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The #1 Question You Need to Ask Yourself If You Want to Be More Productive

I’m currently on the road–I drove with my husband and dog from NY where I live at the moment to Austin where I’ll be moving in a couple months. And it’s a 24-hour drive that we did straight through, no stopping to sleep.
 
Most people would find this situation to be inconvenient and wouldn’t worry too much about whether or not they’re being productive and getting stuff done.
 
But productivity is always on my mind. Mostly because I’m a productivity nerd, but also because I have BIG HUGE goals for my writing and my life and so I’m always thinking about how to get more stuff done.
 
I often hear writers say it’s impossible to get anything done when you’re traveling. And I used to agree with that. I used to buy into the belief that inconvenience is a huge problem and not worth pushing through on.
 
But that was the old me. The me I am now and the me I’m stepping into being knows that nothing is ever really convenient. And you’re either committed to getting the results… or you’re not.
 
So even though we were driving in the car for an entire day on Monday, I still got my blog post written and posted, and I still did my daily Live with Jen B. livestream on Facebook while we were stopped for gas.
 
Was it convenient to write a blog post on my phone? Hell no! Was it convenient to do a livestream late at night, at a gas station, when I’d been driving all day and was pretty exhausted? Hell no!
 
But I did it anyhow.
 
Why? Because that’s what it means to be UNSTOPPABLE. That’s what it means to not let anything get in the way of you and your goals.
 
Habits are only habits because you do them daily. If you don’t, then they’re not really habits. This year I’ve committed to building a habit around doing what matters and doing it daily. And what matters is my daily blog post, my daily livestream, my journaling and mindset work, and writing my books and screenplays.
 
When you know what matters and you’re committed to getting the results you’re after, inconveniece makes no difference. You just figure it out and do the best you can.

 

But there’s also a question you can ask yourself anytime you know you need to (or want to) do something, but you don’t think you have the time or the capacity to. And that question is… how can I make this work anyhow?

 
That’s the questions that’s been on my mind for the past three days as we’ve been on our trip and I’ve tried to continue my daily habits of doing what matters. (I even got up super early this morning so I could write this blog post before we have to get our day started!)
 
No, I haven’t been perfect with my daily habits since we’ve been on the road. But I have gotten all the most important stuff done each day. And it comes from asking that question… how can I make this work anyhow?
 
I asked myself that when I was riding in the car on Monday and thinking about how I’d do my livestream for the day. And the answer that came to me was, just do it at the next gas station you stop at.
 
No, it wasn’t the in-depth livestream I usually do, it was a two-and-a-half minute video where I shared this important question… how can I make this work anyhow? But the point is, I did it.
 
Even though it wasn’t at all convenient. Even though I was exhausted from driving and not sleeping much. Even though I could have easily not done it and no one would’ve given me a hard time about it because I was traveling.
 
But the definition of unstoppable is impossible to stop. No. Matter. What.
 
I see so many writers complaining about inconvenience and not having enough time. They’re too busy. Too stressed out. Too tired. They have too much other stuff to do. They have to work a day job. They’re gonna be on the road for a couple weeks. They’re [insert whatever excuse here].
 
Because that’s what those complaints are… EXCUSES. Yes, they might be true and valid, but they’re stil costing you the success you dream of.
 
So if you want to achieve more and really step into being the writer and author you see yourself as and that you dream of being, next time you feel a complaint or an excuse coming on that will stop you from doing your writing, choose to instead ask yourself, how can I make this work anyhow?
 
And then whatever answer comes up, act on it.
 
Sure, it takes discipline to not only ask the question but also to answer it and then act on it, but if you want to be a successful author who achieves everything you dream of and more, that’s what it’s gonna take.
 
You’re gonna have to push through and do the writing, even when it’s not convenient and you’re tired and you don’t have time. Otherwise you can hang your hat up right now, because you’ll never get where you want to go.
 
