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Posts Tagged ‘Steven Pressfield’

Get out of your own way and Do. It. Now.

Day 31 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge asks about advice, giving and receiving. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 31 writing prompt:

What is the single best piece of advice you’ve ever received about the publishing process and/or what advice would you offer to a first-time author?

I’ve received so much advice over the years, it’s difficult to narrow it down to just one thing. I supposed Ray Bradbury’s constant mantra of “Writers write every day” is pretty important, even though I haven’t always lived up to that standard.

fail if stop writing

I think just about everything in Steven Pressfield’s amazing book, The War of Art, is impactful. Just get out of your own way. Perfectionism is the surest road to insanity and never finishing your book.

My advice to first-time authors is always the same: the physical making of the book is easy. Editing, book design, even marketing are not rocket science and are things for which you can generally hire, even on a meager budget. The Web – this blog ­– contains more marketing ideas than you could accomplish if you worked on it full-time. Sure, you’ve got to make a plan – a cohesive plan that you stick to and the steps of which you take toward your goal. The best-knit plan in the world won’t benefit you in the least if it doesn’t get used. But the one thing you cannot hire out – the one thing only YOU can bring to the table – is the story or message that you want to share with the world. No one else can give you a story or message. You, alone, have to figure out how to get it on paper.

There are many methods by which to do this:fear-has-a-job

  • Dictate your story and have the recordings transcribed.
  • Use mind-mapping to plot your story or chapters.
  • Write it on sticky notes and napkins and hand the whole bloody mess over to a ghost writer.
  • Write one looooonnnnnnggggg paragraph and hire an editor who can make it into a book.
  • Write bullet points and find someone to help you flesh them out.
  • Turn your blog posts into a book.
  • Turn the notes from your speeches and presentations into a book.
  • Record every meeting you have with clients and use the conversations as an idea-generator.

You get the idea!

Just get started. Write. Write every day. Write even if you don’t think it’s any good. Write without filtering, just to get your ideas down. Stop waiting; start writing. That’s it – best advice I could offer you. Do. It. Now.

Please make sure to check in again tomorrow, when I will be sending out some well-deserved “thank you’s”.

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to just getting started!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________SM for authors COVER

If you’re new to social media, my book Social Media for Authors goes into much greater detail about when, how, and where to post for the greatest chances at succeeding with your specific goals. Get your copy today! It’s never too early to begin planning!

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The writing “zone”: Pinnacle of FUN!

Who’d have thunk it? Writing fiction is FUN! For Day 17 of the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, we discuss the biggest surprise in writing our books. All 35 posts for this Challenge will be focused on writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 17 writing prompt:

What has been the biggest surprise about writing/publishing your book? What has been the most enjoyable or most memorable aspect?

Hands down and without a doubt, the most surprising thing about writing my first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, is how much FUN it’s been. When I first sat down to begin the 3-Day Novel Contest at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, September 3, 2004, I had a vague idea of what would happen to my main character. Then, I got in the zone. Yep – that zone. The one athletes talk about all the time.

Kobe quote

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi gathered the results of 25 years of research into a book that explores “the zone,” including the ways it enhanced Michael Jordan’s performance. According to Pathos.com, “In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csikszentmihalyi identifies a self-surpassing dimension of human experience that is recognized by people the world over, regardless of culture, gender, race, or nationality. Its characteristics include deep concentration, highly efficient performance, emotional buoyancy, a heightened sense of mastery, a lack of self-consciousness, and self-transcendence.”

Yep – that’s what I experienced. And it surprised me to no end. Writing had always been easy for me, but it had never been fun. This – creating characters out of whole cloth – was a blast! The gnarled old fisherman wasn’t there a moment ago, and now he is. Interacting, advising, foreshadowing. And it kept going that way, new characters coming to life before my eyes. Until I hit Asia – a continent about which I have little personal knowledge, but which Stan would have to visit if he were truly to circumnavigate the globe.

Fortunately, I got through that too.

Then, thinking I was nearly done with the first draft, I was reading Chuck Wendig’s ebook, 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, on a plane trip back to New Jersey to visit my son. Much like Steven Pressfield does in The War of Art, Wendig smacks you upside the head and tells you what you need to know to improve your craft. Point #6 of Section 2, “25 Things You Should Know About Plot,” fell on me like a collapsing brick wall: In life we avoid conflict; in fiction, we seek it.

I think I scared the lady next to me when I yelped and smacked my hand over my mouth like I’d just seen a big, fat, hairy spider. Oh, my god – my novel doesn’t have nearly enough conflict!

Back to the drawing board – the word picture drawing board – for a number of additional scenes and characters. But, also, back to the fun!

Since beginning this novel, I’ve come up with ideas for at least a half-dozen others. I totally Careful, or I'll put you in my novelunderstand how and why people want to make their living as writers in a way I could never appreciate when I was writing exclusively nonfiction. When contemplating writing a screenplay (which we actually started a few years ago!), my sister and I used to joke about the funny situations we experienced that would make good movie scenes. Now, they get filed away as perfect enhancements for my present and future novels. I can’t wait to finish Stan off (no, he doesn’t die at the end) and get started on another world with new fictional friends.

What’s been your most challenging or surprising experience with your book or manuscript? Share the details in the comments section below!

Please be check in again tomorrow, when I’’ll be revealing the song that I think best connects with my book…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to wonderful writing surprises!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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Admiration for attention to detail: From Elvis to Sting

This is my fourth of 35 posts in the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, all of them on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I went back and skimmed what I wrote in answer to a similar prompt for the 2012 Author Blog Challenge. As I imagined, my thoughts are in a different place today. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 4 writing prompt:

Who are your writing role models? Whose writing has most influenced you? Who are your writing mentors?

