Tag Archives | success

How Do You Define Writing Success?

"Visualize this thing you want.  See it, feel it, believe in it.  Make your mental blueprint and begin."  Robert Collier

Copper-canal-path-432055-l

The importance of getting clear

We're all well-versed in goal-setting, becoming certain about what we want, and visualizing our outcomes. Knowing what you want is a no-brainer, because how can you get "there" if you don't know what your "there" is?  This process is often compared to traveling without a map.  Sure, you can get from New York to Los Angeles without one, but your route is apt to be far from the least efficient path if you go any which way that presents itself.  

As writers, it is paramount that we understand what we want to achieve.

It's just that these days there are so many possible paths that might get us to writing success.  And it's difficult to achieve clarity on what we want when there are so many options.  Let's look at some of them.

 

Paths to Success

Legacy publishing

Indie publishing

Teaching/coaching

Freelance writing

Ghostwriting

Novel writing

A myriad of choices. But which one is the path that is your heart's desire?  Maybe it's a path I didn't list here, who knows?  Only you.

Years ago, I was doing a lot of feature writing for newspapers and regional magazines. I'd go interview somebody and come home and shape it into a story.  But increasingly as I progressed in my career, I found that I wanted to make stuff up because it would create a better story.   I'd look over the quotes from the interview and find myself wishing that the interviewee had said something just a little different, because it would be so much more interesting that way.  This is when I turned to learning the craft of fiction.

The Path Gets Muddy

And, then there's the slight problem of making a living.  Most fiction writers don't exist financially on their novels and stories alone.  They have to teach, or freelance, or ghostwrite, or something.  And when doing something else, it is oh so easy to get distracted by it, lured into thinking that this is what you really want to do.

This has happened to me.  Even though since the day I started writing fiction I knew I wanted to be a novelist, I've taken a number of creative U-turns along the way, mostly for the sake of earning a living.  I've taken on soul-sucking ghostwriting jobs and convinced myself this kind of writing was great.  I've let business coaches cajole me into focusing on branding myself as a content and copywriter–areas I'm not good at and that I loathe.  And I've been enticed by the lure of internet information marketing. When all I really wanted to do was write novels. 

It's very, very easy to lose your way when the path gets murky.

And that is my point today.  If you can get very, very clear on your heart's desire, at least you can make concrete steps towards attaining it.  Probably won't happen all at once, but hey, the journey is the destination–and nowhere is that more so than writing.

An example of this is my recent foray in indie publishing.  I'm not breaking sales records or hitting the bestseller list, but I'm learning something new, enjoying getting my work out in different ways, and most importantly taking steps toward doing what I love doing the most–writing fiction.

What is your heart's desire as a writer? Are you taking steps to achieve it?

Photo by familymwr

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What Do You Give Up to Write?

Funny story: I've had this  blog post in mind for the last few days.  And then when it was time for me to sit down and write it, my blog host, Typepad, had two DOS (denial of service–I looked it up) attacks, on Thursday night and Friday morning.  So I had to give up the chance to write it for a while. And because Typepad was out all morning and now I don't have as much time as planned, this will be a short post.  (Of course, I often say that and then run on.  And on. And on.)

Anyway.

Legomen

Mindless types who have not given their all to writing.

Years ago, I heard an author (whose name has been lost to the mists of time) say, that in order to write a novel, "You have to be willing to give up sunny days." 

That might not mean as much to those of you who live in climates that are sunny year-round, but here in Portland where it rains a lot, it's practically a law that on a sunny day you have to be outside.  

And so this author had given up her sunny days in order to stay inside and write.  And her comment has stuck with me all these years.  

I wonder what all of us have given up to write.  Maybe:

Money

Maybe for some of us, its the higher income we'd have if we had a full-time job.  And then there's the fact that writers can shell out a lot of money for classes and conferences, not to mention computers and paper and notebooks and pens.

Time

For most of us, this is the biggie.  Because, as we well know, books and articles and stories do not write themselves.  So we have to make time for them to get written.  Time that might otherwise be spent watching the shows everyone is talking about, like Game of Thrones.  Time you might share with family members or friends.  Time cleaning house or organizing closets or doing laundry.

Fun

Have you ever declined a social invitation in favor of writing?  And then if you explain to your friends why you've declined they say, "You need to get out and have some fun."  And you say, "But writing is fun."  And they think you're nuts?  Yeah, me too.  But we've all probably given up a chance to have other kinds of fun.

