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Discipline Creates Freedom And Here’s Why

Today is the first day in over a week where I’ve actually sat down at my normal time to write my daily blog post. For the last week and a half I’ve been moving and unpacking and setting my life back up here in Austin where I’m now living.

Yes, I gave myself permission to take that time off. It was intentional. It was a decision I made–to put unpacking and getting my life back to normal a priority over everything else. And I’m OK with that.

But it also brought up a lot of Resistance. And procrastination. And doubt. And fear.

Because when you’re in flow, when you’re showing up every day around the same time and putting words on the page; when you’re actually doing the work that’s required to bring your dreams to life, you’re actually doing yourself a major disservice to stop getting your writing done. Even temporarily.

For months now I’ve had serious discipline and habit around doing my writing every day–my Daily Think Different blog post, as well as working on my fiction and nonfiction projects.

But then I took the week off. Intentionally.

And now here I am, trying to get back into my usual writing habits and finding it INSANELY hard to have the discipline I had before.

My original plan was to get into my new routine on August 8, and then when that day came, I just kept giving myself permission to not do my writing. To just keep unpacking and setting my life back up, because that was what I felt like doing.

And I’m glad I did it, because in one week I was able to totally unpack, get everything set back up in my apartment and get the hang of living in a new city.

But it also set me back quite a bit.

Not only because I didn’t do my writing for the week–which is ALWAYS a set back–but also because I’m now having a hard time getting back into the flow that I was in just the week prior.

That’s why taking time off isn’t really a good idea.

Yes, in theory it sounds like a good idea. It even feels like a good idea while you’re doing it (although to be honest, all I did every day last week was think about my writing and worry about all the ideas I was losing by not sitting down and just letting the words out).

But it was THAT MUCH harder for me to get back into flow after a week of doing nothing related to my writing.

All last week while I didn’t do my writing I kept thinking that maybe I shouldn’t write a blog post every day. Maybe I didn’t have anything that was worth saying anymore. Maybe I was just totally out of ideas.

The fear, the doubt, the worry that I couldn’t or shouldn’t jump right back into writing every day again.

All those annoyances that actually GO AWAY when you just shut up and make time for your writing every day.

And that’s why, even when it seems like a good idea to take a break from your writing, you really shouldn’t. At least not for more than a day or two.

Taking a week off can set you back for MONTHS if you’re not careful. Because you’ll just keep telling yourself every day that you’ll get back to it tomorrow. And then tomorrow will come and you’ll tell yourself that you’ll get back into it tomorrow.

And then tomorrow will come and you’ll tell yourself that you’ll get back into it tomorrow.

And then tomorrow will come and you’ll tell yourself that you’ll get back into it tomorrow.

And then tomorrow will come…

Are you sensing a pattern here? Because that’s exactly what happens.

When you pull yourself out of flow, out of habit, out of having the discipline that you once had, it becomes damn-near impossible to jump back in.

Suddenly you have all these excuses you didn’t have before. Suddenly you have all these “legitimate” reasons why you don’t have time or you’re out of ideas or it’s just not the right moment to jump back in.

That was me for the last few days. I finished setting our new apartment up on Friday. All that was left was hanging a few pictures and then we were officially done (minus the few things left that we still need to buy, like a DVD player and a rug).

And yet I still couldn’t get back into my writing.

I procrastinated ALL weekend. And then yesterday I was supposed to get back to it for real (’cause I usually start my new habits on a Monday) and yet all these things got in the way–my dog had to go to the vet for an appointment, I had to go to the chiropractor, and then I had an interview for the Author Success Summit, etc.

And I let all that stuff be a reason–an excuse–for not doing my writing. For taking yet another day off. For not getting back to the habits and discipline I usually have around doing the things that matter to me.

Most writers call this their life. They talk about writing and they think about writing and they even make attempts to write here and there.

But they don’t have discipline or habit around doing their writing every day. And that’s really the thing getting in the way for them.

As creative people, we often believe that having habits and discipline makes us less creative. We’ve somehow bought into the belief that creativity requires chaos and so any attempt to bring order and consistency into the picture is met with extreme Resistance.

But the truth is, discipline and habit are the ONLY way to create consistency. And consistency is required if you want to actually get somewhere in your writing life.

For months now I’ve sat down every morning–before I do anything else in my day–and I’ve written my blog post and worked on my books. And then I take a week off and it almost all falls apart.

I could’ve just continued my do-nothing streak. Most writers would. Most writers would totally fall off track and not get back on. Because that’s the easy thing to do.

And no one would’ve given me a hard time about it. After all, I did just move TWICE in the last three months, and I did just relocate to a totally NEW city, and I did have A WHOLE LOT of unpacking and resettling to do.

No one would’ve blamed me for continuing to take time off and not doing the things I usually do.

Except for one very important thing. Without discipline, you don’t have freedom.

And freedom is my most important value in life.

Sounds a bit strange. Maybe even a bit counterintuitive. How can being disciplined create freedom?

Discipline. Habit. Those words, by definition, are the opposite of freedom. Or so it seems.

But the truth is, having habits and discipline are the only real way to create freedom. Because freedom is a MINDSET.

Freedom is a way of thinking and being.

And when you’re not doing the things you want to be doing; when you’re not making space every day for your writing, your mind will constantly be cluttered with stories and ideas and unwritten words. Your head will spin all day long and you’ll guilt trip yourself for not doing the writing. And then you’ll get angry and resentful of all the other things you have to and need to do in your day.

Guilt trips. Resentment. Anger. There’s no freedom in that.

It’s only in having the habit and the discipline to sit down and do your writing and spend time every single day–even for a few minutes–doing the things you really want to be doing, that creates freedom.

Because now your mind is clear. You’ve got discipline and habit, so you sit down every morning and put words on the page. And then you can go about your day.

Already feeling accomplished. Already feeling like you did everything you really needed to do today.

Because your writing got done. That is always–and forever will be–the most important thing you can spend time on each day.

