3 Steps to Freedom–Grab Hold of Your Brilliant Future

This blog is dedicated to helping writers holistically. We are more than robots sitting at a desk pounding out word count. We have hopes, dreams, fears, bad habits and baggage. Monday is dedicated to helping you guys with craft. Wednesdays is to help you build your platforms. Fridays are my choice, but I like to dedicate these blogs to helping writers with life skills. If we want to be successful authors, we have to be good at time-management, stress-management, setting goals, facing fear, etc.

I always have people asking me how I have the energy to get so much done.  I am not where I need to be, but I can say that I am not where I used to be and that is great news. I still struggle with organization and time-management, but I do feel I have some lessons I can pass on that might help some of you reading.

Three Lessons of Confession

Confess the Real Emotion—Name It and Claim It

One of the first things that offered me a new sense of empowerment was when I learned to confess the real emotion I was feeling.

This was almost ten years ago, but I recall one day that I just couldn’t seem to get out of bed. It was a really dark time for me. I had lost my career in sales due to a misdiagnosis (doctors thought I had epilepsy), and I was on the verge of eviction and facing having to move in with my mother. I had no energy and no real desire to do much of anything. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat and all I wanted to do was cry.

Some of you may be able to relate to my upbringing. I had a single mother who was doing all she could to keep us afloat. Thus, my brother and I were never angry, disappointed, discouraged, or overwhelmed. We only had two feelings; we were “sick” or we were “tired.” Being ill or needing more rest would never make my mom feel guilty. Thus anything negative we ever felt ended up getting pigeon-holed into one of these two categories.

It was a really bad habit to get into.

So years later I found myself still only having two “emotions”—sick or tired. My mother came over to check on me. It was like ten in the morning and I was still in bed. Not sleeping. Just staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the reasons I was a total and utter failure. My apartment was a disaster and I couldn’t bear to ask anyone for help.  I knew I needed to pack, but I just couldn’t seem to move.

My mom stood in the door, crossed her arms and asked, “Kristen, are you depressed?”

I sat up and said something that marked a moment of change in my life. I said, “You know, Mom. I would like to tell you that. I have every reason to be depressed. I have no job, no money. I am afraid of my mailbox because it is full of all these bills I can’t pay. But that isn’t it.”

“What is it, then?”

“I’m overwhelmed. I don’t know where to begin. You know what else?”

“What?”

“I’m heartbroken.”

By naming the specific emotions I was feeling, I had unleashed tremendous power. I had opened a way to make a plan. As long as I was sick or tired, there was very little I could do to remedy either. And, to be honest, I wasn’t sick or tired. I was just so out of my depth that it was making me sick AND tired…all the time. I had lost a lot in three years—4 deaths in 6 months (including my father), my career, my health, my apartment, my dreams. And it was bad enough that I had lost those things, but then I never properly grieved any of those losses.

How could I? I was only sick or tired.

But this day was different. For the first time…I was heartbroken, overwhelmed, discouraged. For the first time I felt connected back to that intimate part that was…me.

This simple lesson was the first major step to a more productive life. Once I admitted that I was overwhelmed, it was easier to break big problems into manageable bites and get busy. Once I admitted out loud that I was discouraged, it freed me to dust off and try again. Suddenly, it was okay to be disappointed. I could grieve, feel the pain and then start anew. I have found that life is lived best in forward gear.

From that point on, I made it a habit to name the real emotion. It was too easy to hide behind, “Oh, I am just tired.” It took courage to say, “I am disappointed. You said you would help me with this project, but you haven’t been doing your share.”

It was scary, and still is. Naming my emotions has opened me up to possible confrontation. I suck at confrontation. It’s easier to just take a nap because I’m “tired.” I would love to tell you guys that I have been perfect in applying this. I haven’t. But, with practice, I am getting better and better.

When I hear myself saying, “Oh I don’t feel well” or “I’m just tired” I stop and ask the hard questions. What am I really feeling? What can I do to change things?

We are more healthy and productive when we focus on what we can control then refuse to worry about things we can’t. The trick is to cast our care but keep our responsibility. Too many people cast their responsibility and then keep their care.

Stop worrying about not having enough money. Focus on where we can minimize waste and save.

Stop worrying about the future of publishing. Focus on that 1000 words a day.

Stop worrying about whether our platform will be successful long-term. Focus on forging relationships.

Confess the Real Problem

One thing I have learned is that we will never get a handle on time-management until we confess the real problem.

Oh I just cannot find the time to write.

Possible translations:

I am terrified of failure.

I don’t deserve success.

I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.

There is a problem in my story and I don’t want to admit I don’t know the answer to fixing it.

Whenever we start hearing ourselves make excuses, we need to stop and peel back the layers. What are we afraid of?

If we won’t get to the real problem, we cannot recruit help. Recently I found myself saying I didn’t have time to work on my fiction. I stopped myself and asked the tough question.

Kristen, what are you afraid of?

When I got real honest? I was afraid to delegate, and I was afraid of not being in control. I grew up taking care of everything. If I didn’t do it, it didn’t get done.

Guess what? Life is different now. I have capable people dying to help me. I needed to let them, but I was too afraid of being out of control.

The problem was that I had to make a choice. I could control everything and do everything…and not have any time left for my fiction. OR I could step into my fear, face it, and take a chance that I might actually free up some time.

So, I made a list of all the things that were eating my time and I—GASP—delegated. And guess what? Not only did my world NOT blow up *round of applause* but the person I asked for help actually did a BETTER job than I ever could (Thanks, Ingrid).

But the lesson I hope you guys get is that I needed to first admit the REAL problem. How can we climb over an obstacle we won’t admit is there?

Confess Your Brilliant Future

Did you know that the subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between truth and lie? That is why we need to watch what we say. It has been scientifically proven that we believe our own voice more than any other.