Sex

Kidding.  Sort of.

Why Writing is Worth It

I just realized that this post is starting to sound a bit negative–like, poor us, we have to give up so much in order to ply our beloved trade.  But I don't mean it that way at all, I really don't. Believe it or not, I conceived this post as a sort of celebration of what we've let go in order to succeed as writers. Sounds counter-intuitive, I know. But there's a lot of power in choosing how we want to spend our time.  So many people don't–they fill their days with mindless activities that they aren't fully invested in.  

But we choose to spend our time honing words and telling stories.  I've shared this quote before, but I love it so much, so here goes again.  It's from Christopher Vogler, The Writer's Journey (one of my favorite writing books ever):

"But take hope, for writing is magic.  Even the simplest act of writing is almost supernatural, on the borderline with telepathy.  Just think: We can make a few abstract marks on a piece of paper in a certain order and someone a world away and a thousand years from now can know our deepest thoughts.  The boundaries of space and time and even the limitations of death can be transcended."

And that, my friends, is why writing is worth it.

What have you given up to write?  

 Photo by lemort.

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How to Make 2014 Your Best Writing Year Yet

Fireworks_firework_night_226231_lHappy New Year!

We're two days into 2014–how's it treating you so far?  Yeah, I know, it's a bit soon to tell. But I've been cheerful the last few days.  Why? Because I took time to review 2013 and work on goals for 2014.  I've spent a lot of time doing this, actually.   And I can tell by how happy its made me that it is a worthy endeavor.  Thus I will inflict it upon you.

In case you haven't spent time reviewing last year, go do that first.  (Doesn't matter that it's 2014, I figure that just as you have a year after a wedding to send a gift, you have until the end of January to review 2013.)

Now take a deep breath, get up from your chair, and dance around the room for a bit to shake all that old-year energy out.  Okay.  Sit back down, grab your journal and have at it.  Bear in mind a couple of things: you can answer as many or few as you want.  And sometimes I ask similar questions in slightly different wording because often coming at an idea from a different angle opens it up for you.

Questions and Prompts for Your 2014 Writing

What do you most want to create in 2014 in your writing life?  In your creative life? (Because one bears on the other.  They enhance each other, they don't take away from each other.)

What do you want to let go of in 2014?  (i.e., fear, procrastination, etc.)

What is your most important writing project in 2014?  Second most important?  Third most important?

How many words will you write a week?

When will you write?

What other genres might you try, just for fun?

How many things will you submit or self-publish in 2014?

Will you take part in a writing community (online or in the real world)?

How will you relax and rest?

When will you take time to daydream and think? (Vastly under-rated activities for writers.)

My biggest goal for 2014 is…..

At the end of the year, I'll be satisfied if….

The thing that will make me happiest with my writing is….

This year, I vow to….

If I could have one wish for my writing, it would be….

My perfect writing day would be….

My perfect place to write would be….

Okay, that ought to keep you busy for awhile!  And while you're at it, why not share one of your answers in the comments? 

Photo by kiplantt.

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The Mindset of Success

This morning I was writing about a character.  Her arc is to go from being what she considers to be a Frustration_cranesbeach_ipswich_1173445_l failure, to suddenly experiencing great success.  So as I was tracing this movement, I started thinking about how to show what her failure looked like and felt like to her, and then what her success would look like and feel like also.

As always, writing is life and life is writing. The thought occurred to me that this is a good exercise to do for anyone who wants more success in their life.  What makes you feel successful?  How do you feel inside when you are successful?  How do you behave?  What actions do you take? What are the outer trappings of your success? 

Conversely, how does failure make you feel? How do you act and present yourself when you feel beaten down and discouraged?  What does failure look like in your world?

I have some ideas that are not yet fully formed about this topic.  A vague starting point:

Successful people hold themselves well, stand up straight, meet your eyes and have a firm handshake.  Duh.  Beyond that, there's a sparkle in their eye, a zest for life that shows in the way they dress and walk.  They don't hesitate–in any situation, they take action.  Outwardly, they care for themselves and their surroundings well.

Failures slump over and their eyes are dead.  They meander through their days instead of walking purposefully.  Nothing much excites them so they spend a lot of time idly flipping through web pages that don't really interest them on the internet.  Their surroundings are shabby and they don't much care.