And it’s the habit and discipline you create around doing your writing every day that gives you the freedom–mentally and in the rest of your day.

Anytime I don’t do my writing, I spend my day feeling totally out of control and like time is flying by and nothing is getting done. I go to bed feeling like I accomplished nothing and berating myself for not doing what really matters.

That’s not freedom.

Freedom is me sitting here right now, in the business center at my new apartment complex, typing this blog post out. Putting the words on the page. The words that have wanted to come out for a week now.

I can already feel the sweet release that comes with doing your writing. I can aleady feel that sense of, YES!!! I got my writing done!! And anything else that I accomplish today is a BONUS on top of that. Knowing that my mindspace is clear and I still have more than half a day left to do whatever else I feel like doing or need to do.

That’s freedom.

On the days I don’t do my writing, time zooms by and I feel like I’m living without a purpose and just drifting along, wasting away.

Putting words on the page is the only thing that gives me the freedom I so love having in my life. And that freedom always, always, always starts with habit and discipline.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. I’ve got a KILLER 48-Hour Flash Sale starting tomorrow that will help you finally create the discipline and habit you need in your writing life. Stay tuned for more details…

Why I Believe In Procrastinating

This may make me unpopular, but it has to be said… I believe in procrastinating. I believe in waiting ’til the last minute to do things.

I used to fight it and tell myself that I shouldn’t be that way. I tried to change it. Tried to fix myself and change my ways and do things ahead of time.

In fact, I spent years of my life trying to overcome procrastination. I even had a blog dedicated to it!

But it never really worked for me.

And if I did do things ahead of time, it just made me feel anxious and caused me to be much more of a perfectionist. When I was doing things right on deadline, I felt in flow and like the words and the magic and the ideas were just pouring out of me, like I was channeling something beyond me.

So then I asked myself… what if this is just who I am? What if this is just my process and how I do things? What if I’m trying to fight being me, instead of just owning who I am: a purposeful procrastinator.

I’m a trained journalist and spent many years working on deadline for newspapers, magazines and online publications. I’m programmed to be a badass right at the last minute.

And while I may not always be physically working on the project or whatever I need to do, I’m always working on it in my head and I’m always marinating on it in my subconscious.

If I try to force it out before its ready, it just doesn’t work. Getting things done at the last minute is when I do my most badass work.

Something I’ve really been working on lately is totally trusting in the timing of my life. And rather than thinking I should be further along than I am right now or that I need to make things happen faster or that I shouldn’t procrastinate like I do, I just accept the flow.

What usually happens for me is I have a bit of life chaos or “stuck” moments where things feel like they’re falling apart, and then immediately after I have several breakthroughs and miracles and Divine Downloads happen for me all at once. I kinda like it, even though it’s not what’s considered “normal.”

We’ve been programmed to think that things need to happen faster and now, now, now. But here’s the thing–wanting something to happen FAST or RIGHT NOW is actually a product of several things:

1. Not trusting that what you want will actually happen for you
2. Not believing enough in yourself to know in your heart of hearts you will get there
3. Having a limiting belief that it’s possible to miss your chance

If you don’t trust that you will eventually get what you want, you’ll constantly be trying to force things and make things happen faster, out of fear of never getting there.

If you don’t believe enough in yourself and in your ability to create your reality and live your dream life, you’ll constantly be pushing and grinding and working your ass off, out of fear of never getting there.

And if you actually believe that it’s possible to miss your chance, you will miss it, out of fear of never getting there.

Fear actually holds you back from getting what you want. It stops you from feeling high vibe and from having the kind of energy required to make your dreams happen.

It attracts more things for you to be afraid of.

When you fully believe in yourself and trust in the timing of your life, you don’t have to worry about never getting there and you don’t have to push, push, push ’til you burn out or decide to retire or give up. You can sit back, relax and do your thing, fully knowing that you will get there.

Because you have to get there. It’s inevitable. That’s what happens when you’re consistent and you take daily action from where you want to be.

Giving up is what stops you from getting there. Not doing the work is what stops you. Not believing in yourself or having limiting beliefs that hold you back is what stops you.

YOU are what stops you.

I don’t give myself a hard time about my procrastination anymore because I know now that’s just how I roll. I know that I need to procrastinate to do my best work and not get caught up in perfectionism (and I’m a Virgo–it’s in my nature to be a perfectionist).

And I know it’s not an excuse because I always get things done and I always do what I say I’m going to.

It might take me ’til the absolute last minute available, but it always gets done, and I trust that whatever comes out is exactly what was meant to and that it wouldn’t have come out any better if I’d done it ahead of time.

So if you’re like me and you procrastinate like a mofo but always with purpose and your work, your projects, your daily actions always get done and you always do what you say you’re going to, there’s no reason to give yourself a hard time about your procrastinating behaviors. (If, on the other hand, you procrastinate like a mofo and you never get things done, constantly miss deadlines and never do what you say you’re going to, you’re not procrastinating with purpose, you’re just straight-up sticking your head in the sand in avoidance. BIG difference.)

Procrastination used to stress me out. It used to give me anxiety and I used to worry that I wouldn’t get things done. But after years and years of living with this process and seeing it work over and over again, I no longer worry.

I trust. Fully. In myself and in the Universe. I trust in the timing of my life and in my ability to always get things done and do a damn good job in the process.

‘Cause at the end of the day, you’ve gotta do you.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

 

P.S. Doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are re-opening later this week!!! And I just created a brand-new workshop that I’ll be revealing soon, which BAM members get for FREE. So much awesomeness is about to unfold!! I can’t wait to welcome in the new members. Stay tuned…

Being Normal Is A Soul Killer

It’s been four days since I’ve written to you. I spent the last four days not doing anything–partially because of Resistance (damn you, Resistance!) but also because everyone is always saying that I need to “take a break” or “take some time off.” Because that’s what normal people do.

So I did. I gave it a try. And here’s what I have to say about it… NO.

The nothingness of binge-watching TV shows and avoiding all the things I feel called to say and write–it could go on forever and it does for most people. They get into a slump where the momentum of not doing is stronger than the momentum of getting shit done.