Harsh? Maybe. But it’s true. And that was a reality I had to face in my own writing life. I had to get really honest with myself and look at the facts… if I don’t step up and do what I have to do, I’ll never achieve my BIG writing goals.
 
And I don’t know about you, but I’m NOT OK with that!
 
I’m not OK with not letting my stories out. I’m not OK with allowing my dreams to die a slow death inside me. I’m not OK with not achieving what I came here for.
 
And to be totally honest, NOT living my purpose and NOT achieving my BIG writing dreams scares the shit out of me. The idea of dying with my stories and my ideas and messages and light still inside me scares me more than resistance and procrastination and excuses and inconvenience and being tired and not having enough time ever could.
 
Morbid? Maybe. But sometimes it takes looking at things from a morbid angle to finally wake you up to the fact that not only have you not been fully living your purpose, but you’re also not doing the work to achieve your goals, which means they’re never gonna happen.
 
No one can bring your dream life to reality except you. No one. Yes, others can support you and help you along the way and the Universe has your back, but you are ultimately responsible for taking control of your writing life.
 
So next time you find yourself ready to make an excuse for not doing your writing, I highly recommend you instead ask yourself, “how can I make this work anyhow? And then immediately act on whatever answer comes up.
 
Pockets of time. Doing what you can when you can. Prioritizing what matters and committing to getting it done daily.
 
That’s what it takes to make progress and achieve your dreams.
 
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
 
 
#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust
 

P.S. The Writing Life Rehab workshop is happening this Saturday, April 22 at 2 p.m. EST. If you’re ready to STOP making excuses and STEP INTO the writing life you’ve been dreaming of, you do not want to miss this!!

 
And there’s still five spots left to get in for the KILLER Top 15 Bonus… a FREE copy of my signature program, Write Your Damn Novel (a $297 value).
 

How To Rehab Your Writing Life in 5 Steps

I spend a lot of time with writers and authors. And one of the biggest differences I see between a pro author who has published books and an amateur or hobbyist writer who dreams of being published is what their writing lives look like.

A pro author’s writing life sets them up for success. They have habits and commitment and systems for getting shit done. And they do what it takes no matter what.

Whereas an amateur writer’s writing life is actually sabotaging them. Often they make excuses and let life chaos and other nonsense stop them from doing the work.

The truth is you can shift your writing life SO quickly if you just set yourself up for success. Here are 5 ways to do that:

1. Acknowledge and Accept Where You Are

Before you can make changes–real changes that stick–you need to accept where you are right now. And accept it without judgement or giving yourself a hard time.

The thing I often find is that writers get so caught up in NOT doing the writing and not being consistent. They’ll place blame and feel guilty and worry that they’ll never achieve their goals.

And all that does is bring on more of the same.

But when you accept where you are and don’t judge it or make a big deal about it, you’re in a much better position to make changes. Say it with me now…”up until now I haven’t taken my writing seriously but from this day forward that all changes.”

2. Figure Out What Matters to You

This is super important. You have to make sure you’re focusing on and doing the writing that you actually care about and that matters to you.

I know that may sound silly, but you have no idea how many writers I see “shoulding” themselves into writing novels when they don’t really want to or writing blog posts when they’re just not that into it. But someone along their writing journey once told them they should be doing that stuff, so they are.

Problem is they don’t really care about it. And so they procrastinate and make excuses and find ways to keep putting the writing off.

If you’re not fueled by the writing you’re doing, stop doing it and find the writing that really matters to you. I love writing fiction and always saw myself as a novelist but now that I’m two novels deep, I’m feeling much more pulled to write screenplays. I’m happy that I’ve learned and mastered craft all these years because it will make my novelist-to-screenwriter transition much easier.

I could’ve spent year shoulding myself into writing more novels. And I probably will still write novels too. But I’m finally allowing myself to try other types of writing that I’m feeling pulled to try.

When you actually care about the writing you’re doing, you’re much less likely to put it off for other things. And you’ll show up to the page excited and inspired and ready to get started.

