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If You Want to Be A Pro Writer, You’ve Gotta Be Able to Deal With This

A few weeks ago I launched a passion project called the Bestselling Author Mastermind. The idea for a group like this had been in my mind for awhile. But I never acted on it, because it never felt like the right idea.

Until one Monday afternoon back in April. I had just gotten off a call with my accountability partner (one of many) where I told her I was going to write and publish one eBook a month for the rest of the year (and one novel). No idea how I’d do it, but that’s what I wanted to do.

Not long after our call, I was sitting at my desk thinking about how I was going to pull this massive, insane goal off, when an idea pops in my head: create a mastermind group for emerging authors who want high-level accountability, kick-ass motivation, success mindset and to see the behind-the-scenes of my writing life.

I was even being nudged to invite them to watch me as I became a bestselling author.

Now this was a seriously scary idea when I first heard it. I mean, really? Invite people to WATCH me as I become a bestselling author? (Talk about surfacing my fears and doubts!)

So I texted one of my other accountability buddies (well, she’s more like my save-my-ass, talk-me-off-the-ledge, idea-brainstomer-and-totally-amazing-writer-friend, but I digress) and told her what I was thinking. She wrote back that it was freaking genius and I should totally do it.

I then told her  I wanted to call it the Bestselling Author Mastermind, but I was worried because how could I call it that when I wasn’t actually a bestselling author yet? Wouldn’t people judge me and criticize me for it?

A lame fear that had no merit, because as my awesome friend pointed out, I would eventually be a bestselling author, there was no doubt about it in her mind. And so calling my group the Bestselling Author Mastermind was totally in alignment with that goal.

Done.

I called the group the Bestselling Author Mastermind, and then I invited everyone in to watch behind-the-scenes as I became a bestselling author. I didn’t know how, I didn’t know when, I just knew it was a done deal.

The funny thing is, I was doing some very powerful intention-setting during that time, without even realizing it. I had not only called my mastermind group, The Bestselling Author Mastermind, but during the promotion of it, I was sending out emails telling over 4,000 people that I am going to be a bestselling author AND that they could watch me do it.

Almost 30 writers jumped in and my new mastermind group was born. I became a bestselling author on Amazon a week later (no joke!).

The crazy part is, this group was more about giving myself a boost of high-level accountability for my goal of writing and publishing one eBook a month for the rest of the year (’cause when you’re leading others, you’ve gotta walk your talk) than anything else. But it ended up becoming something that totally changed my writing life and is now going to be a main focus of mine moving forward.

This group has totally shown me what’s possible when people show up consistently and do the work. I’ve already watched so many transformations it’s incredible. And to hear people stepping up and claiming their dreams and declaring what they want for their writing lives is so beautiful it nearly brings me to tears every time I think about it.

There is so much power in knowing what you want and being willing to let the fear and the uncertainty be there and then acting anyways. 

It’s a common myth that when you achieve success all the fear, doubt and self-sabotaging behaviors drop away. It’s the opposite, really. The fears, doubts and self-sabotage get stronger the further you push outside your comfort zone.

What changes is your awareness of them. Before you were blinded by them, letting them hold you back–even subconsciously–and not knowing it.

But once you know what fear, doubt and self-sabotage looks like for you, you will be more aware of it and more able to recognize when you’re repeating a pattern in behavior that aligns with those old ways of thinking and being.

For example, I now recognize my Upper Limit Problem in-action. I can even predict it’s arrival based on what’s going on in my writing life. Whenever I have a new book coming out, I know my ULP is going to appear at some point following the release of that book. So I watch for it. I look for the patterns in my behavior or the things I’m thinking over the next week or two after the book comes out, and if I notice anything self-sabotagy coming up, I stop it in its tracks and don’t give it any additional energy.

For me, the ULP usually looks like starting pointless arguments with the people closest to me, sickness (in myself or my dog) and accidentally hurting myself (like bumping into stuff and getting bruises or tripping or something like that).

