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The Truth About Being A Pro Writer

I almost didn’t write this post today. ‘Cause I didn’t feel like it. I had no idea what to write. I didn’t want to be sitting here in front of my computer staring at a blank page.

So I procrastinated. I made breakfast and took a shower. Two things I rarely do until I’ve already finished my writing for the day.

Then I played with the dog, hoping that an idea would hit me and I’d be off and writing. Nope.

Then I read through a few posts from the most inspiring people I follow. Still, nothing.

Then I sat here, again, in front of a blank page, still not knowing what to write. And nothing came.

Until I realized, sometimes, that’s just how it is.

Sometimes, you don’t have anything to say. Sometimes you’re not inspired. Sometimes you don’t feel like doing or don’t want to do it.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t show up. Because it’s in the showing up that the words finally come.

Maybe not right away. Maybe not when you want them to. Maybe not even during the time you’ve specifically set aside to do your writing.

But if you just show up and keep showing up, they will come. It’s inevitable. At some point, words just come through.

Because that’s how it works.

Showing up is the prerequisite for inspiration. Showing up over and over and over again.

And if you show up and it doesn’t come out right away, that doesn’t mean you call it a day. It might mean you need to do something else for a little while or you need to read something inspiring or take a walk around the block.

But that doesn’t mean you stop trying.

That’s a problem a lot of writers have. They get started on something–a blog, a short story, a novel–and then when they get stuck, they just stop showing up. They start making a million excuses for why they can’t write right now or are too busy or don’t have any ideas or aren’t inspired.

And then they buy into those excuses, call them “reasons” and live their life avoiding the one thing they truly want to be doing.

I admit, it’s not at all easy to have discipline and force yourself to sit your ass in a chair and do the writing. It’s hard. And some days it’s really, really, REALLY hard.

But a pro writer just keeps showing up.

That’s one of the biggest differences between a pro writer and a wannabe. A pro knows that showing up is the most important thing. A pro will show up, even when they’re not inspired. Even when they don’t feel like it. Even when they have nothing to say and all the words they’re writing are coming out like garbage.

A wannabe writer will let lack of inspiration or not feeling like it stop them. A pro never will.

If you wanna be a pro writer and eventually a pro author, the first thing you must commit to is showing up every single day. Sitting at your computer in front of a blank page with a blinking cursor and just getting down to work.

Over and over and over again.

Many days will be great. Sometimes the words will flow. Sometimes you’ll be so inspired the words literally shoot out of you like you’re having target practice.

Bullseye.

Other days will SUCK. Sometimes the words will be so stuck it’s like you have to pull them out one-by-one, a little at a time, and blood really will appear on your forehead.

Sometimes they won’t come out at all and you’ll stare at a blank screen before taking a break and then coming back for more.

But you always have to come back for more.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. Have you heard that I’m PAYING YOU to join my upcoming Writing Habits Revamp workshop? That’s right! Because writing habits are the FOUNDATION of creating success, I want as many writers as possible in on this thing.

So I’m giving you $394 worth of Bonuses when you join us. Doors close on Sunday June 11 at 11:59 p.m. CDT.

>> Details and sign up here: www.jenniferblanchard.net/landing/writinghabitrevamp

Three Roadblocks to Writing Success

By Annabel Candy

We all procrastinate from time to time, but writers and other creative types
seem to be particularly susceptible to procrastination.

I thought it would be interesting to look at the root causes of procrastination and see if that can help us get over it. Watch out for these three, they can seriously damage your creativity, your production levels and your self esteem:

  • Roadblock Number 1: Laziness—It’s just so much easier to surf the Internet, go for a walk or read a book. I’ve dubbed this procrastination and the way out of it for me is to set goals, work out a deadline and stick to it. I make myself understand that if I don’t do it now then I never will.Imagine fast forwarding your life ten years. Do you want to have achieved your goals or are you ready to admit that you’re just a lazy porker?
  • Roadblock Number 2: Fear—There are so many different things to fear from fear of failure to fear of success and everything in between.But don’t let fear control you.Ask yourself what the worst case scenario is. Since we’re talking about writing here and not scaling Mount Everest, it’s probably not life threatening.So what have you got to lose? Take charge, give fear “the finger” and do what you need to do now.
  • Roadblock Number 3: Perfectionism—Writing’s an art not a science, so there’s no perfect way to write. At some point you just have to stop agonizing about every word and every comma and let it go.Herbert Samuel said that “a library is thought in cold storage,” and that’s all your written words are, too. If you think of your writing as thought in “cold storage,” it makes it easier to finish it.After all, you can always come back to it another time.So don’t let your quality control be too stringent. It could be time to hold that thought and get another one down on paper before it gets lost forever.

Watch out for these three roadblocks and don’t let them delay your journey. I consider myself a good driver, but it you even think you’re being threatened by any of these three, then put your foot down on the gas pedal and plow right through them.