3. Make Space for What Matters

Now that you’re clear on the writing that actually matters to you, you have to make space for it. Yes, that means you have to look at your life currently and where you’re spending your time each day.

If you’re not sure, grab a notebook and spend the next couple of days tracking how you spend your time (you don’t have to do this for long, a couple days should be enough).

I guarantee you’ll see a lot of stuff that you do on a daily basis that is far less of a priority than your writing. So why exactly are you putting that stuff ahead of your writing?

Answer: because you think you’re supposed to. But the truth is you’re not. You’re supposed to do what matters to you and do it daily.

When you ignore your writing or put it off for other stuff that doesn’t really matter or is less important to you, that’s when life loses its joy and purpose. Unhappiness, resentment, depression, anger… they’re often side effects of not doing your soul work. In this case, that would be your writing.

If you feel that way–that writing is your soul work–then you must make space for it in your day.

Notice I said MAKE space not FIND space. Find implies you don’t currently have enough space which isn’t true. You have space, you’re just not using it right.

Make implies that you’re intentionally turning something into a priority. And priorities always get done.

Imagine if brushing your teeth every day wasn’t a priority! Of course you can’t imagine that because you always make time for it. Otherwise you’d have no teeth left to eat with or smile with.

Make your writing as much of a priority as brushing your teeth and your entire life will change.

4. Ruthlessly Kill Shit that Doesn’t Matter

I used to watch TV while eating my breakfast. I used to spend two+ hours on Sundays cleaning and tidying up my apartment. And both of those things used to get in the way of doing my writing.

Now I won’t even turn the TV on if I haven’t done my writing. Now I wouldn’t even consider spending two hours cleaning if I haven’t worked on my novel or written my blog post.

Why? Because I made the decision to kill off anything that doesn’t really matter to me and that just gets in the way of my productivity.

Yes, it takes discipline to do this. But I believe that discipline creates freedom.

I do my writing every day first thing in the morning before I do anything else. Because I do this, I get it done for the day and it’s off my mind. And magically I still find time to watch TV and to clean my apartment.

Do what matters. Kill off anything that doesn’t.

5. Do Your Writing Daily

Yes, I’m telling you to write every single day. No matter what. Just do your writing.

You want to feel better and be happier and have a more freedom-filled life? Then stop putting off your writing. Period.

Write for 15 minutes. Make notes for your story while you drink your coffee in the morning. Jot down a new scene on your phone while the kids are playing soccer.

Use the little pockets of time that you have available to you. If you do this daily, it will add up.

Rehabbing your writing life is pretty simple. It just requires you to be honest with yourself about what you’ve been doing up to this point, get clear on what actually matters, and then committing to making time for what matters every day.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust 

P.S. If you’re ready to dive in and make massive changes and shifts in your writing life, so you can be more productive, more fulfilled and make progress on your writing goals, be sure to check out my upcoming workshop–the Writing Life Rehab Masterclass. It’s happening this Saturday April 22 at 2 pm EST (and will be fully recorded).

And because I want you to step up and take massive action, I’ve included an INSANELY AWESOME fast-action bonus for the first 15 people who sign up… a FREE copy of my signature program, Write Your Damn Novel: a self-paced eCourse for emerging novelists who want to write better stories.

But hurry… those spots are going fast!! Less than 10 remain…

>> Details and sign up here

Know What Matters. Do It Daily. Repeat.

Do you know what really matters in your writing life? What those key activities are that will actually move the needle in the direction of your dreams?

Or are you just doing random stuff here and there, hoping you’ll eventually get where you want to go?

I totally feel you if you’re still not sure what actually matters. For a long time, I didn’t know either. So I spent my day focused on stuff like interacting with people on Facebook and writing blog posts without a call to action and working on client stories, but rarely my own.

And I’d make excuses, like, client stuff is what really matters, my stuff will have to wait, or I’d avoid doing the writing by getting buried in Facebook posts.

