Posts Tagged ‘self-doubt’

Skill matters — but heart matters more when it comes to your book’s message

A few days ago, I was asked about my life philosophy at a business event. This didn’t happen as we were just passing cards during a 30-second intro — it was part of an exercise on the topic of building consensus by learning to understand where others are coming from.

Participants were given a list of about 80 values (e.g., cooperation, creativity, excellence, involvement, loyalty, freedom, public messageservice, stability, sophistication, and wisdom) and asked to choose the 10 they felt best represented themselves. We were then asked to narrow that list down to our Top 5 and rank them in order of importance. The exercise consisted of pairing off with others, showing them our Top 5 list, and having the other person ask us to explain what one of those terms meant to us, personally. My top 5 included personal development, freedom, influencing others, affection, and helping society. The gal who chose to ask me about my value of helping society also asked about my life philosophy.

My answer to her was, essentially, that I really, truly, and from the bottom of my heart want to change the world and make it a better place for all of us. But I cannot do that on my own. In my opinion, no single book or single messenger could undertake such a massive goal. But I can — and do — effect change by helping other people write the best books they can and then get those books into the hands of readers. I don’t write all the books or share all the messages myself; I help many messengers raise their voices and exert their influence in their particular fields.

I wouldn’t have given this much more thought, except that a related question arose in one of my LinkedIn groups today. The headline read: Are you an elitist? Or do you believe everyone should write? 

Wow! I’d actually like to meet the person who said that everyone should not write. Now, I’m something of a perfectionist, so I get the absolute frustration with the plethora of crap books out there. I’ve said before and I’ll say again: The good news is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been; the bad news, also, is that writing a book is easier than it’s ever been. Not everyone is a born writer. Not everyone has any skill whatsoever at putting sentences on a page in a way that makes sense, allows proper white space, incorporates correct grammar, or spells even passably. But the lack of those technical skills does not automatically diminish the message.

I was inherently blessed with a decent command of grammar and language and communication. I’ve often come across other writers who find writing difficult. I saw the banner of a colleague’s Facebook page today with the Ernest Hemingway quote: “There’s nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter — and bleed.” I’ve never referenced that quote because it’s not a feeling with which I am familiar or one I want to perpetuate.

Writing, editing, layout, design, and marketing are easy for me. I know that is not the case for all — or most — writers and would-be authors. But because it’s easy for me, I can help others who struggle with those parts! The thing I absolutely cannot do is give you a message or a passion or an urge to make a difference with your words. Feel you can’t write your way out of a paper bag — but you have an idea that could save, transform, or uplift the lives of many? What if you’d met that person who felt that since you’re not a natural writer, you should pack it in and give up the thought of writing a book or speaking in public or sharing your message with the world?

Maybe … perhaps … possibly you have met that person, and he or she so discouraged you that you’ve still got a tiny little voice inside you telling you that you have something important to say, but it’s buried under all the crap you’ve allowed others to heap on you. Maybe it was a parent or a shitty school teacher who had no business in a classroom. Maybe it was an unsupportive sibling or spouse who told you your writing would never come to anything. Maybe it was an envious colleague who wanted to see you fail so they could feel better about themselves. Doesn’t matter who it was — or what they said. What matters is that you ignore their messaging, dismantle the self-sabotage you’ve allowed to take hold, and begin to listen more intently to your own voice — the one with the important message.feet

I can’t change the world by myself. I don’t know enough about the environment, immigration, prison reform, healthcare, education, relationships, spirituality, or any of the other myriad places I know we need to foster change. I know what I’d like to see happen, and I know there are many out there who are already making a big difference. But there are many, also, who are not yet making any difference at all because they’re fearful that they don’t know enough, aren’t polished enough, don’t have enough skill as writers. I’m here to help you stomp out such nonsense, once and for all.

Please don’t get bogged down in the technical details. Making a book is EASY — I promise. Writing it may take a bit of effort, but even that doesn’t have to be as difficult as you may have talked yourself into believing it is. The one part only you can do is have a message, a mission, and the will to share it with the world.

