If someone asked you, “what’s your BIG writing dream?” what would you say to them?
Would you tell them about your actual BIG writing dream? Or would you dim it down with some compromised version, because you have no idea how you’d ever make that happen and you don’t want the person who asked you to think you’re out of your mind or just really delusional for thinking you’d ever have a shot at a dream like that?
I used to answer that question by saying I want to make a living off my fiction. But that wasn’t quite it.
Yes, that’s a part of it. But that’s a compromised version of what I actually want. I never wanted to share my BIG dreams with anyone, out of fear that if I didn’t make it happen, I’d be judged or would have to hear “I told you so.”
So I kept the BIG dreams a secret and didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t talk about it, not even with the people closest to me. I just thought about it over and over again in my head.
And when I’d see other people achieving my BIG dream, I’d get triggered by their success and feel resentful and like it should be me. Instead of seeing it for what it really was: evidence that my BIG dreams are possible.
Because if it can happen for one person, it can happen for more than one (remember the story about the 4-minute mile?).
I didn’t used to have a lot of faith in my BIG dreams actually coming true. I used to think they were pipe dreams or things that other people can achieve, but not me.
So I only allowed myself to go after dreams I knew I could achieve or didn’t have resistance to achieving. Mediocre dreams that were a small fraction of the bigger dreams I had living inside me.
Writing and publishing a novel. That was always a dream I had from when I was 13 years old. And while that was a pretty significant dream and achievement, I never had resistance to it. I always knew at some point it would come true and I would have a novel out in the world.
I believed it, from day one.
I may have had a lot of struggle and resistance to doing the work required to achieve the dream, sure. But I never doubted that I’d make it happen. I always knew one day there would be a novel in the world that was written by me.
But my BIG dreams… the ones I only thought about in my head or whispered out loud to myself when no one was around…those I didn’t even allow myself to want or spend too much time fantasizing about.
Because I not only had a ton of resistance to believing those dreams were possible for me, but I also had no clue how I’d make it happen. And so by not allowing myself to want what I really wanted, I could play it safe.
If no one knows about your BIG dreams, then there’s no pressure to actually make it happen. You’re let of the hook. You no longer have to worry about whether you’ll achieve your BIG dream… because even if you don’t, no one will know.
The problem with that way of thinking is that it caused me to play small, for such a long time. I’d sit on the sidelines, watching all these other writers achieving my BIG dreams and wishing it was me.
But I wasn’t doing the work. I wasn’t even allowing myself to fully want the BIG dream, even though deep down they were always there.
The BIG dreams have been there since I first started writing stories at age 11. My stories and story ideas have always come to me like little scenes in my mind; like bits and pieces of a movie playing in my head.
And that’s what solidified my BIG dreams.
But I never admitted it to anyone. I never said it out loud other than to myself. Because I didn’t believe it was possible for me. And I didn’t want to be seen as a failure in other peoples’ eyes in case I didn’t actually achieve it.
So I played small. Doing the bare minimum. Giving myself permission to procrastinate and make excuses and not write consistently.
Until a year ago when I realized something major… the only competition in life is with YOURSELF… and FUCK what anyone else thinks.
Most people are sitting on the sidelines in life, afraid to get on the field and play the game, because of the reasons I just mentioned (and a whole lot of other ones). And do you know who those people are who say things like, “I told you so” and “see, I knew you couldn’t do it” or who would judge you or make fun of you for not achieving something?
They’re people who never allowed themselves to want their BIG dreams. They’re people who have shoved their BIG dreams so far down they’re buried for all of time.
And they’re dead inside.
They just go through the motions, trying to make peace with the mediocre existence they’ve settled for. But they’re miserable.
Because they have these BIG dreams inside that they’re not allowing themselves to want, to go after and especially achieve. And they hate themselves for it.
They hate themselves for caring what other people think, for feeling trapped in a life that doesn’t fulfill them, for not taking action on what they want the most.
And yet they still don’t do anything about it.
Yes, thankfully some of these people wake the fuck up at some point in their lives and finally decide to go for it. That’s when you see people like Susan Boyle or the 90-year-old first-time novelist bursting onto the scene later in life.
They finally made their dreams bigger than their bullshit, as my mentor would say.
A year ago, I gave up my bullshit. I decided that I was no longer going to sit on the sidelines, watching other authors achieving my BIG dreams. I was going to get in the game and achieve with them too. And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
So, what are my BIG dreams?
> To be a New York Times Bestselling Author of both fiction and nonfiction.
> To have my novels and screenplays turned into big-screen Hollywood movies, with famous actors and actresses playing my characters, and I get to make cameos.
> To write and publish hundreds of books—both fiction and nonfiction—everything from novels to memoir to self-help.
I’m no longer hiding from these dreams. I’m actively pursuing them. I’m writing about them every single day in my journal like they’ve already come true. I’m visualizing what my life would be like if these dreams were already true. I’m taking aligned act-as-if actions.
And I’m finally allowing myself to believe that’s possible for me.
Now, I’m creating this belief. It’s not something that was already there. I’m intentionally putting it there by reprogramming my mindset and removing any negative thoughts, beliefs or barriers that could get in the way.