Operating from that place every day—that place of being busy but not actually getting anything that matters done—is a recipe for staying stuck and stagnant.

Someone once said that some people live 90 years, and other people live one year 90 times. Think about that one.

That quote really woke me up and made me see that I’d been living the same year over and over again where my writing was concerned. Yes, I was working on stuff and even making some progress, but for years I was in pretty much the same place every December that I’d been in January.

I felt stuck and stagnant. I couldn’t understand how I’d been at this for so long and yet had made so little progress (or so it seemed to me, others would likely disagree). But then I finally figured it out.

I hadn’t been doing what really mattered. 

Now what really matters is subjective and based on the person in question. So what matters for you may not matter for me, and vice versa.

When you’re figuring out what matters, don’t base it on what you think should matter or what others tell you matters, base it on what actually does matter, to you.

Example, if you’re fine with your body and exercise doesn’t matter to you, then don’t do it. Just because others say exercise matters or you think it should matter to you (even though it doesn’t), doesn’t meant it actually matters. It’s about what matters to you.

If writing matters to you, then that’s (one of) the things you should be focusing on daily. Anything worth doing—anything that matters—is worth doing daily. 

Once I actually figured out what mattered to me and what moves the needle in my writing life and business, that’s the stuff I committed to doing daily, first things first. That includes things like, mindset work and journaling, writing a blog post, working on my fiction (and other writing projects), tracking my book sales numbers and income, and doing visibility and promotional activities.

That is the stuff that moves the needle for me. When I’m not doing that stuff every day—and especially when I’m not doing my fiction and writing projects daily—everything else falls apart in my life. Nothing goes right. I’m resentful of everything.

But when I do what matters and do it daily, that’s when everything in my life flows and happens with ease. I feel great and I’m happy. Best of all, I’m making consistent progress and actually finishing what I start.

And that’s why you have to do what matters and do it daily.

How do you know what matters? Journal on it. Ask yourself, “what activities, if I did them daily, would totally transform my life a year from now?” Commit to doing those activities every day. Report back. 

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. The Bestselling Author Mastermind is opening its doors to new members soon. BAM is a high-level community and mentorship for writers who want to develop the habits, consistency, follow-through and mindset of a bestselling author. Get on the waitlist here to be the first to know when the doors are open AND to get access to a waitlist-only bonus. 

How To Finish Writing Your Novel in 30 Days

Thirty days doesn’t seem like a lot of time when you’re thinking about finishing a project you started and then put off. But 30 days is actually a lot of time! And the thing is, the time’s gonna pass anyhow. So you may as well be doing something you actually care about with that time.
 
Which is why I’ve put together this quick-start guide for how to finish writing your novel in 30 days.
 
Now I will add that this list is for writers who have already started the draft of a novel. If you’re still in the planning and development stages, you need a whole different list. And if you’re revising, you’ll need a different (although similar) list as well (the revise-in-30-days list is coming Friday!).
 

First—why 30 days?

 
Because I have a theory that when you cut down your timeline, you actually motivate yourself and light a fire under your ass that gets you out of your head (see ya later doubt!) and into action. Anytime I’ve cut my timeline down, whether that be 30 days, 10 days or something else, it always gets me moving in the direction I want to go.
 
But when I give myself unlimited time to get something done or I don’t set a specific deadline for finishing it, I end up not working on it consistently, making excuses for why it’s not done yet, and then half a year or more passes and it’s still not done.
 
It’s a vicious cycle.
 
I started the first draft of my second novel in November 2015. But I didn’t finish it until February 2016. And it’s not because it just took me that long. Not at all. I started it in November and then I stopped working on it for almost 2 months.
 
I was only a handful of scenes away from being finished with it when I met a mentor in February 2016 who inspired and motivated me to FINISH.
 
