Unlocking Your Great Future—5 Keys to Writing Success

The gateway to your destiny lies within.
(Image courtesy of Maddelena on WANA Commons)

Happy Monday! Okay, since I have a LOT more responsibilities on my plate, I am, once again, working on brevity. *sounds of cheering* I love teaching you guys and talking to you, but there just are not enough hours in the day to accomplish all I want to do. Also, I have yet to locate a cloning machine. I know one exists, because someone is using said machine to clone dirty dishes and laundry in my house. I can only assume this is in an effort to cloak the location of the cloning device. This said, we are going to make another try at short and sweet!

….and there was much rejoicing.

Okay, you can stop cheering now.

Today, I want to talk about some fundamentals to writing success. We can have all the talent in the world, but without these five ingredients, we will be hard-pressed to ever reach our dreams.

Passion—This should be a, “Yeah, no duh,” but, sadly, it isn’t. I meet a lot of people who say they want to be a professional author, but the second they face any opposition or criticism they give up. Here is the thing, if we really LOVE it, we won’t give up.

One of my favorite stories is about a music master who traveled village to village in search of proteges to train. A young boy who played the violin practiced extra hard in anticipation of being chosen. On the given day, he played for the master and, at the end, the master said, “No, you don’t love music enough.” Heartbroken, the boy ran home.

A year later, the same master came to the village and spotted the boy. The master asked if he was going to audition. The boy crossed his arms and replied, “No. Your comment hurt me to the core. I put the violin away and haven’t touched it since.” To which the master replied, “I told you you didn’t love music enough.”

If we love writing, NOTHING can stop us. My motto in regards to writing comes from Hannibal:

Aut viam inveniam aut facial. 

I will either find a way or I will make one.

Self-Discipline—Again, writers write. One of the main reasons I am such a proponent of blogging is that it trains writers for a professional pace. It trains us to meet deadlines. Disciplined people work no matter what, and they finish what they start. Amateurs and the immature flit from thing to thing. Professionals and genuine artists dig in and complete the task.

Will all of us have this self-discipline in the beginning? No. Most of us don’t. Self-discipline is a muscle of character, and it needs to be trained and built just like biceps. Every time we stick to something when the siren’s song of a new shiny tempts us to start something new, we get stronger.

Humility—Great writers know they always have more to learn. Read, find mentors, and learn to admit shortcomings. None of us are perfect. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Those who readily admit flaws and seek help and training? They stand far better chances of succeeding long-term.

I used to have a problem with deadlines and self-discipline. I had the attention span of a crack-addicted fruit bat. That was why I began blogging. I knew that those character flaws would always limit me. Even though it was embarrassing to admit I had some deep flaws, it would have been impossible to ever combat that weakness if I hadn’t mustered the courage and humility to recognize where I fell fatally short.

It is okay to be imperfect. It is okay to be new. It is okay to not know everything. When we are humble enough to admit we need help, that is the first step toward authentic growth and change.

Healthy Relationship with Failure—I have said this many times, If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting. Expect failure. Better yet, embrace failure.

Image courtesy of David Farmer WANA Commons.

Scientists once tried to do a biome experiment where all the plants lived in a perfect world. There was the perfect amount of water, sunlight, and nutrients. Sealed beneath the benevolent dome, there were no droughts, no diseases, no thunderstorms, no high winds, and no floods.

They expected the trees in the bio dome to be much healthier and grow much taller than those poor trees exposed to the outside world. But, to their astonishment, the trees never grew very tall. In fact, they looked downright pathetic, whereas the trees in the hard, cruel outside world grew far taller, were more resistant to disease and were, overall, much healthier.

Baffled, the scientists investigated, and they discovered that, every time a tree faced drought, it dug its roots in deeper. When it experienced disease, it developed resistance. When wind broke off branches, the trees in the outside world were forced to channel more nutrients to reinforce the affected areas. This made them stronger…so they grew taller.

The sheltered trees had never been tested, thus they never had to become stronger. Sadly, they never grew to their full potential.

Failures=storms. Embrace the storms. They make you grow ;).

Yeah, I promised 5…but then I also promised to make it short. And I am tired and a writer, ergo bad at math.

What are some character traits that you might add? What do you struggle with? What area gives you the most trouble? What have you done to make it better? What is some advice you would like to share?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of August, 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 once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novelor your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

And also, winners have a limited time to claim the prize, because what’s happening is there are actually quite a few people who never claim the critique, so I never know if the spam folder ate it or to look for it and then people miss out. I will also give my corporate e-mail to insure we connect and I will only have a week to return the 20 page edit.

At the end of August I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. Good luck!

July’s Winner is Heather Wright. Please e-mail me your 5,000 word Word document to kristen at wana intl dot com. Or, if you choose, you can send your query letter or novel synopsis (no more than 1250 words). You have until August 30th to send me your submissions.

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 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 Fiona Ingram (@FionaRobyn) on August 6, 2012 - 10:59 am

    Thank you for an inspiring post! Good stuff to ponder upon.