Totally freaking lame-o stuff… but at least now I recognize it. That’s really the key. You have to be aware enough to recognize when you’re self-sabotaging or letting fear or doubt take over your thinking.

And then you’ve gotta axe it. Immediately if not sooner. Otherwise that shit will drag you down.

I’ve spent months nearly flatlined in my business because I was doubting myself so much and in so much fear that it had consumed me and I couldn’t take any action that didn’t feel totally desperate (and that’s not the energy I operate from). It wasn’t that I was doing anything wrong, per se, I just wasn’t aware that these behaviors were my ULP and human-nature self-doubt trying to “protect” me from leaving my comfort zone.

I get it now. I see that you never really lose the fear, the doubt, the self-sabotaging behaviors. They’ll always be there. (As one of my early mentors always said, “New level, new devil.”)

And that’s what you need to see too.

The fear, the doubt, the uncertainty that you feel around your writing, it’s never gonna go away. BUT you can learn how to recognize it in-action, so you can put a stop to it before it takes you down a path you don’t want to go down (the path of procrastination and not taking action).

And the only way to know your fears, doubts and self-sabotaging behaviors–inside and out–is to do the work. Every day, step up and do the work. As you run into the fears, the doubts, ask yourself: what I am doing right now that would cause thoughts like this to come up? 

Nine times out of 10 you’re doing something that will help you make progress on your goals and move you forward on getting your book out there. I can predict this because that’s how fears and doubts work. They’re lazy and so they only come out to play when you’re doing something they consider to be “dangerous” or “unsafe” (aka: trying to leave your comfort zone or be consistent with something or, most importantly, finish a creative project).

If you’re just sitting on your ass watching Netflix and procrastinating on your writing, the fears and doubts will still be there, but not as strongly because they don’t have to be. You’re not doing anything they consider to be a problem.

But remember, the fear, doubt and self-sabotage can only stop you if you let it. So don’t.

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What fears, doubts and self-sabotaging behaviors surround your writing life? And how do you deal with them? 

If you’re ready to kick fear, doubt and self-sabotage to the curb–realizing it will come crawling back from time-to-time, but knowing full-well you have what it takes to get rid of it again–be sure to check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a high-level accountability, kick-ass motivation and success mindset group for emerging authors (fiction and nonfiction) who want to create their dream writing lives.

Featured image courtesy of Vic

You Can Have Any Writing Life You Dream Of, But…

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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What are you going to do today to move closer to your dream writing life?

Featured image courtesy of LassenNPS 

It’s Not About Discipline, It’s About This

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.”

BOOM!

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.

Annoying.

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.

Ahhhh…wrong.

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.

Featured image courtesy of Ibai

I’m Totally Selfish With My Time And Here’s Why You Should Be Too

Being a professional writer and authorpreneur is tough. For more reasons than one.

But one of the biggest reasons it’s tough is because in order to do it successfully, you have to be really freaking selfish with your time.

And most people won’t get this. Most people won’t understand and will think you’re a workaholic or that you only care about work.

Most people aren’t living life on purpose or with any kind of mission or intention. They’re just floating along letting stuff happen to them and then reacting to it, complaining mostly, and continuing to live in Mediocre-Life Land.

But I’m different.

I have a plan, a dream. I have goals for my writing life that are so big they scare the shit out of me 99 percent of the time.

And yet I press on.

I keep showing up and doing the work and playing the game. I live with intention, purpose. I am fueled by passion and my message. I’m insanely ambitious and unwilling to accept anything but my dream life.

And I’m really freaking selfish about my time. I spend most of my day in front of my Macbook. Pretty much every day. (Although I try to take Saturdays off and maybe even part of the day on Sunday).

jen_13Yeah, it’s because I’m a workaholic. But it’s also because it doesn’t feel like work to me. It feels like play. It feels like I get to have recess all day, every day.

What could be better than that?

And even on the toughest days I still walk away feeling fulfilled and like I made shit happen. When I go to bed I’m accomplished and super hungry for more.

How many people can really say that about their lives and mean it?