What are you saying about you? Your future? Is it positive?

When I was growing up my grandmother had this saying every time I screwed up, “Kristen, you just can’t stand prosperity.” Now do I think my grandmother sat up all night thinking of ways to make my life miserable? No. To her it was just a comment. Just words. Didn’t mean anything.

But, I recall years later being plagued with problem after problem and one day, I finally heard what I was saying to myself. Every time I made a mistake I said, “Kristen, you just can’t stand prosperity.”

What was my subconscious hearing…then believing?

When I learned to make positive confessions, my life began to change.

I can’t wait to be one of those writers who busts out 4000 words a day.

I still have room to grow, but I am more organized than I used to be. Every day I get better and better.

I know that persistence prevails when all else fails. Baby steps count.

The mind is a powerful thing, and we are wise to get our mind on our side. Now don’t misunderstand. We can’t think happy thoughts and that be enough. We also have to put in some sweat equity. But, we must be ever vigilant to guard our mental and spiritual state. We are not just physical creatures.

Hard work paired with negative thinking is counter-productive. Our will is pulling the opposite direction of our work. Our will and our work are most powerful when they pull in the same direction toward the same objective.

Our will and our work must pull the same direction for forward momentum.

We cannot let our feelings rule. We rule our feelings. Every day we are wise to say aloud that we are blessed, grateful, happy, joyful…even if we don’t feel it at the time. Our body and emotions will catch up with time and practice.

If we keep saying, I’m tired, I don’t feel well, I don’t have time,  I’ll never have time to write, what future are we deciding for ourselves?

In the end, these three simple confessions have made a HUGE difference in my life.

1. Name the real emotion. It is okay to be hurt, angry, disappointed, or frustrated. If we leave the real emotion untended it is putting a Band-Aid on a boil.

2. Name the real problem. We can’t make a plan or ask for help if we avoid the hard stuff. Everything is doable if broken into smaller, manageable bites. How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time.

3. Claim a positive future. Yes, we must work hard. But we will get more mileage for our efforts if our will and our work are both on the same team.

What are some setbacks you guys have had? How did you tackle obstacles? What would be your advice? What still gives you trouble and why? What self-talk have you caught yourself saying, but hadn’t noticed before? Does your family or close network affect you negatively? What have you done to counter that negativity?

I LOVE hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of January, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention my book We Are Not Alone in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end of January I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!

I also hope you pick up copies of my best-selling books We Are Not Alone–The Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer . Both books are ON SALE for $4.99!!!! And both are recommended by the hottest agents and biggest authors in the biz. My methods teach you how to make building your author platform FUN. Build a platform and still have time left to write great books

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  1. #1 by Sue on January 27, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    What a positive, enlightening post. How many times have I said, “I’m just tired.” Thank you for being there for all of us.

  2. #2 by Pauline Baird Jones on January 27, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    Wow. You packed a lot of punch into one blog! What great thoughts to take into the weekend. Thank you so much!

  3. #3 by Catherine Johnson on January 27, 2012 - 2:34 pm

    You’ve faced such a lot Kristen, you are an inspiration. We are all working so much more effectively after all your advice. Life does get in the way, but there are always enough hours in the day just some of them are unsociable ones :)

  4. #4 by Laura Drake on January 27, 2012 - 2:36 pm

    Awesomely inspiring post, Kristen. It also took guts to lay out something so personal in an open forum. Thanks so much for taking the risk – I have a feeling it will resonate with a lot of people.

  5. #5 by Karolyn Sherwood (@karolynsherwood) on January 27, 2012 - 2:38 pm

    Once again, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

    I realized about a year ago that I was afraid of success. I’ve never been good at promoting myself, so my query letters were never very strong. I finally realized I was afraid that if my book sold, the dynamics of my life would change. My life is pretty smooth these days, and I was afraid that my family would fall apart if I became a published author and all that that entails.

    I haven’t sold a book yet, but I know that I will—and soon! In any case, I’m no longer afraid to try my best. Thanks again, Kristen.

  6. #6 by Gabriel Rumbaut (@GabrielRumbaut) on January 27, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    Powerful stuff! I especially like the third part. My biggest issue is that I tend to be too negative and too hard on myself. The people around me tend to be supportive, but I really knock myself down a lot. I’m definitely going to work on confessing my future every day now. :-D

  7. #7 by Alicia Street on January 27, 2012 - 2:41 pm

    Whew. Just what I needed. Awesome post! Thanks for inspiring and sharing in your generous, intelligent way.

  8. #8 by AlvaradoFrazier (@AlvaradoFrazier) on January 27, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    YES! This is one of those times I call a ‘God-Incident,’ not coincidence. You hit quite a few things on the nail.

    Last couple of days I’ve been “tired” and trying to shake it, feeling guilty because of the slow down on my revisions. After reading this and letting it sink in for five minutes I can now name it, claim the real problem and be gentle with myself. It’ll all work out.

    Thanks for an evocative post.

  9. #9 by CV Wilde on January 27, 2012 - 2:46 pm

    What a wonderful post, Kristen. So many people often get caught up in the negative emotions and they let it destroy their lives.

    I lived through a similar experience, believing the lies and doubt that negative emotions can bring. Recently, I realized that all the feelings I was able to identify were always negative emotions. Where had the care-free, happy, vivacious young me gone?

    I had a breakthrough last year. I’m now learning how to label and accept my feelings. And then, I am able to move on. I finally believe that I am worthy of positive emotions, like joy and love. The old me is back and I can’t wait to live my life:)

    Putting this into practice is ridiculously hard. But the results are extraordinary.

    Thanks again!