So I did. I wrote the rest of the first draft—as crappy as the writing may have been—and I called it done. (Don’t get me started on how long it’s been taking me for the revision, mostly because I haven’t been being consistent until the last month or so.)
 
And finishing that first draft didn’t take me very long, once I set my mind to the fact that it was DONE and it would be done that month. Yes, I still had to take the actions and do the writing, but by making the decision that it was done, the words flowed a lot easier and I got it done within the 30-day timeframe that I set for myself.
 
How did I do it? Here’s how…
 

1. Decide On A Daily Measurable

 
You don’t have to write based on word count or page count or even scene count. But you can. And you should write based on at least one of those things. Otherwise you’ll have no idea if you’re making progress or not.
 
The feeling of doing the writing is amazing and will definitely motivate you, but seeing actual progress in black-and-white will really, really motivate you.
 
Action Step: what daily measurable will you use to ensure you’re making progress on finishing your first draft?
 

2. Get Yourself Some Accountability

 
This is super important. I wouldn’t get half the stuff I get done every day if it weren’t for all of the accountability I have set up in my life.
 
I’ve got an accountability partner for the things I want to get done each week. I’ve got an accountability partner for things I want to get done each day. And I’ve also got an accountability partner for the things I want to get done each month.
 
And yes, I need this many. I need more! Because self-set deadlines and keeping yourself accountable only goes so far. At some point, you’ll need someone outside yourself to help you out. (Unless you’re someone who is super good at self-accountability. But let’s just be honest—most writers and creators are not.)
 
I see myself as a leader. And a leader doesn’t show up to an accountability session and say that they didn’t do what they said they would. Creating built-in accountability has quadrupled my productivity.
 
Action Step: who can you find in your life to hold you accountable to doing your writing? Choose someone who will actually hold you to doing what you said you would, otherwise it won’t be very useful.
 

3. Find A Writing Sprints Partner

 
Writing sprints are basically timed periods of writing where you try to get as many words written as you can. Usually you do a writing sprint with a partner or a group of people (you could do it alone with a timer if you really wanted to, but it’s not as fun).
 
All you have to do is set a time to meet up virtually (you can check in via Facebook message, email or text message), and then decide on how long you’re sprinting for. Then you’re off and writing until the time is up.
 
For example—you could decide to meet up online at Noon and then do a 15-minute writing sprint and check in. Or you could decide to sprint until 12:30 and then check in.
 
How you do the writing sprints doesn’t really matter. But doing them, and especially with a partner, is major motivation to get out of your head and into action.
 
Action Step: who can you do writing sprints with? Find someone and get some writing sprint sessions set up pronto.
 

4. Use A Timer

 
I don’t care what you’re doing—writing, reading, watching TV—almost everything works better when you have a set time for how long you’re gonna do the activity for. Using a timer for my writing and other projects has seriously changed my life and amped up my productivity in a major way.
 
I like to do things in 15- or 21-minute sessions (sometimes 31-minutes if I really feel like it), and then take a break for a few before starting the next thing. That may not seem like a lot of time to work on your writing or creating or whatever you’re doing, but think of it this way… add 21 minutes a day up over 7 days. Then add it up over 14 days. Then add it up over 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, etc.
 
And 365 days of writing for 21 minutes a day equals 7,665 minutes, or around 128 hours of time. Now imagine if you actually worked on your novel or writing project for 128 hours over the course of a year.
 
What you’ll find is that it’s enough. It’s enough time to actually make progress and get somewhere.
 
I’ve been revising my second novel for 15- to 21-minutes a day for the last month and I’m already more than a quarter of the way through. And I’ll be speeding things up and finishing the rest next month (more details on that below).
 
Action Step: find yourself a timer if you don’t already have one (or use this timer here). Start writing and creating by the timer. Do it daily.
 

5. Give Yourself A Deadline

 
Pretty obvious, but deadlines are a way to motivate yourself to take action. If you know something is due by a certain date, you’ll get it done.
 
