difficult it may be) choose one or two projects to focus on, and put the rest on the back burner until you’re finished with your first couple projects. Although this may seem difficult, it’s the only way to ever become a finisher. Taking on too many projects at once will cause you to get overwhelmed.

 

3) Build Structure–deadlines, timelines and accountability will help you to stay on track toward the finish line. So the best way to become a finisher is to set a deadline for finishing your writing project (or mini-deadlines for a longer project like a novel) and stick to it.

 

“Your inner saboteur will pipe in with notions like ‘I’m not a deadline person,’ or ‘Lists don’t work for me,’ Morris says. “Take this as normal resistance that surfaces when you try something different. Sometimes creative people think they need to be free and flexible, but the truth is that structure allows creativity to flow.”

 

4) Stay on Track–figuring out your motivation, committing to a project and setting a schedule are the three most important steps to becoming a completer. Morris says that you must stay on track if you’re ever going to become a completer.

 

“Don’t flirt with your other ideas once you’ve committed to go all the way with one,” she says. “You’ll need to develop your creative stamina, hone your emotional intelligence, and stay connected to all the previous reminders about why you’re doing your project and what’s your payoff for finishing.”

 

5) Acknowledge and Celebration Completion–Morris says this step is an important part of the process, but is often overlooked. Writers start to get more motivated once they complete a project, so they usually just move on to the next one without taking some time out to celebrate their accomplishment.

 

“Before you pop the cork on the champagne bottle, take some time to acknowledge what it took to get here,” Morris says. “Take the opportunity to learn about your creative style and what it takes to bring your projects to fruition. Acknowledging and celebrating will help you build confidence to complete future projects.”

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So now that you know what it takes to become a finisher, it’s time to put the process to the test. Over the next couple days, think about what your motivation is, and try to commit to a project or two. And be sure to drop me a line and let me know how it’s all going.