    Caszie

  10. #10 by MaLinda Johnson on January 27, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    To be a writer is to deal with people who will tell you to get a real job, to stop chasing fantasies and to accept the fact that no one makes a living as a writer. The best way to silence those voices (from friends and relatives and maybe even yourself) is to do everything you can to prove them wrong. Reach out on social networks, start a blog, educate yourself on the steps you need to take next to get your ball rolling. Sooner or later, if you want to write for pay (or sell a manuscript) badly enough and are willing to do the hard work, you will succeed. :)

  11. #11 by Anne R. Allen on January 27, 2012 - 2:48 pm

    What an inspirational post! You certainly have been through a lot. “Overwhelmed” is an emotion a lot of us are afraid to own, but I think it has become more and more common in the tech age. I think we all feel it more than is comfortable to admit. And we’re all afraid to say we’re heartbroken. It sounds like some Victorian lady with a case of the vapors. But hearts break the same as they always did, and we need to own up in order to heal. This is terrific advice.

  12. #12 by Bri Clark on January 27, 2012 - 2:49 pm

    Well sister sledge, I can’t tell you how much I can relate to this from the single mother, younger brother, basically a grown up at 8.

    I get it.

    Especially, the whole overwhelmed thing. As women we do one of two thing when challenges strike..

    1. We grin and bare it.

    2. We shut down. ie naps,feeling unwell,

    I have had more self therapy than a truly reformed prison inmate. But on top of that I have two clients as therapists so I get unwanted but needed therapy all the time.

    With that said I am goal oriented. For example I wanted to create points of success on my journey as an author and consultant.

    Reached true success as an author when…

    someone quoted me.

    A random person asked me to read their ms because they thought I knew something.

    I was asked to be a mentor

    Reached true success as a consultant when…

    I covered all the housing costs myself.

    Someone quoted me

    I had so much work I had to send potential clients to someone else.

    Have reached every single goal on both those lists except the quotes. I’ve been opened officially for 4 months as a consultant and been an author for 15 months. I think I’m doing smashing.

    As for the quotes I think I may be cussing too much.

  13. #13 by CV Wilde on January 27, 2012 - 2:51 pm

    Reblogged this on It Must Be Told – Break Out of The Box and commented:
    Bottling up your emotions can make your break your life, let alone your relationships and/or career. Don’t let that happen to you. Have the courage to accept yourself as is, emotions and all. The joy and love you will find is truly extraordinary.

    Thanks Kristen for such an inspiring post!

  14. #14 by Marcy Kennedy on January 27, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    Wow. I needed that today. I may have to print your three things out on a cue card and stick it where it will stare me in the eye each day. I’m very guilty of defaulting to “I’m just tired” when the truth is that my feelings have been hurt or I’m angry or I’m worried about something. For me, it started in university. My roommate (who was also a friend) suffered from severe depression, and I felt like I needed to be strong for her 24/7, which in my mind meant never having a negative emotion. It’s a difficult habit to shake once you start doing it, and this was a great reminder for me to keep working at it :)

  15. #15 by Roxanne Skelly on January 27, 2012 - 2:57 pm

    About once every ten years, life hits me upside the head, hard, and tells me I have to step back and reevaluate my life. Twenty years ago, it was all ‘you’re in the real world now.’ Ten, it was ‘Who are you? You’re not just your career.’ Right now, it’s ‘life could be short, what are you doing with your time?’ (losing 3 people to cancer and two to suicide in the last 3 years really sucks.)

    I grew up the child of a pshrink, and learned that each emotion was just a ‘diagnosis’. You’re depressed? You’re just suffering from DSM-IV-TR 296.2. Doing that was a bad idea. ‘Caused me to bury my emotions.

    I think I’ve learned better to deal with things. I don’t just ‘name’ my emotions, as that’s too close to reducing them to a diagnosis. I give myself permission to acknowledge them. I tell myself that having an emotion is ok. It’s natural. It’s part of being human.
    Then, I can have the emotion, let it pass, and move on.

  16. #16 by Laura Pauling on January 27, 2012 - 2:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing. I agree that once we understand why we’re stressed, depressed, unmotivated it’s easier to move on. Sometimes.

  17. #17 by Neil O'Donnell on January 27, 2012 - 3:15 pm

    Great advice and direction as always. Thanks Kristen!

    Reposted at:

    http://neilpatrickodonnell.blogspot.com/2012/01/writing-finding-inspiration-and.html

  18. #18 by Shawn MacKENZIE on January 27, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    Oh, you hit the trolls right on their pointy little heads! And so generously said
    I like to think of myself as a fairly level-headed, thick-skinned, self-assured individual (at least when it comes to my work), but there are always times when that bright future gets stomped on—especially by someone else’s baggage. Last year, I had just come home from the BEA in New York. My first book was coming out in September, the MS for my second was due then, too, and progressing nicely. It should have been an exhilarating time. But when I got home, I found myself being subtly excommunicated from my writers’ group (of which I was a founding member) because I didn’t write the way the titular head of the group thought I should. In her words, I was not a good writer and most of the people in our little group agreed with her—that this was a bald-faced lie and easily checked didn’t seem to matter; neither did the fact that I thought we’d been friends for 6 years. Now, I could stay if I shed my voice for hers. If I wrote, not the book I and my publisher wanted but some amorphous volume she thought was “better” and could give her (unpublished) stamp of approval, then, no problem (except for a little matter of breach of contract, of course). I should have shaken it off, but for almost a month, though I kept writing, the joy of it was just sucked out of me. There were suddenly doubts which had nothing to do with the actual work, but which emanated from this other person’s baggage. I let her negatives obscure my positives. In the end, I left. I had to. And three-fourths of the group left with me. We formed our own writers’ group and are thriving. My second book is with the publisher now and I forge ahead on new projects. But every so often, that voice from last year crops up—even invaded my dreams the other night—and adds to my natural insecurities: “No matter what anyone thinks, you’re really not a good writer,” it says. And, try though I might, that’s a legacy which is hard to forgive.
    Whoa!I’m not usually so verbose, but, hey, you touched a nerve, Kristen. Thank you, and kudos, as always!