What else?  What am I missing?  I want to know because this information bears on my character, but I also think it bears on all of us.  What does success look like to you?  To me success means getting a novel published and no matter what else I accomplish (and I have plenty of unrelated goals, such as write an Ebook and start a coaching program), until I publish a novel I'll not feel fully successful.  What does that say about me? 

The more I think about it, the more this topic of inner and outer success interests me.  I think it is worthy of thought and writing about to explore how you really feel about it.  Because once you know what success looks like for you, you can begin to take steps to achieve it.  Probably I'll be doing lots of writing about it through the creation of this new character, which will have a bearing on my own life.

So let me know what your thoughts are about success.  What will make you finally feel successful?  Or maybe you already do–and if so, what contributes to that feeling?  I'm all ears. 

***The awesome photo is from sandcastlematt, found on Everystockphoto, used under Creative Commons 2.5 license.

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Overcomers Book Blog Stop

I am interested in overcoming adversity.  Also overcoming sloth, gluttony, laziness, and pride.  I think those are four of the seven deadly sins, no?  (Does anybody actually remember what the seven deadly sins are?)  I struggle with overcoming all of these bad traits on a daily basis.  Or at least weekly.  Overcomerbooksm

So when Nikki Leigh offered me the chance to be a blog stop on the Overcomers book tour, I said, hell yeah.  I can get on board the Overcomers wagon, despite the vaguely sexual ring to the title,  and write a post about it that will totally inspire people.  To begin with, let's define overcome.  Here are some of the words that I found on my Mac thesaurus (which is way better than the Microsoft thesaurus  by the way.  Waaaaaay better.  Just sayin'.):

beat, conquer, trounce, thrash, rout, vanquish, overwhelm, overpower, get the better of, triumph over, prevail over, win over/against, outdo, outclass, worst, crush; informal drub, slaughter, clobber, hammer, lick, best, crucify, demolish, wipe the floor with, make mincemeat of, blow out of the water, take to the cleaners, shellac, skunk.

Um, those are awesome words, verbs all, and I welcome you to use steal them and use them whenever you want.  I especially like the verbs trounce, thrash and vanquish.  I have learned to vanquish fears about getting my novel published.  Nice sentence, the verb really pumps it up.  But we are not here to discuss verbs today, we are here to discuss this new book.  Here's the deal: when you order the book you get over 85 free gifts. 

Just in case you don't have a clue what the book might be about after reading the post (and I can't say I blame you), I've compiled some interviews and excerpts for you.  We begin with some information from the book's introduction, written by publisher Lynne Kippel:      Lynneklipple-150x150



At one point in my life it seemed like
everywhere I looked, I saw tragedy. My brother,
both of my parents, and a dear friend were all
battling cancer at the same time. Other friends
were losing jobs and fearful about the prospects
of finding new work. The evening news was full
of financial scandals, plant closings,
kidnappings, and war.



As I sat in the sun on my front porch in March
2009, I wished I had a book to send to my
brother to read during his chemotherapy
treatments – something to remind him that he was
not alone and to encourage him to fight for his
life. I wanted a book that could give him hope,
inspiration, and encouragement on every page.



Due to a series of miracles, the book you are
now reading is my wish come true. In a very
short time a team of wonderful people came
together to create this book with just one
purpose: to encourage you, the reader, to
overcome whatever obstacles are lying in your
path to happiness.



As you read the stories in this book, you will
find real life tales of remarkable courage,
strength, and perseverance.  You will be
inspired, entertained, and uplifted. Some of the
stories will make you laugh. Some of them will
make you cry. All of them will make you proud of
the power of the human spirit. 



You will find this a book of diversity. There
are many authors, from many walks of life.
However, they all share a common bond. They
triumphed over tragedy and gleaned wisdom in
this process. While this is not a religious
book, there are stories full of faith, of many
kinds and flavors. It is funny how in your
darkest times, faith often becomes your
brightest light.



All of the contributors to this book want to
encourage you to hold tight to your belief that
a better day will come. It is their sincere
desire to pass along what they’ve learned
through their own trials, to make your journey
easier.



I hope that you wear this book out by
highlighting meaningful passages and bending
down the corners of the pages you want to read
over and over again. There is true wisdom in
these pages that can help you feel strong,
brave, and hopeful.



May you be blessed by this book and inspired to
overcome!