But as I’ve seen happen with so many other beliefs I wanted to have that I programmed into myself… once you do enough mindset work and take enough aligned act-as-if actions, the belief will be there.
And once the belief is there, the dream showing up in your physical reality is not far behind.
So, what are your BIG writing dreams? Share in the comments if you dare…
Write with a purpose, live with intention,
P.S. 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, open on Friday March 24!! If you want IN on this workshop, get on my email list here so you’re the first to know when the doors open (you’ll also receive a free copy of my eBook, The Bestselling Author Mindset Formula).
For a long time I dreamed of seeing my book at #1 on Amazon; of more readers finding my books and transforming their lives, because the books is at #1 and actually has a chance at being shown to potential readers.
Problem was, I had no idea HOW I was going to make this happen. I didn’t know anyone who’d done it. And I had never done it before, so the steps were unknown to me.
So because I didn’t know HOW I was going to get my book to #1 on Amazon, I didn’t allow myself to want it. I just pretended that I didn’t care and that it didn’t really matter to me.
I even recall making fun of authors who called themselves “best selling authors” just from hitting #1 on Amazon. (And now I do it–ha!)
The point being, I did everything I could think of to downplay the fact that I really wanted to hit #1 on Amazon. Just because I didn’t know HOW to do it.
Thankfully this year, I finally accepted the lesson that was given to me over and over again for years… the HOW is NOT up to you.
What that means: HOW you do something isn’t what matters. It’s DOING SOMETHING that matters.
In February I came across an author who has published 47 eBooks–46 of which were best sellers on Amazon. It finally made me realize that if she could do it that many times, I could do it at least once.
Suddenly my fear of not knowing HOW I was going to do it shifted to a belief that I could do it.
At that point, the specifics of HOW didn’t really matter, because I was finally to a place where I not only wanted it, but I believed I could have it. It finally felt possible for me to be #1 on Amazon.
So I started writing in my journal every day that, “I am a best selling author” and “I am #1 on Amazon.” And then I started talking about wanting to hit #1. I even told my accountability buddy about it.
And then I made a decision: I would hit #1 on Amazon in 2016.
(Still at this point had no idea HOW I’d do it.)
Not long after, I got an email about a tool called Bestseller Ranking Pro. Out of no way, a HOW had shown up.
I could use this tool to find the right category to put my book in, so people can actually find it. And that will help me get to #1. Boom! I bought the software.
After looking through the BRP categories and info, I decided I was going to write an eBook about the structure of love stories. The “craft” category was a good fit for this book.
I wasn’t totally thrilled with that book idea, but it was an idea to get me started. Thankfully, right after that I got another idea–what if I took the 30-day challenge I just did to help me revamp my writing habits and turned it into an eBook?
That idea really inspired me, so I decided to put that book together and publish it first, and then go back and write the structure of love stories one.
The more practical side of me also had a thought: if I’m going to hit #1, I need to write and publish more books.
So I announced that I was going to write and publish 9 books in 2016. And then I got inspired to invite people to watch me as I wrote and published these books and turned one of them into a best seller.
(Still no real idea HOW I’d do this. Just some nudges and ideas.)
I published “Align Your Writing Habits to Success” in May and two days after it went live it hit #1 on Amazon. (And then my book, “The 15-Minute Writer”hit #1 in multiple categories two months after!)
I had achieved the goal of hitting #1 and being a best selling author on Amazon.
Looking back, I never had any idea HOW I’d do it. I just took whatever actions I could think of.
And that’s the whole point.
It’s NOT about the specific actions that you take. You can take actions that seem random and if you’re still moving in the direction of your desired outcome, the right HOW will eventually show up and you’ll get there.
My story is the perfect example–I was planning on a totally different book hitting #1 by me using the BRP tool and writing a book for a specific category; and a book I never even expected to have hit #1 did, multiple times. (Pretty much shuts up the “you need to know HOW” argument, right?)
How I achieved a #1 best seller on Amazon didn’t happen because of any one thing I did. It happened because of ALL the things I did–this year and all the years leading up to this one.
The HOW that gets you to your desired end result can only be found by creating momentum. And you create momentum by taking action–any actions–that move you in the direction you want to go.
The actions can be simple, easy things and still be powerful enough for the Universe to meet you half-way.
Because the Universe doesn’t care what actions you take. Big or small. Super risky or playing it safe. It just cares that you’re DOING SOMETHING. (Although the bigger, bolder actions always pay off more than staying in your comfort zone.)
Want to become a published author? Write a book. Show up every day and put words on the page. Learn the steps in the self-publishing process. Do your research.
The specific HOW that gets you to the desired end result of being a published author will show up as a result of you doing all those other things.
What you don’t want to do is decide you want something and then sit on your ass thinking it’s just going to show up one day. ‘Cause it doesn’t work like that, sorry.
10 Steps to Making Shit Happen
If you’re been feeling stuck or frozen because you don’t know HOW you’re going to achieve something, or because you’re overwhelmed by HOW much there is to learn and know and do… I’m gonna simplify it for you in 10 basic steps:
- Take a deep breath and relax–it’s not that serious.