    • #19 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 27, 2012 - 4:52 pm

      Hey! Be verbose! This is the place it is actually encouraged. The thing is, all my blogs, teachings, etc rest on the fulcrum of WE ARE NOT ALONE! Too many writers out there are facing the same things, the same fears, the same obstacles…but together we can do ANYTHING!

      • #20 by Shawn MacKENZIE on January 27, 2012 - 8:13 pm

        Thanks, Kristen—The Scot in me tends towards the reclusive, the ‘soldiering through’–all that anglo stiff upper lip bs.
        Thank you for providing a place where we can relish being alone.

  19. #21 by Donna Brown on January 27, 2012 - 3:30 pm

    All the time I was reading this article, I keep thinking “Oh, my Gosh, oh, my Gosh, that’s me! I remember a couple of years ago being that depressed, and what I found was that I was holding onto some baggage that I couldn’t get past. I was thinking about getting on medication. But when I discovered that I was unforgiving toward certain other people, I decided to write how I felt through one of my characters. Oh, my Gosh, I wrote and I cried, I cried and I wrote. I wrote some fantastic copy and discovered that I wasn’t depressed any more. Awesome article, Kristen!

  20. #22 by granbee on January 27, 2012 - 3:41 pm

    Learning to honestly confront emotions is so difficult for many trapped in nostalgia for frontier days. Now the wilderness thorns and the arrows we confront are mostly within ourselves, aren’t they. That beer wagon with the Clysdales (I think that’s what it is!) dashing through the mud and the water should be how we are dashing through our negatives towards the hilltop where we can see more clearly. Writing the words and climbing the hill, rather than lying in bed and slogging in the bottomlands, will bring us out into the light.

  21. #23 by Katherine Owen - Author on January 27, 2012 - 3:50 pm

    It takes a lot of courage to share a story such as yours. Thank you!

    I “know” that naysayer voice and the part of me that seeks constant approval (subtle or not) from certain family members. And, let’s face it; family members can be the cruelest of all and absolutely meaning to be. I’ve been exhausted for the past several weeks, having slogged my way through Christmas and a third novel release in both print and e-book formats. Success for that endeavor was rained upon by my dear mother almost immediately. “You’re going to publish…the same way?” Even my affirmation, “Yes. Yes, I am,” couldn’t beat back the demons of feeling like a failure, somehow, at her words and tone.

    So, Ms. Kristin, thank you for this. You’re right and I must more closely adhere to the strategies that you so eloquently outline here.

    Best,

    Katherine Owen

  22. #24 by Alison Stone (@Alison_Stone) on January 27, 2012 - 3:58 pm

    I can relate to this post. I especially like the line: “Our will and our work must pull the same direction for forward momentum.” It is too easy to get caught up in negative thoughts.

  23. #25 by John Holton on January 27, 2012 - 4:06 pm

    This might have been the best advice I’ve gotten. I’m going to print this out and put it on the board above my monitor so that I see it every time I sit down. Thank you so much!

  24. #26 by DebE on January 27, 2012 - 5:10 pm

    That third point is a winner. It is so easy to get into the: “I’m not as good as … ” way of thinking. But, we have to remember that most of those best sellers were once where we are. But, they knew they had something to give the world, and they strove to pull it together.

  25. #27 by Jody on January 27, 2012 - 5:55 pm

    I always enjoy your blogs, but this one… This one grabbed hold of me and won’t let go. Have you been spying on me?

    I can’t tell you what it means to me. Not here. Not for all the world to see.

    Thank you so very much for sharing. I’m going back to work now. No more excuses.

    And by-the-way, cut out that spying.

    Jody

  26. #28 by Gene Lempp on January 27, 2012 - 5:59 pm

    What a powerful and beautiful post, Kristen. I’m on the same path, had the same conversations (or close) and have long believed that the first person we have to win to our cause is ourselves. However, I started as a bottled up guy from a family where emotional expression was a sure way to inspire a more emotional response from more powerful people, so it behooved us to hold it in and scream when alone. Which, of course, I never did, so it came out as a stream of negativity until I finally saw the impact it had on others. On my children. Then I took that deep look and started to make the changes needed. That was 18 years ago.

    I know I still have a lot to learn but I know I will never stop pushing forward, it is the only direction that is valid in life. Thanks to many people, including yourself, I’m finding the courage to press through my fears and just do the work, strive to become what I dream of being. And, I know that one day I’ll be there.

    Thanks for being a wonderful inspiration to so many of us.

  27. #30 by Gloria Richard Author on January 27, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    You may not realize you hit me with a hammer several weeks ago at WWBC, Kristen. A GOOD hammer, gentle tap. Nothing violent.

    As much as I wanted to ignore the assertion that my WIP does not YET have a compelling, over-riding antagonist, I admit you and the WWBCers are right.

    Despite the bubble-bursting advice that–no–the hero in a romance doth not a compelling antagonist make. Despite the urge to ignore the WW wisdom, I acquiesced.

    My ms did not have escalating tension and conflict without that BIG BAD BOSS guy.

    My emotion? I’m frustrated!

    The solution seems to be similar to when a word I know sticks in the back of my brain and refuses to move to my cognizant thought zone until I stop thinking about it. Hope I’m not in church when I shout, “Eureka! I’ve got it!”

    So. I’m writing lists. Lots of “what if” lists. A plethora of hand-written pages with arrows and connections and threads. Is there a time limit on that fifteen page critique? I hope not, because I plan to send it after I solve this plot problem.