To be honest, I’ve felt totally lost the last four days. Like my life had no purpose and I was just drifting along aimlessly without an end in sight. I guess that’s what it means to be normal.

To “take a break” or a “vacation” or even just to “rest and relax.” But it’s not for me.

Writing and doing the stuff I do most days is all I really want to be doing. And maybe that’s anti-social and maybe I’m headed toward burn out. But I don’t think I am.

In fact, I KNOW I’m not.

Because the last four days of doing nothing made me feel burnt out and numb. I had no energy. I slept way too much. I felt sick and like I was wasting my life.

I honestly don’t know how people do it.

How do so many people avoid doing their soul work while aimlessly binging TV shows and eating junk and partying with friends or just sitting around resting? I don’t get it.

I felt totally fucking lost the last four days. I started to question everything I’d been doing. I felt anxious. I worried that this would be my life–a life of being normal–if I decided to buy into the bullshit about needing a break or taking time off.

Because here’s the thing–how do you take time off from being who you are?

How do you not do you and not do the things you feel called to do inside? How do you avoid your soul work and still feel alive? (Hint: you can’t.)

I don’t get it. Never have. Never will.

When I see people living without purpose, numbing themselves out with food and TV and other activities that don’t really make them happy, I wonder how they can live like that. How they can sustain a meaningless existance day-in-and-day out, without losing their minds.

Now I’m not saying don’t ever watch TV or take a day off or go on vacation. I like doing those things on occasion too. But only when I’m doing them with intention and purpose, because I’m choosing to do those things, not just doing them by daily default.

I felt like crap the last few days, and today, writing this, I feel better. More alive. More like myself. More like it should be.

My writing, my message, my art, my stories, my desire to better the world and myself, those are the things that get me out of bed in the morning. It’s the stuff that keeps me up ’til 2 a.m. most days because I just can’t stop.

It’s what keeps me creating and launching 2-3 times a month, pretty much every month. Because… purpose, flow and getting as many of my ideas, messages and projects out in the world as possible.

It’s what keeps me sane.

I don’t worry about being perfect or doing everything perfectly. People don’t want that anyhow. They want real and they want empowerment and they want motivation and to see someone who they feel is the next-level version of themselves killing it at life, because it inspires them to do them same.

To wake up and LIVE. To NOT be one of the normal people, the drones who numb themselves out to the soul work and to what really matters and what they’re really here on this planet for. To live a life of purpose.

My purpose made me $10k+ last month and it will continue to grow and expand so long as I continue to do and be me and continue to ignore all the stuff normal people say I should be doing and just follow the call of my heart and my soul.

What calls you? What’s pulling you from the inside? What’s bouncing around in there, dying to be let out?

Let it out. Answer the call. Do the soul work.

There is no other way.

Dream life or bust,

 

 

 

#DreamLifeOrBust #DailyThinkDifferent

P.S. Want access to ALL of my workshops, courses and digital products (that cost $100 or less), as well as the accountability, guidance and support you need to finally finish and hit publish and be the writer and author you always dreamed you’d be? Stay tuned!! Doors to the Bestselling Author Mastermind are opening again soon…

From Procrastinating Writer to Author of 10+ Books (and Counting)

Most people don’t believe this about me, but I used to be the biggest procrastinating writer in the world. In fact, I was Queen Procrastinating Writer. If I could find something to put ahead of my writing, I would. I once got down on my hands and knees and scrubbed my bathroom floor with a sponge to avoid doing my writing.

Yes. Really.

I used to have long stretches of time where I wouldn’t do any writing. My longest stretch was two years.

But in 2008, I had enough. I didn’t know what the hell my problem was, but it was time for me to get serious about creating the writing career I wanted for myself. And also writing that novel I’d been talking about writing since I was 13.

Because it was torturous to go to bed every night feeling like I let myself down and didn’t do the writing that was burning inside me. I couldn’t take it anymore. 

So I decided I was going to write my first novel that year, by my birthday in September. And to help me stay accountable and get some consistency in my writing life, I’d also start a blog so I could write about my journey to writing my first novel, and motivate, inspire, educate and empower other procrastinating writers who struggled like I did.

My commitment was to write and publish one blog post a week for a year. It was the first time I’d ever been consistent with my writing. I missed a few weeks here and there, but by the end of the year, I’d written around 30-40 blog posts. Not too shabby for a writer who couldn’t stop procrastinating.

But I still wasn’t making a ton of progress on my creative writing goals. I wrote a novel, but I still hadn’t published a novel.

It wasn’t until several years later (in 2015) when I finally had enough of my BS excuses around why I couldn’t finish my novel and put it out there. I set a publication date and that was that. I got it out into the world. 

I rode that high for a few months, but I’d fallen right back into my usual patterns of procrastinating and not doing my writing. I justified it by saying that I’d published a novel already that year.

But so fucking what? If I want to be an author of hundreds of books, both fiction and nonfiction, I don’t have time to sit around twiddling my thumbs and not doing my writing. I had to do something major.

Then in 2016, everything shifted. I met a mentor who has written and published 47+ books (46 of which have been bestsellers). She inspired me to step it up BIG TIME in my writing life. That year, I wrote 9 new books and published 7 of them in different capacities (5 on Amazon, 2 as freebies on my blog).

And in 2017, I’m even more driven and focused and getting even more writing done than I ever have before. I’m currently writing anywhere from 3,000-5,000 words a day, and sometimes upwards of 7,000. All on my various writing projects (as a multi-passionate author I could never just work on one thing). 

So, how did I get here? How did I go from avoiding my writing by doing ridiculous household chores to writing thousands of words a day, unleashing new books on the regular and publishing blog posts almost daily?

Here’s how…

1. Have A Bigger Vision

When I first started my blog in 2008, I didn’t have a vision that went past that first year. I was just going to write and publish one post a week and blog about my journey to writing my first novel. But once I accomplished that, I needed to create a bigger vision for what I was doing. Otherwise I’d never stick with it.

