There’s No Such Thing As Writer’s Block

I used to be the Queen Procrastinating Writer. I claimed writer’s block for years. I used it as an excuse not to do the writing I knew I wanted to be doing.

But once I finally dug deeper into what was really going on, I was able to make a discovery: there’s no such thing as writers block.

Writers Block is actually a surface problem. The roots go much deeper.

NY Times Bestselling Author, Jerry Jenkins, has narrowed down exactly where “Writer’s Block” comes from:

  1. Fear
  2. Procrastination
  3. Perfectionism
  4. Distractions

In his article, How To Overcome Writer’s Block Once and For All, he shares his solutions for dealing with these four underlying issues that bring about “Writer’s Block.”

>> Read the article here

Jerry has written and published 190 books!! Twenty-one of which have been NY Times Bestsellers. If there’s anyone who can help you overcome your struggle with the underlying issues that cause “Writer’s Block,” it’s him.

How do you deal with Writer’s Block? Share in the comments. 

The Responsibility to Write

I woke up this morning, took the dog out, did my journaling and mindset practice… but I didn’t want to write. Right after I finish my journaling is when I usually sit down and write my blog post for the day and then work on some fiction (or whatever book project I have going on).

But today, I didn’t feel like it.

I had nothing to say. I couldn’t think of any ideas. And it’s GORGEOUS out today. It’s a beautiful spring day in Western NY and the temperature is 63. In March!! SO not the usual for us this early in the year. Usually we’re buried in snow for another two months.

But today, it’s beautiful.

Surely this kind of weather in the beginning of March can be an excuse for not doing my writing for the day. I did my writing for the last two days, so I don’t need to do it today.

And besides, I don’t feel like it.

But, wait.

What’s that?

This nagging voice inside… telling me that I need to. That even though I don’t feel like it, it’s my responsibility to sit down to the page and show up. 

Even if I don’t feel like it.

But, UGH!!! I have nothing to say! I’m out of ideas. I’ve written enough this week!

And yet, the voice nags on…

You’re a writer. You were BORN to write. So you have a RESPONSIBILITY to SHOW UP every day and do the writing. 

Writers who are born to write are messengers for the world. They have ideas and stories and stuff inside that needs to be unleashed—that people NEED to hear. And it’s IRRESPONSIBLE and WRONG to keep that stuff to yourself. To hoard it and not bring it out into the world where it rightly belongs. 

Your community, your readers, your people need to hear those stories, those ideas, those messages. They’re waiting to hear them. Waiting for the moment when you come along and write something that changes their lives. That makes them think. That entertains them. That causes them to wake up and take action in their own lives because they’re so inspired, motivated and blown away by that little piece of writing you put out into the world. 

These stories and ideas came to you for a reason. They CHOSE you. 

Because you’re the one who’s meant to channel them from stories and ideas and messages in your head, to words on the page. 

And by NOT writing, you’re doing a disservice to all of the people who need to hear from you. Who wake up and the first thing they do is wonder what you have to say today. Who check their emails every morning, looking for a blog post from you.

Who are DISAPPOINTED when they don’t find one. 

Because your community, your readers, your fans WANT to hear from you. They want to hear what you have to say. They need to hear it. So they can keep going. So they can put one foot in front of the other today. So they can stay focused on their dream life and creating it for themselves.

Are you really going to DENY them of what they need by not writing today?

OK—I get it! Loud and clear.

I must write. I must write every day. I must write and create and unleash what’s inside me. The stories, the ideas, the messages. 

Even when I don’t feel like it.

Even when I don’t have the time.

Even when it’s the last thing I want to do.

I must write. I must write for those who need to hear from me. For those who are motivated, inspired and empowered in their own lives by reading my words.

So I take the dog for a walk and I ask a question, out loud, to the Universe: what does my community need to hear from me today? 

And then we walk. Soon after, a phrase comes to me… the responsibility to write. 

Now I’m getting impatient. Dog—stop smelling everything in sight! We need to get back home so I can write. The words are piling up in my head with every step we take.

Responsibility to write… You must… It’s a non-negotiable when you’re born to write…

Back in the apartment, I sit at my computer, open my doc and let the words flow.

What comes out is this post. This post that I didn’t want to write. That I didn’t even feel like writing.

But I wrote it anyhow. Because that’s what a pro writer does.

And you’re a pro writer, aren’t you?

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How do you get inspired to write when you don’t feel like it?


What Stories Are You Telling Yourself?

As writers and storytellers, we’re often thinking about the fictional stories we want to tell and the fictional reality we want to create for our characters. 

But we don’t often think about the fictional stories that we’re telling ourselves. The fictional programming we’ve had since childhood that’s creating our lives and our realities right at this very moment.

While the fictional stories we want to tell are important, what’s more important is the fictional stories we’re telling ourselves.

Because it’s THOSE stories that are causing us to either have it all or have nothing. To love ourselves and our lives or to dislike all of the above.

You may not realize it because it’s a mostly subconscious thing, but there are stories you’ve been telling yourself your entire life—or that you’ve been told your entire life—about the so-called reality of the world and of life and of you.

But here’s the thing… just because you’ve had those stories and told those stories for so long, doesn’t mean you have to keep telling them. Because you don’t.

You can create ANYTHING you set your mind to, and ANYTHING is possible and achievable when your mind believes it is.