    Self-talk continues to be positive. It’s a speed bump, Gloria. A speed bump.

    • #31 by Author Kristen Lamb on January 27, 2012 - 7:26 pm

      Come to WWBC and we will help you. That’s what we are there for :D. And frustrated is okay. Now there is a place to start.

      • #32 by Gloria Richard Author on January 28, 2012 - 9:48 am

        Oh, I WILL be back, Kristen. Love the group dynamics. House showings today. New group? #WANAbuymyhouse?

  28. #33 by Teresa Robeson on January 27, 2012 - 6:23 pm

    Reading about how you rose high above the situation you were in to achieve such success gives me tremendous hope and encouragement to climb out of my rather-shallow-in-comparison hole and get on with writing without the excuses. Thank you!

  29. #34 by Kara on January 27, 2012 - 7:03 pm

    Oh man, I think I have a lot to admit too because I have been feeling really sick and tired recently! Okay, time to fling the excuses out the door and take your advice. Thanks for the awesome post!!

  30. #35 by Barry Crowther (@barrycrowther) on January 27, 2012 - 7:04 pm

    As all my WANA buddies would know, I’m not one for commenting.

    I’ll keep it short: The best blog post I have ever read.

    I am going to keep this handy and re-read it when I can keep my shit together. I could hardly get to the end of the post – and I’m Starbucks right now haha

    Thanks Kristin
    B

  31. #36 by Prudence MacLeod on January 27, 2012 - 7:49 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I can identify with so many parts of your journey. The hardest thing for people to do is to own their own stuff. Why? Because once you own it, you realize you have the power to change it. We fear our own power. You truly are a Jedi Master. I wish you continued joy of your journey.

  32. #37 by amandalewisab on January 27, 2012 - 8:01 pm

    Great blog today, Kristen! You touched on alot of the points I had made in my very first blog post this morning, better put admittedly, but it’s nice to see we’re on the same page. :) My negitivity (that I thought was a positive) was always asking others what they wanted (wishing they’d do the same for me) and always putting others before myself (not as glamorous as Harry Potter I assure you). I realised my mistake in late November last year right after my daughter turned 2. I decided that I couldn’t spend the rest of my life trying to please everyone else. Like the old addage says, ‘the only person you can change is yourself’. So I decided to hang it all and asked myself the hard questions. Now I’m happier than I’ve been in a long time and I’ve finished all my prep work (including a detailed outline) and all that’s left to do is write my novel! xoxoxo have a great weekend!

  33. #38 by lwsapir on January 27, 2012 - 8:25 pm

    This is such a great post, Kristen. Thank you.

  34. #39 by Chrystal on January 27, 2012 - 8:45 pm

    Reblogged this on fitnessGETZeasy and commented:
    This is an absolutely fantastic piece. It’s targeted toward writer’s but we can apply this to every.single.aspect of our lives. I love this!

  35. #40 by ccmackenzie on January 27, 2012 - 9:14 pm

    Fabulous post, Obi wan Kenobi,

    We never trust ourselves or our innate instincts, do we? We always listen to the wee gremlin who seeks to undermine us for one reason or another. Why do we take responsibility for their behaviour? What’s interesting is the line that says ‘I’m not writing 4,000 words a day.’ We’re all different. We all know writers who take years to perfect a wip.

    After a long time of living with the characters in my head, working on the craft (with your help, thanks for that) and outlining a path, I can write up to and beyond 4,000 words a day. However, not every word is created equally. Many hours are spent exploring the thesaurus for the ‘right’ word that paints the picture in my reader’s head. So although I can write 3-4,000 words, the time it takes varies widely depending on how the scene plays out. On a roll that can mean up to three/five hours. On a challenging day, the word count can take ten to twelve hours.

    Things get tough two thirds of the way in. That’s when certainty becomes clouded, doubts slide in and the gremlins trampoline on our confidence. And then real life sticks out its foot and trips us up, again and again. This is where We Are Not Alone comes in to help us keep writing one word at a time.

  36. #41 by alicamckennajohnson on January 27, 2012 - 9:27 pm

    If I can breathe and name what I’m feeling then add tacks to my to do list I can usually find a few to get done, even if they are super simple ones and I begin to feel less freaked out.

  37. #42 by Renee Schuls-Jacobson on January 27, 2012 - 10:37 pm

    Have I told you lately that I love you?

    And you are right! So many of us would love to help you; you have helped so many of us!

    Count on us, Queen.

    (But you know I totally get this, right?)

  38. #43 by Joy Keeney on January 27, 2012 - 11:35 pm

    Thank you Kristen!!! I’m sick and tired of my excuses….time to do some confessing and move on!!
    Just the blog I needed ..you’re awesome…as always!!

  39. #44 by Emma Burcart on January 27, 2012 - 11:46 pm

    That is such good advice. I think I have trouble putting forth the future that I want. Probably because I am scared of success, and failure. I need that reminder to speak in the positive and to keep saying it until I believe it. Thanks for the great post!

  40. #45 by landragraf on January 27, 2012 - 11:52 pm

    Thank you for reminding me why positive thoughts are right and the negative are wrong. This post was what I needed to remind me that this horrible week is just one out of the many I have left in my life. There’s still time to do what I want, time to grab a hold of my dreams.
    Plus, this served as a wake up call for me to be honest with myself.

  41. #46 by Julie Farrar on January 27, 2012 - 11:58 pm

    Thank you for having the courage to write this. I finally was willing myself to admit that I was simply overwhelmed with life and that was why I couldn’t write. Last year I took one baby step at a time to gain control of things. I still have a way to go, but writing is gaining more space in my days. Now I have to deal with the fact that I have a fear of failure. That’s the only answer I have for why I haven’t finished pieces and submitted them. If I keep polishing then no one can reject them, right? So I haven’t failed at this writing life. This is the year I start submitting. Speaking these things aloud is so beneficial. I may not be where I want to be, but at least I’m happier because I’m finally writing.