Living the writing life, the creative life, is not for everyone. I’m guessing since you’re here with me, you resonate with this. You want more for your writing life and you know that you can have it if you do the work and stay focused.

And that’s great. It’s awesome.

Now you’ve gotta prove it–to yourself more than anyone else (I don’t believe in proving things to other people). Now you’ve gotta step up and do the work.

And it starts with being selfish with your time.

That’s not to say you don’t have a family life or a social life, you can have all of those things and more. But the biggest focus needs to be on doing the work, on taking the action to make your dream happen.

When it’s not, you’ll find yourself getting cranky because there’s a desire burning inside you, but you’re not seeing results. That used to happen to me a lot, until I finally committed to being the writer and author I dream of being.

Now I show up and I do the work, every day. I lock myself in my writing room or I leave the apartment and go to Starbucks or to my husband’s band room where I have no internet access, and I get shit done.

When people call themselves writers but then tell me they’ve gone months without writing a single word it kinda blows my mind. That’d be like calling yourself a gym rat and yet you haven’t gone to the gym in years.

Not gonna cut it.

Professional writers and authorpreneurs don’t take months or years off. Hell, many don’t even take weeks or days off.

It’s not because they don’t need a break (everyone does from time-to-time), it’s because they’re so driven by the passion and the desire to put words on the page that they can’t not. Taking a day off is like torture to their souls.

The ideas start piling up and soon they feel like exploding.

Or maybe it’s just me?

I write every day, because I can’t not write. When I don’t write, when I don’t create, I feel dead, like I’m just occupying space.

So that’s why I’m selfish with my time. That’s why I go out of my way to avoid people and events as often as I can in favor of getting to spend time alone with my Macbook.

Deranged, I know.

Most people don’t get it and won’t ever get it, and I’m OK with that.

I chose the creative life, the writing life, and everything that comes with it.

And I choose it every day, over and over again. Because success is a daily practice.

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How do you make time for your writing? 

Do you want to drop the excuses, overcome your procrastination and start seeing results in your writing life? Check out the Bestselling Author Mastermind, a membership group that will give you kick-ass motivation, keep you inspired and help you get your writing done. Doors are opening to new members soon. Learn more and get on the waitlist here.

The Upper Limit Problem: What It Is and How To Deal With It

My dog just choked! (No, that’s not my dog in the picture. This is my dog.)

He was eating and started having hiccups (from his acid reflux) and then he sucked a piece of his dog food into his throat. I screamed for my husband, while pressing on the dog’s stomach, trying to force the obstruction out, and then when my husband got over to us I handed Weiland off and ran to Google how to do the doggie Heimlich Maneuver (dog owners–this is something we need to know! I don’t know why I never learned it before now.) Meanwhile my husband was able to remove the obstruction and Weiland was breathing again.

I skipped the gym this morning… so Weiland got my heart rate up for me.

After it was over I felt totally relieved and also like I just ran a marathon while being chased by a serial killer. Panicked and out of breath.

And the first thought that hit me wasn’t what I expected.

I expected my first thought to be, thank you God, Weiland is OK. But instead it was a three-word phrase I’ve been uttering a lot lately.

Upper Limit Problem (aka: ULP).

What’s An Upper Limit Problem

This is a phrase coined by Gay Hendricks, author of the book, The Big Leap. In it he talks about how we all have an internal thermostat that’s programmed to tell us how much love, money, success, happiness, good experiences, positive emotions, etc. that we’re allowed to feel and experience on a day-to-day basis.

And when something happens to trigger that thermostat and send it higher than it’s set to go, chaos will break out in your life to force it to go back down to where it usually is.

That’s why you’ll see people win the lottery, but then spend all the money, or you’ll win an award or complete a major project you’ve been working on and then you get sick.

It’s an Upper Limit Problem.

Hendricks talks about how the ULP is often triggered when you’ve done something that’s in your Zone of Genius, but you’re used to living in your Zone of Excellence. The Zone of Excellence is your comfort zone. It’s that place where you can coast along, being mediocre and mildly good at what you do. 