So with that kind of knowledge and that kind of power… what would ever make you think that you have to continue living those old stories that you’re telling yourself? And you know the stories I’m talking about…

  • I’m broke
  • I can’t do this
  • It’s too hard
  • Money is so hard
  • Life is a struggle
  • Writing is a struggle
  • Writers are broke
  • Writers don’t make money
  • Writing isn’t a real career
  • I can’t get paid to do what I love
  • Doing what you love is for retirement
  • I’m fat
  • I’m ugly
  • I’m too old
  • I’m too young
  • I’m not good enough
  • [insert your own BS stories and excuses here]

All of these (and more) are just FICTIONAL STORIES!! They’re made up, bullshit things that you’ve been telling yourself your whole life—or have been told your whole life. BUT—you don’t have to keep CHOOSING to tell this story or to let this programming run in the background of your mind.

You can consciously CHOOSE every single day, to write a new story. To wake the fuck up and realize that you are the only one who creates your reality. YOU. No one else. And no one else has ANY control over you or your life—unless you CHOOSE to give your power and your control over to them.

Life doesn’t happen to you. You DON’T have to live your life just reacting to what’s happening around you.

You can CHOOSE to create the day, week, life, MOMENT that you want to have, right fucking now. You can choose it and you can create it. All you have to do is set your mind to it and not deviate from that thought.

And you do not, do not, DO NOT have to do what everyone else is doing. In fact, you shouldn’t. Even if your best friend is doing it. Even if your siblings are doing it. Even if your parents are doing it. Even if every damn person around you is doing it.

That is their choice—and yes, they are making a choice, even subconsciously—to buy into the bullshit. To believe that reality is what’s true and imagination is what’s fictional.

When the TRUTH IS, it’s the OTHER WAY AROUND!!!!

Your thoughts and beliefs are CAUSE, the current reality you see around you is EFFECT. Which means your imagination and thoughts are what’s actually REAL and your reality is FICTION.

Because you can change and shift your reality anytime you CHOOSE to. You can wake up today and think a new thought and create a new, empowering belief, and act in a different way.

Normal people who know me think I’m out of my damn mind. People tell me on a regular basis that I live in La-La Land. And you know what?


Because I KNOW what’s true about the Universe that we live in and I KNOW that living in La-La Land is the ONLY WAY to make your dreams a reality.

Yes, you have to take real, practical and consistent action in your actual physical reality, every single day. BUT—if you can get your mind to your destination first (via your imagination), you WILL see the results you want to see.

It’s literally IMPOSSIBLE for you not to. Because THAT’S HOW IT WORKS!!

If you keep showing up, keep directing your mind to where you want it to go, and stay entirely focused on your dreams and on the goals you have for yourself and your life, you will get there. It’s inevitable.

You just have to find a way to IGNORE everything in your current reality that you don’t like, don’t approve of or don’t want to live as a story anymore.

I get up every single morning and spend 30-60 minutes journaling and creating the reality I want to see in my real life. Over and over and over again programming into my mind and into my beliefs what I know and want to be true for me and my life.

Some might call that insanity. I call it using your power to intentionally create the life you want.

I no longer let life’s little BS get to me. Because I know that will always happen, and it’s my perspective, attitude and choice how I respond to it that really matters.

It’s time to release the old stories. Time to figure out what you actually WANT to see and have happen in your life, and then reprogram any thoughts and beliefs that oppose it.

Because it’s totally up to you. And a belief is just a thought you keep thinking. Which means you can CHANGE IT anytime you CHOOSE TO.

No, it won’t be easy. But it WILL BE easier than continuing to live a life that makes you miserable, depressed and causes you to wonder if this really is all there is.

I’m here to tell you it’s not. Not even close. Because the reality you currently see around you is just a product of—the EFFECT OF—your previous ways of thinking, believing and acting. And your thoughts, beliefs and actions are ALWAYS in your control.

Really, they’re the only things you need to be in control of. Because once you’re in control of your thoughts, beliefs and actions, you can and you will be able to create absolutely ANYTHING you want for yourself and your life.

Even if what you see in your current reality is a million miles away from where you want to be.

That gap can be filled QUICK when you tune into your inner world and connect with the power of your mind. A current reality that looks dire right now can totally transform in a matter of days—even minutes—when you get your mind in the right place.

Transformation does not have to take years and years of your life. Transformation can happen in an instant—if you’re open to it and believe that it’s possible.

Because that’s what it all comes down to. What do you believe is possible? And not just what do you believe is possible, but what, specifically, do you believe is possible for YOU?

Most people won’t take on the responsibility of caring about how they think, what they believe, how they act and how they feel. They won’t because it’s easier to just keep focusing on the negative stuff and to keep telling yourself the same old BULLSHIT stories that you have up to this point.


But really… is it?

Because living a life of struggle, of lack, of limitation, of NOT ENOUGH is one of the HARDEST things I’ve ever lived through. And it made life SUCK.

What I do now is so much easier. I get up every single day and I journal and I set intentions for my day and my life and for who I am and want to be. And then I do the work, I take action and I show up for my dreams. All the while trusting that it will all work out, because it always does.

Do I have days where I get caught up in my current reality and worrying that I’ve lost my mind thinking that things will ever change for me? You bet. We all do. It’s part of being human.

But I REFUSE to stay stuck in that. I REFUSE to let that take over my mind and all the work I do to keep my focus on my dreams and where I want to go.

