Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Outer Banks Here We Come

The Aspiring Author will be taking a break as our family travels down to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to enjoy the sand, the beach, and fireworks over the water.

I hope all our readers have a happy, healthy, and safe Indepedence Day!

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Focus on You, Not Them

We've already discussed how negative self-talk can prevent the aspiring author from achieving success; but what about how others view you and your abilities?

In the Secrets of Spiritual Happiness, author Sharon Janis says, "Others can either help to raise us up into greater levels of awareness, or they can keep us limited to their small views of who and what they think we are or should be."

There will always be people who question your dream of being a published author. There will always be people who don't think you have what it takes to achieve your goals.

Don't listen to them!

Accept honest feedback, but don't allow another person to bring you down. You are in contol of your destiny. You hold the key to unlocking your potential. You lose that control when you allow what other people think to limit what you can accomplish.

Instead of focusing on what others think of you, focus on what you think of yourself. This is why getting rid of negative self-talk is so important. If you're focusing on you instead of others, but doubt your own abilities or put yourself down constantly, then you're back in the same river but in a different boat.

When I found this picture at Despair.com that I used for this blog entry, I thought of so many people in my past who did exactly what the caption says, "...live to crush those dreams."

Do I care why they want to crush my dreams? Not really. All I know is that it's important for my life and my career to not allow their negativity to become my problem.

While browsing online I came across a discussion about whether you should avoid negative people or change them. Depending upon who they are and the significance they have in your life will determine your actions. I don't always believe you can change a person, so I usually go with the avoid them idea. I surround myself with positive people and I feel better about my outlook on life. If I meet someone new and she is more concerned with problems than solutions, I don't usually foster a relationship with her.

On the other hand, negative people can be your spouses, your parents or children. It's not like you can avoid those people. This is where focusing on you, and not them, comes most in handy.

It's hard to keep going when you don't have the support you're looking for, but you can find it in places like writing groups and social networks, where likeminded individuals can offer the positive reinforcement that you need.

Plato once wrote, "The man who makes everything that leads to happiness depend upon himself, and not upon other men, has adopted the very best plan for living happily."

Focus on you and don't let others crush your dreams.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Interview at Blogcritics

To celebrate the release of her new book, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing, Mayra Calvani interviewed several book reviewers at Blogcritics.

I was honored that Mayra asked to interview me about my blog, The Book Connection, where I post author interviews and reviews, and have guest bloggers talking about their books and offering all kinds of great advice. You'll find our interview posted here.

You can find out more about Mayra Calvani and her books at www.mayracalvani.com/index.html And don't forget to check out her Slippery Book Review Blog.

Here is an interview I performed with Mayra for her horror novel, Dark Lullaby

I also reviewed Dark Lullaby and Mayra's children's book Crash!

Look for my review of The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing COMING SOON!!!

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My latest Writer2Writer article

The final portion of my three-part article series titled Spring into an Organized and Clutter Free Home Office is now online at the Writer2Writer site.

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to get your home office organized and free of clutter so you can have more productive writing time.

While you're there, check out the new Writer2Writer blog.

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Fear of Success and Negative Self-talk

Fear of success? Is that even possible?

The answer is yes!

We've actually touched upon one aspect of fear of success in our first discussion about what keeps aspiring authors from becoming published authors.

Part of fear of success is believing you're not good enough. Negative self-talk is damaging and limiting. It not only increases stress; it limits you by making you believe you can't do something.

So, how can you stop negative self-talk?

Here are some ideas:

Journaling: Every writer I know keeps a journal. Let the words flow, but go back afterwards and analyze your thoughts. Really get a feel for how you see yourself.

Stop that Thought: When you hear that negative self-talk, whether it be in your head or out loud, say, "stop". This will make you aware of your negative thoughts.

Replace Negative Statements with the Positive Questions: Instead of saying, "This is impossible!" say "How is this possible?" When you feel like saying, "How can I be so stupid!" say "How can avoid that mistake in the future?"

Negative self-talk is a bad habit, but it can be changed. Become more aware of when negativity takes a hold of you so that you can replace those moments with positive energy. Focus on all the things you do right, not the areas where you feel you're lacking.

We'll continue our discussion on fear of success soon. Get ready to write down what obstacles are standing in the way of your success and the changes you can put in motion to make it happen.

