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We Don’t Do Drama or Distraction

March 2, 2020– Happy March, Friends! I trust that this will be a good month because you will make it one! I get a lot of emails each week from authors looking for advice, and this week, I got a doozy of a letter. Let me share it with you.

“I’m having a tough time with a couple of things. The first thing that’s really getting to me is people (friends and family) saying that artists can’t make a living and the arts are a waste of time (I want to be a writer), and second, I’m letting their comments distract me from writing, and they’re getting into my head. I’m spending more time defending my position than I am writing. How do I fix this and get back on track?”

Girl, let me help you, please send me their address, and I’ll teach them a lesson they won’t soon forget, but seriously, please remember that you are a BADASS, a talented writer, and an artist who is GOING TO MAKE IT.  And you’ll probably make more money as a writer than all of those people COMBINED, who bring you down.

Here are somethings that you need to do IMMEDIATELY to get back to where you need to be.

  1. Get rid of all distractions. Put the phone down, get off social media, and recalibrate yourself. We spend so much time being distracted by what’s going on online that it destroys our creativity.  Every notification is like a virtual tap on the shoulder that takes our attention away from tasks that are much more important, like living in real life and washing our hair. Focus, girl- you’ll be so glad you did.
  2.  Get rid of negativity. When I was recovering from my concussion, I knew that I could not afford to have another negative thought enter my mind if I was going to heal. The same goes for you; you cannot afford to have negative people around you because they will bring you down and will stifle your progress and stop you from becoming the writer you could have been. They will make you a shadow of who you could become. I am insanely protective of who comes into my space, onto my team, and into my life, and if we can’t build together, we can’t be together. Focus on the positive and take care of your needs first, if someone drains you, cut them loose and cancel them from your life, you’ll be better off, and if you can’t completely get away from them,  limit your time with them severely. You can’t pour from an empty cup, being the best for you, will help you be the best for yourself, your readers, and for the people that believe in you.
  3. Chew, Chew, Chew, because they hope you choke. Prepare, that’s what this sentence means. Some people don’t want you to become all that you’re capable of becoming because it’s not comfortable for them. Some people want you to fail, and they want you to see you f*ck up. That’s how some people feel better about their own lives, I guess; how pathetic and sad for them. When I say chew, chew, chew, I mean that you need to make sure you don’t fail, that you don’t choke, that you properly arm for success by setting yourself up to succeed. Plan what you need to do, show up every single day, learn everything you can, and be better than you were the day before.

So, to the people who don’t believe in you, to the ones who think you’ll never make it, I have two words that you need to hear. I think you already know what they are. You’re either on our team or in our way and you will be treated accordingly. No matter what, dear writer, never give up.

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Get Punched.

January 22, 2020– I read a quote recently that said, “Wanting to be a writer and not wanting to be rejected is like wanting to be a boxer and not wanting to get punched.” (-David Barr Kirtley)

More real words have never been spoken. Of course, being rejected sucks, it hurts, and it makes us question our capabilities and sometimes even our sanity. But, I’m here to tell you to embrace the suck. I’m here to say, stick out your chin and get punched as many times as possible. Because the only way that you’re going to get a YES is by taking all of the NO’s that come before it and using them to your advantage. When we fail, we become better. We can see where we went wrong, and we can tweak things to improve our writing. No one is born as a fantastic writer. Nope, not even Shakespeare, King, or Hemingway. They’ve all seen their fair share of rejection, and if you don’t believe me, Google it.

As writers, we MUST write because it’s who we are, and we can’t imagine doing anything else with our lives. That’s why I’m telling you to get punched. Get punched and get punched hard, because it’s part of the process in making you a better writer, in causing you to wake up and change your strategy, and it will give you a much sweeter victory than it would if you’d never been punched in the first place.

Being rejected is part of the gig. You want to be a writer? You’re going to be rejected… a lot. But who cares? You’re in great company. The point is, you have to keep going. I personally have enough rejection letters that I could wallpaper the side of my house. And I keep them in a special box that I go through when I need motivation. I look at the comments that say, “Consider a different career,” “Too out of the box, not saleable,” “Go back to school and learn proper grammar,” and my favourite, “Your writing is unoriginal, and frankly, boring.”

So what did I do when I received these comments? I read them, thought about them for a few days, changed a few things in my storytelling approach, hired a professional editor, and then KEPT WRITING. There’s a big difference between arrogance and self-belief. Arrogance says that everyone is an idiot except for you and that anyone who criticizes you is a dumbass. Self-belief is when you take constructive criticism to improve yourself because you KNOW that you can do whatever you want to with enough hard work and practice. Do you think that the first time that Wayne Gretzky picked up a hockey stick, he was perfection? Don’t answer that, what a terrible example…You get my point.