About the Author: Annabel Candy was born in England and traveled widely before settling in New Zealand for ten years. Annabel then moved to Costa Rica before ending up in Queensland, Australia, where she is finishing her first novel, tweaking her blog and writing Web copy to keep the cash
flowing. She has a BA in French and English, and an MA in Design for
Interactive Media.

For more from Annabel, visit her blog: www.inthehotspot.wordpress.com

Do You Fear Success?

By Jennifer Blanchard

The Things Procrastinators Fear post from last week discussed the 4 main things procrastinating writers fear:

  • success
  • failure
  • rejection
  • not being good enough

So why do people fear success?

“Many people fear success because it tests their limits and makes them vulnerable to new situations,” says Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen, in the article How Fear of Success Works. “Even worse, success can easily expose weaknesses and force people to deal with their flaws.”

Another major problem is the fact that success equals change.

“It [success] can be intimidating and hard to handle,” she says. “With success comes challenges and responsibilities–and that can be threatening.”

Other times, people fear success because they don’t want the recognition or honor. (This falls along the lines of people who don’t like receiving compliments. They are fearful of acknowledging they have good in them or that they look nice or that they did a great job because they often don’t feel that way about themselves.)

This is the same with writers. Writers often fear success because the think they might not be able to sustain the success or that they don’t want the recognition or spotlight that comes with being a successful writer.

Here are signs you fear success:

  • You procrastinate–You want to write, but you’re too busy. Or too tired. Or have too much work to do. Or need to make dinner. Or will write in five minutes when your favorite TV show is over. No matter how much you want to write, you just can’t seem to sit down and do it.
  • You have a negative outlook on your writing–Always talking badly about yourself regarding your writing (this sounds something like, “Why should I write? No one will ever publish it,” or “Writing is a waste of my time because there’s too much competition”). You don’t believe in yourself or your writing dreams. You don’t think you can do it.
  • You talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk–You’re always talking about your writing dreams and how you want to be a writer for a living. You tell people about all the stories you want to write, all the ideas for novels you have written in your notebook. But then you never write. You do everything BUT write.

If you see these signs in yourself, you may have a fear of success. For more information or to see other examples of what fear of success looks like, read:

Success can be overwhelming. It can cause things to change. But it can also be fun and joyful and your dreams coming true.

Remember what FEAR stands for–False Expectations Appearing Real. Writers fear success because it’s unknown. There’s no way to plan for it; no way to predict it; no way to know how things will end up.

That’s the beauty in it though.

When you learn to release the grasp that fear has on you and actually sit down and get some writing done, you’ll start to realize that being successful doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be pretty awesome.

Action Steps:

  • Believe in yourself and your writing. No matter what. Try coming up with a mantra or affirmation about your writing that you can say to yourself whenever you need a confidence boost. For example, an affirmation could be, “I am a great writer,” or “I am a successful writer.”
  • Know that you can continue to learn anything you need to know to keep being a successful writer. Education isn’t going anywhere. There will always be colleges, online courses, writing teachers, information websites and blogs dedicated to helping you stay current in the world of writing.

How To Avoid Becoming A “One Day” Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard
Back when I was preparing for NaNoWriMo, I read “No Plot? No Problem!” by Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month, and he mentioned something in the book about not being a “one day” writer. And what he said is so profound, I felt the need to share it with you.
[As a sidenote, if you are interested in participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo, but aren’t sure what to write about, check out Baty’s book. It’s loaded with great information about how to get from day one to day 30 with a completed manuscript. It’s definitely a NaNoWriMo first-timer must-read!]
 
In Baty’s book, he says:

“Outside of writing classes, we never quite get the professional-grade push we need to tackle big, juicy, creative projects like novel writing….We’re slammed at work and busy at home…there’s barely enough time in a day all our mandatory obligations, so optional activities like novel writing, journaling, painting or playing music…are invariably left for another day…which is how most of us become ‘one day’ novelists. As in, ‘One day, I’d really like to write a novel.’ Problem is that that day never seems to come, and so we’re stuck.”

I’m sure we can all attest to what Baty is saying. It’s hard to find time for the things you want to do because there are so many things you need to do that come first. But in order to avoid being a “one day writer,” you need to find time–fifteen minutes a day, whatever–to get your writing done. (This is yet another reason why NoNoWriMo is such a great invention. It gives you a 30-day deadline in which to complete a 50,000-word novel.)

And actually, that’s the main way to going to get your novel written–by setting a deadline. I know I talk about this pretty often, but it’s a major factor in being a novelist, especially if you’d like to eventually write fiction for a living.

So to get you started on the path to no longer being a “one day writer,” here are 3 tips:

  • Set a Deadline–Since I just mentioned this, I thought I’d reiterate it. Although it’s sometimes difficult, setting self-imposed deadlines and meeting them will get you on writing faster (and better) than any other thing.