But just in case you’re not great at self-set deadlines (as so many writers are not), that’s where the other stuff on this list comes in.
 
Action Step: open your calendar right now and set a deadline for when you will finish your first draft. Then use the other action steps to get it done.
 

6. Create A Distractions Checklist

 
I created a distractions checklist as a way of helping me focus. Here’s what it consists of:
 
> 10 minutes to check Facebook and/or email (set a timer to keep it to exactly 10 minutes)
 
When timer goes off…
 
> Close browser completely
 
> Turn on writing playlist
 
> Flip phone face down on the desk so I can’t see the screen (put it on silent if it’s not already)
 
> Start writing (use timer—15-30 minutes)
 
Having this checklist allows me to wind down the things that distract me so I can focus completely on getting writing done.
 
Action step: create your own distractions checklist that you can use in your writing life.
 

7. Commit to 15 Minutes of Fitness A Day

 
This could be taking a walk, lifting weights, running on a treadmill—whatever feels fun for you. When you’re committing to finish something in 30 days, it’s important that you keep up your energy.
 
Getting in some daily movement, even for just 15 minutes, is enough to do that.
 
Action Step: choose a movement-based activity that you love and do it for 15 minutes. Repeat daily.
 

8. Fill Your Fridge with Snacks that Fuel You

 
Yeah, it’s fine to have some chocolate or other snacks to munch while you’re writing. But don’t overdo it. Otherwise you’ll just feel sluggish and uninspired.
 
If you’re finishing your novel in 30 days, there’s a good chance you’ll eat several meals in front of your laptop. So give yourself an energy boost and actually stock your fridge with some healthy stuff.
 
I like to stock up with chia pudding, homemade chocolate, popcorn, raw veggies with dip and things like that. (Although lately I’ve been trying not to eat high-carb stuff, so popcorn is out for me… except for when I go to the movies 😉 )
 
Action Step: make a list of foods to have on hand when you’re finishing your novel in a 30-day period.
 

9. Join the FINISH Your Damn Novel Workshop

 
Sorry—had to plug this one right here. Because this workshop will seriously change your life if you follow along and do the work.
 
The FINISH Your Damn Novel workshop will help you become a finisher, which is pretty much the most important thing you need to be. At least if you want to be a pro writer.
 
Pro writers finish what they start. And then they take the next step. And eventually they publish. Then they do it all over again.
 
Want to be a pro? Then it’s time to step into the big leagues and finish what you started.
 
 
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
 
 
#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

Habits Are Just the Things You Do On A Daily Basis

Words like structure and discipline and habits tend to scare writers. As creative people, we think that having habits or structure in our lives (or stories) will ruin the creativity and freedom that we love.

We’re afraid we’ll be stifled or that we’ll lose that creative spark we’re used to having.

I know because I used to feel the exact same way. I avoided being disciplined or creating habits for most of my life.

And so my habits and discipline was created by default. Because your habits are just the things you do on a daily basis.

For many years, without meaning to, I’d created habits like watching TV for hours at night, and ignoring my writing, and making everything else more important than creating. The funny thing is, I had discipline. It was just around stuff like watching TV at the same time every night.

And yet when I’d hear the words discipline or habits, I’d immediately feel like my creativity would be zapped. How ridiculous is that?!

Because when you use your creativity and do your writing on a consistent basis, you actually become MORE creative and you become a BETTER writer. Crazy, right?

The truth is habits and discipline actually create the freedom that us writers and creators so deeply desire to have in our lives. And they make you better at whatever it is you’re doing.

My writing has improved significantly over the past decade as I’ve been freelance writing and blogging and writing fiction and nonfiction books. But it wasn’t until the last couple years when I’ve realized how much easier and more in flow things can be in my creative life when I’m consistent and when I commit to creating discipline and habits that support me.

‘Cause here’s the thing—your habits can either support your success or they can be your demise.

