But how many times have you sat at your computer, beating your head against your desk, trying to make something work that isn't working? Trying to force a character to do something she doesn't want to do, or writing a scene in a location that just doesn't resonate with you, or creating a plot point that seems forced and unnatural?
I've done this a million times, doggedly writing even when the nagging voice inside of me informs me that something is wrong. Something isn't working.
And often it takes quite awhile before I listen.
It happened again earlier this week. I've been diligently getting up to work on my novel first thing every morning. I love, love, love the idea for the plot of the novel. But I've not been able to wrap my brain around the protagonist. No matter what I did, I couldn't bond with her. Couldn't feel her voice inside me or get it onto the page. But I kept writing, telling myself that the voice would come. Except finally, one morning, I realized that what I was writing was so dull and lifeless that nobody, even me, would want to write it.
When you are writing and writing and begin to feel like your driving a car on snow and you can't get any traction, it is maybe time to take a wee break and ponder. Which is what I did. Luckily, on the day I decided it was time to hit the brakes and quit spinning my wheels, I had an appointment with my coach. We discussed the problem in detail and I finally realized that I was trying to force myself to write about a character in a profession I knew nothing about and didn't care to learn. So that gave me the freedom and the courage to start over–not with the plot, but with the character.
But, here's the deal. If I hadn't been writing, I wouldn't have figured out that it wasn't going to work. If I had sat around thinking about it, I'd still be sitting around thinking about it. I wouldn't have discovered that there was a reason for my writing paralysis. And so, even though in some ways I've gone backwards, today I'm a happy camper.
Because knowing what's wrong lights a path to change it. And, figuring out that there is something wrong in the first place is sometimes the most illuminating moment of all.
What about you? How do you figure out when something is wrong?
The traditional writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, it gets sold to a good publishing house and they do a lot of work to market you. Ads in print publications, a book tour, readings and signings galore. If you are a literary type, you might take a job teaching writing and/or English at a university. If you're a genre type, then you go home and write your next book. Life is good.
The contemporary writing life: you write a novel, submit it to an agent, wait until your as-yet-unborn grandchild grows up and has children of her own, and then you finally get a no from the agent. So you find a small publisher for your novel, or publish it yourself. Nobody does the slightest thing to market you, so you tend a blog, you have a social media presence, and when your book is ready to be released you make a book trailer to put up on You Tube. You realize that the income from your beloved novel is going to amount to a mere pittance and so you write an Ebook covering everything you know about writing and you begin a coaching program, too. You even consider teaching a teleclass or webinar, because nobody's been hired for a university position teaching writing since the Clinton administration. Life is good, but far, far different than you expected.
The traditional writing life is on life-support, if it exists at all anymore. But for me, it has existed in my mind as the romantic ideal of writing for years. And even though I've embraced blogging and social media with gusto, still part of me yearned to achieve a traditional writing life. Because, wouldn't it be nice to do nothing but write novels all day? I'd be happy if I could split my time between writing novels and blogging, popping the occasional chocolate in my mouth from time to time.
But I can't. And up until last week, when my coach called me out on this little thought that was stuck in my head, I didn't even realize it. (This is why coaches are so great and why the whole coaching industry sprang up overnight.) I had earnestly been explaining to her why I had yet again put off writing the Ebook that I started last December. And after some digging and poking about, she managed to get me to uncover where I was stuck. And let me just say, I wasn't only stuck, I was absolutely mired in this romantic ideal of writing, certain it would happen for me any day now and I wouldn't have to write the Ebook or ponder teleclasses (for a person who doesn't much like talking on the phone, the idea of conducting teleclasses is terrifying), or do anything differently from what I'm doing today.
But it is a different world, as we all know by now. And different worlds call for different strategies. All this is by way of saying that I am going to start working on my Ebook this week, I am, I am, I am. Just as soon as I get my office that I started six months ago finished…No, in truth, my session with my coach transformed my thinking and cleared enough crap out of the way that I've started taking notes and getting excited about the Ebook again. And let me just say it again, that is why coaching is so great.
What about you? Is there something you are ignoring that you should be doing? Are you holding onto an outdated romantic ideal of writing?
***Do you need help clearing out romantic ideals of writing or other issues? Email me and let's discuss coaching. Your wonderful contemporary writing career is waiting. Or check out my page about coaching packages and then email me.