And don’t forget to reward yourself. If you hit a deadline–whatever it may have been–reward yourself. Take the day off from work and get a pedicure, go buy that new book you’ve wanted to read, get yourself something from your Amazon wishlist, anything that will make you feel rewarded and special, which will make you want to keep writing.

  • Step Away from the TV–If you’re going to get your writing done, you need to make time to write, which starts with blocking out all distractions. And a good distraction to eliminate first is the TV. Without even realizing it, TV has taken over much of our free time.For example, the other day I got an e-mail from a writer friend. She was talking about how she “really wants to write her book, but can’t find the time.” So I asked her, how much TV do you watch each night and she said, “Oh, about 4 hours.” Bingo! That’s 4 hours she could be writing.Obviously going cold-turkey on the TV time is not going to keep you away, but maybe, instead of spending 4 hours watching TV each night, cut back to 3 hours, and spend the fourth hour writing.
  • Leave Your Inner Editor at the Door–This is one of the biggest things you can do to avoid being a “one day” writer. Many times writers stop themselves from actually writing because they’re afraid it won’t be very good.This is a common fear for most writers, so don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself falling into this category. The important thing is you recognize it now and can take steps toward actually writing.One thing that I do which seems to be pretty helpful is I drew a “Turn Off Inner Editor” ‘button’ in my writing notebook. Now when I’m sitting down to write something, I first open my notebook and “push” the ‘button.’ Once I give myself permission to turn off my inner editor, I am able to write more without judgment.

So Procrastinating Writers…what say you? Are you ready to become a writer, rather than a “one day” writer?

17 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write


By Jennifer Blanchard

One of the most common excuses many writers give for why they procrastinate is “I don’t have the time to write.”

True, people are busier these days then they ever have been before–we’re multi-tasking machines, filling every second of our days with a task of some kind, always so busy….blah, blah, blah.

If you stop for a second and take a look at your day, I bet you can find at least 10 minutes somewhere that you can write (and you could probably even find a few 10-minute blocks of time).

You don’t have to be writing all day every day in order to get your writing done. You’d be surprised how efficient you can be when you only have ten minutes to write (especially if writing is something you truly love to do).

Inspired by the blog post, 10 Ways to Find 10 Minutes to Write, on DailyWritingTips.com, I am going to give you 17 ways you can find at least 10 minutes to write everyday. So here they are…17 ways to find 10 minutes to write every day:

  • Before you get out of bed in the morning–when you wake up, roll over, turn on your light, grab your notebook and write for 10 minutes (this is an exercise called “Morning Pages“).
  • While you’re waiting for your girlfriend/husband/kids to get out of the shower so you can get in.
  • While you’re waiting for the coffee to finish brewing
  • While you’re waiting for your kid’s school bus to come.
  • While you’re sitting in traffic–I don’t condone you write while you’re driving, but if you are sitting in traffic that is completely stopped (which happens a lot when there’s an accident), it’s ok to grab a notebook and jot a couple ideas down. (Just be sure to watch the road for when the cars start moving again.)
  • As soon as you get to your desk–when you get to the office, instead of spending a half hour checking your e-mails, take a quick glance to see if there are any e-mails that need immediate response, then grab a notebook or bring up a Word document and spend 10 minutes writing. You can always go back to the less-important e-mails later.
  • During your morning coffee/smoke break–bring your notebook with you and write.
  • During a meeting–yes, we all know that most meetings are a waste of time, so if you find yourself in one of these meetings, jot down some notes for your next story or poem.
  • On your lunch break–if you’re not using your lunch break to run errands, grab your laptop or notebook and head outside or to your company’s breakroom (or stay at your desk) and write while you eat (you may even get more than 10 minutes of writing time at lunch).
  • During your afternoon coffee/smoke break.
  • As soon as you walk in the door from work–yes, dinner needs to be made and there is homework to be done and a Girl Scout’s meeting and spending twenty minutes on the treadmill before bed. But before you do all that, take 10 minutes and write. Just getting down on paper those poem ideas or that great opening line to your next short story you came up with in your morning meeting will help you put your focus on the rest of your evening, while also keeping your writing on the back of your mind.
  • While dinner is cooking–unless you’re a beginner, you’ve probably mastered the art of making dinner. That also means you’ve got at least 10 minutes of time–while the rice is cooking, while the burgers are grilling–to write.
  • After dinner before you settle in to watch your favorite TV shows.
  • During the commercial breaks of your TV shows.
  • Before you go to bed–just quickly before you go to sleep, write for 10 minutes.
  • In place of watching a TV show you’ve already seen–you know what I’m talking about because we all do it: watching reruns of a show you like because there’s nothing better on. Instead, write for 10 minutes (or longer!).
  • After you put your kids to bed–once the little ones go to sleep, write!

So as you can see, there are plenty of ways to find 10 minutes in your day to write. No excuses, put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write for 10 minutes today.