- Remind yourself that you’re in the right place, exactly where you are right now.
- Write down your desired end result (one or more).
- For each end result you want, make a list of all the things you can think of right now that you could do to move in that direction. It doesn’t matter if the steps are out of order, totally random, or make no practical sense; just write everything down that comes to you.
- Choose one of the steps/actions you listed and do it right now.
- When that action is done, do the next one. (Whichever one pops out to you as the one to do next.)
- Repeat steps 5-6.
- Add any new inspired actions and ideas to the list as you go.
- Act on as many of the actions and ideas from your list as you can.
- Trust that any specific HOW you need to get you to that final end result will show up as a result of you doing steps 5-9.
And there you have it–get the hell out of the HOWS and stay focused on the end result.
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What have YOU been holding off or playing small on because you don’t know HOW you’ll make it happen? Share in the comments!
A few minutes ago I was thinking about my August goal to sell 10,000 books. And something I kept hearing was the word “try.”
In my head I was hearing myself say, I’m trying to sell 10,000 books this month. I even said that to a few people the other day, that I’m trying to sell 10,000 books this month.
And tonight as I heard the word “try” bouncing around in my head, I realized something: by saying “try” I’ve already failed.
Because there is no try. There’s either make it happen or make it happen. That is the only option.
There’s ZERO point in trying to do anything.
Sure, try something new now and then, but don’t ever try when it comes to your dreams and your purpose as a writer.
If you’re trying to make your writing dreams happen, you’ve already failed. You’ve already doomed yourself to staying stuck, continuing to buy into the BS and giving yourself a Plan B just in case.
If you have a Plan B for your writing life you may as well just go after Plan B right now, because you’ll never have Plan A. Not with that kind of thinking.
You can’t have a backup plan for your dreams.
You either want something and are willing to do what it takes, for as long as it takes, until it takes and then keep going. Or you’re not.
Having a backup plan shows a lack of belief. It says to the Universe that you don’t believe you can have Plan A or you don’t believe that you’ll get Plan A, so you need a fall-back plan.
And when you send that kind of message out to the Universe, what do you think you’ll get back?
Definitely not Plan A. Maybe not even Plan B.
The Universe will send back to you what you’re putting out there. So you can’t try to make something happen. You have to just decide you’re making it happen and that you’re unwilling to accept anything else.
This all begins in your mind.
When you do enough mindset work, you will very easily be able to give yourself new beliefs and accept things as true that you wouldn’t have been able to before.
For years I dreamed of being a best seller on Amazon, but I never allowed myself to really want it or to even say it out loud, because I had no idea how I’d make it happen. So I didn’t even bother to try.
Until this year when I decided that it was finally time. I was finally sick of my bullshit being bigger than my dreams. I set my mind to it: I would be an Amazon best selling author in 2016.
And amazingly, after doing this, it happened only a few short weeks later.
I literally called my best seller status into my reality by finally allowing myself to not only want it, but to actually go after it. Not by “trying” but by believing that it was already a done deal…because I decided that it was.
If you’re reading this right now and you’re resonating with it and realizing that you’ve been “trying” all these years to make your writing dreams happen, now is the time for you to STOP TRYING.
Now is the time for you to DECIDE.
Do you want what you say you want? Do you really, really want it? Are you willing to do whatever it takes, until it takes and then keep going?
Then decide. Decide right now that you WILL have it. There’s no Plan B, no just in case, no more trying.
Decide right now that your dream writing life is yours. And then burn all of your bridges.
It’s ALL IN or get the fuck out.
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Are you DONE trying? Share your decision statement in the comments.
If you’re ready to go ALL IN on your writing life, send me an email and let’s chat about my new 1-1 coaching program: Build Your Writing Empire. I’ll help you map out the plan for your dream writing business all on your terms and the exact steps you’ll need to make it happen. And then you’ll immediately start taking action on it with me guiding and supporting you along the way.
When you’re going along on your writing journey, you will inevitably come across other authors. A lot of them will be more successful than you are (right now).
You may see other authors selling thousands of books every month, while your book collects dust in the dark corners of Amazon. You may find authors who seem to have success fall into their laps.
And it can be disheartening. To see others growing in fame and success, and you’re just stagnant and feeling totally invisible.
But here’s the thing, you never know where someone started. Sure, you’re seeing the success they have now, but what about when they first began their writing journeys?
Everybody starts somewhere.
And you have to remember that. You have to remind yourself of that. Because if you don’t, it will get to you. It will make you feel like you’re a total loser and like you might as well hang it up.
Everybody starts somewhere.
You’re starting somewhere, and so did all of the authors you’re watching have the level of success you dream of having. No one starts at the top.
Now, of course, there are things you can do to move from the bottom to the top pretty quickly. But you can’t start there. And really, why would you want to?
If you started at the top, you wouldn’t enjoy or appreciate it as much, because you didn’t have to do anything to get there. Starting from square one, being a beginner, failing and getting up and trying again. Those are the things that make getting to the top totally worth it.