One of my faithful readers, novelist Heather Justesen, is having a wonderful week full of giveaways over at her blog this week. Check it out here.
Heather is the author of the newly-released, The Ball's In Her Court, and she's got another book coming out this summer. Gotta love that. Here's a brief summary that I snitched from her website (in the interest of promotion, I don't think she'll get too upset with me):
She's got a great job, a loving group of family and friends and basketball skills like you wouldn't believe, but Denise DeWalt's life is far from perfect, and she's about to come face-to-face with a past she hoped to leave behind forever.
Twenty-six-year-old Denise thinks she's come to terms with her childhood in the foster care system, but when her old nightmares return, Denise realizes that she must deal with her past once and for all if she ever wants to move on to a brighter future with Rich, the only man who can see past her former life. As Denise's search leads her closer and closer to the one person she hoped she'd never have to face again, she begins to realize that her future depends on just one person–herself.
This emotional and inspirational love story proves that life is full of unexpected twists and turns–especially when it comes to facing your demons, fighting for love, and finding happiness for the future
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.
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:
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
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
It is New Year's Eve, 2008, the cusp of a new year.
I'm a wildly optimistic person and every year I proclaim that the next year is going to be the best yet. And, nearly everyone of them turns out to be best in some arena. It may be very difficult for some people to come up with good things to say about 2008, given the upheavals we've experienced. Once again turning on my Pollyanna persona, I believe these are necessary shifts we've had to go through–and that 2009 will be better. I'm excited about our president-elect, for one thing. And I'm excited about the opportunities for writing in 2009.
Although the publishing industry is in turmoil, it is going to be a good year for writers. Not only will many of us find more time to write because of fewer business obligations, but in general a depressed economy forces us to stay home more–and what better thing to do at home then write? Along those lines, I have plans in the works to assist you in your writing endeavors next year.
But first, before we get to what's in store for 2009, I present my year in review, along with a list of favorite posts.
Good Things About 2008
1. My ghostwriting career took off. I've been privileged to write several books for wonderful clients. This allows me to enter a different world and become the person I'm writing the book for. Gives me a small taste of what being an actor must feel like.
2. After teaching in the program for five years, I became co-director of the wonderful writing program, The Writer's Loft. Anybody interested in improving their writing skills should take a look at the program. It is based in Tennessee, but since its a distant-learning program you can live anywhere and take advantage of one-on-one focused mentoring.
3. I started Bookstrumpet, which is floundering at the moment but had a glorious beginning with many wonderful reviews from various people. I'm pondering this blog's future at the moment. One possibility is to incorporate all the material into Wordstrumpet. Ideas?
4. Word Strumpet became available on Kindle and at this writing it is currently #12 on the bestseller list in Lifestyle and Culture. Thanks to all my Kindle subscribers!
5. I began a newsletter, The Creative Equation, and got some subscribers. Thanks, guys! For those of you who don't yet subscribe, you can do so on the front page of Wordstrumpet. I send it out irregularly and don't harass you with tons of emails about stuff to buy. But it is the best way to keep up with news about product releases and my plans. (See below)
6. I started running and found many commonalities between the practice of running and the practice of writing. See below for some of my posts about it.
7. I made two wonderful new friends, Rachel, and Mayanna, both of whom I adore. And I kept up with my old friends in Nashville, too numerous to list here, and LA, and my bestest friend, Suzanne. I share a love of writing with all of them. Rachel and Mayanna both started blogs this year and Suzanne really got going on hers.
What I Resolve to Do Better
1. Respond to comments more consistently. I love, love, love it when you guys comment yet I don't always manage to comment back. No excuses. I'll do better.
2. Be as helpful with your writing as possible. I want to do more posts on craft and motivation, as these are what the respondents to my survey said they really appreciated. I also want to do more posts featuring exercises you can use in your work immediately.
3. Send the above-mentioned newsletter out more regularly.
4. Fully embrace the possibilities of blogging and allow Wordstrumpet to be all that it can be.
Favorite Posts of 2008 (Mine and Yours)
1. The series on words. Part one is here, part two here, and part three here. This seemed to be a crowd-pleaser, and I loved reading the comments about how you find strong verbs and other good words. We writers are a word-loving bunch!
2. The series on scene. Series seemed to be big this year, and since scene is often a point of confusion for writers, this one went over well. Part one is here, on flat scenes is here, part two on elements of a scene here, and part three on rising and falling action here.
