29 July

Dear Book Writer, Just Say STOP...

 

STOP.

A pretty big, small word.

It warns us of impending danger ahead, to pause, look around our space, and be on alert, and only after we see the coast is clear, do we move on.

The voice inside your head is the dangerous one. It keeps whispering why you cannot write on your book today. Umpteen different reasons, excuses, colorful pastimes that your voice mumbles in your ear...

"I can't write today. I have to do ___."

"Writing? Now? Are you kidding! ____ is waiting for me." 

"Oh, yes, I was going to write, and then ___ happened, and I couldn't."

Blah-dee-blah, blah, blah.... yatta, even...

The Key: Have you asked yourself the REAL question? Is my brain a danger to me?

Sure, the flip side to that argument is your brain is trying to protect you from danger ahead, from committing mistakes or being laughed by your book readers. But do those dangers really exist? Could it be your Ego whispering to you, niggling at you to stop being a fool by writing on that book, instead of your reasoned mind?

A writer, like anyone undertaking any m├ętier, has to judge what a) is a real danger, and b) when to STOP for what.

If your inner voice is a danger to you by offering up a plethora of excuses not to write, then you need to sit up, plaster on a stern expression, and say out loud, and with conviction, to your fearful self, "STOP, just STOP IT."

This audible trick works. It tells your Ego to shush it, to go back into its narcissistic cave and be quiet already, as you have legitimate work to do.

On occasion, I've needed to express this order to myself when my Ego rears its ugly head and tries to stop me from producing. Right now, I have a huge list of new book projects, and tickling my brain is that evil-doer, whispering in my ear why it's much safer not to open my laptop and add more words to those manuscripts. But soon enough,

  • I literally get fed up with that whispered BS.
  • I sit up.
  • And I say out loud, "STOP IT. Just STOP."

Those spat out words jar my psyche to realign my definition of danger, to ascertain there isn't any, so I can move forward, open up my laptop, and start writing again.

Sooner or later, you, like me, will have to contend with those opposing forces — the Ego and the Writing Mind. No shrink in the world can tell me those two are one and the same. They are not. It's a Battle Royale to the finish with each manuscript. 

The Bad News: That Ego beast never completely goes away. It lurks, lays in wait, breathing heavily... (frig).

The Good News: Your Writer Mind gets stronger, and wins more battles over your Ego, the more you write (yay!).

MY ongoing battle:

  • My Ego is all up in my grill because it doesn't want to be seen as anything but perfect to the outside world. Pathetic Ego.
  • My Writer Mind KNOWS I've written well before, many times, so realistically I'll write well again. Cheers, for the mature me!

As a new book writer, you have to come to this realization yourself, that you are fighting a foe that's only in your imagination. And with each new book project, it will whisper again to you to do anything but write on that manuscript. The bigger, more mature, adult you must stop that Ego monster in its tracks by simply saying out loud, "STOP." It will hear that word, finally shut up with the excuses, so you can move to open your much-abandoned laptop or notebook.

HOMEWORK: Try this small exercise the next time you hear your Ego whispering to you. Try it TODAY, TONIGHT, if instead of writing on your manuscript, you end up:

  • doing laundry 
  • vacuuming
  • playing video games
  • Facebook scrolling
  • fishing lint out of your navel.
You'll be amazed what your mature mind can do, say, to get you to stop for the real danger — that lazy lout, Monster Ego — and instead move forward on your book. 


P. S. It's okay to give your Ego a name. Mine is called Barbarella. She's a hot mess and leaves a wake of trouble everywhere she goes... 
 
Before I sat down to write this article, I fed her a dose of  ZzzQuil. She's snoring contently. ;-)

27 July

Fail Lots Now, Succeed Faster...

 

Failure. 

It's a word most people shun, fear, dread.

If you're willing to alter your opinion about this term, this result, you'll succeed as an author greater than your wildest dreams.

My Mindset Altered View on Failure:

I think of failure like a game of pub darts. (Hey, so sue me for being of Northern Irish descent where everything in my life originates back to cocktails, that may or may not include Guinness. At least I'm being honest here...)

You have a board. You have darts. You throw those darts at the board. Some... many... scads 'n' scads... hit at awful board scores. But the more you throw, the better your skill at throwing gets, and your chances grow that you will hit a bullseye... not just once, but regularly, to downright often, as your attempts to throw grow.

Question to You: How many awful dart hits did a champion dart player make before they became a champion? Guesstimate: Thousands, maybe tens of thousands. Right?

Question: How many word choices do YOU have to make before your word choices are consistently stellar???

Time to Success Ratio: The quicker you make scads of awful dart board hits, the sooner your skill improves, the quicker your throwing action becomes consistently high-scoring! Now, trade dart throws for word choices. Seeing a pattern here?

Back to Your Book...(Leave your empty beer glass on the bar. Thanks.)

So, here's the deal I'm making with you... decide to WELCOME ABJECT FAILURE... in every word you choose, every sentence you form, in every paragraph and chapter you finish in that unfinished manuscript of yours. 

Yes! Make a dart game of completing your book!

Plunk down word, after word, after word, ASSUMING, EXPECTING, TRUSTING your choices are the most awful any breathing human being could ever make. AND PURPOSELY WRITE DESPITE!

The quicker you barf out all those icky words, the better your mind will hone its decision-making skill, the quicker the fear of failure ebbs as the better your word choices become.

Told ya book writing isn't difficult. It's fighting to retrain your mind that's the toughie.

Mindset Change Today: WELCOME FAILURE!

HOMEWORK: Today, DECIDE to allow yourself to fail, to royally screw up, to indeed DARE YOURSELF TO FAIL. Wildly plunk down words, as a newbie darts player throws pub darts at the board. EXPECT to read hilariously chosen words and phrases that after you edit the draft and become a seasoned author, you will look back on and howl, and be DAMN PROUD YOU HAD THE COURAGE to FAIL LOTS THEN, so you MASTERED FASTER.

(FYI: I pull out my first year university nude model charcoal sketches at cocktail parties for the most unbridled howling you'll ever hear from inebriated guests. And I believe my first story every written was written by a frontal lobotomized monkey. Monumental fails, much, there, BJ? ;-) )

The Key: The quicker you get over your fear of failure, the quicker you simply won't fail. 

Psychology, peeps, as I continue to harp on this fact, and will until the day I go to the Big Typewriter in the sky. Your book writing difficulties live in your mind, not on the page.

Question: If you're SURE to fail at writing your manuscript, what's stopping you now from writing your manuscript?

Answer: Absolutely nothing.

Go fail!