But your Zone of Genius is that place where you shine. Where your true gifts come through and where you could work all day long and feel like you’re playing.

Well, I hit my ULP yesterday.

Because I not only published a new book (my ULP is always triggered by me publishing a book), but it became a #1 Best Seller on Amazon.

Talk about a shove out of my usual thermostat zone. That shit skyrocketed out.

And then my poor dog choked. Just to bring me back down. Still feeling good, but not as good as I was feeling the day before.

How To Bust An ULP

This is something I’ve been working on for months. Because I’ve been on a major upswing this year, and I’ve challenged myself to insane heights that I’ve never even dreamed of soaring previously.

And I’ve been making shit happen.

But yesterday when my book hit #1, all the noise (aka: negative, limiting thoughts) came in full-force, and with even more uncertainty:

Great, you’re a bestseller. Now you’ve done it. You’ve gone and put all this pressure on yourself. Telling the world you’re going to write and publish 9 books in one year. Shouting from the rooftops that your book was a bestseller. Do you know the kind of expectations you’ve now put on yourself? If your next book isn’t a bestseller, you’ve failed. All of your books have to be bestsellers now, otherwise you’re a hack. And nine books? Are you insane? I mean, really, should we take you to the mental institution and have your head examined? Most people would be happy to write and publish one book in a year. And you want to write and publish nine. Delusional. Unrealistic. Fucking stupid. Why didn’t you say five books? Why nine? Why put that much pressure on yourself?

And on and on it goes…

Until I stop it. Until I actively choose to not listen and to instead say, I know what I’m meant to do. I’m intuitively guided and no matter what happens I’ll love myself anyhow.

And then I start a chain of new thoughts, ones that support my dreams:

You did great. Really great. I’m proud of you. Good job. You did it and you can keep doing it. There’s no pressure. None whatsoever. Because what other people think doesn’t matter. You live life on your terms. You’re defining success for yourself. And that looks however you want it to. Brilliant. Keep it coming. I love you.

And then I keep going. I keep taking action on my goals.

I could’ve totally freaked out and let what just happened with Weiland ruin my whole day. Maybe even totally derail me from all my goals for the week. I could’ve called myself names and said I’m a bad poodle-mom and how did I let this happen to him and blamed myself and worried and helicoptered over him all day.

But that’s what my ULP wants me to do. It wants me to stop doing the work. To crawl back into a safe space and protect my poodle from everything that could potentially harm him.

Which is why I can’t do it (and also why I didn’t). I made sure he was OK. I calmed myself back down. I cuddled with him ’til I knew he was over it and had moved on.

And then I sat my ass in a chair and I wrote this blog post. Because the writer and author I dream of being writes a blog post every day (or at least 5-6 days a week).

Shit’s gonna happen, doesn’t mean you have to stand in it.

The ULP is exactly what the name suggests: it’s a problem creator. When things are going well, it steps in to throw a curveball at you. To give you a problem to deal with.

What allows you to push through the ULP and not let it stop you is dealing with the problem and getting back to work.

What you don’t want to do is let the problem totally distract you, changing your focus and your thoughts to panic, scarcity, limiting thinking or anything negative. Because that’s what happens most of the time.

You’re working hard on your novel. You’ve made more progress lately on your story than you ever have before. And then you get sick. You come down with the flu and are bed-ridden for a week. Can’t lift your head off the pillow. Can’t work on your novel.

What determines the level of success you’ll get to in your life is what you do AFTER you’re not sick anymore. If you get right back to work (and maybe even work as much as you’re able while you’re still sick), success is inevitable for you. You’re not gonna let anything stop you.

But if the sickness would derail you. If it would cause you to drop your project, spending more time planted on the couch with a bag of chips and a movie on Netflix, then you’re doomed. You may as well hang up the towel now and take up a new hobby, because you don’t have what it takes.

I’ve always had what it takes, but I haven’t always been stepping up. There was a period of time in my life where my excuses and my bullshit was a lot more important than my dreams.