But there’s no such thing as a true overnight success. The seemingly overnight success stories you see out there are either 1) total BS, 2) or the overnight results of someone who’s been at it for a while and has momentum built.
What You Need to Play in the Big Leagues
The biggest thing you need to be super successful in the writing world at a professional level is momentum. Momentum is really everything.
So when you publish book number one and only sell a few copies, do not, do not, do not let it get you down. Everybody starts somewhere.
The first year I put my eBooks on Amazon (in late 2012), I made like $150. It wasn’t until I published books 6 and 7 where I really started to see traction. Now I’m selling 1,000+ books and making around $500+ every month.
From the outside, it may look like my writing career just took off out of nowhere. But the truth is, I’ve been writing professionally since I was 18 years old. I’ve worked for a newspaper, several magazines and several online publications. I have a background in online marketing. I’ve got a journalism degree. And I’ve been blogging since 2008, and writing and publishing books since 2010.
I have momentum built.
So when I published my eBook, Align Your Writing Habits to Success–a book I wrote in 15-minute increments over a 30-day period–and it hit #1 on Amazon in multiple categories on multiple days, things just took off from there.
But it had nothing to do with that specific book or me being better than anyone else. It’s just the momentum.
When you’ve got momentum built up, things eventually have to take off. That’s what momentum does. It builds up force so that when you get to a place where you’re fully aligned with the writing you’re doing, it’s like you’ve turned a corner on a rollercoaster. Suddenly everything is just flowing and building up speed–seemingly on its own.
I’m less than 50 sales away from having sold 1,000 books in the month of June. And I know I’ll make that many sales today, maybe even more. Because at this point, my books are selling themselves. Without doing any additional marketing, I’m selling an average of 30-40 books a day, every single day.
I know what I’m doing now. I’ve got enough failures under my belt to know what not to do, and to know how to pivot in another direction when something isn’t quite working how I want it to. But only experience and practice and time can teach you this.
So next time you see an author out there, having the success that you dream of having, don’t let it get you down. Use it as fuel to build yourself back up. Because you know that you have everything it takes to create the success you want.
You just have to take enough consistent action in the direction of your writing dream so you can build up the momentum.
But no matter what, do not let the success of others make you think you’re not good enough or that you can’t make your dream happen. You totally can. Everybody starts somewhere.
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What can you do today to start building momentum on your writing dream?
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I talk to a lot of writers on a daily basis, and a common thing I’ve noticed is, they all have big, huge dreams for their writing lives. They want the bestselling novel and the movie deal and to be a household name in the reading world.
Problem is most of them will never get it. And it’s NOT because they don’t have what it takes to get it (well, maybe some of them don’t).
It’s because they’re either:
- Not allowing themselves to truly want what they really want
- Not taking action
- Not taking enough action
- Not taking consistent action
And all of these non-allowing and non-actions stem from one thing: not knowing HOW something is going to happen or HOW it could happen… and using that as a reason not to start (or continue).
And here’s the truth: the HOW doesn’t even matter. It doesn’t matter!
You never, ever need to know how you’re going to do something or make something all happen. All you need to know is what you want and be committed to making it happen, regardless of what the how ends up being.
I read a lot of books about manifestation and creating your dream life, and something that has been repeated over and over in lots of different ways in these books is this: just moving in the general direction of your dreams is enough.
You don’t have to do everything, you don’t have to go into debt (unless you can afford to pay it off), you don’t have to sell your soul or sacrifice everything you own. You just have to, as bestselling author, Mike Dooley says, “do what you can, with what you’ve got from where you’re at.”
And what that means is, start from where you are. Take whatever action you can take, right now, today, and don’t worry about the rest.
By taking that action, you are signaling to the Universe that you’re ready for more and you’re ready for your dream writing life. You don’t have to know the HOW. You don’t even have to take linear actions. You just have to take action, period.
And sure, some days it may feel like you’re throwing darts randomly, with no idea where they’re gonna stick or even if they will. But as the late Steve Jobs always said (and I’m paraphrasing here): the pieces don’t add up ’til you look backwards at them.
So right now it may feel like you’re just doing random things that aren’t really adding up, but when your dream writing life begins to manifest in your reality, you’ll be able to look back at all the seemingly random things you did over the years and see they were actually amazingly perfect stepping stones to where you wanted to be.
The Universe always knows the fastest, easiest way to get us where we want to go–because the how is up to the Universe. So as long as you don’t muddle in the hows or worry about the specifics of how you’ll make something happen, and instead just know what you want, focus on it and then take whatever actions you can think of from where you are with what you have right now, you can trust that the dots will be connected and it will lead exactly where you want to go (or somewhere even better!).
Now this is all a lot of woo-woo stuff, which I’m into. But I also like to ground it out with examples.
An Example of Not Messing With the Hows
Let’s say you want to be a bestselling author. That’s the goal you’re focusing on. Now at this point, you have no idea how you’ll make that happen, but you’re going to trust that as long as you do what you can with what you’ve got from where you’re at, that the Universe will show up for you and connect all the dots.