For years my habits were actually causing me to be stuck in doubt, fear, procrastination, Resistance and excuses. I never really felt clear on anything and I constantly felt like I didn’t know enough (even though I knew plenty).

Not exactly the best motivation for my writing and creating.

But over the last couple years, I’ve discovered that clarity comes from taking action. It comes from doing the work and trying things out. (When you’re unclear, the worst thing you can do is sit there wallowing in it.)

If I’m feeling unclear on something, I know that if I just take some action, in a few days or a few weeks, I’ll start to see clarity.

So a really important question that I ask myself on a monthly basis now is: what habits do I need to install that will support my goals for 2017? 

A lot of times I’m coming back to the same things: food, fitness, doing the writing first things first, etc. And since I come back to the same things, I find myself slowly but surely making progress on building the habits that I want to have.

The problem is that we’ve been programmed for so long with such bad habits and beliefs and thoughts that actually go against the things we want for ourselves, that it’s hard to make changes.

I tried to make a major diet change last month. It was pretty disastrous and after 17 days I totally fell off track.

But I had the opportunity to see and feel what my life and energy and body would be like if I did live that lifestyle on a consistent basis. And that changed everything for me.

Because now I know what I want and I’m very clear on what it’s gonna take to get there. 

I’m still not back where I was last month food-wise and fitness-wise, but I’m slowly moving in that direction again, building up new habits and uninstalling the old ones. It’s a process, but it’s totally worth it.

And the thing that really helped me to make these changes and start creating these new habits is recognizing that habits are just the things you do every day. 

If you do something every single day, that means you have consistency, and consistency is what creates a habit. Doesn’t matter what the thing is, if you do it every day, it’s a habit.

When I started to look at things from that angle, it gave me a whole new perspective on creating the habits that I wanted to have. I just needed to start doing those things I wanted to be doing—working on my fiction, blogging, eating healthy and moving my body—every single day. And if I did that consistently, eventually I’d have a habit around all of it. 

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the last few months, creating new habits that support my goals and my dream life. It’s been an interesting experiment so far, but I’m enjoying it, even the hard parts. Because I know what’s on the other side if I just keep going.

Share With Us

Now I turn that question to you: what habits do you need to install that will support your goals for 2017 (and beyond)? 

Building a habit just means doing something every single day (or on most day). If you want to build a habit of writing, you just have to write every day.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. If you want a really easy way to build—or continue building—that habit in your writing life, I’d love for you to join me for FINISH Your Damn Novel: 30 days of kick-ass motivation, inspiration and getting-writing-done for writers who’ve started a novel and want to finish. 

I’ll be motivating, inspiring and empowering you to work on your novel draft (or revision) every single day for 30 days. Not only will I be working on and finishing my novel revisions along with you, but I’ll be sending you daily emails and doing livestreams throughout the week in the private workshop Facebook group that will help you stay motivated, create consistency and build a habit of getting words on the page.

Your creativity will soar. You’ll finally have ideas and inspiration flowing every day. And you’ll have finished your novel draft or revision. 

How kick-ass would it be to have your novel draft or revision finished by May 1?!

That gives you plenty of time to hire an editor and Beta Readers, do a final polish and then get that sucker out into the world THIS YEAR so you can start on your next one.

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The Really Bad Habit Every Writer Should Break

I don’t know about you, but a really bad habit I have is checking my email and Facebook notifications first thing when I get out of bed in the morning. As soon as I wake up, I do my journaling and intention setting for the day, but once I’ve stepped out of bed I grab my iPhone and immediately check my emails and Facebook stuff.

Maybe you can relate?

A lot of people do this. It’s just a habitual way of being for most. But it’s a really bad habit that writers (and creative people, in general) need to work on removing from their lives.

The reason is because instead of starting your day with intention and purpose, you’re being reactive to whatever is going on in the outside world (emails, Facebook messages, etc). And when you do this, it essentially sets the tone for your whole day.

I never even really thought of it that way until my mentor said it the other night on a call I was listening to. She said, “do you really want to set the tone of your day by being reactive to other people’s shit?”