I REFUSE to live my old stories of struggle, lack, limitation and not enough anymore. I just flat out fucking refuse.


Because I’m better than that (and so are you). And I know what’s possible when you believe it is. I’ve seen it and I’ve experienced it and I’ve lived it.

And that is what I will continue living. A life of ease. Of flow. Of abundance. Of unlimited possibility and potential. A life where dreams come true, success is inevitable, and I can HAVE IT ALL and ON MY TERMS.

That is the life I CHOOSE to create. And so it is.


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What life are YOU choosing to create? What old stories are you telling yourself? What can you let go of right fucking now? I wanna know! Share in the comments.

Do You Agree With This?

I saw something in a Facebook group for writers the other day that kinda got me fired up. And it’s not the first time.

To be honest, it’s something that gets me fired up every time I see it.

Someone posted a meme in the group that showed a writer being stressed out and having a hard time. And then the comment from the poster was: who else agrees it’s hard to be a writer? 

I cringed when I saw this while scrolling through my feed the other day. Talking about writing and being a writer in that way always makes me cringe. Because it’s so totally unnecessary.

If you think being a writer is “hard,” then it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s actually hard to be a writer. That’s just how you’re choosing to see it. 

Now, of course, this Facebook thread about it being hard to be a writer was super popular in the group. People kept commenting on it, adding their two-cents about how hard writing is and how much they struggle with it. The “likes” kept coming.

And I just kept shaking my head.

Because these writers are dooming themselves to writing being a struggle for them. They’ve just decided and declared to the Universe–in a public forum–that being a writer is hard. 

And so IT IS.

That’s what you have to remember about this whole writing thing. It will be as hard–or, as easy–as you decide it’s going to be.

There are writers out there who don’t struggle. Authors who write multiple books a year because it’s easy for them. Writers who sit down at their computers and the words just flow like water. 

That doesn’t mean these writers aren’t working hard. You can bet your ass they’re working extremely hard.

Writing is HARD WORK. Maybe the hardest creative work in existence (especially for fiction writers).

But that doesn’t mean being a writer has to be HARD. Hard and hard work are NOT the same thing. 

And that’s a distinction I want you to really take in, because it will change your writing life.

For writers who achieve flow and who never have to worry about getting inspired or not knowing what to write about, they have created intentional ways of BEING. 

They don’t sit around in Facebook groups complaining that being a writer is hard. They sit their asses in their chairs every single day and they put words on the page.

When they’re not inspired, they find ways to become inspired and they get their writing done.

When they’re tired, they find ways to pep themselves back up and they put in their writing session.

When they’re super insanely busy, they still find ways to sneak writing in and they put words on the page.

There are no excuses. No focusing on the fact that being a writer is hard. They just do the work.

Writing is only hard if you decide that it is.

I used to tell myself writing was hard… and so it was for me. Sure, I could crank out a blog post without a problem, but writing a book was always a struggle for me. Until I realized it was only a struggle because I was letting it be.

So this year, I took charge. I decided that I was gonna make my writing life easy, breezy and FUN. I was gonna go big, aim higher and write more books. I was gonna finally have my dream writing life, exactly as I’ve always imagined it, all on my terms.

And so IT IS.

I never have to get inspired anymore or worry about not knowing what to say. I just sit down and something always comes to me. And if it doesn’t come right away, I just close my eyes and ask myself, “what do people need to hear from me today?” and soon after the answer always comes.

I keep lists of ideas, on Post-its, in my various journals and notebooks. So I can always reach for the lists and choose something off one of them.

But the funny thing is, I rarely ever do. Because I’ve created intentional ways of being around my writing where the inspiration just COMES TO ME. I get badass high-concept story ideas on the regular. I have a huge list of eBooks I could write.

There is no stopping this well of creativity. It will never run dry. I will always have something to say. I will always have something I can create.

And it all goes back to making the DECISION to let my writing life be easy, breezy and fun.

Your words have power. They create things. And intention makes it so.

The last thing you want to do is say out loud–or even type in the comments of a public forum–and agree with writers who say that being a writer is hard.

Being a writer is whatever you decide that it’s gonna be. Period.

Here are some of the intentional ways of being I’ve created around my writing life:

  • Writing my realitythis is a journaling exercise I do several times a day, every day. I write out what I want my life to be like, feel like and look like. This includes details about my writing life, my current writing projects, and even intentions around how I want my day to go. This is the most powerful practice I have in my life.
  • Setting intentions before I start–rather than just jumping into my writing session or working on whatever project or task is in front of me, I take a second to just set a few intentions for how I want it to go. I’ll say things like, “the words flow with ease. I get this written in record speed and it totally kicks ass.” Simple. And then I get into my session (or whatever task I’m working on). This practice works for anything, even cleaning your house and doing dishes (I will say, “the dishes get done in lightning speed and I enjoy myself the whole time;” corny, but it works!).
  • Regular idea generation–I am constantly brainstorming and writing down ideas. I don’t use 90 percent of what I write down, but I write it down to get it out of my head and to clear a pathway for the really great ideas to come through. A big problem a lot of writers have is they don’t generate enough ideas, so when they finally get an idea for something to write, they don’t even consider whether or not it’s worth writing. They just write it. And that’s how a lot of novelists end up with mediocre stories about everyday people and everyday places. A snooze-fest as far as a reader (and agent and publisher) is concerned. But by generating loads of ideas, you’ll ensure the really great ones actually come through clearly.
  • Daily writing tasks–writing is one of my top 5 priorities every single day. Which means I always get my writing done in some way, shape or form. I may not always work on my books every day, but I’m always writing blog posts or creating new content for my community. I write something every day, even if it’s just a mini-blog post on my Facebook page.
  • Create something new daily–creating is a top priority for me. As a creative, multi-passionate being, I can’t not create. Whether I’m writing, making art, recording a video or just cooking in my kitchen, I create something new (usually multiple things) daily.
  • Act as if–this one is a biggie. Making the decision to show up every day and act AS IF I am already the writer and author I dream of being has made a huge difference in my success. When you act as if, you send a powerful message to the Universe that you believe what you’ve asked for–your dream writing life–is yours. But in order to receive it, you need to take consistent action on that dream. Receiving what you want is not a passive thing. You can’t ask for the dream writing life and then sit on your couch and watch Netflix. You’ve gotta ask for the dream writing life and then GO OUT THERE AND GET IT.
  • Creative wellness–I believe in the connection between what you eat and how you feel. And I also believe in the connection between lifestyle and your creativity. So I make it a priority to eat right and get movement in (even if it’s just walking my dog and doing some stretches) every day. Food is fuel and movement is energy. You need both. And as a writer, you’ll benefit so much more from treating your body like the creative temple it is. Junky food and lifestyle habits equal junky creative juices.

These intentional ways of being have helped me to become the writer and author that I am today. And now that I’ve been at this for so long–and especially as I’ve cleaned my act up this year–these ways of being have become a habit. I no longer have to really think about them, it just happens naturally as an extension of showing up every day as the writer and author I want to be.

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What intentional ways of being have you created around your writing life? 

Do you want to make writing and publishing your book easier? Then check out my new self-paced eCourse: Write and Publish Your Nonfiction eBook in 10 Days. 

This eCourse walks you step-by-step through the entire process, from outlining your eBook to writing it to formatting for Kindle and designing your cover to actually pressing publish on Amazon. I’ve even included a bonus training on how to Sell More Books.

Best of all, this eCourse is a repeatable process you can use over and over again to develop, write and self-publish all of your nonfiction eBooks (I don’t recommend using this process with a novel). 

The eCourse comes with:

Daily checklists so you know exactly what to do every single day

Guides MP3s that talk you through the most detailed parts of the process, including important things to be thinking about or to consider 

Resources for editors, cover designers, formatters and more 

Video walk-throughs to show you how to format your eBook, create a kick-ass cover and how to upload and publish on Amazon

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Why You Need to Start Trusting the Process (And How To Do It)

NOTE: this is a guest post from Mary DeRosa Hughes of the Grateful Scribe

A few weeks ago, my best friend and fellow writer Kelly called me up on the verge of a panic attack. She was swamped with projects, when one of her clients came to her with an assignment she had no time for: writing employee profiles for a group of highly successful metropolitan realtors. Never one to disappoint a customer, she asked if I could pinch-hit for her.

I had room in my work schedule, so I accepted the assignment. After her breathing returned to normal, she gave me the details.

“They need a full page bio for each realtor. Twenty five of them. In five days.”

So it’s a tight timeline. 

“And you also have to interview everyone. ”

Now it’s a really tight timeline.

Then she hit me with the final piece: “Just a heads up:  they’re insanely busy people.  If you get five minutes of their time, that’d be a serious miracle. As in turning-water-into-wine kind of miracle.”

Uh oh.

Kelly was relieved, but my anxiety-fueled monkey mind was off to the races.

I have to track down twenty five real estate agents who barely have time to breathe, let alone talk to me. And if they do give me five minutes of their time, they’ll probably be hostile because they could have used those precious minutes to sell sixteen condo units. I’ll never get anything good from them, so the profiles will be horrible. Why did I say I would do this?

But then the chatter stopped. And I shifted from questioning my sanity to questioning my lack of faith, in myself and in the Universe.

I have been writing professionally for almost 20 years. I believe infinite wisdom is at work in everything. The Universe sent me this assignment for a reason.

So why do I think I can’t handle this?  I have to embrace it and trust the process.  Believing fully that everything will work out.

After pondering that for a moment,  I logged into my email, pulled up the contact numbers for every agent and started dialing.

My initial call was simply to set a time for us to chat. But surprisingly, quite a few of them agreed to let me interview them right on the spot, and they offered up some great info. Many of them even spent well over the coveted five minutes with me.
Several days later, I turned in the project, feeling not only relief, but a renewed sense of confidence, in both myself and the Universe.

Learning to trust the process is great for everything from supporting your work in the world to your mental and physical health. But what exactly can you do to snap into “trust autopilot” when faced with scenarios that are unfamiliar, nerve wracking or downright scary?

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Inventory Your “Work Outs” (and I don’t mean time at the gym)
– How many times have things you initially doubted and stressed over actually worked out? Probably more often than not, right?

Keep a list of all the successes you’ve had when you just relaxed, took action and let the Universe orchestrate the “How.” When you feel like your sense of trust is headed for the exit, grab that list and read it.

Stop Fearing The Fear – As long as you are learning, growing and trying new things, you will encounter at least some level of fear at the outset of whatever you’re doing.

