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5 Ways to Make Your Writing Exciting

February 25, 2021– Yesterday we talked about 5 signs that you’re stuck in your writing comfort zone; today we’ll chat about 5 ways that you can take your writing to the next level and get excited about writing again!

  1. Read outside of your genre. Non-fiction, biographies, anthologies, science fiction, cozy romances, and whatever else you can get your hands on! Read newspapers, blog posts, articles, and kids’ books to open your mind and find new ideas that excite you.
  2. Write the opposite. If you write thrillers, try writing romance. If you usually write long pieces, try your hand at writing a short story. If you usually write on a laptop or computer, pick up a pen and some paper. Explore poetry or rhyming prose, if you haven’t already, and anything else that is outside of your comfort zone.
  3. Write with risk. Try submitting to your favourite publication such as a magazine or series of books. Send in a letter to the editor of a newspaper, or write a piece as a guest for a blog that you follow. Find opportunities where normally you’d never think to look.
  4. Change anything. Start a blog if you currently write novels. If you write books for kids, try writing a historical fiction novel. If you normally write in a quiet environment, put on some music or write in a public place with lots of background noise. Change whatever you’re doing and watch the ideas pour out of your brain and onto the page!
  5. Get inspired. YouTube, TedTalks, live readings, spoken word, libraries, bookstores, nature, and museums are all great sources of inspiration. Ask yourself what inspires you! Get our there and start getting excited about the authors and ideas that have come before you.

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode when George Costanza decides that everything he’s ever done in his whole life has been wrong? He says, “My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear, something to eat, it’s all been wrong. Every one.”

So, George decides to do the complete opposite from that moment on, starting with his lunch order, which he makes the opposite of his usual order. Later, Elaine tells him that a woman is watching him from across the café. She tells George to go talk to her and he does! He finds out that the woman who has been staring at him just ordered the exact same thing as he did (his opposite). And now he’s met a new friend and a possible romantic partner. Stepping out of our comfort zone, and sometimes going against what we would normally do, can lead to exciting opportunities!

 

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5 Signs You’re Stuck in Your Writing Comfort Zone

February 24, 2021-As we finish up with this month’s theme of smashing out of your comfort zone, we’ll look at some clear signs that your writing is stuck. Stop playing it safe and start taking the writing risks that get you excited to write again! The list below are some of the most common tells:

  1. You’re tired. You’re tired of writing, your ideas are tired, your plot lines and characters are tired,  and you’re writing the same old thing that you’ve always written.
  2. You’re doubting everything. You’re doubting yourself, your craft, your abilities as an author, and you’re doubting that you should have ever started writing in the first place
  3. Your answer is “no”. You rarely consider new and exciting ideas or avenues for your writing career to take. When you think about taking a risk in your writing or doing things differently than you normally would, your go to answer is always, “no”.
  4. You’re bored. Sitting down to write doesn’t excite you anymore. It seems like a chore more than a passion and you find yourself easily distracted and before you know it, you’ve procrastinated all day and you haven’t put a word on the page. When it comes to writing, you can take it or leave it. It leaves you feeling meh.
  5. You’re complaining. You blame everybody but yourself; agents, publishers, the market, editors, readers, and reviewers. Perhaps your work isn’t being lauded because it’s boring/safe/done to death.

If you’re experiencing anything on the above list, chances are you’re not taking any risks in your writing. Obviously what you’re doing isn’t working, so why not change things and step out of your comfort zone? If you want different results, you have to start acting and writing differently. Take the risk! What have you got to lose?

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Imposter Alert

February 23, 2021– As we finish up our series for this month about breaking out of our comfort zones, we see that it can be uncomfortable to realize and be proud of our accomplishments and writing life because we don’t want to be seen as arrogant and perhaps, we lack the self confidence to feel as though we deserve them. If this has ever happened to you, you’re not alone! Even after writing eleven books and winning several awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape the doubt that she hadn’t earned her accomplishments. This feeling of fraudulence is extremely common. Why can’t so many of us shake feelings that our ideas and skills aren’t worthy of others’ attention? Elizabeth Cox describes the psychology behind the imposter syndrome, and what you can do to combat it.

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Decisions and Beliefs

February 22, 2021– As we head into our final week talking about  breaking out of our comfort zones, we must explore decisions and beliefs. What we decide and what we believe are integral parts of our success; limiting beliefs do not serve us and will only shrink our experiences, self-esteem, and our inner voice. What exactly are limiting beliefs? A limiting belief is a state of mind, conviction, or belief that you think to be true that limits you in some way. This limiting belief could be about you, your interactions with other people, or with the world and how it works. Limiting beliefs can have a number of negative effects.