  42. #47 by Tami Clayton on January 28, 2012 - 12:54 am

    Include me in the group of people who were touched by this post. I plan to copy down your advice and read it often as a reminder to keep those negative thoughts in check! It’s a daunting task, though a very important one. Almost as important as that first cup of coffee in the morning. Almost. :)

  43. #48 by annstanleywriting on January 28, 2012 - 1:49 am

    This is really interesting and helpful. I’ve been learning that I lie to myself all of the time, and usually the lies are not that I’m fabulous and powerful. The difficult thing has been that I’ve believed those lies about myself (and, yes, about others – those horrible ogres), and not been able to see that they weren’t true. I might as well replace them with “truths” that say I’m amazing and all of those wonderful people out there will love me and my writing. It makes it a lot easier to get up in the morning and get things done! Thank you for this powerful post.

  44. #49 by charlfk on January 28, 2012 - 2:38 am

    LOL I had the very opposite to you, Kirsten. Or maybe not :-). My mother never admitted to illness or failure in any shape or form. Ergo, if I was really sick, I had to be dying, then die with dignity. If I failed, I had to fall on my sword. I left myself no room for error at all, thanks to my mom. I loved her, but hell was she an emotional taskmaster. I have since learned to force myself to acknowledge that I am human and can get sick and even go to bed. I can fail and not have to fall on my sword. I am not my mother, God bless her soul. She even died fast because that was what needed to be done right then.
    Thanks for your great blogs.

  45. #50 by sjhigbee on January 28, 2012 - 6:41 am

    I’m really glad I have your blog emailed to me… it is consistently beautifully written and makes so much sense! At the moment I’m feeling very much in the place you’ve set out – there’s major stuff going on in my private life with my daughter’s marriage breakup and right at the end of last year, my micro publisher informed me she couldn’t print my book. Both are body blows in quite different ways – and yet, both hit ALL my soft spots. Especially the sense that my life is totally out of my control (an illusion, I know… since when is Life EVER in our control. At all??).

    Reading your inspirational words has helped me take a deep breath, acknowledge that I am still REALLY hurting – and yet start to try and pick up some of the pieces and move on.

  46. #51 by Sherry Gloag on January 28, 2012 - 9:50 am

    Awesome post I could relate to in many ways, and just what I needed to get a boot up my ****
    Thank you.

  47. #52 by Marjorie Light on January 28, 2012 - 9:52 am

    Thank you SO much for sharing such a private part of your life and, in turn, helping others see where they are and what they are doing to themselves. When I recently faced hardship, I carried on, full force, in my teaching career, but my writing life suffered. I have not written in months. How fortuitous that your beautiful post arrived in my mailbox this morning. Last night I stayed up late capturing my main character in minute detail. This morning I have a plotting session planned with a coauthor, a published writer I respect and admire, to begin collaboration on a new WIP. I was feeling a bit intimidated, wondering if I am out of my element. Today I am jumping back into my writing world. Thank you for reaching out your hand and helping to tug me back into where I belong.

  48. #53 by miaoxixian on January 28, 2012 - 10:23 am

    This was such a great post, it really made me stop and think. I think kids of single parents really take a lot on themselves and sometimes they are so busy trying to take care of others and be supportive for the family by the time it comes to doing something for themselves, they feel at a loss. I know that is true in my case. All those years helping the family and now I finally have time to focus on my writing and I feel strangely adrift . . . Like I’m lost now that everyone can take care of themselves. Before I would always wish for more time to write and now that I have time to write . . . I just stare at the computer screen. But I will definitely try naming those emotions that seem to trip me up. Thanks, Kristen, for the insight. ^_^

  49. #54 by www.ronvitale.com on January 28, 2012 - 11:44 am

    Kristen, what a fantastic post. I have really identified with a lot of what you’ve written here. My mom raised us by herself and her parents so there was always the stress of no money, fear, anger and tremendous responsibility. You have articulated in a very succinct way what’s really at the core at what stops us from succeeding.

    I really appreciate your taking the time to be honest and share your story with us. Thank you.

  50. #55 by tracikenworth on January 28, 2012 - 1:26 pm

    What sound advice. I sometimes get down about things but now I’ll know another way to get myself positive again is to take the steps you’ve suggested. That and God will get me through.

  51. #56 by Fabio Bueno on January 28, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    I just want to let you know that this post was very important to me. It’s almost a sign that you posted it this week. Thanks. Again. :)

  52. #57 by lynnkelleyauthor on January 28, 2012 - 3:48 pm

    How ironic that I’m sitting here in bed in our new apartment with my laptop, but should have left hours ago for the house we’re moving out of, should be packing mo’ stuff to bring another load down, but I just can’t budge. Then you explain how ten years ago you just couldn’t get up. I’m not in a dark place like you were (been there in the past, though!), but overwhelmed and plum tuckered out and need a breather. Adjusting to my new schedule of babysitting grandbaby full-time has left little time or energy for anything else, though I love every minute of it. But I sorely miss keeping up with all the blogs I follow. Gene Lempp awarded this post Best of Week in his Blog Treasures for today, and he feels it’s actually Best of Year for that matter. I have to agree. I tell myself that same thing about eating a whale, only the way I heard it was how to eat an elephant. Baby steps, definitely.

    Such words of wisdom in this post, Kristen. Thank you for the reminders. The positive self-talk is so important. I once heard that right before we fall asleep is the best time to give ourselves a goal/task/assignment and let our subconscious work on it while we sleep. I’ve found that this actually helps. But adding some positive self-talk just before falling asleep is a good idea, too. Let it sink deep into our subconscious and wake up with a positive attitude.