That vision has shifted A LOT over the years and will continue to, as I learn and grow and change. But it started with one thing… teaching writers craft.

In 2009, I discovered Larry Brooks and his teachings on story structure. It changed everything for me. It upended my entire writing life and what I knew and had done up to that point. No one was teaching structure the way he was and I knew I needed to help spread this message and change writers lives the way it changed mine.

My novel, SoundCheck, and the one I’m working on right now (and all the ones that come after) wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for what I learned from Larry about craft. So sharing the message of craft was major for me. It kept me going, especially when things got tough and when I wanted to give up and quit.

And then that vision shifted again when I finally embraced the fact that I’m multi-passionate.

Instead of trying to run from it or trying to keep everything I was doing and wanted to do totally separate, I decided to create a personal brand and put everything under it. Because at the end of the day, I’m my brand, just like you are yours.

And now the vision for my company is bigger than it’s ever been. I’m no longer just on a mission to teach writers craft. I’m now on a mission to shake up the writing industry by changing the way writers think and challenging what they believe is possible.

That is the vision I’m living for right now.

But I never could’ve seen that in the beginning of my journey. I only came to this bigger vision by starting with a smaller vision and growing from there.

Journal Prompt: what’s the bigger vision for your writing life? What’s a smaller vision you can achieve right now that would be a stepping stone to that bigger vision?

2. A Why

Having a “why” is kindling that fuels the motivational fire. My why is freedom. It’s my core value in life and the biggest reason why I’m an entrepreneur.

Maintaining that freedom is a great motivator for me to show up every day and do the work. Especially considering the stakes of not showing up are so much higher now. 

You can’t really procrastinate when your living depends on you showing up.

Journal Prompt: what fuels your motivation? What’s your why?

3. A Purpose

The purpose of what I do as an author is to inspire, motivate, educate and empower multi-passionate authors to go all in on their dreams, and create a life and writing business where they never have to choose just one thing. That is the purpose that drives everything I do now in my own writing business. Every book I write, every blog post I publish, every workshop I teach. Everything.

By having a purpose for what I’m doing, it makes it all the more critical that I show up and do the work. I have people counting on me to do my writing and get it out there, so they can get what they need from it to heal, transform and create. 

Procrastination is no longer an option for me.

Journal Prompt: what’s the purpose behind your work as a writer?

4. Consistency

Creating consistency in my writing life is the only way I’ve been able to overcome my procrastination. Because the things you do consistently become a habit. And habits make it almost impossible not to do the work.

I have a habit of getting up in the morning and taking my dog for a walk. We may miss a few days a year due to weather or things like that, but overall, we walk every single morning. This is a habit that I created for us because I wanted to make sure he was getting enough exercise. We only started this habit a few years ago, but now I wouldn’t even think about not walking him because it’s just a natural part of my morning to do so.

Well, same goes with my writing. I just created a daily habit of doing my writing, first things first, before I do anything else or let the world in. And that daily consistency is what helped me to overcome the procrastination that used to run rampant in my life.

Journal Prompt: where are you not being consistent in your writing life? How can you step it up to start to create habits around doing the things that matter?

5. Master Craft

Whether you’re blogging, writing novels, self-help books, poetry or memoir, you have to master the craft of the writing you’re doing. There are principles and guidelines for each type of writing, and it’s your job as a writer and author to figure out the craft you need to master.

There’s no excuse for not knowing your craft. 

And when you know craft and you thoroughly inside and out understand the nuances of the type of writing you’re doing, procrastination becomes a thing of the past. Because when you know what you’re doing, it lessens your desire to procrastinate.

Journal Prompt: what pieces of craft do you still need clarity on? What do you need to practice more?

6. Planning and Development

Back when I used to be a major procrastinator, I not only didn’t know craft, but I didn’t know how to plan and develop my ideas into actual words on the page. So it was easier to avoid the page completely than it was to face a blinking cursor on a blank screen.

But once I started to learn craft and then created processes for planning and developing my ideas into stories and self-help books, I felt less need to procrastinate. I was actually excited to sit down and get to work on writing the draft of the story or nonfiction book.

Planning and development ahead of time gives you a roadmap for doing the writing. And that makes everything easier.

Journal Prompt: how can you incorporate planning and developing your ideas into your current writing life, in a way that feels good to you, but still allows for ease and productivity?

7. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

One of the biggest reasons most writers procrastinate is fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of the unknown… insert whatever fear you have going on. And many writers allow this fear to stop them from doing the writing or from going all the way and finishing.

But the thing about success and about becoming a successful writer is you have to be able to feel the fear and then do the writing anyhow. 

If you allow the fear to overcome you, you’ll continue procrastinating forever and never accomplish what you want. So you have to find ways to push past the fear. To allow it to be there and still do your writing anyhow.

I’m scared all the time with regard to the writing I’m doing and putting out there. But I don’t let it stop me. I just put it out there and move on to the next thing.

Journal Prompt: where do you need to be ‘feeling the fear and doing it anyways’ in your writing life?

8. Make Health A Priority

For a long time I didn’t think about or take care of my health. Back when I was procrastinating the worst I ever had, I was also feeling the worst I ever had.

I was suffering with back, neck and shoulder pain from an accident I had as a teenager, which made sitting for long periods of time painful. And I had all kinds of stomach pain and other issues from undetected food sensitivities.

So of course I procrastinated. It’s very hard to push through the “I don’t feel like it” excuse when you actually feel like shit all the time.

When I started taking control of my health, changing my food habits, eating differently, moving my body more often and getting under the care of an upper cervical chiropractor is when things shifted for me health-wise. Which, in turn, shifted my procrastination habits.

Journal Prompt: how can you make taking care of your health a nonnegotiable? What do you need to be doing that you’re not right now?

9. Reprogramming the Subconscious Mind

I’ve been reprogramming my old thoughts, beliefs and ways of being for years now. And it’s paying off big time.