But that time is over now. Now there’s only the results I want to see and the taking action to get there.

That’s what I’m committed to. How about you?

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How do you deal with your ULP? 

If you’re ready to bust through your ULP and step up to the next level in your writing life, a life where you’re committed to the results you want for your writing and taking the actions to make it happen, check out my Bestselling Author Mastermind group. Doors will be opening to new members in the near future.

Featured image courtesy of Steven Carlton

Take Control of Your Writing Destiny: A 5-Step Roadmap

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.

 

Is What You’re Doing Keeping You Unpublished?

Whenever you achieve a goal, you can use hindsight to look back and see exactly what you did that worked. Once you have that information, you can create a process for yourself that will allow you to achieve the goal again and again (unless it’s a goal you only want to achieve once).

That’s how you create success. By figuring out what works for you and then doing it.

Over and over again.

For me, step-by-step processes work. Checklists work.

And they work really well.

I’m almost totally balanced right and left brained (48% left brained and 52% right). I like being creatively unleashed, but I also need steps and lists to keep me focused and not veering totally off track.

I know this about myself, so that’s why I’m now working from a “Daily Fucking Actions” list that tells me specific, outcome-focused tasks that I need to do every day. In the last . week and a half, this process has helped me to create 20+ new pieces of content for my community.

When I’m writing a novel, I know that I need to spend a minimum of 6 weeks developing and planning the story. I have to do this before I write the draft.

Because I know I’m someone who can’t write more than one full draft of a story. If I have to write a whole other draft, I’m not finishing.

I know these things because I’ve taken enough action and achieved enough outcomes to know exactly what works best for me and what causes me to flail (and fail). 

Do you know what works for you?

And  I define “works” as something that actually gets you the outcome you’re going for. If you’ve been doing something for a while and you don’t have the result you want yet, what you’re doing is probably not working.

It can be hard to admit that, I get it. It was hard for me back in 2009 to admit that I had no freaking clue what I was doing and my novel draft showed that.

But I admitted it, I got real with it and then I found what did work (for me, that was story structure).

You absolutely have to do what’s best for you and what works best for you. I’m a full supporter of that. I don’t believe in doing things just because other people are doing them (especially when other people are doing them!). I’ve always gone against the grain in my life. That’s what works for me.

But you also have to see when something is not working and heave-ho.

Otherwise you’ll find yourself stuck in a repeating pattern where you’re living the same year over and over again, never really getting anywhere.

Still working on that novel? Yeah, this will be year 113. 

I know how you feel because I’ve been there. It took me 18 YEARS to publish my first novel, and it wasn’t because I didn’t have a story worth publishing.

It was because for the first 13 years I had NO CLUE what I was doing–and I didn’t care. I thought I could just get inspiration for a story and then sit down to write it.

Now I’m lucky because I’ve been an avid reader and writer my whole life (when I was 5 I climbed on my mom’s lap with a book and asked her to teach me how to read). So because of this I have an intuitive sense of story. I may not have known the specifics of story structure, but I knew the story had to change in 3 places and that it needed a beginning, middle and end that was cohesive.

But that didn’t mean I could write a good story (I couldn’t, and if you read the very first draft of my very first novel you’d see that).

Writing a good story took me 3 years of studying craft. Every. Single. Day. 

I watched movies and deconstructed the plot points. I read books and tried to pick apart the structure. I studied Larry Brooks’ blog and his books, and I practiced planning and developing stories as much as I could.

I was truly a student of story (still am).

So 15 years into my journey, I finally had a story worth publishing. Problem was, I spent another 2 years sabotaging myself with procrastination, perfectionism, feeling not good enough, skipping my writing session, not doing the work, not showing up to the page, Upper Limit Problems and more.

It took getting my mindset in the right place to clear all that shit up.

And then in June 2015, I published my debut novel, SoundCheck.

No one gets there without blood, sweat, tears and a whole lot of freak outs. I sure didn’t.

But I got there. So now I know what works best for me and what I need to do to repeat that success and get another novel out there.

Do you?

