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Posts Tagged ‘writing’

  1. Discouraged? These three magic words will make you feel better

    March 19, 2017 by Diane

    Words have power on wooden table

    Do you ever tell yourself…

    “I’m a failure,”

    or

    “My work is mediocre at best, I’ll never measure up,”

    or

    “I can’t make a living doing what I love, I’m wasting my time.”

    Do you hear words in your head that sound like your third-grade teacher, your high school coach, your fill-in-the-blank who doled out messages back in the day when you were a tender young sprout building dreams, words like:

    “You might fail, so why even try?”

    Those are words of envy, of someone who’s faced failure, cringed, and retreated. Those are words you absorbed and squirreled away and overheard in your head when you sat down to rewrite that novel, or compose that blog post, or start that home business, or face that empty canvas, or practice that trombone.

    Spit them out.

    They’re bitter. They need to be boiled down to an edible consistency so they’re easily digestible.

    Sometimes, those words are offered as a way to protect you from disappointment, like when you announced: “I’m quitting my job so I can write The Great American Novel, and I’ll support my family on the advance check alone.”

    Oh, come on. Don’t tell me you’ve never said that to yourself. Or something like it.

    “I’m going to open a food truck, get discovered on Shark Tank, and open a fleet of food trucks.”

    Okay, somebody actually did that.

    The point is, sometimes our dreams get too big for their britches. Doesn’t mean we should stop dreaming them. We just need to decide where to best focus our energy.

    As a good friend recently told me, quoting the author of Wheels of Life: A User’s Guide to the Chakra System:

    And then there are the little dreams, like…

    Getting picked for the high school basketball team. Not.

    Getting that part-time job that paid more than your full-time job. Think again.

    Getting the lead in the local community theatre production. Know how to carry a spear?

    Disappointing, right?

    Makes you want to sink into the sofa with a Cotsco-size bag of Cheetos.

    Here’s another quote, from a Buddhist nun:

    When there’s a disappointment, I don’t know if it’s the end of the story. But it may be just the beginning of a great adventure. – Pema Chodron

    There will be times when we dream big and fall short, or try something and fail. Rather than wallow in discouragement, I’ve found the antidote. Three magic words. Three words so powerful, they erase any self-doubt, unstick any stuck places. Words so powerful, whenever you use them, you’ll shoot past that naysayer, you’ll straighten your spine and look that doubter dead in the eye and smile with knowing, then spread your fingers on the keyboard, the trombone keys, around that paint brush, and do what you were meant to do.

    What are those three magic words?

    At. This. Time.

    Huh?

    AT THIS TIME.

    I’m doing the best I know how, AT THIS TIME. With the skills and knowledge I have AT THIS TIME, I’m doing all I can do. As I acquire more skills and knowledge, I’ll do the best I can to at THAT time, which will be THIS time, only THEN.

    Confused?

    Yeah, me, too. But that’s okay.

    Those three magic words act like jet fuel when you’re on the fiftieth rewrite of a ten-page story.

    Oh, you don’t rewrite fifty times?

    Huh.

    Well, anyway, instead of rewriting fifty times like I do, you (or, ahem, I) can stop at the tenth time, saying, “Let it go. You’ve done the best you can do at this time,” then submit it to a literary journal. Off it goes!

    AT THIS TIME keeps you in the moment. Not somewhere in the future, or with Joe Schmo the bestselling author, or with Lucky Leo the ace tennis player. It keeps you with you, at your current level of experience.

    Now, that’s not to say you stay stuck in this moment forever. This moment becomes the next, and you flex your muscles a bit more, stretch a bit farther, and take the next step into the next moment, building your skills as you go. You’re in competition with nobody but yourself. Nobody else can fit in your shoes as long as you’re wearing them.

    So the next time you give your heart to a project and it doesn’t pan out, or your kid does something that leaves you doubting your parenting skills, or the cake you bake for your spouse’s birthday falls flat; the next time your blog post is anything less than stellar, or your rewrite is going badly, or your trombone-playing makes your brother lob a ball at your head; the next time your cold-calling results in a dozen hang-ups, or you slave over a report and your boss makes you do it over–don’t despair. Take a deep breath, straighten up, and say, “I did the best I could do. At this time.” And pat yourself on the back.

    Because the truth is, we’re all on a learning curve.

    And next time, we’ll do better.

    Now that you have those three magic words to propel you onward, what dream, big or pint-sized, will you take on this year? Tell me in the comments. 


  2. How Will You Spend Your Time This Year?

    January 29, 2017 by Diane

    Two coffee cups

    So, Diane. Here we are. A brand new year.

    2018.

    Well, 2017 for me.

    You’re absolutely right.

    Tell me something good. Tell me I get more than one copywriting client.

    You get more than one copywriting client.

    YES! I knew I could do it! It’s the one-task-a-day routine. It’s working!

    It’s working.

    Did I give up the blog once and for all?

    What do you think?

    I think I’m having too much fun blogging. Jumping in mud puddles. When the puddles dry up or it’s no longer fun, I’ll stop. Do I have more than sixty-eight subscribers?

    You have more than sixty-eight subscribers.

    And I stopped watching The Bachelor. Tell me I stopped watching The Bachelor.

    Can you look me in the eye and honestly say you’ve stopped watching The Bachelor?

    Well, no. But I don’t turn it on until I’ve completed my copywriting task for the day.

    This is true. You even missed episodes, for that very reason.