    So today my body is demanding a break. Sometimes we have to listen. I’m going to catch up on a few more blogs. And I need to send the link for this post to some friends who will benefit greatly from reading it. Have a great weekend!

  53. #58 by Ingrid Schaffenburg on January 28, 2012 - 4:25 pm

    Thank you for this awesome post Kristen. I love the line about the subconscious mind not knowing the difference about what reality you’re in. Great reminder that we are the
    creators of our fate. Thank you!

  54. #59 by Karen McFarland on January 28, 2012 - 4:48 pm

    “Oh I just cannot find the time to write”. Possible translations:

    “I am terrified of failure.”

    “I don’t deserve success.”

    “I’m overwhelmed and I don’t know where to start.”

    “There is a problem in my story and I don’t want to admit I don’t know the answer to fixing it.”

    OMG Kristen! That’s me! I balled my eyes out last night when I first read this. Every single thing on that list describes me, except I have admitted it. I’m not so sure how this moves me forward with all of this. But one thing I do know is that I feel stuck, and I HATE feeling this way. Of course I’ve had a lot of personal things happen in my life lately that could be added on top of that list. Why does everything happen at once? Then you feel trampled upon.

    Just trying to breathe and move forward. One baby step at a time. :)

  55. #60 by talkkindnesstome on January 28, 2012 - 5:36 pm

    I have been sad, discouraged, overwhelmed and feeling like I have a hole in my heart for weeks. Your insightful article has given me courage to face my fears and start looking for what I need to fill the emptiness and to stop measuring my value by someone elses yardstick. Thank you!

  56. #61 by Meggan Connors on January 28, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    I needed to hear this today. I tell myself all the time, “I’m just so tired,” when, in my heart, I know it’s not that. It’s that I need to acknowledge and own my own emotions. And only then can I do something about the real problem.

    Thanks for this!

  57. #62 by Angelique Armae on January 28, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    Wow, this has to be one of the best posts I’ve read. Thank you Kristen!!! So often we don’t address our true emotions and I do think it’s important. Not just to the people around us, but to ourselves. If a person can’t be truthful to himself/herself, then how can we expect others to be truthful? Emotions are the core of everything and if we can’t address them to find out what really is bothering us/holding us back, we’ll never move ahead.

  58. #63 by Julie Schroeder w/a Jenna Blue on January 28, 2012 - 9:35 pm

    Wow, Kristen! This is powerful stuff. I can hear myself in your old self and in your history too–holy cow, do I have some thinkin’ to do! Thank you for such an open and honest account. It’s so easy to lose sight of our inner selves and our goals when we are not true to our emotions…such a good reminder in this post. And the subconcious believing everything–yikes! I need to listen harder and be far more mindful! Many thanks!

  59. #64 by Jenny Hansen on January 28, 2012 - 11:56 pm

    You. Go. Kristen!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Confession isn’t for pansies :-) Posts like this take guts and dedication and I am so very proud to call you my friend.

  60. #65 by Colin Falconer on January 29, 2012 - 4:54 am

    This is fantastic, Kristen. One of those posts I will read today and bookmark to read again next week and next month to keep reminding myself. Thanks for this.

  61. #66 by Sue Ann on January 29, 2012 - 6:30 am

    Kristin, I’ve been lurking here for a couple of month, but must let you know that this is probably the most useful blog post I’ve ever read. I’m guiltiest of number 3–negative self-talk. I know this, but it takes constant vigilance to escape it. Thank you for highlighting this issue and sharing how to deal with it.

  62. #67 by Paul Philip Carter on January 29, 2012 - 11:47 am

    Not recognizing (avoiding) the REAL problem is something I fight with all the time. When I was nine my Mom had a stroke and we lived in the “not in the house” house from there after (meaning take it outside, don’t play in the house, don’t FEEL in the house). And my dad had anger issues. So… bottling it all up was a skill best learned early and mastered.

    When I finally realized that my childhood was not my fault (oh and I also learned to stop hoisting my father up on the cross all the time…let all that go too — it helps) I actually got to the point where I understood that the rest of my life was MY choice. So I chose. And I chose to find the positives.

    It is a great release to know the rest of your life belongs to you and no one else.

    Thanks Kristen.

  63. #68 by Yvette on January 29, 2012 - 2:54 pm

    My method to figure out what’s at core of ‘problems’ I have in life, is to brainstorm onto paper. I head up a page with a totally 100% positive statement of what I want and then let my hand move across the page streaming the real thoughts and feelings that come up in response. It’s usually stuff my parents used to say when I was little that are behind all my belief systems now

  64. #69 by writersinthestorm on January 29, 2012 - 3:07 pm

    Thank you for this. I used to pride myself for not having emotions. Now that I acknowledge them I have so much freedom. This single blog shows me why Jenny Hansen loves you.
    -Fae Rowen

  65. #70 by the writ and the wrote on January 29, 2012 - 6:41 pm

    Thank you. I needed to read every single word of this post. I recently quit one of my jobs to focus on my career as a writer and it’s scary. I am scared I made the wrong decision, that I will end up an utter failure and live at home for the rest of my life. What I now know is that I need to own my emotions and make a plan that will help me succeed. It doesn’t all need to get done tomorrow.

  66. #71 by Running from Hell with El on January 29, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    This post froze me. It made me think, but it took me a couple of days to process it. Or more specifically, it took a 20-mile run for me to process it, because I do most of my thinking and writing when I am moving. What got me was the concept of not being able to name our feelings in childhood. I grew up in a home rather reminiscent of Augusten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors, which is to say that it wasn’t the easiest of childhoods. With a narcissistic, mentally ill mother and an abusive, alcoholic father, there wasn’t enough room in those four walls for my feelings. The raging and roaring sucked up all the energy and attention and life out of the air, and the safest thing for little El was to hide, curled up, and mute, inside herself. And so I did. I did not smile or cry or even admit to being tired because that brought the wrong sort of attention. For the same reason that you don’t poke a sleeping bear, an abused child tiptoes around her parents and just . . . waits.