With that in mind, what actions could you take right now, from where you are? Here are some ideas…
- Write a book–your chances of being a bestselling author increase when you actually write something
- Publish your book–your chances increase exponentially when you actually publish the book and put it out in the world where other people can find it and buy it
- Get started writing and publishing another book–because your chances of being a bestseller will increase even more when you don’t get attached to any one book being the bestseller, and just stay focused on being a bestselling author
- Work on your mindset–this is super important, because when your mind is in the right place, your reality will follow
- Intend what you want–do this over and over again. Intend not only what you want–to be a bestselling author–but intend it like it has already happened: I am a bestselling author, all of my books hit #1.
This is what it looks like to take action in the direction of your dreams without messing with HOW you’re going to make that specific dream happen.
An Example of Messing With the Hows
I wanted to show you this example too, because this is the version that most people do. Most people try to mess with how something is going to happen, instead of just taking action in its general direction.
With that in mind, here are some examples of what it looks like to mess with the Hows (and therefore get frustrated and pissed off when things aren’t working out, and then possibly even give up or quit, which is worse):
- Coming up with a book idea, deciding this book is going to be your bestseller and then writing it–great, step one is obviously to write a book, but what’s going wrong in this action is the “deciding this book is going to be your bestseller.” That’s messing with the hows of becoming a bestselling author. That’s trying to tell the Universe how to make something happen, instead of just letting the Universe figure it out
- Publishing the book you’ve decided is going to be your bestseller and then spending weeks, months, maybe even years marketing it–maybe to some degree of success and maybe not. The idea isn’t to pick a book you want to have become a bestseller and then turn it into one. It’s to write lots of books and trust that as you do, one of them will be the one that tips the scales in your favor.
- Refusing to write or even focus on another book until the one you’ve already published is a success–rather than just writing and publishing and then writing and publishing again, you’re focused on this one specific book being successful. That is, again, messing with the hows. It’s not up to you to decide this will be the book that makes you a bestseller. It’s up to you to stay focused on being a bestselling author, and a bestselling author doesn’t just write and publish one book, right?
By being so attached to this specific book being the one that makes you a bestseller, you are limiting all other options and possibilities. That’s messing with the hows. Don’t do that.
An Example from My Real Life
And one final example, this time from my real life. So in February this year, I met my current mentor, Kat Loterzo, who is the author of 47 books (46 of which have been bestsellers on Amazon). Before I met her, being a bestselling author was something I wanted, but it wasn’t something I was allowing myself to be open to.
And why? Because I couldn’t see HOW it would happen!
But when I met Kat, it finally dawned on me: I don’t have to worry about how it will happen. I just need to trust that by being open to the possibility of becoming a bestselling author, and doing the work, the how will take care of itself.
So I wrote down that I am a bestselling author. I declared it and I decided to be open to it. Soon after I got the idea for a 30-day “align your writing habits to success” challenge that I would do to help clean up my writing habits and get aligned with being the bestselling author I wanted to be. Then I invited my community to participate with me and more than 100 people signed up to join in.
When the month was over, my writing habits were completely overhauled and I was inspired to share the challenge with more writers. I decided to turn the challenge content into a multimedia, interactive eBook.
I put that book together in 15-minute daily sessions over the course of 30 days and then published it. During that time I also committed publicly that I’m going to write and publish one eBook a month for the rest of the year. I had a book idea in my mind that I was going to write after I published the writing habits book.
In my mind, this new book was it. It was going to be my bestseller. It’s a book the writing world has needed for a long time now. So I just put the Align Your Writing Habits to Success eBook out there with minimal promotion or even attention paid to the launch, because I was ready to move on to the next eBook.
And then I discovered the day it launched that it was at #3 in its category! And a thought hit me: what if this is the one? Could I get it to #1?
I jumped in and actively started telling people about it, sharing the book, making short teaser videos for Instagram and telling my friends and family on my personal Facebook page about it (which I don’t always do). And this time I told them I wanted to hit #1 and I asked them to buy the book.
I didn’t even have one shred of a thought that this book would be the one to make me a bestselling author…until I saw it at #3 and realized, with some effort, I could pull it off.
Now yes, I did a lot of work to make this happen, but looking back, all of the HOW came directly from the Universe–everything from the inspiration to create the 30-day challenge to the desire to turn it into an eBook to spread the message further to randomly thinking of checking in on launch day to see where the book was at in the rankings (which, to be honest, is something I never really do. But now I will be!).
That was the HOW for me becoming a bestselling author. But in order for it to happen, I had to do my part, which was to jump on the inspiration I received back a few months ago when I created the challenge. It was to take action from where I was at.
I could’ve instead tried to figure out which book I needed to write to become a bestseller, I could’ve gotten attached to it being one book over another… but instead, I just focused on what I wanted: to become an Amazon bestselling author, and then I acted from where I was with what I had.
Magic can happen when you let go of the hows and focus instead on what you want and then taking action in its general direction.
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What are you going to start taking action on right now, today?
And speaking of the book I originally thought was going to be my bestseller, it’s called The Pro Writer Mindset and it comes out on June 14! Get on the waitlist here so you’re the first to know when it’s live.