By reprogramming my old thoughts and beliefs, I’ve been able to install new beliefs and thoughts that support my goals, rather than continuing to live by the thoughts and beliefs that are blocking me from achieving them.

Your subconscious mind is a powerful creative force, and it’s always running in the background, creating by default. And it will continue to give you more of the same until you finally take charge and change it. 

Journal Prompt: how can you create a daily mindset practice that will support you in creating new beliefs and thoughts that are aligned with your goals? What can you include in your practice that would feel great for you?

And that is how I’ve been able to overcome procrastination to write and publish 10+ books and more than a thousand blog posts (and counting).

I believe that writers are messengers for the world. If you identify as a writer and you know with every ounce of your being that writing is in your blood, then you’re meant to be sharing your writing with the world. It’s a huge honor to be someone who writes words that transforms others.

But it’s also a huge responsibility to get over whatever excuses and bullshit I have going on, so that I can do the writing that I need to be doing day in and day out. Because it matters whether or not I show up every day.

And I get that now. Fully getting that and taking it to heart is the thing that has truly allowed me to step into the identity of the writer and author I dream of being. And procrastination isn’t a part of that identity.

You can do the same thing. It’s a choice, and the choice is yours.

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. If you’re ready to kick procrastination to the curb and finally finish what you started, the doors to my upcoming workshop, FINISH Your Damn Novel: 30 days of kick-ass motivation, inspiration and getting-writing-done for writers who have started a first draft or the revision of a novel and want to FINISH, are opening tomorrow. Get on my email list here so you’re the first to get in.

Process + Strategy = Clarity That Helps You Become A Finisher

In May 2007, I moved from California to Texas. I moved to California after college for an internship at a magazine out there (that then turned into my first full-time job). It was a long way from the place I once called home back in New York.

But I was excited about it. I loved the idea of not doing what I thought I’d do after college (which was move to NYC and get a job at a magazine). Instead, I accepted an internship that was 3,000 miles away from everything and everyone I’d ever known.

It was scary, but I was also really ready for a new adventure.

I ended up loving California. It suites me. It made me feel like I should’ve been living there my entire life. And then I met a guy, and about a year after we started dating, he asked me to move back home to Texas with him.

So I took on a new adventure. And it was that adventure that solidified what I wanted to do with my life.

I was going to be a writer. 

Now this may sound strange, considering I’d already been writing my entire life, went to college for journalism, and then graduated and moved across the country for a job working at a magazine. But all those years, writing felt like something I was dabbling in. It felt like something I hadn’t quite given myself permission to do for real.

So in the fall of 2007, I took a fiction writing class at one of the local community colleges. And I even started reading nonfiction books about how to write (something that was totally foreign to me at that time… I barely cracked a book cover in college).

That got me thinking about writing a novel again.

I tried writing a novel so many times in the past. I’d sit down with what I thought was a brilliant idea and just start writing. But a few thousand words in I’d quit, feeling like the story was going nowhere and that I had no idea what I was doing.

And then for my birthday that year, my good friend who’s also an author, sent me a DVD of The Secret.

I’d heard of it, but I wasn’t super interested. In fact, I put off watching it for almost four months. Until January of 2008 came around and I realized it was time to make my same annual goal: to write my novel.

But that year, I decided to take things on in a whole new way.

So I watched The Secret and it changed everything for me. I finally understood all the stuff that had happened to me in my life and how I’d achieved the success I’d achieved so far (even though the success was mediocre compared to what I really wanted to be achieving).

I was hooked on the Law of Attraction. I knew that I could use it to create anything I wanted in my life. I’d already been doing it subconsciously since I was a kid, but now I had words to explain what I’d been doing, and to better understand how I could use it in my life.

So I set a goal… write the first draft of my first full-length novel by my birthday that year. 

Three months in, I had gotten nowhere. So in March 2008, I started a blog called Procrastinating Writers and I was going to blog about my journey to writing my first novel. I knew that I was a major procrastinator and I needed to overcome this bad habit if I was ever going to be the writer I saw myself being.

The problem was procrastination was all I knew. I’d spent so many years putting off the things that really mattered to me it was damn-near impossible to convince myself to change.

I tried everything. I tried forcing myself into it, I tried tricking myself, I even tried doing everything else that needed to be done first so all I had left to do was write… and I still found ways to wriggle out of it.

So I hired a writing coach to keep me accountable to doing the work. Week after week, I’d write chapters in my novel and send them to her. And two weeks before my birthday, I wrote “the end” and officially finished the first draft of my first full-length novel.

I was SO proud of myself!!

Until I discovered that my story was a total mess and my writing coach didn’t have the skills needed to explain craft to me in a way that actually made sense. So there I was, with a 65,000+ word story that didn’t work.

I was depressed. I’d just spent a year of my life working on something that was a total disaster. And trying to revise it just kept me going in circles. Because no matter how much revising I did, nothing was working.

Fast-forward a decade.

The wannabe writer I used to be is so far from the writer and author I am now, I sometimes have a hard time believing that used to be me (although not that hard, as I’m still a procrastinator in some ways, just not when it comes to my writing). That I used to put everything else in my life ahead of the one thing that really mattered to me… my writing.

Today, I’m a writer and author who shows up to the page, every single day, multiple times a day, and gets shit done. I’ve written and published 10+ books and counting, including that novel I’d been dreaming of publishing for 18 years of my life. (And I’m already working on the revisions of novel #2).

And when I look back at the last decade+ of my life to think about what really changed for me and what really got me to this moment where I am today, there are two things that stand out to me:

1. Process

For such a long time, I had no idea that craft even existed and when I finally found Larry Brooks, that changed everything for me as a storyteller and writer. But even with the knowledge of craft sitting right in front of me, I had no idea how to actually implement it on my own stories.

It wasn’t until I began to create processes around getting my writing done where things started to turn in the other direction.

Having a process to follow, even loosely, is the best way to ensure you go all the way and finish.

2. Strategy

Process is great, but without strategy, process is just a list of steps. But when strategy comes into the mix, that’s when the process is taken to the next level.