Do you know what works for you? Really?

My guess is, you don’t. Maybe you know some of it, but you don’t know really what works for you.

Because you’re not doing the effing work.

You say you want to, and you even mean it. But still you don’t sit down and work on your writing.

To be successful on your own terms, you have to know what works for you and then do it.

But you can’t know what works for you if you don’t do the work.

So fucking do the work. Show up. Work on your story. Revise it. Publish the damn thing. Get it out into the world.

Otherwise you’ll never know what works best for you or how to repeat it.

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When it comes to planning, developing and writing (and publishing!) your stories, what works best for you? 

Are you ready to go pro? Join Students of Story, my membership site and community where you can get over your shit, learn how to write a kick-ass novel, and get the support and feedback you need to finish your book and publish it. Learn more here.

Why You Should Act From, Not Towards, Your Writing Goal

“Act from, not towards”–Kat Loterzo 

When you think about what it is you really want for your writing life (and your life, in general), you probably think about what you want to move towards. You want to be a bestselling novelist. You want to finish writing and publish your book. You dream of seeing your novel turned into a movie.

But where you’re making a huge mistake is in what you’re focusing on. You don’t want to focus toward, you want to focus from. Let me explain.

When you have a goal you’re trying to reach, you’re often thinking about what you need to do to move closer to it. What steps or actions you need to take.

But doing that will keep you on the chase, constantly striving but never actually arriving.

And the reason is because you’re taking action TOWARD the goal, rather than FROM the goal.

When you take action from a place of already having what you want (even if you don’t yet have it), you send a powerful message to the Universe: I believe that what I want is mine. From this place, it’s impossible for what you want to not come to life. 

Yes, impossible. And I never say things like that because nothing is impossible.

But this is.

Because acting as if is the key to bringing your dreams to life.

When you act from a place of already having what you want, you will start to see it manifest in your reality, and faster than you can imagine at this point.

An Example

I’m all about examples to illustrate a point, so here’s an example of the difference between acting from having already achieved a goal versus acting toward a goal. The goal? Being a bestselling novelist.

When you’re acting toward that goal, here are some of the actions you’d likely take:

  • Write a novel
  • Publish the novel
  • Figure out how to market the novel
  • Try to sell as many copies as possible

But when you’re acting from already having achieved that goal, here are some of the actions you’d likely take:

  • Write and publish a novel you’re so proud of you can’t wait to shout from the rooftops to everyone about it
  • Get started on your next book because you’re too excited to wait
  • Send emails to your email list several times a week, sharing information about your novel, your process, where you get your ideas from, what you’re working on now, etc., and getting people as excited as you are
  • Show up every single day and take actions to spread the word and sell more books
  • Give up all excuses

See the difference?

One version is taking actions that feel generic and uninspired. The other is coming from a place of knowing that you’ve already achieved your goal, so every action you do take feels inspiring and intuitive.

Alright, so maybe you’re not seeing much of a difference. Maybe we need another example that’s more specific.

Let’s say your goal is to get 5,000 people on your email list.

When you’re acting toward that goal, you might:

  • Send an email out once a week (you’ll wait to send emails more often when you actually have 5,000 people reading them, right?)
  • Mention to your friends and family that you have an email list
  • Find ways to grow your email list

When you’re acting from already having 5,000 people on your list, you would:

  • Send several emails out every single week, no exceptions
  • Pretend that every email you write is being read by 5,000 people (even if right now it’s not)
  • Never, ever miss an email because you know people are waiting to hear from you
  • Write every single email like it’s being sent out to 5,000 people
  • Create tons of freebies for your website that get people subscribed to your email list
  • Write several guest posts for blogs with more traffic than you have, so you can get their readers on your list

See the difference?

The first version is taking action toward the goal, and the second is acting as if the goal is already done and you already have 5,000 people on your list.

The whole point here is energy. When you show up with the energy of “I have to work hard to reach my goal,” you’ll feel uninspired and make excuses for why you’re not consistently taking action. But when you show up with the energy of “I have already achieved this goal,” it feels totally different. It feels inspiring and motivating and you’ll be more consistent with your actions. 