    Thank GOD! And the short story? Did I send it out?

    You sent it out.

    Did it get published? Tell me it got published.

    We’re not here to talk about the short story.

    The novel? Did I rewrite the novel?

    About the novel—

    It was the logline. That’s what held everything up, back in 2016. You should talk to Holcomb about that. She blabbed on the blog about how to rewrite a novel. She got as far as step four: the logline. And that was it. Oh, she tried to convince herself that she’d chosen an acceptable logline, that she was ready to move on, but did she? Was there ever a step five? NO.

    2016 is over. We don’t need to revisit it.

    Oh, yeah. You’re right. Phfft! It’s gone. So, what about the novel?

    Overwhelmed. Sound familiar?

    I’ll say. It was Holcomb’s most-used word in 2016. I’m still overwhelmed.

    Watch out for that.

    What are you saying?

    You need to respect boundaries. The ones you decided to set. Like not blogging at midnight.

    Oh. Is that what time it is?

    Yes. The key is to focus on one thing at a time. One thing.

    And what is that one thing?

    You’ll know.

    Copywriting! That’s why I have more than one client. Or is it something else? Oh, I’ve got it. I finally pitch that reality show concept, the one the networks will be fighting over.

    Well—

    Or I dig out that radio script and send it to NPR. You remember—The Family Nude Show.

    I do.

    The game show where families play…in the nude.

    I remember.

    Because who’s going to know if the contestants are nude? It’s radio, fer cryin’ out loud!

    Diane, Diane! National Public Radio is not going to air The Family Nude Show.

    Oh. Well. You really know how to burst a girl’s bubble.

    I’m sorry.

    So what is the one thing? Do I publish The Best of Squirrels in the Doohickey? No, wait. I’ll bet I submit all those writing tips to magazines. Or I finally rewrite the ding-dang-darn novel once and for all. Is that it? Is it the novel?

    You’ll know.

    Oh, please, please, please tell me.

    See you in 2018.


  3. How Did You Spend Your Time Last Year?

    January 22, 2017 by Diane

    Two coffee cups
    So, Holcomb, here we are.

    Yep.

    A brand new year.

    2016!

    For you. For me, it’s 2017. But you knew that. You’re a smarty.

    High praise, coming from you. I mean, from me. In the future. So, how’s the outlook?

    Well, a year ago you were dickering with that short story. Rewriting it.

    Yeah?

    Still dickering.

    Oh, no.

    Oh, yes. A year ago, you were spreading it around you’re rewriting that novel.

    I’m planning to blog about it! I’m going to declare my commitment, to all thirty-eight of my followers!

    Sixty-eight now. And you dropped the commitment.

    Yow. Scary word, commitment.

    You’re good at making excuses, too. That copywriting business you started? The one puttering along with one client?

    One GREAT client. He keeps me hopping year-round. He wants me for the whole next season, too.

    Agreed. A great client. But your plan is to get more than one client.

    One GREAT client.

    The plan is to beef up your clientele.

    And?

    You’ve still got the one.

    No networking?

    Nada.

    No notifying my LinkedIn contacts?

    Zilch.

    No cold-calling, cold-emailing, making a list of places to contact?

    Nope.

    What the hell have you been doing for a year!?

    Not me, YOU.

    Me? I haven’t even begun. You’ve already been. What the hell took up all of your time?

    YOUR time. The Bachelor.

    WHAT?

    The Bachelor. That stupid reality show. On Monday nights. The one that highlights women in their worst possible behavior.

    Oh, that. But it’s only on for a season, right?

    Then The Voice.

    Okay, so there goes Monday nights. What about the rest of the week? Surely I did something the rest of the week.

    The Voice was on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, too.

    Listen, you. I’m not letting you hijack my dreams with your stupid reality shows.

    YOUR stupid reality shows. YOU’RE the one choosing to watch them, escaping your own reality. I’m in 2017, remember? Hello! The view’s swell from here. And I’m finishing up the short story.

    No more dickering?

    One last dicker. That’s it. I’m sending it off to journals.

    And the novel?

    It’s either the novel or the blog. I haven’t decided which one gets my attention.

    And the copywriting? Please tell me you’re not shelving the copywriting business.

    Nope. Actually, I had a brilliant insight: If I want to be a successful copywriter, I need to act like one. So I’m putting on my copywriting hat, I’m rolling up my sleeves, I’m snapping on my suspenders. And I’m asking myself: Do copywriters watch The Bachelor? No. Do copywriters futz around on Twitter? No. Not unless they’ve finished their work for the day. Do copywriters blog about rewriting a novel rather than rewriting it? Not likely. Now, every day (except Sundays, when I rest), I’m doing one task on my list of tasks to do to be a legitimate copywriter. I’m already writing a marketing plan. I’m scouting around for networking groups. I’m applying for that Tax ID number. I’m…well, you get the picture. So you know what that means, Holcomb. You’ve got one year to get The Bachelor and The Voice and Twitter and the blog and anything else you’re distracting yourself with, out of your system.

    Gulp.

    Got it?

    Yes.

    Ah, cheer up. The year isn’t a complete loss. You do get a business license and business cards. You find mentors. You become a founding member of the Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild.

    Score!

    And you win The Liebster Award for blogging.

    The what?

    And you manage to write some decent blog posts.

    About?

    You’ll find out.

    Ah, c’mon. Give me a hint.

    See you in 2017.