Are you ready to take a step forward? To begin to help me change the world? You can do it — I know you can.

Here’s to proving all the naysayers wrong!



Summer Author Event

PHOENIX-AREA AUTHORS: If you or someone you know is an author in Phoenix, please consider participating in the Summer Author Event on August 16. This multi-author book signing and meet-and-greet will put you in front of hundreds of readers in a casual environment where you can sell and sign books. There are three levels of participation. The first 100 attendees will receive goody bags – and for just $25, you can put a promo for your book into the goody bags!  Learn more or register at SummerAuthorEvent.com.


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The fastest way to QUIET THE GREMLIN in your head is by acknowledging it!

The other night, I was having a hard time falling asleep because the song “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” by the mid-80s powerhouse group Wang Chung, continuously played in my mind. You haven’t lived until you’ve danced to the lyrics, “Everybody Wang Chung tonight.” I kept waking up my husband, because as soon as I would settle down and get quiet, there came that goofy tune, tiptoeing back into my head. Finally, I decided to fight fire with fire and successfully headed off the British New Wave duo by whisper-singing my personal rendition of a song I actually like from another 80s supergroup, “Heat of the Moment,” by Asia.

Turns out, mine was one of several methods recommended for combating a stuck song, also known as an earworm. The others, according to researchers at the University of Cincinnati, are:

  1. Play another melody on an instrument.
  2. Switch to an activity that keeps you busy, such as working out.
  3. Listen to the song all the way through.
  4. Turn on other music to get your brain tuned in to a different song.
  5. Share the song with a friend (but make the caveat before you do that it’s not your fault if the earworm jumps from your brain to theirs).
  6. Picture the earworm as a real creature crawling out of your head, and imagine stomping on it.

All of this got me to thinking about the other kinds of things that get stuck in our heads – specifically the doubts and negative self-talk we can habitually repeat, particularly when we’re feeling unsuccessful, less than skillful, or otherwise dejected regarding our book projects. The thing is, we’ve all been there. No matter how much positive reinforcement we give ourselves or how many affirmations we recite, sometimes we let the gremlin run amok.

My coach, Karen Gridley, gave me a great solution for the incessant grumblings of our gremlins. First, she suggested that we recognize that the gremlin’s main job is to protect us. When we’re trying to grow, develop our skills, and push our personal boundaries, the gremlin gets freaked out and just wants everything to stay the same. So it starts jabbering to us in ways our conscious brain can understand and will buy into: “You’re silly for even trying.” “Who do you think you are to write a book?” “There are a lot better writers than you out there.” “You don’t know the first thing about marketing.” “What do you mean you want your little book to be a best-seller?” I’m pretty sure you can fill in the blank for the things your gremlin says to you.

Second, we need to understand that the gremlin is just going to keep on jabbering until we acknowledge it. I work from home, so my coach recommended I actually do this out loud. So the other day, when a particular doubt began to nag at me while I was washing my lunch dishes, I heeded Karen’s advice and talked back to the gremlin. I told it:

OK. I hear you – and I want to thank you for your input. I know you’re just trying to protect me and keep me safe, but here’s the thing. Right now, I’m OK with the progress I’m making, so while I hear what you’re saying, I’m choosing to go in a different direction today. You can either get on board with me, or you can go back to bed. Your choice.

Seriously – I said something to that effect out loud to myself in my kitchen with only the dogs to hear me.

And you know what? The gremlin left me alone after that. No more repeated refrain of the nagging doubt. Just quiet, peace, and the ability to refocus on the mantra I always pull out as soon as I remember to use it: “Everything is perfect exactly the way it is.”

Self-doubt is a real thing. And the longer you’ve been conditioned to listen to the negative self-talk, the more likely you are to buy in and believe it. But it is possible to overcome it. Write some affirmations. Create a vision board. Get a coach or an accountability partner. Just know that you are worthy and that your book contains a valuable message that needs to be shared. If you get stuck, call me up or send me an e-mail. I’m happy to listen and give you a support inoculation!

Happy gremlin busting!



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