When it comes down to it, it’s all about the energy you put into what you do. So stop taking actions toward your writing goal, and instead take actions from already having reached it. See what happens.

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How can you start acting FROM already having your writing goal? 

Are you ready to take action and get your novel out into the world? Then be sure to check out my membership community, Students of Story, where you’ll find all the resources, tools and support you need to get your ass in gear and get your novel published.

Featured image courtesy of Bailey Weaver

The Professional Writer Puzzle: 7 Pieces You Need To Be Successful

I’ve been a professional writer for more than a decade, and a couple weeks ago I celebrated my three year “Quitiversary” (the day I quit my day job to take my business full-time). So lately I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting back and thinking about the steps I took to get where I am today.

Since I know you dream of being a published author and having a writing career, I thought it would be useful for you to see what it takes.

So here are the 7 things I did to become the published author and writing coach that I am today:

1. Practice, Practice, Practice

Can’t stress this one enough. You have to write. All the time. As much as you can. Over and over again, write.

Write. Toss it. Start again.

The more you write, the better you’ll get at writing. And practicing helps you find your voice as a writer.

2. Never Stop Learning

There’s always more to learn when it comes to writing a novel. There’s always a way you can dig deeper into a topic and discover things you didn’t know (or clarify things you’ve heard before).

As a professional writer, you have to be committed to growth. And growth comes from learning and practicing.

3. Get Support

If you want to reach your writing goals, you have to get support. Whether that’s a writing buddy, an accountability partner, a writing group or a coach, do yourself a favor and get support.

Having support is invaluable for when you have a deadline to hit, are feeling low and need a pep talk, or just want someone to celebrate with.

As writers, we spend a lot of time alone. But we can’t do it alone. The writing yes, but the rest of the journey requires you to have support.

Especially if you want to do this professionally.

4. Invest In Yourself

Speaking of getting support, you also have to be willing to invest in yourself. Not just monetarily, but also your time, energy and focus.

If your writing is important, you have to make it a priority. Period. There is no other way.

And you have to step outside of your comfort zone and be willing to invest in your writing education. Whether you buy books to read, participate in writing programs or hire a coach to help you get results faster, is up to you.

Like I said in a previous email, I’ve invested upwards of $150,000 on my writing education–that includes a journalism degree, several writing (and business) training programs, hundreds of books, and hiring a team of people to support me on my journey (a writing coach, editor, book marketer, designer).

5. Build Your Author Platform

Sure, you can write and publish a book, but unless you build an author platform you’ll never have the readership you need to do this professionally.

Building a platform means having a:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • ​Social media presence
  • Email list

Having an author platform allows you to spread the word about your books, share your stories and ideas, and connect with your readers.

I’ve gone through several shifts in my online presence (my blog used to be called Procrastinating Writers, and InkyBites, back in the day). But today I’m out in the world as me.

6. Grow Your Readership

Once you’ve got your platform built, then you have to grow your readership. This includes doing things, like guest posting, getting media coverage and offering a free opt-in on your website to get people on your email list.

Every time I guest post on a popular blog, I get tons of new readers. In fact, I launched my current email list about four months ago and it already has almost 700 people on it!

7. Improve Your Mindset

Last, but most definitely not least, you have to work on your mindset. Being a professional writer requires you to have a much different mindset than being a writer by hobby does.

When you’re a hobby writer, you can write only when you’re inspired. But when you’re a professional writer, you have to write even when you’re uninspired. Because sometimes that’s what it takes.

When you’re a hobby writer, you can allow negative thoughts to distract you from your work. But you’ll never become a professional if you can’t push past those negative thoughts, beliefs and fears that stop you from writing.

You have to cultivate the mindset of a professional. You do this by asking: “If I was a published author, making money from my writing, how would I act/think/feel?”

Make a list of how you would act, the things you would think and how you would feel. And then you have to embody everything on that list.