And contrary to what your churning stomach and racing heart may seem to indicate, you’re not going to die. Honestly.

You are actually becoming more alive by facing – and conquering – these uncomfortable feelings.

Curtail the “Cursed Hows” – You’ve set your intention. You’ve put positive energy around the situation. You believe that the Universe will deliver an awesome end result.

But…you can’t stop thinking of how it will all come together. Which people will or won’t cooperate? Where will the money come from? Is this going to take a week? A month? Forever?

When you catch yourself running this tape-loop in your head, stop.

Then remind yourself that you’re dealing with a powerful, loving,  unlimited creative force with riches and resources far beyond what you can imagine.  And all of them will be at your disposal the moment you choose to trust the process.

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What steps can you take to learn to trust the process in your own life?

About the Author:

About the Author: Mary DeRosa Hughes is a freelance writer and blogger based in Scottsdale, Arizona. She has been writing professionally for over 18  years, with experience ranging from corporate video scripts and motion picture screenplays to marketing copy and website content. Her short film Anniversary was an Official Selection of the 2013 Aesthetica Short Film Festival in York, U.K.  She is also working on the rewrite of her first fiction novel, and is excited to be releasing her second short film Waiting For Goodbye in the summer of 2016.

If you’re ready to trust the process and want to up-level your writing life and get serious about putting your words out into the world, check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind for high-level accountability and kick-ass motivation. 

Image courtesy of farhad pocha

You Can’t Let This Go To Your Head

My new eBook, The Pro Writer Mindset, debuted yesterday, and I’m super excited about it. It’s a book I’d been wanting to write for a long time and now it’s finally here.

Last month, the eBook I published, Align Your Writing Habits to Success, became a #1 bestseller in its category on Amazon and sold almost 600 copies during the month of May. I could have stopped there, rested on it and tried to coast. Or focused all of my time on marketing and promoting this book.

But instead I decided to keep going. Keep writing and keep putting books out there.

Because you can’t just rest on one success, even a big one.

You have to keep going and keep creating. That’s what it takes to be a pro writer who self-publishes.

So that’s what I’m doing.

And that’s what you need to do after you successfully get a book out there too.

There’s no point in waiting. Yes, you have to take some time to enjoy it and celebrate it. But then you’ve gotta get back to work on your next one.

I think this is where a lot of authors get stuck because they have a momentum built up, but instead of continuing to build that momentum by writing another book, they rest on the book they just wrote and spend the next year or two marketing and selling it. (Or not doing anything at all.)

And yes, you do have to do that–you do have to market and sell your books. But you know what really helps sell a book?

Another book.

At the end of each book, you add a teaser for another book that you’ve written. If the reader gets that far, there’s a very good chance they’ll buy and read another one that you wrote.

So rather than focusing and spending all your time marketing one book, instead market all of your books, in general, choosing one specific book to focus on each day or week.

Now this is just my opinion, but I feel like so many badass authors just don’t write and publish enough books. I want to see multiple books every year from my favorite authors.

Maybe I’m alone in that opinion.

But since that’s what I want to see from my favorite authors, that’s the kind of author I also want to be. Because it’s very likely that the readers who are attracted to my stuff are readers who, like me, prefer to see multiple books a year.

This is how you build a self-publishing career. And it’s important to note, because a self-publishing career is much different than a traditional publishing career. In a traditional career, you can get away with only writing and publishing one new book every few years.

But in self-publishing, you’ll stand out a lot more if you publish frequently and especially if you publish a lot of books all in the same category (this is known as “authority publishing”).

Having multiple books is also the best way to actually make money from your writing. Because one book will sell the other, and vice versa.

Which is why I say don’t let the success of publishing your book go to your head. Absolutely celebrate it and be proud of it, but do not stop.

Keep writing, keep publishing. Keep going.

Share With Us

How did you/will you celebrate publishing your book? 

If you want to create an unbreakable mindset that will set you up for success in your writing life, check out my eBook, The Pro Writer Mindset: What It Really Takes to Be A Bestselling Author, available now on Amazon.

Image courtesy of GotCredit 

I’m Starting A Motherfucking Writing Revolution: You Want In?

There are two kinds of writers out there: the ones who do the work and see the results and the ones who don’t. 

Which one are you?

You’ll know the answer right away. And the answer’s not, “it’s complicated.”

Because it’s not.

You either do the work and get the results. Or you don’t. 

I say this to myself as much as I say it to you, because I don’t always do the work. Sometimes I sit on my ass and watch Netflix and tell myself I need to do the work, but then it never gets done.

And I go to bed feeling like I failed at being the writer I want to be.

It’s a daily practice, you know? Being the writer you want to be.

You have to recommit to it every day. You have to intend it. And then you have to act from that place. 

My mentor told me a few weeks ago that success is a daily practice. And it’s now sinking in that it’s true for any kind of success (she was referring to business success).

It plays majorly into being successful as a writer and as an author.

I’ve been feeling serious Resistance these last few days as I’ve begun living my life from the place I want to be (and ignoring my reality–super hard to do this, by the way!).

Because while there’s a huge part of me that wants the success I dream of, there’s another part of me that wants to be fucking lazy. (Maybe you can relate?)

And sometimes that part of me does win. I’m not perfect and I never will be. So all I  can ever do is just catch myself as quick as I can whenever I fall off, and then recommit to being the author and writer I want to be.