Image courtesy of Infrogmation of New Orleans
Every writer I come across has big dreams. Not all of them will admit to it. Some will tell you they just want to write and publish a book for themselves, so they can say that they did it and if they never sell a single copy, that’s OK.
But you can see a fire behind their eyes when they talk about it. You can tell there’s a whole lot buried in there that wants to come out and see the light of day.
Except you’ll never see it, because some writers just aren’t willing to step up and claim what they want.
But you’re not one of those writers. I know this, because if you were, you wouldn’t be here right now reading this.
No, you’re a writer who has big dreams. Who wants to be a New York Times bestseller and see your novels turned into movies on the big-screen with big-time Hollywood actors playing your Protagonist, Antagonist and love interest. And you’ll get to help with the script and have a cameo in the movie, as well as walk the red carpet at all of the movie premieres all around the world.
Or maybe it’s just me?
Either way, here’s one thing I know: you can have ANY writing life you want. ANY.
If you want the kind of writing life where writing is a hobby and you keep your day job, you can have that. If you want to write full time, you can do that. If you want a writing life as massive as someone, like Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you can have that too. (Yes, REALLY).
It just comes down to a few things:
- Are you willing to believe it? Belief is the number one thing needed to make a dream come true. If you don’t believe or can’t believe in the writing dream you want for yourself, it will never happen.
- Are you willing to show up every day and do the work? If you’re not, you’ll never have the writing life you dream of, and I can tell you that with one-hundred percent certainty. Dream all you want, but when it’s all said and done, the successful writers are putting in the work, day in and day out.
- Are you willing to write your own rules and create your own reality? An important question, because if you’re not (and that’s OK), it’s gonna be pretty tough to achieve the dream writing life. And the reason is you’ll get stopped by or stuck in the societal norms of being a writer that tell you things like, you can’t make money; being a writer is a hobby, not a real job; writing is hard and takes a long time to be successful at; you’ll never make it to #1…whatever limited things you believe right now. Those things will hold you back and keep you from the success you really dream of. So you have to be willing to step outside what other writers believe and create a new normal for yourself.
Hey, if it was easy to have the dream writing life, everyone would have it. It takes work–both internal and external–to make it happen.
But it CAN happen.
Literally anything is possible in today’s world, so long as you believe it is and then act like it every single day.
And just ’cause I love examples, here’s one for ya: let’s say you want to sell 50 books a month. That means you need to find 50 people a month wiling to pay money in exchange for your book. As long as the book is available digitally and easy to access (like on Amazon or BN.com), it can totally happen. And pretty quickly, depending on the work you put in.
There are billions and billions of people in this world. A very large percentage of those people are online. And you only need to find 50 of them. Fifty out of billions and billions? Seems pretty doable, doesn’t it?
And that’s the thing I love the most about being an authorpreneur in the digital age. The internet has dropped all barriers between the creator and the consumer and you can connect with people from all over the world and sell your books, services, products, etc. to the people who want and need them most.
This puts you in the driver’s seat, giving you total control of your writing destiny–where you end up and what you create along the way. Empowering, isn’t it? Kinda makes you want to sit your ass in a chair and write something right-freaking-now.
So it’s true, you really can have whatever writing life you dream of. But you’ve gotta believe it and act on it every single day.
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The other day one of my mentors posted a picture of her dinner on Facebook. She was at this nice restaurant and had ordered a meat and veggies dish–no carbs in sight–that had my mouthwatering (and I’m not a big meat eater).
Lately I’ve been working on eating healthier, and have actually been free of refined white sugar and even natural sweeteners, for almost two weeks now. But it’s been TOUGH. Like, really tough.
And yet my mentor seems to eat the way I want to eat almost effortlessly. She doesn’t even like carbs.
I commented on her pic and said, “I wish I had your discipline when it came to food.” (Because I love carbs, especially French fries, salt-and-vinegar chips and anything with sugar. )
As I’m sure you guessed it, her reply to my comment sent me into a tailspin that I’m still rolling around in my head. She commented back: “It’s not that I’m disciplined, it’s that I’m committed to having the result.”
Kinda smacks ya in the face, doesn’t it?
You don’t need discipline when you’re committed to the result you want to create, because the result automatically tells you what choices you need to make.
Easier said than done, sure. But is it really? When you’re that committed to seeing what you want show up in your life, seems like taking the actions would be a natural progression.
And I’ve been rolling this around in my head for days now. It’s really bugging me!
Because it’s made me re-think all the things I thought I was committed to. Made me question which results I’m really willing to do the work for, and which I’d be OK having something else in place of what I really want.
Who wants to look at the fact that they’re not as committed as they thought they were?
If you want to write your novel (or whatever you dream of doing), are you so committed to having the result (aka: a published novel) that you’re doing the work day in and day out? If you’re not, maybe you’re not as committed to the result as you thought you were.
And that’s what I’m contending with right now. Because I have big, HUGE dreams for my writing life and my life in general. But there are some things I don’t really feel like doing most of the time (i.e. going to the gym). So what that means is I won’t ever really have what I want in those areas of my life.