Because once I had a strategic process for implementing craft on my own stories, it made things a million times easier and clearer for me. And that removed my need to procrastinate.

It turns out I was mostly procrastinating because I had no clue what I was doing. Creating a strategic process allowed me to remove the overwhelm, to be very clear on what needed to happen in my story when and where, and to have a way of practicing over and over again until I finally got it right.

For me, clarity removes the barriers to getting stuff done. And so by having a process and strategy for planning and developing and then writing a novel, I’m able to stay focused and FINISH. 

Finishing is the most important part. Any writer can start a story or write the draft of a novel. But it takes serious process and strategy to go all the way and finish.

Having a repeatable process that’s clear, simple to follow and easy to implement (well, easier anyhow, as writing a novel is not at all easy) allowed me to become the writer and author I am today.

So now I create processes and strategy around EVERYTHING that I do. I have a process for going from idea to published nonfiction eBook. I have a process for taking a story idea, vetting it, developing it, planning it and turning it into a story roadmap that tells me everything I need to know so I can write my first draft. I even have a process for getting my blog posts written and published each day.

Now these processes and strategies shift as I continue to learn, grow and master the writing projects that I take on. But it’s having process and strategy that has made the biggest difference for me.

It’s easy to procrastinate when you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t have a process for doing it and don’t have a strategic way of implementing what you’re learning into your actual writing project. But it’s hard to procrastinate when you’re clear on what you need to do and how you need to do it.

Having a process and a strategy for getting your writing project DONE is what brings FUN and ENJOYMENT back to being a writer. 

You often hear writers talking about the struggle. They’ll say writing is hard, it’s so much work, and they have a hard time forcing themselves to sit down and put words on the page.

But it SO does not have to be like that!!

You just have to open your mind a little bit and allow yourself to have a process and strategy for getting your writing projects done. Process and strategy isn’t formulaic. Not at all!  

It just provides you with a guideline for how to do whatever it is you’re trying to do. It’s my belief that more writers need process and strategy in their lives, and it’s (part of) my mission to give it to them.

Which is why I’ve created the The Story Revision Kit: Process + Strategy for Revising Your Novel.

This kit contains everything you need to work through the revision of your story, including: 

> Revision Process Overview–this audio will walk you through all the steps in the revision process, so you know exactly what to do and how long it will take you.

> The Revision Checklist–this checklist will help you work through each piece in the overall story revision process, making sure you cover ever step.

> The Craft Checklist–this checklist will help ensure you actually have all the most important pieces of writing a good story in your novel.

> The Writing Voice Checklist–this checklist will help you make sure you read and revise your draft looking for the stuff that makes your prose suck (things like repetitive words, prepositional phrases, bad grammar, etc.).

> Scene Writing–this video overview and cheatsheet will walk you through the scene and sequel sequence that your story needs and how to use it to revise your draft.

> Common Revision Problems–this audio will help you defeat three of the most common problems that plague writers who are revising.

> How To Know When You’re Done Revising–ah, the question that’s on every writer’s mind… how do I know when I’m done? This audio attempts to answer that question.

> Finding An Editor–this resource PDF has contact info for several editors as well as links for additional places to find editors at all different price ranges.

> Recommended Reading–because studying the art of writing stories doesn’t end with a first draft, this list of recommended reading will help you take your revision to a whole new level.

>> Grab you copy for only $7 here

Write with a purpose, live with intention,

 

 

#DailyThinkDifferent #DreamLifeOrBust

P.S. The $7 price on the Story Revision Kit is only good ’til Sunday March 19 at 11:59 p.m. EST. After that it goes up to full price. Don’t delay if you want to get your hands on it! Grab yours here.

Here’s What You Have to Do to Get What You Really Want

Not everyone agrees with this statement, but I truly believe we can have anything that we want, no matter what it is.

Really.

But in order to get what you want, there’s something you have to do first. And it’s a biggie.

Without doing this one thing, you may not get exactly what you want. And yeah, sure, you can always accept a consolation prize. Something that’s close to what you want and makes you feel pretty good too.

Except it’s not what you really want, and you deserve to have everything that you want–especially in your writing life.

The problem most writers–and people in general–have is they’re willing to settle, to accept something mediocre in place of what they really want.

I used to be like that too.

How To Not Get What You Want

When I was in college I had a desktop computer that died after a year of buying it, and so I had to buy a new one. I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted a Sony Vaio laptop (those were really popular when I was in college).

I knew it was a top-of-the-line computer and that it would last a hell of a lot longer than the refurbished desktop I’d been using. Plus, I wanted a laptop so that I could do my school work and writing wherever I felt like (and not be chained to the desk in my dorm room).

Except when I got to Best Buy to purchase my new laptop… they were out of stock on the Sony Vaio laptops. They had none left in the store.

I was extremely disappointed. But then the sales guy told me that I could buy a Toshiba laptop instead which would be just as good and would cost about half the price of the Sony.

And because I wanted instant gratification–because I wanted to walk out of the store with a laptop that day–I settled. I let him talk me into buying the Toshiba.

Got back to my dorm room, loved the new laptop for a couple weeks… and then it started overheating and shutting down on me without warning, and I kept losing stuff. I spent 3 hours researching and writing an article for the school paper and right before I hit “save” the fucking laptop shut down on me and I lost the whole thing (the laptop didn’t have Word, only Microsoft Works, which didn’t have a “document recovery” option at the time).

I was devastated.

Not to mention I took the Toshiba in to the Best Buy Geek Squad at least 5 times and no one could ever fix what was wrong with it. And when I called Toshiba customer service directly, the guy I spoke with gave me bad instructions and I ended up losing my entire music library of 3,000+ songs. (I was even more devastated about that, because music is my air.)

I was really pissed off. Mostly at myself.

Because I settled. I went to the store knowing what I wanted, and I let someone talk me into getting something else because what I wanted wasn’t available. Because I would’ve had to wait a little bit longer to have it.