For example, a published author making money from her writing would be dedicated to writing daily. She would make it a priority, above a lot of other things.

A published author making money from her writing would think positive things about herself and her work. She would get support. She would hire someone to help her make her books the best they can be.

Of course many of the steps on this list come AFTER you’ve written something that’s worthy of publishing. If you haven’t done that yet, let me ask you this:

What’s stopping you? What’s holding you back from having a novel you can publish?

Whatever stops you, I invite you to step up and join me for a free Butt-In-Chair session. Let’s kick that shit to the curb right now and get you on track to write (or finish) your novel.

>> Claim your free Butt-In-Chair session

Image courtesy of Nana B. Agyei 

How To Strike A Balance Between Love and Your Love of Writing

By Donald EW Quist

“Hurry up, we’ve got to walk Tofu,” my wife barks at me, holding up our dog as a reminder of my responsibility.

“Just give me a second,” I whine. My fingers hover above the keyboard readily, waiting for something.

“Donald, come on,” she says.

We sigh deeply. Together, in unison, we recite my maxim, “Just let me finish this sentence.” Her tone is mocking.

She shakes her head disapprovingly as she saunters off to another part of the house.

Writing takes time; time you would have spent doing something else with someone else. It’s unfortunate but it’s sort of the price of admission; the cost of doing what you love.

Making writing a priority means sacrificing face time with friends or that special someone. Often procrastination is a result of meeting our commitments to others.

We put down the pencil and push away from our desks in order to keep our relationships active and healthy, as we should. Like literary agent Nathan Bransford told fans of his blog, “No book is worth losing a friend, losing a spouse, losing crucial time with your children.”

What I’m talking about here is deciding what time is crucial, and accepting the fact that you can’t get things done if you’re cruising the bar with your friends every weekend.

You can’t focus on your writing if your significant other demands so much of your attention you’re scared to devote time to anything else.

There is a feeling of belonging that comes with sharing moments with the people we love. Too often that feeling gets confused with accomplishment.

You spent the afternoon farting around playing video games with your brother, shopping with your sister, watching an entire season of The Shield on DVD with your spouse; meanwhile the piece you’re working on hasn’t advanced and you’ll be struggling to find some other time to finish it.

Striking a balance between these two loves can be difficult, but remains entirely possible.

  • LEARN TO SAY NO—Finding time to write requires having the strength to tell loved ones you can’t be available at their every beck and call. You need time for you, time to write.
  • FIND FRIENDS THAT UNDERSTAND—Needy friends are not conducive to writing. Unless you plan to make them characters in your next novel or use them as case studies for the next BIG dating how-to-book, you shouldn’t feel so obligated to hang out with them. Make sure that your friends are the type that understand your commitment to writing and give you room to work.
  • DON’T SETTLE—It takes a special kind of Special Someone to deal with a writer—a patient soul ready to deal with the fact that their partner spends just as much time inside their head as out.Make sure that the person you choose to be with understands your passion and encourages you to refine your craft. Try to find someone with similar ambitions who, instead of stifling your creative growth, nurtures your need to create.
  • SCHEDULING—If maintaining a healthy social-life is important to you, set aside specific times to write. However, don’t be surprised if you run a little over the time you’ve allotted for yourself…

“Are you finished,” my wife asks, bending down to let Tofu off his leash.

“Yes. Did you already take him for his walk?”

She nods, moving in closer. “You’re finished, you’ve saved and everything,” she asks.

“Yes,” I tell her.

“Good,” she says, dropping a plastic bag full of fresh doggie-doo onto my lap. “You can take out the trash.”

About the Author: A freelancer for Media General, Inc., Donald E.W. Quist has written several special interest features for the Florence Morning News, the Hartsville Messenger and InnerViews Magazine. He is the recipient of the 2005 Coker College Write-On Award, and his creative work has appeared in Xcursions Magazine and ERGO magazine. Currently he is shopping for a home for his first novel—Young Folks.

He hopes to launch a website this summer. He invites you to follow him on Twitter: @DonaldEWQuist.