Lynne Klippel
St. Peters, Missouri
September, 2009

And just to whet your appetite, here is another excerpt from the book.  This one is from  Charlon Bobo.  I'll be honest here, I chose the excerpt because first of all I like Charlon's name and second I like her photo.  I think Charlon and I could totally be buds:

One Woman’s Empowering Journey From Fragmented
Child To Conscious Entrepreneur


Charlon BoboCharlonbobo1-107x150


As strange as it even seems to me at times, the
lessons of my childhood journey are applicable
to every aspect of my life, including the
everyday operations of my soulful business. As a
conscious entrepreneur, I pull from this
experience often to guide me. I’d like to share
with you the five key lessons of my pilgrimage.


1.   


Protective mechanisms are in place whether or
not I realize or acknowledge them.

I don’t always understand why a project fails to
materialize or a serious prospect seems to
change her mind. I do know there exists an
over-arching structure and order that conspires
on my behalf to bring about my highest personal
and professional growth. Whatever that wisdom, I
can trust it absolutely.


 


2.   


My ”story” doesn’t define who I am.


I am a vibrant business owner who grows every
day, and occasionally stumbles and falls on my
bum! Because I constantly create myself anew,
nothing from my past can effectively define or
imprison me. I consciously choose to “bring my
best game” to every day and know that’s enough.

 


3.   


Innate wisdom effortlessly guides me to the most
opportune time to take action.


When in doubt, I do nothing until ultimate
clarity presents itself. Although daily action
is a crucial component in accomplishing my
goals, I can also watch nature and use Her
guidance to positively influence my actions.
Nature provides a silent, fallow season – winter
– to turn inward to rest and restore. Using this
model, I reap the most benefit from my efforts.
Smart living requires me to balance action with
equal inaction.

 


4.   


My history doesn’t determine my level of
success.


I can accomplish any lofty goal I imagine
regardless of any perceived limitations. The
past doesn’t dictate my future. I gift myself
the pleasure and freedom to envision a life of
my design. Family-of-origin, childhood
circumstances, real or perceived impediments,
lack of skills, none of these compare to the
capacity of the human spirit to realize dreams.


 


5.   


I choose victimhood or empowerment every day
with my words, thoughts, and actions.



We do not control the actions of others and yet
we may be drawn into their drama. Like cast
members of a play, energetically we agreed to
these roles to teach AND learn. No matter my
external circumstances, my responses can only
come from one of two places: damage or
abundance. I choose abundance.


 


May you be profoundly blessed by reading my
story and take from it any value that forever
nourishes your soul.


From Overcomers, Inc.; True Stories
of Hope, Courage and Inspiration. To get your
own copy and receive dozens of bonus gifts go to




http://www.overcomersbook.com/booklaunch

Wise words, and there are more in the book itself.  So check it out.

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Writing and Running

1093834_fast_lane
I've just taken up running.  Well, my version of running, while I get used to it, which is more like run-walking: run a block, walk a block.  Actually I'm up to running two blocks, then walking two blocks.  What started all of this was an offhand comment from a friend.  (Oddly enough, much of my life seems to stem from offhand comments.  I got the beloved pug when one of my son's friends said, "You should get a pug."  Guess that is not an offhand comment so much as a direct command.)

At this point, you may well be asking, what does running have to do with writing? I'm glad you asked, because it turns out to be quite a bit.

Let me tell you first what I like about running.  Besides the obvious thing,that it is going to help me get fitter and trimmer, there's the challenge of it.  I've been walking for years, but running is harder and it requires more concentration, because it is demanding more of me.  This is perhaps why running feels like a spiritual practice at times, too.

As I was run-walking this morning, pushing myself to run farther than I technically wanted to, several thoughts occurred as to what I could learn from running.   What I am learning centers around the actual doing of it, for lack of a better phrase.  Here goes:

Do what you don't think you can do.
  Last week I didn't think I could run anywhere, at all, ever.  But I can.  It takes me pushing myself every second, but I can do it.   And the fact that I'm running makes everything else in the world seem possible (kinda like Obama winning the presidency.)  Do you think you can't write a novel?  Think again.  You can.  Think you can't write that article for your website?  C'mon, of course you can.

Do what scares you.
  It scares me to run down a busy street sometimes.  Its very visible and I imagine everyone looking at me and sneering.  When, of course, most people are so intent on getting their morning coffee or getting to work that they don't even notice me.  What about you?  Are you afraid to write that memoir?  Afraid to delve into the dark places inside that you know need to see the light of day?  Take a stab at it, once you get into it, the work might not seem so scary. 