The funny thing is, people do this to themselves ALL the time. You wanted to buy the blue one, but they only had red so you got red. Rather than just waiting for blue to be available or going online and trying to find the blue one, you just settle and buy the red.

And the truth is, when you’re settling in one area of your life, you’re likely settling in several.

So, where are you settling when it comes to your writing dream? Where are you telling yourself that you can’t truly have what you want, and instead accepting a mediocre version of it? 

There’s only one way to get exactly what you want, every single time you want something. Whether that’s in your writing life, buying a computer or anything else you want: You have to close off all other options.

What does that mean?

It means acting like there is no other option available. You’ll get what you want or die trying.

Period.

If I went into Best Buy back in college and had closed off all other options beforehand, I would’ve walked out of the store without a laptop that day… but I’d have walked back in a few weeks later when they had more and then walked out with a Sony Vaio in my hands. No settling.

Another Example

Let’s say you want to be a bestselling author. It’s a dream you’ve had your whole life. You’ve imagined it more times than you can count.

But since you have no idea how to make it happen, you settle. You put your book out into the world and then you let it sit. You make a few sales, but the book doesn’t become a bestseller.

And you’re OK with that–because you’ve been told that you can’t always get what you want.

Except none of the BS is true.

You CAN have what you want. You can have it ALL.

But the only way is to close off all other options.

If being a bestselling author was your only option… you’d keep at it ’til it happened. You’d work your ass off bringing that dream to life. You’d accept nothing less than bestseller status. You’d market and sell your book 24/7 if that’s what it took.

Problem is, too often we want something, but we’re not fully committed to having it, and so when we’re offered a consolation-prize version of what we want, we settle. We call it good enough and move on.

And that’s why you don’t always get what you want.

Because getting what you want means NOT settling. It means holding off, waiting, being patient. It means knowing that it might take a year or a few years or a lifetime to make it happen, and being OK with that.

When you close off all other options, that means you’re not open to getting anything but what you want. And by being that committed to what you want AND doing the work to make it happen, there’s no way in hell you won’t get it at some point. It’s inevitable.

That’s what it really takes to get what you want. To get exactly what you want. Every single time. No exceptions.

Share With Us

What do you want for your writing life? And how are you going to close off all other options so that getting what you want becomes inevitable?

Are you ready to get everything you want and unleash the writing life of your dreams? Check out my new eBook: Align Your Writing Habits to Success, available right now on Amazon.

Are You A Creator Or A Consumer? (The Answer May Surprise You)

As a writer, you probably read that headline and thought, “I’m a creator.”

But are you really?

And the way to tell is to ask yourself two questions: do I create more than I consume? Or, do I consume more than I create?

My guess is, you’re consuming a whole lot more than you’re creating.

Consuming means you’re taking things in–reading books, watching TV shows or movies, going to live events or spending every night stuffing your face with food before you go to bed.

Consuming. Taking things in, but not putting anything back out.

Creating is a whole other thing.

Creators create. They are constantly putting new stuff out there–ideas, projects, books, art, music, whatever.

As a writer–and especially as a writer who wants to be a pro author–you have to be creating more than you’re consuming. 

We’re all born with innate creativity. But if you don’t use your creativity and creative gifts on a regular, consistent basis, they lose their effectiveness. And eventually you’ll find yourself in your mid-50s feeling like you don’t have a creative bone in your body.

And that’s not true. You do have a creative bone. Lots of them.

But you gotta use them. You’ve gotta use your creativity as much and as often as possible.

You must commit to being a creator, and to creating more than you consume.

This was a tough one for me. Back in 2008 when I officially started my novel-writing journey, I was definitely consuming WAY more than I was creating.

Back then I spent most of my days and nights watching endless shows on HGTV and Food Network. Telling myself I wanted to write and even that I would write… but first I had to watch Rachel Ray or House Hunters or whatever stupid show was on.

And then the writing never happened. (Or happened very little in comparison.)

Now don’t get me wrong–there’s nothing wrong with consuming. After all, as writers, we need consumers, otherwise who will read what we put out there?

But there has to be a balance between consuming and creating, and more of the weight needs to fall on the creating side.

Today, I definitely create more than I consume (but I could still use to consume less and create even more, as I’m pretty addicted to Netflix).

That’s the whole point of being a writer. Of being an author. Of being someone who’s great with words.

The sad thing is, way too many writers are out there calling themselves writers or telling people they want to write book (or that they are writing a book), but then most of their free time is spent consuming. Reading books or streaming Hulu, while dreaming about the stories living inside them that they want to write, but haven’t yet.

And a good majority of those writers never will.

They’ll never step up and do what it takes to be the creators they dream of being. Because they’re too busy hiding their heads in the sands of media, news, Facebook, Netflix and whatever other mindless dribble is coming out of their electronics.

They’re too busy Resisting the writing dreams that live inside them and procrastinating on taking action. They’re too busy telling themselves that they’ll start tomorrow or next week or next month, once their circumstances change a bit or when their lives are less chaotic. (Which will never happen, by the way.)

Look, we all go through this at some point. No one is above it. Resistance and procrastinating are a part of the creative process at times.

But the real trouble happens when you don’t do anything about it. When you just keep Resisting and keep procrastinating, never actually creating anything you want to create. (Trust me, I know. There was a time in my writing life when I actually avoided doing the work by getting on my hands and knees and scrubbing the bathroom floor with a sponge–and I HATE cleaning!)

That’s over for me now. I’m all in. I’m game on. I’m on fire with a passion for writing and for creating and getting my ideas out into the world on a regular basis.

Now that’s not to say that I don’t have moments of Resistance and procrastination still (I totally do and probably always will. I am the original Procrastinating Writer).

But I’ve transitioned to the next level in my writing life. I’m a published author (6 books and counting–my new one comes out next week!).

I’m on a mission. A mission to use up everything that’s inside me, so when I leave this world I can feel 100 percent like I accomplished everything I came here to, and then some.

I refuse to live with regrets. Ever.