Let’s explore some of the most common limiting beliefs that I hear from authors all the time:

  1. I’m too old. What does age have to do with it? It’s nothing but a number.  It’s NEVER too late to follow your dreams, learn a new skill, or get to work on a book! Start today, you are NOT too old and you’ll be even older tomorrow, so what’s the difference? Write the book already! Decide to make time to write. Decide to do it and get started.
  2. I’m not educated enough. Nobody knows it all, and learning is a lifelong quest. But the difference is, as long as you’re willing to learn and upgrade your skills, you can learn anything! So you’re not educated…yet. You can enroll in online classes, continue your education through seminars, and pretty much find anything you want to know about, on the internet. Educate yourself, it’s your responsibility to keep growing as an author. Plus, when you learn more, you earn more. Decide what you need to work on and start today.
  3. I’ve already tried and failed. So? Have you ever accomplished anything perfectly on the first try? Think back to the first time that you tried to ride a bike; you probably needed to work on your balance and get into the path of motion, but all it took after that was a bit of practice and then you became a pro! The same goes for writing; I know I’ve said this a million times, but I’ll say it again, when I first started out writing, I had enough rejection letters to wallpaper the side of my house. EVERYONE has tried and failed; it’s the people who don’t try who should be worried. As long as your trying and failing forward, you’ll eventually reach your goals.

Stop limiting yourself! Stop the negative self-talk and decide to change  your beliefs about your abilities and what you’re capable of. You can do it!

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Warning! Lack of Failure!

February 19, 2021– Lack of failure is a troubling warning sign. Umm, what? Lack of failure means that you’ve taken no risks  and that you’ve tried nothing new. Babies fall down a lot when they’re learning how to walk, but not once do they say, “Wow, maybe this just isn’t for me!”  Humans are the only species on earth that don’t try to grow to their full potential. A tree will always grow as big as it can, it never decides that 6’2 is as big as it will grow and then it will stop.

Some of us don’t reach our full writing potential because we are afraid of failing and other’s don’t bother to try. A lack of failure in your writing life means that you aren’t taking risks and putting yourself out there to grow as an author. The only way we grow? You guessed it, by failing and learning from those failures. Imagine that you were perfect at absolutely everything you tried? How boring would that be? There would be no point to living, because part of the fun, is overcoming challenges and obstacles, and tracking our improvements.

Let’s do an exercise to see if there are warning signs in your life due to lack of failures. Please list the following:

  1. Have you accomplished everything you’ve wanted to do in your writing career?
  2. Have you reached all of the goals you’ve set for yourself?
  3. Have you ever failed at anything in your writing life?
  4. Have you experienced rejection?

If you’ve accomplished everything, reached all of your goals, never failed at anything, and haven’t experience rejection…Congratulations! You’ve lived a very safe and comfortable life well inside your comfort zone. Let’s be honest, that’s not something to celebrate. Ask yourself, am I stifling my true potential as an author because I’m afraid to try something new, take a class, meet new peers, or get out of my comfort zone? Do yourself a favour and fail as much as you can! I’d much rather live a life of, at least I tried, rather than what if, and I hope you would too. Fail forward and you’ll never lose, you’ll learn!

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The Positive Aspect of No

February 18, 2021-As authors, we hear the word “no” a lot more often than we’d like to. But what if I told you that there’s a positive aspect to “no”.  Let’s back up for a minute, rejection can be painful, but it’s part of life. You’re not the only one who’s ever been rejected by a publisher, magazine, blog site, or writing contest; rejection is common and I’m here to tell you to embrace it!

We fear rejections as humans because it’s part of our make up, our biology, and is reinforced by our instincts to keep us alive. That good ole reptilian brain is alive and well! Rejection lights up the same part of the brain that allows us to feel physical pain, can you believe it? Rejection=physical trauma according to brain scans done on subjects by the U of Michigan Medical School. There is an evolutionary foundation to the trauma associated with rejection. Being left out by our tribe during the caveman days would leave us to face dangerous animals, or challenging environments on our own and that could lead to injury or death! No wonder we hate rejection, it’s a built in survival tool.