9. A two-part series on erotic romance. Part one, on writing it, is here. And part two, on publishing it, here.
10. Finally, I resisted this one, because it is multi-parts, and creating all these links is a lot of work. Plus its almost time for me to get ready to go out. But I did a whole series on The Writing Bogs that I've since turned into an Ebook called Set the Words Free. So, here are the links: part one, part two,part three and part four. Phew! I could swear there was another one, but I can't seem to find it.
Looking Ahead to 2009
For the record, my biggest non-blog-related goal is to get a contract for my novel. Go, Emma Jean! I know a lot of you are also looking for agents, writing query letters, submitting like crazy. So let's all communicate and support each other through the process.
Besides the above-mentioned goals, I want to give you a heads-up on what I'm planning, project-wise. My biggest goal is to get my pet project off the ground–the Charlotte Rains Dixon Novel Writing Academy. Is that not a fabulous and grandiose name? I adore it. And its going to be wonderful, a membership site full of lengthy and informative articles, forms, and exercises. Plus regular teleclasses, videos and all kinds of goodies.
Realistically, it is also going to take a few months to get off the ground. So in the meantime I hope to offer a product or two. Stay tuned–and thanks for hanging around as long as you have.
One of the main ways I make my living is through ghostwriting, and I love it. I get to write about topics I’d never write about otherwise, meet fascinating people, and enter the minds of those fascinating people. Sort of like writing fiction, only not.
What is Ghostwriting?
Ghostwriting is when I write the book for you but your name appears on the book. As far as the world knows, you are the author of the book. If I’m lucky, you might thank me in the acknowledgments . But even that is not really necessary. Some big-time ghostwriters even get a “with” credit, as in “by famous person with ghostwriter.” But not usually. Who Uses Ghostwriters?
A better question might be, who doesn’t use a ghostwriter? Generally, ghostwriters are employed for non-fiction projects, though many a novel has been ghostwritten (you can read a post I wrote about that here.) Many of the best-selling business and self-help books are ghostwritten, as are those by politicians and celebrities.
Not only famous people hire ghostwriters. People in all walks of life who are too busy to write a book or simply feel they don’t have a way with word hire ghostwriters. Working with a ghostwriter can be an efficient way of getting your book to print.
Why Do I Need a Book?
You may not have dreams of bestseller status, but you do need a book. Why? Here are some reasons:
A book lends your career immediate status and prestige. No matter what profession you are in, having a book to show for yourself gives you credibility.
If you do any public speaking, or aspire to, you need a book because many speaking bureaus will not book you unless you have one.
A book offers a potential additional income stream. You may choose to sell it on the internet or as a back-of-the-room product. If you are providing useful content on your website or blog, people will want to buy a book to read more. If you are giving inspiring lectures, people will want to read more. Give them what they want–a book.
A book offers you a chance to spread your message in a different channel. Make no mistake, even iin this digital age, a book is still considered the ultimate authority.
What is The Ghostwriting Process?
People come to me when they have an idea for a book, have been struggling to write one for awhile, or need to get a product out fast, for any of the above reasons. Generally, the client will have a fair amount of material or notes on the project ready. If this is not the case, there may be quite a bit of upfront interviewing time required.
It is my job to take this material and shape it into a finished product that reflects the voice and style of the client. No two of the books that I ghostwrite will sound like the same author if I’ve done my job correctly. I assess the potential readers and what sort of style might be appropriate for them, also.
Every project differs, but basically I’ll send the client constant updates of the the manuscript for him or her to edit and make changes on. I guarantee my work and I’m not happy until the client is happy. How Long Does it Take?
The time frame varies. I’ve gotten books out in as short as a month, while some projects tend to take much longer.
How Much Does it Cost?
While I have a base fee, again, each project will vary in cost. It depends on how much material you have ready. Some books really only need a rewrite or edit, while others require a massive assembly of notes and research. Still others may need a lot of upfront interviewing time to pull the story out of the client, and this, of course, will cost more. Please, please, please don’t assume that a ghostwriter will work for royalties only. We’re professionals, too, folks, and we like to eat also. Royalties are more of an “if” than a “for certain” and if they do every manifest, it may not be for months or years in the future. Unless you can find a ghostwriter who needs experience and a credit to show, forget about asking us to work for royalties.