And, well, when you don’t get your writing out there; when you make Netflix and reading other people’s books more important than creating and putting your own ideas and stories out into the world, that’s when you’re setting yourself up for regrets.

Major regrets.

Because while you can have it all, you won’t be able to when your ass is planted on the couch in front of the TV. Or when you’ve got a stack of books a mile high to read, meanwhile your own book is collecting cobwebs on your laptop or–even worse–inside your head.

Having it all means taking action. It means showing up and doing the work. It means making your writing, your stories and what you want to create MORE IMPORTANT than all the books, TV shows, movies, music and what not that you want to consume.

There has to be a balance. And in my opinion, that balance needs to fall heavier on the creation side than the consume side.

That’s why I created the Bestselling Author Mastermind group–because I want you to stop making the bullshit stuff that you consume on a daily basis more important than doing your writing and getting your ideas and stories out into the world.

This mastermind is accountability and productivity at a whole new level. We’re doing daily check ins–so you can see progress a whole lot faster (or see where you’re totally not doing the work and need to step up).

And I’m in the trenches with you, doing my writing and getting it out into the world.

I’m a big fan of leaders who lead from the trenches. Who get down and dirty with the people they’re leading. Who are totally transparent and show you the truth of what it really takes to be successful–no BS, no rose-colored glasses.

Who step up and prove the things they preach. Who put into daily practice the things they teach. And who are willing to get vulnerable and share it all–the good and the bad.

That’s what makes a revolutionary leader in my mind. And that’s what I want to be.

A revolutionary leader who helps emerging novelists step up, claim their writing dreams and then take action to make it happen. I want to be the reason more stories get out into the world.

Stories that never would’ve seen the light of day without me.

That’s what the Bestselling Author Mastermind group is all about. Action. Progress. Giving up the BS that holds you back. Committing to your writing dream. Being willing to do whatever it takes.

And creating more than you consume.

If you’re ready for that level of accountability, productivity and creation, I’d love for you to join us. Learn more about the Bestselling Author Mastermind here.

Three Roadblocks to Writing Success

By Annabel Candy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Write is a Verb–An Interview with Author Bill O’Hanlon (Part 2)

In part one of my interview with the inspiring Bill O’Hanlon, he gave some steps for overcoming writing procrastination.

Since O’Hanlon is so successful as an author, I wanted him to give more of a background on himself and the strategies he uses to keep writing.

JB: So Bill, tell me a little bit about yourself–how did you get into writing?

BO: Two main things that got me writing. One is that I got pissed off about the way things were in my chosen profession (psychotherapy) and I wanted to tell people that there was a better way. That and, since I was already speaking about the same stuff I would later write about, people who heard me speak urged me to write.

I had no plans to write. Unlike some writers, I did not have childhood (or even adult) dreams of being a writer.

I was a poor writer. I generally had little patience and didn’t like to sit down. I was very active and writing didn’t appeal.

But getting to people with my ideas did. I realized at a certain point that I could reach people I had never met through my writing and that gave me a lot of motivation to push through my reluctance to write.

Once a woman wrote me and told me she had used one of my books (Do One Thing Different: Ten Simple Ways to Change Your Life) to get off pain pills she was addicted to. This, to me, was very moving.

A person I had never met had her life affected in a positive way by something I wrote. That made all the struggles and hours and frustrations associated with the writing I had done in my life all worthwhile.

I was trained as a psychotherapist and began writing in that narrow field (it was easier to break into writing in that small area than it is writing for the general public).

Some years later I got an agent and began writing for the general public. I was pleasantly surprised to discover the advances were better for “trade books.”

It took me the same amount of time to write those books as it did the ones I got paid ten times less. Those trade books also reached so many more people than did my professional books.

One of my books (the aformentioned Do One Thing Different: Ten Simple Ways to Change Your Life) was featured on Oprah and that helped sales (but didn’t make me rich or guarantee future book sales). Being on Oprah impressed my family, as well.

After writing 27 books in as many years, I finally wrote a book about how to get oneself to write, called Write Is a Verb: Sit Down, Start Writing, No Excuses (Writer’s Digest, 2007).

These days I teach and coach people to write and get their books published through my intensives and online courses at www.getyourbookwritten.com.

You can also learn more about the blah, blah, blah details about me and my other work at www.billohanlon.com (I’ve been in the pubic eye as a speaker and writer for so many years that I find my own life a bit boring; I’m much more interested in others).

Lately I have become fascinated with the web, as a vehicle for inexpensive marketing and as a source of passive income, My goal is to create a work life that doesn’t require my presence, time or effort.

JB: Ok, one last question, what are your personal strategies for getting writing done?

BO: There are many “writing rules,” put forth by professors and writers, but I believe each writer has to sort out the best way to getting words on the page and finishing projects.

For me, having signed a contract with a deadline and taken an advance was
highly motivating. If I had promised myself I would write and finish a book, I might have and I might not have.

But making a promise to someone else, especially a promise bound by a legal contract and money, ensured that I would finish that first book and turn it in on time. I have only written one book without a contract so far.

I initially found that the best way for me to get my writing done was to listen to loud rock music while writing. I’m a bit distractible and found that the music would surround me with a bubble and I could more easily focus on writing. Later I developed enough discipline and ability to write without music.

I also found that not having special places or times to write worked for me. I had a very busy life (four kids, a busy psychotherapy practice and speaking career), so I just grabbed whatever opportunities I could to write. Five minutes here. An hour there.

I also developed an ability to write with many different tools. I began with a typewriter and later moved to a computer. I have also written longhand. Mostly a computer works these days, but isn’t essential.

I do find that I outline better longhand with pen and paper than on computer. And that if I have a clear outline (and a clear, well-though out central theme/idea) the writing is easier and faster (I typically finish my first drafts in a month or two these days–down from three years for my first book).

When I haven’t thought out or outlined the book, it usually takes closer to a year to write that first draft. Big difference, eh?

For more from Bill, visit his Web site: www.getyourbookwritten.com.