I receive approximately 175 manuscript submissions per month and I reject most of them for various reasons. Perhaps it’s not a good fit for our House, or we have enough subject matter of a particular topic in our roster, or we’ve filled our schedule for the next two years with new releases. No matter the reason, it’s NEVER personal. Rejection is never a judgement on who you are. We need to rethink what rejection means; it’s merely a subjective opinion. The entire world isn’t evaluating your skills/abilities, it’s just me and maybe I’ve got it wrong.

Facing rejection is just a matter of trying again, it’s a statistical/numbers game. One of the first things that I learned while studying marketing, was that if you want one person to say yes, you have to get 99 people to say no. If we flip that around, all we need to do is ask 100 people for what we want before one of them says yes. 99 people may say no, but all it takes is one yes!

The most successful authors I’ve had the pleasure of working with, have always done one thing differently than others who have been rejected before them. They ask how. Not how could you possibly reject my wonderful writing, but instead, how can I improve my writing? How can I improve my chances of getting a publishing deal? How can I get better? That’s what separates the haves from the have nots.

So, the next time you’re feeling upset about being rejected (it’s going to happen more than once, trust me) remember these things:

  1. Have you asked enough people? Remember the 1/100 rule. 99 no’s will equal 1 yes.
  2. Is the rejecting person’s opinion subjective? Probably, because especially in the art field, art is always subjective.
  3. Are you taking rejection too personally? Rejection is not a reflection. Nothing in this business is personal.
  4. Have you asked how you can improve? What can you do to improve your writing? What can you do to hone your skills? Are you open to resubmission after I fix what you’ve mentioned? etc.
  5. Have you set the stage for yes? This means, have you checked the submission guidelines? Have you addressed the correct person for your query? Have you polished your final draft? Have you built your author platform? Have you followed the industry standards for your submission? etc.

So, I’m telling you to embrace the word no. Because every no gets you closer to yes. To check out my number 1, best selling book Advice from a publisher, click here: Advice from a Publisher (Insider Tips for Getting Your Work Published!): Bakker, Lacey L., Goubar, Alex: 9781989506141: Books – Amazon.ca

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Don’t Stay Stuck

February 17, 2021– Fear can be paralyzing. Our brains are wired to be on high alert for threats and haven’t evolved too much since the days of sabretooth tigers. Often, we live the same day over and over and call it a life because it’s safe and comfortable; that’s the furthest thing from actually living a life that is meaningful, exciting, and makes an impact.

Have you heard of the saying, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t”? What does it mean? It’s a silly sentence that basically says I’d rather be comfortable keeping the status quo and being safe rather than take a risk in case it doesn’t work out. This mindset and way of thinking keeps us stuck in jobs we hate, relationships that should be ended, and in situations that don’t serve our future. Sure, things might suck now, but what if they got worse, is often used as a crutch and keeps us living a life that’s mediocre. Change can be painful, but it hurts a whole heck of a lot less than staying stuck and miserable. Sometimes, we only take action to change because we’ve been forced to e.g., we’ve been laid off or have gotten sick etc. I’d rather live a life on my terms and change because I want to, not because now I have to.

So, how do we start to change our lives?

  1. Be mindful.  It’s time to start looking at your behaviour and find patterns/habits that are keeping you stuck. Are you lazy? Do you procrastinate and do everything except write when you’re supposed to? Do you take the easy way out? Do you leave things until the last minute? Do you have a bad attitude or think that you know it all? Are you arrogant and think that no one can teach you a thing? It’s time to be honest with yourself. What are all the things that make you unhappy in your writing life? List them.
  2. Be disruptive. Break out of the negative cycles that you’ve become accustomed to. Let’s use procrastination as an example, you procrastinate because you feel overwhelmed or because you don’t know where to start. Then, instead of getting to work right away on what needs to be done, you clean out the junk drawer, play on your phone, or check social media. How do we disrupt this negative cycle? We could set a timer for ten minutes of writing a day, or we could get up earlier to write when we have less distraction, we could commit to rewarding ourselves after ever five pages written, and so on. The point is, we need to disrupt the cycle of procrastination by changing things.
  3. Be direct. Create a new routine that’s positive and will help you reach your goals. Perhaps we need to change our writing environment, find new inspiration, upgrade our skills, or find new tools for our writing tool box. Whatever you need to do, do it. Achieving success is all about looking at the big picture and focusing on your goals. Take things one step at a time and take the first step!

Remember, we can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Be truthful with yourself about what you need to change in order to live the writing life of your dreams!