One of my earliest assignments for a fiction class in college involved writing description. A fraternity guy named Hunter received a low grade for handing in his third paper about surfing. Blonde, tan, and good-looking in that frat guy/surfer way, all he could do was shake his head because he just couldn’t understand why the TA wanted him to stretch and write about something – anything – else. Another guy wrote in detail about a one-night stand. I still recall his depiction of noticing the girl’s underarm stubble as she slept the next morning. Interestingly, I don’t remember what I wrote about.

travelin' elvis

The paper I remember most, however, was by another coed, about my age. She wrote the most glorious description I had read to that point by anyone other than a seasoned author of classics about … the traveling Elvis museum. She detailed the steps up into the RV-cum-museum. She wove word pictures about the glass cases and the trinkets and memorabilia they contained. She described the kitschy gift shop with its gaudy gadgets and t-shirts and velvet paintings. And most memorable of all, she captured snapshots of the visitors – people of every age, ethnicity, and economic background. It seemed no one was immune to the draw of all things The King. I don’t have a clue what this gal’s name was, or what’s happened to her since. Only that she was 19 or 20, and I was 19 or 20, and in a million years, I don’t think I could ever master her gift for description.

Perhaps because my strength has always lain in nonfiction writing, the writers I admire most are those who write wonderful fiction. Sue Miller’s first book, The Good Mother, is still a favorite, as is Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth. Both of these authors are masters of details that bring fictional characters to life. Miller describes a harried woman cutting her leg shaving one rushed morning, while Follett notes how the townfolk crane their necks until they hurt, looking up at the stone masons at work on a grand cathedral. In Gold Coast, Nelson DeMille captures perfectly the slow shifts in his main character, John Sutter, a Wall Street attorney who finds himself defending a mafia don. And one image from the classics I will never forget is the turtle on its back, legs waving wildly in the air in Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Fantastic writing is not solely the domain of fiction authors, however. Besides being an amazing lyricist, it turns out that Sting can also write quite beautiful prose. His memoir, Broken bubblesMusic, is one of the most gorgeously inspired books I’ve ever encountered. Another nonfiction book I’ve recommended often is From Beginning to End: The Rituals of Our Lives, by Robert Fulghum. This one challenges you to question conformity on all levels and may – at least subconsciously – have played a role in why I chose to wear a green gown for my St. Patrick’s Day wedding. Of course, there’s also the grab-you-by-the-throat-and-throw-you-against-a-wall motivation to be found in Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. If procrastination, or its first cousin perfectionism, is hounding you, this book will help you turn the corner and leave it in the dust.

Lastly, in terms of inspiring authors, is a fellow I “met” during the 2012 Author Blog Challenge, Robert “Chazz” Chute. This guy is a writer! And an author! He’s prolific, talented, and so willing to share his knowledge. If you like mysteries and thrillers, read his books. If you want to learn how to write, design, market, and create a fan base, read his blog.

Well, this post kind of overlaps with tomorrow’s prompt … about what we both love and hate to read … but it also conveys my heartfelt gratitude and colossal admiration for the really great descriptive writers who can also challenge the hell out of me. Tune in tomorrow. I promise it will be at least mildly interesting…

And for the record, I’d love your feedback on my Author Blog Challenge posts! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here.

Here’s to continuing to hone and improve your writing skills!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

__________________

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New mantra for procrastinators and perfectionists: DONE Is Better Than Perfect!

(Please click on image to enlarge.)

Last post, we touched on a problem that challenges authors, entrepreneurs, SBMs* … just about everyone at one time or another. We spoke of it so briefly, however, that you might have felt a sigh of relief that we didn’t spend more time on it. Well, today’s the day we spend more time on it. What is IT? The dual-challenge of procrastination and perfectionism.

If you’ve been waiting to get your marketing campaign started for any reason but especially because you want to make it perfect first I want you to stop what you’re doing immediately. Grab a Sharpie or a pen or a pencil or a CRAYON, and write in HUGE letters on a piece of paper: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT. Then, I want you to write it again. And again. And then I want you to tape it up prominently where you are constantly reminded of this new mantra.

DONE is better than perfect.

And next time you are tempted to rewrite your blog message before posting it, change your social media profile picture one more time, re-read and edit your e-mail blast for the dozenth time, spend another hour editing a video, or any other aspect of what can only be called busywork, catch yourself in the act and recite your new mantra: DONE IS BETTER THAN PERFECT.

As a reformed procrastinator, I can tell you that perhaps the best antidote to the procrastination that stems from perfectionism, fear of success, and other self-sabotaging nasties is the book The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield Strap on your seatbelt, though, because this book is going to grab you by the throat and hold on until you’ve screamed “Uncle!”

I’ve said it before and I will no doubt say it again: marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s not complicated or difficult. What it requires is diligence, consistency, dedication, and the utmost desire to succeed. But before you can have any of those, you must begin. Have a vision  for what you want to create (number of books sold, radio and/or TV appearances, speaker bookings, etc.) and fix all your attention on that. Quit worrying about the process and whether it’s good enough. Just make a plan and get started. TODAY. I dare you…

See you Monday!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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PREVIOUS POSTS

Monday, July 11 – Your book marketing efforts need to be as consistent as Lady Gaga’s hit songs

Thursday, July 7 What gets MEASURED gets done, when it comes to book marketing

Monday, July 4 – A commitment to book marketing means MAKING time for it

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