And it really got me thinking, because I’ve had a lot of days where I thought I was in for a good day and then I ended up instead being reactive to a hate-mail that came in or to something that someone posted on Facebook, and then that set up the rest of my day.

I’d be brushing my teeth thinking about the hate-mail or walking the dog and worrying that everything was a disaster and I needed to be home working and not enjoying my morning walk.

All of that is reactive behavior and thinking that gets you nowhere and puts a stop to your productive thoughts and actions, because your mind will just be reeling all day from the jolt you had first thing in the morning.

I know it’s insanely hard not to be reactive. As a society, that’s how we are—we react to things that are happening, instead of setting intention and creating what we want. We’re taught to behave this way, so it’s totally normal for it to be a habit we have.

Except it’s a really shitty one that we, as writers, need to break ASAP.

As a creative thinker, you need to give yourself a boost of inspiration and motivation first thing in the morning, to get the juices flowing and keep you thinking creatively all day long. But when you get out of bed and first thing jump into the outside world stuff by reading emails and checking Facebook or watching the news, you’re instead doing the opposite: pushing your creative juices away.

It’s really hard to think creatively and to feel inspired all day when you’re thoughts are inundated with the outside world.

And the truth is, the world doesn’t need you to be there first thing in the morning. We sometimes think it does because everyone wants instant gratification, but the reality is, it can wait.

There’s no difference between checking your email at 7 a.m. when you first wake up, and checking it at 10 a.m. or 11 a.m., AFTER you’ve done your creative work for the day (or at the very least, done some journaling around creating your reality and setting intentions for your life), except then you’ll have been productive and intentional BEFORE you become reactive to the outside world.

And I don’t know about you, but I always feel better and can handle life chaos a whole lot more when I’ve actually accomplished something in my day.

For example, even if something crazy happens in my life and I get distracted from my work for the day, if I at least started my day with journaling and writing my blog post, then I don’t mind as much if I have to deal with life chaos. But when I let life chaos in first thing in the morning, then I feel grumpy and I probably won’t do my journaling or I’ll make excuses for why I don’t need to write a blog post that day.

Habits are intentional ways of being, so you need to create habits that support the writing life you want for yourself.

An Experiment

You know how much I love experiments (well, maybe you don’t if you’re new to me, but yes, I love experiments). Change is hard for me because I’m a habitual person and habits are hard to break, so the way I force myself into changing is to give myself a challenge. (Sometimes my challenges to myself are totally insane, but I live for that.)

I’ve challenged myself to not check my emails, Facebook or anything else until after I’ve done my morning journaling and written my blog post for the day. I’m doing this as an experiment for 30 days, after that I will decide whether to keep going (which is what happens after most of my challenges) or to change something up.

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Do you check your emails or Facebook first thing in the morning? How can you step up and start moving away from that habit?

Ready to kick your bad habits to the curb and instead create habits that support your writing life and align with the writer and author you want to be? Check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a kick-ass motivation, get-your-writing-done productivity and success mindset group for emerging authors who want the dream writing life. Learn more here.

Featured image courtesy of Pen Waggener

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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How are you going to step up and take your writing life on full-force? 

If you’ve been procrastinating but you’re ready for MORE in your writing life, check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, it’s the high-level accountability and ass-kicking motivation you need to reach your writing goals. 

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

How To Be A Better Writer

By Jennifer Blanchard

If you’ve mastered the fundamentals of writing (grammar, vocabulary, all the elements of style), you’re already on track to becoming a better writer. And there are lots of other things that you can do to continue on that path. Things like writing every day, reading good writing and taking a writing course.

It’s important to continually improve your writing in whatever way makes sense for you. The harder you’re willing to work, the better writer you’ll be.

To help you out, here are some can’t-miss article about becoming a better writer. Read a couple and try some of the tips out:

And be sure to come back and let us know how you did.