So dear friends, today, I hope that you get punched. X LLB

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When You’re Struggling…

October 25, 2019– We all struggle. Every single one of us struggles at something or at some point in our lives. Difficulty is part of the process so trust it. Could you imagine if everything was easy and just handed to you on a silver platter? Part of being a human is overcoming challenges. When we find a solution to our challenges we end up building confidence, trusting ourselves, and believing that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Here are three ways that you can help yourself if you’re struggling with an aspect in your writing career:

  1. Get out of your comfort zone. When things feel uncomfortable, that’s a really good indicator that you’re on the right track. Maybe it’s making that phone call or tracking down that distributor or writing while being vulnerable, whatever it is, make sure you do it because getting out of your comfort zone has the power to change the trajectory of your entire life. Try to do one thing a day that makes you uncomfortable and watch your life change.
  2. Put a timeline on it. There are some days that are rougher than others. When you’re having a tough time, put a timeline on feeling sorry for yourself. Give yourself five minutes at most to feel crappy about the situation (it’s important to recognize the bad so that we can appreciate the good) and then roll up your sleeves to start fixing it. Do you need to scrap the entire intro to your novel? Do you need to have that hard conversation with one of your employees?
  3.  Know that it will pass. “My mamma told me there’d be days like this and man, she wasn’t foolin.” Aerosmith sure nailed that on the head. The good news is that time marches on. Whatever you’re dealing with, just know it’s a moment in time…it will pass and then you’ll be on to the next thing. If it won’t matter in five years, don’t spend more than five minutes worrying about it. That’s a personal rule that I keep.

The point is, there is no success without struggle. Keep going, you’re doing great. X LLB

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Resistence is Most Powerful at the Finish Line…

January 25, 2019– I know a thing or two about resistance, as I’m sure you do; we are human after all, and finishing anything is hard. Sure, it may be easy to finish an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked Ice Cream in one sitting, but it’s a lot harder to finish things that matter in our lives. Do you know how many people have started manuscripts that they’ve never finished? Or how many of us have unfinished paintings or works of art that have sat in drawers and on shelves for decades? The answer to both questions is too many. To make my point, let me tell you a story.

My sister and I decided that we were going to run a race in our city called Around the Bay. It wasn’t five or ten kilometers, it was thirty and I had no idea how the hell I was going to do it. I started training for about five months beforehand, and five days a week I would run along the mountain brow in the wee hours of the morning. I increased my kilometers over time and eventually was able to run twenty-five kilometers without a problem. Race day came and the first twenty kilometers were a breeze. I was happy, and felt great, and was sure that I could finish the race. Well, guess what happened? During the last ten kilometers, I fell apart. I was so close to the end, but I was ready to quit. I seriously thought about calling a cab or throwing myself into traffic just so I could lie down. Why? Because resistance is most powerful at the finish line. We ended up crossing the finish line arm in arm and it was an experience that I will never forget. Am I glad I did it? Yes. Am I glad it’s over? Also, yes.

Here’s why resistance is most powerful at the finish line of your writing:

  1. Because we can’t see the ending. Could we see the end of the race/the ribbon? Not a chance. We were still too far away, but let me tell you when we did finally see the end, we sped up and finished. We got it done. Same goes for your writing! Know that there’s an ending and as much as you want to give up and throw in the literary towel, don’t. Keep going. Just put one word behind the next, and you’ll get there. It will take time, but you’ll get there. You may not be able to see the ending, but it’s there. If we don’t finish something, how can we move on to the next thing?
  2. Because we’ve worked so hard for so long. We’ve been working on the same manuscript for days, months, and even years. We have worked so hard, and we are past the point of caring. If this is you, know that you’re almost there. Stay disciplined, sit in your seat, and type. It’s one of the most challenging things to do, but unless we keep pushing, we will never finish. Know that just like everything, there is always a beginning and an end. All we have to do is persist.
  3. Because we’re tired and we don’t think that we can keep going. During that race, my mind played tricks on me. It said that I couldn’t possibly take another step and that it would be so much easier just to stop and give up. I was not only physically tired but mentally tired too. I didn’t want to do it anymore. What the hell was the point of starting if I wasn’t going to finish? Why would anyone in their right mind run twenty-kilometers of a thirty-kilometer race and give up when they are almost done? Because it’s easier. Don’t take the easy way out of your writing. Finish the race and complete what you set out to do. Don’t quit. You will have an amazing sense of satisfaction and a major confidence boost when you finish what you start. This gives you momentum and you’ll find yourself saying, if I could finish that, I can finish the next thing.

If you’re struggling to finish your race (manuscript, blog, poem, speech), remember that resistance is most powerful at the finish line. Take the resistance that you’re experiencing as a sign that you are so close to the end. Don’t give up now; you can do it! X LLB