The writer and author I want to be:

  • Writes and publishes one eBook a month
  • Writes and publishes two novels a year (one a year, bare minimum)
  • Has a ginormous fanbase with millions of readers all over the world who buy my books, write five-star reviews and share with their friends
  • Gets featured in the media, in and out of the writing industry, on a regular basis
  • Blogs on a daily basis and writes at least 2-3 guest posts a week
  • Produces a shit-ton of content–blog posts, guest posts, social media content, worksheets, trainings, etc.
  • Doesn’t let excuses get in the way, not ever (you’ll never stop making excuses, it’s part of being human. But you can make your excuses and then do the work anyway)
  • Has complete and total freedom of time and location

What kind of writer and author do you want to be? Grab your journal and make a list of all the qualities the writer and author you want to be would possess. And then figure out who you’d need to BE, to show up in the world as the author and writer from your list.

In order for me to be this author, the one who lives up to the stuff  listed out, I know I’m gonna need some major accountability. And for me, accountability is teaching others through example. It’s publicly sharing my goals so that I can’t not hit them.

That works for me.

Which is a big part of the reason I started the Students of Story community and membership site. Because I needed to force myself to be accountable to doing the work and getting my writing done.

It’s SO easy to slack off when you have no one holding your feet to the fire. And it’s even harder to hold your own feet to the fire (though I’m getting much better at that as the days go on).

For me, leading helps me stay accountable and stay motivated.

So I’m leading. I’m leading a motherfucking writing revolution.

I’m so sick of seeing writers complaining about not having time and life getting in the way and just that oh-whoa-is-me bullshit that they tell themselves about why they didn’t show up and do the work. I see my old self in so much of it and it makes me feel sick.

Because I was totally fucking pathetic.

There was a time in my writing journey where I would go so far out of my way to avoid doing the work it’s insane. And there was one Saturday I’ll never forget.

I had the whole day free and open. I was going to work on my novel. Finally.

But first I had to clean the apartment, do all of my laundry and wash the dishes.

So I did all of that.

My apartment was clean and organized. The laundry was washed, dried and put away. And for once, there were no dishes in the sink.

I grabbed my laptop. Sat down on the couch in front of my coffee table. Opened up my novel draft Word doc (this was back in 2008, I now use Scrivener), laid my fingers on the keys and then…

I decided I just HAD to clean the bathroom floor. On my hands and knees. With a sponge.

Yes. Seriously.

And I HATE cleaning.

In that moment as I scrubbed away on the floor, I knew. It was now or never. It was step up and do the work… or quit.

So I stepped up and I did the work.

That work paid off for me (FINALLY!) in June 2015 when I published my debut novel, SoundCheck.

And since then, I’ve done pretty good. Even wrote another novel that I’m about to start revising.

But I haven’t been the writer and author I want to be.

I’ve been coasting. Living on the high from getting SoundCheck out there.

And, well, that high is wearing off.

I’m coming down and realizing that I may have a published novel, but I’m far from the writer and author I dream of being.

And so now, like that moment on the floor of the bathroom, I come to the edge.

I’m standing on one side of the cliff, exactly where I am with my writing right now, and then there’s a giant black gap with a hole so deep you can’t see into it. And on the other side of the gap is being the author and writer I want to be and all the stuff that goes with it.

Now I have to choose… do I make the leap and be the writer and author I want to be? Or do I stay where I am, in my comfort zone, and just be OK with the mediocre progress I’m making?

I’m choosing to jump. To leap and not worry about the hows or the what ifs. To just let the net appear as I make my way back down to the ground. 

I’m choosing to believe that the Universe will not only catch me, but will show up for me and support me in reaching my dreams. As long as I keep going and don’t give up (which I never will).

So, what do you choose? 

Right now you’re standing on the edge of the writer you are today. There’s a giant gap and on the other side is the writer and author you dream of being.

You can choose, right now, in this moment, to BE that writer and author. To make the leap and let the pieces land where they may.

If you’re really ready to give up the bullshit, drop the excuses and BE the writer and author you dream of being, I have something freaking awesome for you.

It’s so awesome it’s going to kick your ass and make you step up and BE that writer. Every single day, until you reach your dream.

Because all you have is right now. The past is over and the future isn’t here yet.

The time to be the writer and author you dream of being is right NOW.

Not tomorrow.

Not next week or next month or next year.


Are you going to make the leap?

Introducing: The Bestselling Author Mastermind: for emerging novelists who want daily motivation and ass-kicking to reach their writing goals. Learn more here.

Featured image courtesy of Daily Motivation

Where Do Story Ideas Come From?

I read People magazine on the regular (it’s my guilty pleasure), and one thing I love about it is there’s always a “Best New Books” section, mostly filled with novels. I love reading this section to keep tabs on the new books that are coming out.

Plus, I always learn something about Concept and Premise.

Take the write up I saw for the book, Maybe In Another Life, by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The write-up for this book details the plot as:

Tired of meaningless jobs and fresh from a breakup, 29-year-old Hannah goes home to L.A. seeking a new start. What she encounters first is her old boyfriend, Ethan, in a bar. Is it fate? Should she stay with him or leave with her friend? In parallel story lines, Reid plays out the consequences of each decision.