    I got out and I am safe and well and a mother to my own three children now. I am grateful that I’m in a good place, but reaching locked feelings and learning to say, “I feel sad,” or “I am frightened,” or even “I am proud of myself,” took years of work. It is still hard for me to admit when I am tired, or vulnerable or even happy, but each time I feel something and then share it, I grow and I take care of little El. And this is good. Thank you for your post that made me think and made me feel something. Okay–it made me feel sad at first, and then it made me feel happy for you. Even though you went through a difficult time, you came out of it a healthier woman. ~El.

  67. #72 by Joe Lerner on January 30, 2012 - 7:37 am

    Reblogged this on Furious Fictions and commented:
    I highly recommend Kristen Lamb’s posts. Her advice is not only about the craft of writing but also about the life of writing.

  68. #73 by Joe Lerner on January 30, 2012 - 7:38 am

    Thanks, Kristen. Your post is a great antidote to the Monday morning blues.

  69. #74 by Julie Goldberg on January 30, 2012 - 7:47 am

    Love this. I’ve been thinking a lot this past year about emotions and about all the rationalizations and self-deceptions we layer on top of them to hide them from ourselves. I came up with a theory that is helping me and, much to my surprise, seems to be helping some of my friends who had the same problem. Here’s the essay I wrote about it: http://perfectwhole.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/grand-unified-theory/

    But the wonderful surprise for my writing is that once I’d finally wrapped my mind and heart around this process, it helped me write more realistic characters! I stopped focusing on my characters’ cogitations about their feelings and tried to focus on the core emotions they were experiencing, even if they themselves don’t know it yet.

  70. #75 by amymarie on January 30, 2012 - 10:11 am

  71. #76 by Leonie Lucas on January 30, 2012 - 10:35 am

    It appears blog awards are going round today! :) I have also nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!

    I simply love your blog and your We Are Not Alone Book. There are rules to this gig and you can find them here: http://leonielucas.wordpress.com/2012/01/30/versatile-blogger-award/

    Thanks for all your amazing hard work and inspiring posts.

  72. #77 by Lori Oster on January 30, 2012 - 11:37 am

    See, this is why I’m such a Kristen Lamb fangirl. GREAT post.

    I’m a teacher first and a writer second. So much of your advice can be applied to the struggles my students face. Many of my college students struggle with these things, especially your second and third points.

    Thank you for another inspiring post!

  73. #78 by Marianne on January 31, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    This has always been hard. Sometimes I get angry when I read author bios and they aren’t different from my life. They need to be because I have told myself all sorts of reasons why I’m not out there. I think I my will and work going in the same direction!

  74. #79 by Jim Murray on February 1, 2012 - 2:05 pm

    What a great blog post, Kristen. I have a first novel that I’ve just had edited and gotten wonderful comments (as well as tons of red ink!) from the editor. Now I need to get to the edits and have been putting that off for two weeks. I think I’m just AFRAID of messing up taking my novel up another level and maybe finally getting it to a point where I can shop it around to agents. Your post gave me lots of insight and a swift boot in the butt to get moving on it. THANKS!!

  75. #80 by Reetta Raitanen (@ReettaRaitanen) on February 1, 2012 - 2:15 pm

    Kristen, you are a huge inspiration.

    Facing our feelings and what’s causing them is scary indeed because it can force us to deal with things and to change. And those close to us aren’t always happy to see us change. But sometimes you just have to rock the boat.

    “Stop worrying about not having enough money. Focus on where we can minimize waste and save.”

    It never hurts to take a look at where we’re maybe spending too much. But there are always some ways to earn a little extra. Sometimes the effort can pay off, like by taking our junk to a second hand store or doing a garage sale. Constant pinching can suck the joy out of life.

  76. #81 by Catie Rhodes on February 3, 2012 - 12:05 pm

    As for what I’ve failed at in the past? Everything, honey. Every stinking thing. What I’ve learned is that I have to accept the failure, analyze what I did wrong, and try to do better.

    This post came along at a good time for me. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed. But underneath that feeling are my own negative messages to myself: 1) You’re dumb, Catie. 2) You’ll never succeed at anything. 3) You don’t do anything well.

    Today, you’ve made me think. I’m listening to my own fears and believing them. I need to change my self talk.

    You know else? I’m going to write “How do you eat a whale? One bite at a time” and stick it on my computer. Trying to do everything all at once is part of what has me feeling overwhelmed.

    Thanks for this. I needed it today.

  77. #82 by Darlene Steelman on February 7, 2012 - 6:36 am

    oh my gosh, Kristen. What a perfectly timed post. I read all these blogs (including yours) and I think I am the biggest loser. Everyone else has their poop together. I am going to be struggling for the rest of my life. I am stupid. I am just not a good writer.
    Basically, feeling sorry for myself and making excuses for what is really laziness. I am lazy because I am terrified of failure AND of success.
    If I finish editing my NaNo novel and submit it to a publisher, it could be rejected, But ,, it could be accepted… then what?
    Not sure if that makes sense… I actually choked back tears as I wrote this reply.
    Thank you so much, Kristen.

  78. #83 by Natalie C. Markey on February 15, 2012 - 11:05 pm

    Thank you for this post, Kristen. You are saying what I’m sure many others are thinking but just couldn’t find the words. I really hope NY reads this. Thanks for all your help and being there for all us MyWANA!

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