Because to have what you want, you have to be committed to the result.
This is a whole new level of accountability and commitment. It’s a whole new level of assessing what you really want and picking it all apart to determine what you really care about and what you can die never having accomplished and not be bothered by it.
That’s the way to get to the core of what you really want for your writing life.
It’s tough–this being a professional writer stuff. When you write as a hobby you don’t have to worry about how much writing you get done, but when you’re an authorpreneur, you can’t lose focus. You have to know what you want, be very clear on it and specific about it, and then take action.
But if you’ve got goals or dreams in your head that, underneath the surface you don’t really care about or if you didn’t ever make it happen you wouldn’t lose sleep, you can give yourself permission to drop them. To drop them and no longer pursue or even think about them.
Now you’ve just reigned your focus in even more.
That’s what alignment is all about. It’s about knowing what you want, truly, deep down, knowing, and being willing to let go of the other stuff (the stuff you’re holding onto because someone said you should do it or because that’s what everyone else is doing).
And alignment, much like success, is a daily practice. Life happens, it’s always going to. It’s always gonna come in and get in the way.
You’re going to lose your focus sometimes, you’re going to fall off the wagon and be unproductive for a bit. It happens to all of us. Checking in with yourself on a daily basis is a great way to stay aligned with what you want and where you’re going, and also to pick yourself back up faster when you do lose focus.
But please, stop forcing yourself into dreams and goals that have other people’s names on them.
Here’s an example… maybe you’ve been telling yourself you want to write a novel. You’ve tried a few times, but nothing seems to be working. When you look deep-down, you know it’s because you don’t really want to write a novel. Novels are hard work and take way too much time. You’d be happier writing a series of short stories. But every fiction writer has to write a novel, right? So you have to as well.
You don’t have to do anything. You should only do the things you truly care about, the things you’re passionate about and actually want to be doing.
Don’t be afraid to go deep and really question the goals and dreams that you have. If you’ve been after something for a while and you’re still coming up short, maybe deep-down you don’t really want to do it and it’s time to let it go. Or, maybe you’ll find you want it more than anything and now it’s time to step up your commitment to the result.
There is no right or wrong here. It’s all about what works for you and what you want.
And what it really comes down to, is if you know that you truly want something and wouldn’t be able to live with yourself if you didn’t get it, maybe it’s time to get clear on the result and then commit to having it. No discipline needed.
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What’s one result you’re so committed to you don’t need discipline to take action?
If you’re committed to making your BIG writing dreams a reality, be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a high-level accountability and mentorship group for emerging authors and novelists.
Not everyone agrees with this statement, but I truly believe we can have anything that we want, no matter what it is.
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.
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.
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.
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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?
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There was a time in the writing industry where a writer could write a good book, and because the book was so good–and so much better than most books people were writing–that book stood out and agents and publishers came out of the woodwork to represent it and publish it. And all an author had to do was publish a really good book, and they’d be on the bestseller list, doing book signings around the country and getting interviewed in the media.
Ah, it was a lovely time to be an author.
Except that you had very little control of anything. Your fate was in someone else’s hands.
Good thing that time is over now.
Yes, over. Finished. Done-zo.
It just doesn’t work like that anymore. And it can’t. The market is way too saturated.
So what emerging novelists in today’s digital age need to do, is step up and take control of their own writing destinies.
If you have a dream, a vision, a goal for your writing, it’s up to YOU to make it happen. Y. O. U.
No one else can make it happen for you.
It’s in your hands.
I realized this a while back. I had a finished draft of my novel, SoundCheck, and was sitting on it. I was procrastinating and not doing the work.
And my soul was suffering for it.
Because writing stories is my soul’s work, and I know it.
And that’s when I realized it–I was (subconsciously) waiting for someone else to give me the go-ahead. For someone else to give me permission to take things to the next level with my writing life.
I was leaving my destiny to chance, instead of being intentional about it.
In the digital age, emerging novelists have a unique opportunity to be intentional and use that intention to achieve their writing goals.
Because there’s so much more in your control. You no longer need a gatekeeper (aka: agent or publisher) to get your novel out into the world. The doors to the self-publishing world are wide-open. All you have to do is just walk in.
But there’s more to it than that. And a lot of writers don’t see it and end up publishing something subpar and then wondering why no one buys it or writes reviews or really even cares.
Don’t be that kind of self-published novelist. Be the self-published novelist who took control of her writing destiny and did things as professionally as possible, and who learned what it took to write a good novel, to publish it, promote it and make sales.
Be that kind of authorpreneur. The kind who publishes an awesome book that builds a foundation for a long writing career (one that grows with each book).
Here’s my roadmap for taking control of your writing destiny:
1. Learn the Craft of Novel Writing
Novel writing is unlike any other kind of writing out there. It’s a very specific beast that needs to be put together in a very specific way. You can’t just write whatever you want and call it a story.
You have to follow the principles of storytelling.
And yes, once you’ve got the principles down you can break them when you need to. But only when and if it works (and NEVER if you’re a first-time author, and most especially NEVER if you’re a first-time author who’s trying to get traditionally published).