Do what you don't want to do.
  At the end of a run-walk, I just want to saunter home.  I don't want to push myself and run two more blocks.  But I make myself.  So, too, with writing.  Maybe you don't want to stay up late to finish your word count for Nanowrimo or to revise that chapter.  Nobody does.  Do it anyway.

Do what you want to do.
  Yes, this is opposite advice from above.  When it comes to writing, consider doing whatever you want.  The best writing has a voice and tone to it that is mostly indescribable.  It is different from anyone else's voice.  And that comes from writing what you want, how you want it. 

Do whatever it takes.  Such as lacing up your shoes and heading outside even if it is raining.   Inclement weather is not an excuse. Or setting the alarm for 5, so that you can get up and write before you go to work.  If that's the only time you have, use it.  Do whatever it takes, because….

It gets easier.
The more you write, the easier it becomes.  The more you run, the more your body gets used to it and quits complaining quite so much.  The point is to get yourself outside or to the computer.  Showing up consistently makes it easier. 

And finally, since we are talking about pushing ourselves and doing things we thought we couldn't do, here's a story for you, the one about the pilot suddenly blinded by a stroke.  Who was flying a plane solo.  Who landed the plane safely.  Read it here.

10

I Find Myself Once Again in Portland

Having left LA last Friday and flown up the coast, I am adjusting to the relative cold up here (oh who am I kidding, forget the relative part it is flippin' freezing, 50 degrees colder than it was when I left California). 

But this morning was one of those foggy autumn mornings that I love, and when I stepped out back to make sure Igor, the blind pug, got himself off the deck okay I saw one of the 50 spider webs that ring our house covered in dew.   So I grabbed my cell phone and took a photo.  It is not the best of photos but I am happy with it anyway.   Pretty  awesome spider web, eh?

Photo_102108_001

I'll be returning to southern California next month, to keep Robert Hoyk company while his wife is out of town, and also to meet with clients.  I love my clients.  They all live in LA, every single blessed one of them.  And that means I get to return to LA often.  Here are some of the recent reasons I have enjoyed LA:

An Empowered Woman.  An amazing networking group–and more.  Let me tell you, I've always hated and resisted networking groups but I love attending events put on by An Empowered Woman because they are fun. Good shopping, interesting speakers, a fabulous collection of women, what could be better? Desiree Doubroux, the founder, is a force of nature.  She's amazing, and so is her group.

One of the event was held at the Luxe Hotel in Bel Air.  I think that's where it was, I still get confused in LA.  It is on Sunset Boulevard, right off the 405, okay?  That's as specific as I can get. And wherever it was, I loved it.  That is how I think I should live all the time: men fluttering around as I arrive, lovely outdoor seating areas, a gorgeous lobby.

As always, staying with my wonderful friend, Suzanne, who is an healer extraordinaire.   She celebrated her birthday while I was there and besides eating at Maria's Kitchen (amazing Italian food and the best staff in the business–thank you, Joshua, we love you) we also drove up to the Mt. Wilson Observatory.  Fabulous views of the entire LA area, even though the valleys were all covered in smoke from the fires.  Fascinating place–the observatory was closed but it is quite an installation, the peak is covered with transmission towers and the like.  Not exactly sure what all goes on up there, but I'd like to find out.  I think.  The full moon rose on the drive back down the mountain and the sun set brilliantly red from the fires on the other side.  Amazing.

Another evening we drove up to Chantry Flat, then hiked down into Santa Anita Canyon.  Walking back up was a bitch, but it was worth it because at the bottom of the canyon there are cabins.  They are only accessible by foot and to get supplies in you have the packed in on burros.  Is that cool or what?  We only saw  a couple of them, but apparently there are many more still in existence and a whole camp at the bottom of the canyon.  You can see photos of it all here.

And besides all the fun, there was work, too, such as meeting with prospective clients, who shall remain nameless, and meeting with fellow writers. If you are in the Pasadena or Alta Dena area and you need help with marketing or marketing writing, you should call Don Simkovich.  He'll be happy to help you out, and he'll do a great job for you. 

I also spent a great deal of time critiquing the novel of my screenwriting friend Brian, who despite my best efforts does not yet have a blog or website that I can link you to.  And I spent time working on packets for the Loft.   I even got some work done on my novel while I was there. 




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