What’s Conceptual about this story is the parallel story lines–we’re seeing two stories happening to the same character simultaneously, and we don’t know which one is reality and which isn’t. This in and of itself is interesting, and an Antagonist hasn’t even been introduced.

And then the Premise happens when we see that she has moved all the way back home–only to run into her high school boyfriend (the story’s Antagonist, I’m assuming, since I haven’t read the book).

Where Story Ideas Comes From

I don’t know about you, but I love the Concept that Reid is playing with in this story. It has so much inherent conflict, and so many possibilities built right in. It’d be cool to know where the idea for this story came from, and how it transformed into the book Reid published.

‘Cause story ideas are just that–ideas. They aren’t actual stories. Not yet.

In order to count as a story, it needs a whole list of things, like a Protagonist, an Antagonist, a Concept, a vicarious experience, and something happening.

Story ideas are merely seeds or sparks of inspiration that can be turned into a story by asking questions, playing with different scenarios, and finding the most optimal choices.

But a good story can be sparked by almost anything:

  • something you hear or see in real life
  • a story in the newspaper
  • a song lyric
  • another story
  • an experience you’ve had
  • an experience someone else has had
  • an experience you’d like to have
  • a character
  • a setting
  • a year in history

This list of story sparks could go on forever…

But none of these sparks is an actual story. Not yet.

First, a Concept and Premise needs to be introduced.

An Inside Look

There’s so much that goes into what you see in the final published story. And there’s so much that came before it–the story development process, writing the draft, revising the story, editing, polishing, etc.

Problem is, you rarely ever get to see this stuff. All you ever see is the final product.

So I wanted to give you an inside look at my story planning and development process, the one I use for my stories and all of my client’s stories. I’m live-planning my new story starting next Monday. 

The idea seed for my new story comes from something that actually happened. Back in 2008, I came across an inspiring story online that totally captured my heart–a Starbucks barista donated a kidney to one of her customers.

It struck a chord with me, and made me ask a lot of questions:

  • Why would someone donate a kidney to an almost-stranger?
  • What would it be like to go through this experience?
  • How would it change you?

These questions were enough to hold my interest and spark a story idea that I’ve been marinating on for years.

Next week, I’m diving deeper into how I’m turning this idea seed into an actual story, with a Concept and a Premise.

Be sure to join my email list so you don’t miss a thing (and you’ll also get a special freebie I only give to newsletter subscribers). 


Image courtesy of Magenta Rose

How To Navigate An Episode of Writer’s Block

This is a guest post from David Villalva of 

I look like a rabid beast when I dance.

My legs twitch. Elbows fly. Hips don’t lie.

What’s crazy is that I actually feel the music. Unfortunately, my feeling translates into body movement that could hurt someone. Enter the dance floor at your own risk.

Also, I look stupid dancing. I hate looking stupid. So I don’t dance anymore. Never loved it. Don’t miss it.

But get this, my writing looks really stupid sometimes. Except I could never give it up. I’d miss it too much.

I love writing. I get to create new worlds and people. I love rearranging words, even punctuation. Yep, I’m a writing geek.

Maybe you’re a writing geek, too?

If that’s the case, why do we still get stuck with Writer’s Block?

Mind Games

If you’ve never experienced Writer’s Block, drop a comment below and tell me how your prevented it. I’m not kidding, I need your counsel.

For all others, you’re not alone when your creativity hits this road block.

Ever sat down for butt-in-chair time, fired up your computer and experienced any of this:

  • Just stared at a blank screen?
  • Wrote several sentences, but immediately deleted them all?
  • Suddenly decided to search the Internet for just one important thing?
  • Re-read previous writing, only to reinforce the Writer’s Block?

Writer’s Block deserves an immunization every few weeks. You can find plenty of cures out there with a quick Google search.

Common Cures:

There are many more out there and they contain great advice. But I suggest we need to know exactly what we’re curing before applying these prescriptions.

Why do we still get stuck when we have all these resources so quickly available? What does Writer’s Block stem from?

The Underlying Cause of Writer’s Block

For most people, Writer’s Block blossoms from one initial thing — Fear. This whole creative writing thing is a major head game.

The fear is there to try and keep you safe. It often manifests itself with these questions:

  • What if I can’t translate my ideas onto the page?
  • What if I get them onto the screen, but my writing looks like David’s dancing?
  • What if people read my creation, and hate it?
  • What if my newest stuff doesn’t live up to previous writing?
  • What if I can never write as good as published authors?

Our doubts lead us to lose confidence in our ability to produce new artwork. Most storytellers want their writing to connect with people. But if we can’t connect with our own writing, how will it ever connect with others?

Dance With the Fear

Seth Godin said we need to learn how to “dance with the fear.” That doesn’t mean you must accept that your writing will suck. I’m also not telling you to just get over it.

I’m encouraging you to embrace the fear, and dance with it. Even when it makes you look stupid. Or really stupid.

I stopped writing several times while creating this very article. I paused to ask myself:

  • Does anyone really care about the words I’m writing?
  • Am I the only one who feels this way?
  • Will I look stupid?

I believe the fear is confirmation that we’re creating something worth stressing about.

You know that creating something new allows it be judged someday. People may point at it. Call it names. Laugh at it. That’s scary as hell.

But assuming you love to create like I do, there’s really no other choice.

You must continue to create with the fear at your side, knowing that it wants you to stop. Because it knows your creation could become something some day.