No matter what else you do, learn craft. Master the craft of writing stories that work.
This will serve you to no end. And I can think of nothing more aligned with being in control of your writing destiny than knowing what the fuck you’re doing.
If you know what you’re doing you can surpass even the authors out there who know what they’re doing but don’t have the language to describe or talk about it (meaning they intuitively know how to write a story, but they don’t have the words to describe how they know what they know).
When you know what you’re doing, you’ll be able to repeat it over and over again (and never make an ass of yourself in Writer’s Digest magazine by suggesting that you have no idea how you write your books, even though you’ve written a ton of them, including one that was a smash-hit bestseller). A repeatable process based on the principles of storytelling.
And no one can ever take that away from you.
2. Master Your Mindset
I harp on this a lot, but it’s because honestly this is the secret sauce that totally shifted my life.
I’ve always been an insanely positive person. But I had a ton of negative programming about myself. And that’s where things started to fall apart as I got closer and closer to finishing my novel and publishing it.
Because you can’t think negatively about yourself or having tons of limiting beliefs if you want to be successful. Sure, you can still achieve things with that kind of mindset (I’m proof of it).
Except there’s no joy in it. You’ll just achieve the goal and feel like it’s still not enough and you probably won’t even take time to celebrate and will just go on to the next thing (yep, that’s what I used to do).
But when you get your mind to a place of feeling like your goal is already yours and already a done deal… then when you achieve it, you’ll actually enjoy it and it will actually feel like you’ve accomplished something.
Because you’re in control, and your mind is in a place where it’s open to receiving what you’ve asked for and you’re not sabotaging it.
When you don’t work on your mindset and you just let your thoughts run wild, you’ll never be in control. And then things will just happen to you, instead of you intentionally making things happen.
Whereas when you focus on being intentional about how you want to feel and what you want to think and believe about yourself, that’s when you’re taking control of your destiny.
Taking control of your writing destiny is about being intentional.
3. Create Your Own Reality
Some people believe they have no control of what happens to them. They believe the reality they see with their eyes is the only reality that exists and it’s the only one that’s real.
So that’s how their lives unfold. Stuff happens to them, they have no control over it. Then they use the stuff going wrong in their lives to make excuses for why they don’t have what they want or why they haven’t finished their novel or published it.
And then there are the others. The crazies. The people who not only believe they control their own realities, but know that they can change that reality almost immediately, just by changing their thoughts, beliefs and the things they focus on.
I consider myself to be one of these crazies. Because I’ve seen the power of focus and of being intentional, and I choose to live my life no other way but that.
If you know that you can control your own reality, then you can see how easy it will be to take control of your writing destiny.
When you set an intention and believe it’s possible and that you can have it… you will. You’ll have everything you’ve ever wanted.
But you’ve gotta be intentional about it. You have to know what you want and then you have to create it with your words, your thoughts and your actions.
The best tool for this is getting a journal and doing a daily “write your reality” exercise where you write about your dream life as if it’s your real life. You do this every single day, until what you’re writing about starts to become your life.
That is an intentional way of being. It’s a way of focusing yourself on what matters most to you.
And what you focus on expands.
4. Be Your Own Publisher
This is an extreme “take control of your writing destiny” tactic, but self-publishing is a great way to keep creative control and get your book out into the world.
But if you’re going to self-publish (I do, and totally recommend it), you have to do it as professionally. You can’t just write your book and put it out there. You need to hire a team of people to support you–an editor, Beta Readers, a story coach, a cover illustrator–whoever you need to bring your book to life and as professionally as it would be if a traditional publisher put it out.
That’s taking control of your writing destiny. That’s being in charge of your writing career. That’s setting yourself up for success.
If you self-publish and then just put your book out there… that’s not professional. In fact, that’s the opposite of taking control of your writing destiny. That’s kicking your writing destiny in the balls.
You’ll never be successful that way.
Professional authors treat their books professionally. You need to do the same.
5. Get Out There and Be Visible
This is maybe the hardest part of taking control of your writing destiny. Especially because most writers are introverts and prefer not to have the spotlight on them.
But succeeding in the online world requires you to get out there and be visible.
Because you can’t always be in front of people in person. So you have to get creative and find ways to show up and get in front of your audience.
Authorpreneurs in the digital age use social media, videos, livestreaming, guest posting, getting interviewed on podcasts and in the media, and more, to be visible and get their names out there. And the name of the game with all of this is consistency.
You have to be consistent with being visible. You don’t want to be super visible one week, disappear for a few weeks and then resurface. Building a fanbase means being visible and consistent–pretty much on a daily basis.
Just follow the authors and writers and successful artists that you love and watch what they do. Pay attention to what they post and how often, and how they connect with their readers and audience.
Use what they do as a guide for what you do.
By following this roadmap, you will be able to totally take control of your destiny and create the writing life of your dreams.
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What can you do right now, today, to start taking control of your writing destiny?
If you’re ready to get over your shit (excuses be damned), learn how to write a kick-ass novel, and get the support and feedback you need to finish and publish it, check out the Students of Story community.