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Putting Fear of Failure in Perspective

Along with the issues of self-doubt and anxiety, fear of failure can be a huge obstacle for an aspiring author to overcome. Last year I read Judi Moreo's book, You Are More Than Enough Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion & Power and I came across a section where Judi talks about fear of failure. This is what she had to say:

"What's wrong with failure anyway? Why do we let it stop us from doing, achieving, and having what we want? Failure just means you've discovered one more way that doesn't work. Thomas Edison worked for more than a year and a half to create a better, long-lasting light bulb that could be used in a mainstream application. During that time he found 9,999 ways that didn't work. If he hadn't persisted, you might be reading this book by candlelight! If you try and still don't get the result you want, it simply means you were willing to risk, it might take longer than you expected, your goal was unreasonable, you have to do something differently next time, or you have an opportunity to start something new which is more suited to you.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could just overcome this fear? We know there's always a chance we will fail, so why worry about it? Everyone else has the same chance of failure as we do. We are not the exception to the rule, but we will never succeed unless we try."

Looking at fear of failure in this way makes writers heroic every time they send out a submission; even if it gets rejected.

I found a few quotes about mistakes which further help to put fear of failure in perspective.

“The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” - Edward J. Phelps

"It's okay to make mistakes. Mistakes are our teachers - they help us to learn." - John Bradshaw

"The greatest mistake a man can ever make is to be afraid of making one." - Elbert Hubbard

"So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because that's where you will find success. On the far side of failure." - Thomas J. Watson, Sr.

Terry Bragg, the author of 31 Days to High Self-esteem put together an eight-step plan to overcome failure. I would like to share it with you here:

Step One: Take action

"Action gives you the power to change the circumstances or the situation," says Bragg. What could you achieve if you weren't afraid to fail? Nike has an ad campaign that says, "Just do it." Write this down on a sticky pad and attach it to you computer screen.

Anytime you feel paralyzed by fear of failure, read that quote and heed it's advice.

Step Two: Persist.

How many times have you heard published authors give advice that includes, don't give up? Why do you think that is? Because successful people don't give up! They try something, and if it doesn't work out, they try something else. They keep trying until they get the results they want.

Step Three: Don't take failure personally.

Here's a big one. When you don't get the results you want, it doesn't mean you're a failure. It simply means you tried and it didn't work out. See Step Two for what you need to do next.

Step Four: Do things differently.

This is a no-brainer, but there are so many people out there who keep approaching things the same way and not getting the results they're looking for. Well, stop it! Don't be afraid to try something new. It might make a world of difference.

Step Five: Don't be so hard on yourself.

Raise your hand if you're too hard on yourself. Yes, mine is raised to. I am my own worse critic. I give into negative self-talk. As Bragg says about failure, "If nothing else, you know what doesn't work."

Step Six: Treat the experience as an opportunity to learn.

I'm a strong non-fiction writer, but fiction offers me challenges like there's no tomorrow. The most difficult thing I struggle with is "show don't tell". Luckily, I have a good group of people who critique my work and offer suggestions.

In the writing world they say that practice makes perfect. So I am practicing a lot. And I'm learning a lot. Each time I write a short story, I am improving my craft. Each article I read about "show don't tell" brings me that much closer to mastering this aspect of fiction writing on my own.

Step Seven: Look for possible opportunities that result from the experience.

If you submit a short story to a market and receive a rejection letter, what opportunities or benefits does that provide?

Well, it could provide you with an opportunity to review your story with a fresh set of eyes and revise it to make the story stronger. Perhaps this also gives you the chance to perform additional market research and find a home that is even a better fit than the one you had originally chosen.

Always look for the benefit.

Step Eight: Fail forward fast. According to Bragg, this is a term used by management guru, Tom Peters. It means that the way to learn is to make mistakes. So if we want to learn faster, we must make mistakes faster too. The important thing to remember is to not repeat those mistakes.

With eight tiny steps you can move forward with your writing career, without the fear of failure.

I want to leave you with a powerful quote from Susan Jeffers, which came from her book, Feel the Fear...And Do It Anyway:

"I said to myself: 'You mean all those people out there that I’ve been envying because they’re not afraid to move ahead with their lives have really been afraid? Why didn’t somebody tell me!?' I guess I never asked."

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