Something people may point at with pride. Calling it artwork. Smiling with it.

That’s worth dancing for.

So acknowledge fears existence and continue to create when it gets in your head.

I recognize it’s easier to say and hear than actually process and implement. But it needs to be said and heard more often. I wish someone would have screamed it louder when I began my writing journey.

It Never Ends

Some people may interpret this approach as empowering our insecurities. I look at it as a coexistence.

The fear will likely remain no matter what so why not bear-hug it before it drop-kicks you in the Spacebars?

Moving forward, I’m hoping you know where to look first when Writer’s Block hits. Don’t look for an Internet free writing app or a better playlist. Look inside the Why?

The fear can’t be killed forever so I recommend you agree to (slow) dance with it. Then go through the fire by writing and creating something (even if it looks stupid).

Just know that I won’t call it stupid. Nope, not me. Because even I’m dancing again.

The next time you experience Writer’s Block, put on your protective dancing gear and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I not writing because of an unproductive fear-based thought?
  2. Am I committed to dancing with the fear and going through the fire?
  3. Can I continue by writing something today, even if it looks stupid?

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How do you dance with your fears?

 About the Author: David Villalva supports aspiring, structured novelists by sharing visual   blueprints, case studies and articles. His eBook, The Storytelling Blueprint, illustrates the plot formula used in Bestselling novels. Get it for free at:

Main image courtesy of Andrew Smith

Clutter vs. Keepers: 5 Writing Books You’ll Never Let Go Of

So,  how many of these will you ever actually read again?” my husband asked as he tripped over the stupidly huge piles of books obscuring the bedroom floor.  Considering there were more than I could count, I opted to plead the fifth.

Like a lot of writers, I compulsively collect books – especially ones that promise to jumpstart my imagination, kill writers block and make me a genius storyteller.  But given that I was about three paperbacks away from securing a starring role on Hoarders, I reluctantly decided to whittle down my literary stash.

The upside of this purging of the pages was that I rediscovered several gems that I (and maybe you) can’t live without.  Not only did they shape my outlook on writing, story craft and creativity from the first reading, they have drawn me back time and again whenever I need a shot of inspiration or education.

May I present to you (in no particular order) my Fab Five:

1. Wired for Story by Lisa Cron

It’s no secret that everyone loves a great tale.  But it turns out that there is far more to it that just seeking entertainment and escape.  Our brains are literally hardwired to become immersed in story, and have been since our Stone Age ancestors first sat around bragging about hunting wooly mammoths.

Cron does a masterful job of explaining the neuroscience behind this theory, but more importantly she reveals what the brain craves from every tale it encounters and how you can use these secrets to hook your reader from page one.

2. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

Being that TAW has been a bestseller for over 20 years, I’m obviously not the only one who feels this is the ultimate guide to living the creative life.  Cameron offers plenty of great insights and exercises, but her two main tenets are Morning Pages and Artist Dates.

When I keep up with those two simple practices, new story ideas, characters and serendipitous opportunities seem to pop out of nowhere.  When I fall off the map with them?  Ouch.

3. Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Whether you’ve been struggling with your novel or haven’t even started because you have no earthly clue where to begin, this book is for you.  A former screenwriter and current bestselling author, Brooks teaches what he calls “The 6 Core Competencies of Storytelling,” and that structure and planning are just as important as artistry when it comes to telling a compelling story.

Following any sort of formula may seem like a recipe for sucking the spontaneity right out of your writing process, but it actually has the opposite effect.  When you develop a roadmap for your story, you still have the freedom to take detours along the way since you know exactly where you’re going to end up.

Try it.  You’ll like it.


4. The Writing Warrior by Laraine Herring

This book came into my life when I was introduced to the author by a mutual friend.  And it was a timely meeting,  because I had been feeling like anything but a “warrior” when it came to my writing.  I was sidetracked by fear, distractions and constantly comparing myself to anyone that I viewed as more successful than me (read: everyone on the planet).

But as I dove into the book with a doubtful chip on my shoulder, I soon realized that Herring knew a thing or two about shattering illusions and self judgment and gently rebuilding the spirit that made you want to write in the first place.

She also teaches a simple 3 part practice that uses breath and physical movement coupled with free writing to help dissolve blocks and open the creative floodgates.  And much like the Morning Pages, the rewards far exceed the short amount of time you spend on the practice (about 15 minutes total).

5. Screenplay: The Foundations of Screenwriting by Syd Field

If you’ve ever wanted to write a screenplay – honestly – this is the only book you’ll ever need. Until his death last year, Field spent over  50 years writing about and teaching screenwriting, and has been credited with virtually inventing the three act paradigm that is the standard for feature films.

Aside from walking you step-by-step through the process of constructing your script, Field offers advice on everything from collaboration and adapting a novel for the screen to marketing the final product.  He also includes excerpts from classic films such as Chinatown to illustrate elements like scene development and setup.

No surprise, Screenplay has been translated into 16 languages and used as a textbook in more than 250 colleges across the country (which is where I first discovered it).

So, if you’ve got space on your shelves, I invite you to make one or more of these amazing reads part of your collection.  Or better yet, get them all on your Kindle.  It’ll make it a lot harder for people to accuse you of being a hoarder.

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What writing/creativity books can you never let go of? 

Main image courtesy of Ervins Strauhmanis