  2. #2 by ninetyninepercentgaming on August 6, 2012 - 11:02 am

    I made a schedule over the weekend, and today I had to stick to it. T’was tough, but I got the article out :) I’m now one step closer to achieving self-discipline.

    Great post.

  3. #3 by Jon Rieley-Goddard on August 6, 2012 - 11:08 am

    Not short, really, but very sweet. Thanks, I needed to hear what you said.

    Loved the story about little boy who was hurt and quit playing the violin though I so wish he had not.

    My vice is listening to my self-talk as though I was telling to truth to myself.

    • #4 by Jon Rieley-Goddard on August 6, 2012 - 11:10 am

      … make that “as though I was telling *the* truth to myself” … .

    • #5 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 6, 2012 - 11:15 am

      Hey, I promised “shortER”, LOL. I am working on it :D.

  4. #6 by broadsideblog on August 6, 2012 - 11:10 am

    As usual, great stuff.

    I’d add a realistic understanding of what “success” is likely to look like for about 95 percent of writers, whether self or commercially published. A minuscule fraction will ever become a best-seller or get on the Today show, so insisting this is your primary or exclusive goal can set you up for misery and envy. Define your terms and enjoy what you get when you get it.

    Author of two NF published books, I’d also add that EQ is more important than ever — the ability to connect well with others who can help you, and manage or flee quickly those who will not. That includes colleagues, teachers, agents and editors. Just because someone is An Agent doesn’t mean they’re right for you or will work hard enough or even be responsive to you. Like every relationship, some will be terrific and some will be bitterly disappointing. Know that going in.

  5. #7 by T. W. Dittmer on August 6, 2012 - 11:18 am

    I come by here to get my butt-whippings,,and you never disappoint. Keep it up. I need to hear this stuff.

  6. #8 by TimGreaton on August 6, 2012 - 11:29 am

    Another great post, Kristen :-)

  7. #9 by stephaniebergets on August 6, 2012 - 11:31 am

    I love your story about the trees. If we’re not tested, we never know how far we can go.

  8. #10 by Stephen M. Holak on August 6, 2012 - 11:43 am

    Damn it. Another shiny blog to distract me from my writing. I advise aspiring writers to stop reading books on writing and blogs on writing (other than mine and Joe Konrath’s) and spend the time writing, but yours is inspirational enough to balance out the time spent with a bit more momentum when I sit down to the keyboard with my stuff. Nice work; keep it up.

    Regards
    Steve

  9. #11 by Leanne Shirtliffe on August 6, 2012 - 11:47 am

    Great post, Kristen. I find I lose a bit of the self-discipline in the summer when I’m out of routine (not working full time, but parenting full time). By August, I get a bit frustrated with this.

    I find hearing the stories behind many Olympian athletes to be inspiring my writing, though. It’s a similar commitment to hard work, though on a much different scale in my case.

    • #12 by Catherine Johnson on August 14, 2012 - 7:07 am

      Me too, Leanne. I love watching Olympians and hearing what they have to say about it afterwards. Very inspiring. Great post, Kristen!

  10. #13 by Rosi on August 6, 2012 - 11:54 am

    Ah. Self-discipline. There’s the rub. (sigh)

  11. #14 by Marvin Mayer on August 6, 2012 - 12:19 pm

    Another great, inspiring post, Kristen! I try to “see” myself in each situation about which you post. In most cases, I rationalize that I am doing (or trying to do) what you espouse, but every now and then, I spot my weaknesses. Only time will tell if I have truly dealt with them, so keep on pushing us. We need it!

  12. #15 by August McLaughlin on August 6, 2012 - 12:21 pm

    Great insight here, Kristen. I think passion plays the biggest role in writing success, as it makes way for other essentials, like great work ethic and embracing those storms. The only failure I believe in, writing career wise, is not trying or giving up.

    I might add a positive attitude, respecting writing as worthy, significant work to the list. If we see writing as a non-job or selfish pursuit, we’re more likely to say “yes” to every obligation that pulls us from the desk.

  13. #16 by Stan R. Mitchell on August 6, 2012 - 12:23 pm

    Love the tree reference. Keep up the great work.

  14. #17 by MonaKarel on August 6, 2012 - 12:43 pm

    This was great and again well timed. It’s over on my blog, making me sound like I know where I’m going. And applicable for every aspect of our lives. THANKS.

  15. #18 by byamandaleigh on August 6, 2012 - 1:07 pm

    Reblogged this on By Amanda Leigh and commented:
    As always, Kristen Lamb has some great advice for all us writers who are trying to delve into our craft. Check out this article on the 5 keys to sucessful writing. I’m still working on a couple of them… :)

  16. #19 by MindHiatus on August 6, 2012 - 1:08 pm

    I agree 100%, Kristen. In college writing classes, I was always shocked to find a handful of people in each class who became defensive at every comment we gave in workshop about their pieces that wasn’t exclusively positive. They’d always rebut with, “well, maybe you didn’t get it”. And, sometimes, yes, that can be true. But when someone says, “well, maybe you didn’t get it” as an excuse to not accept that maybe they could/need to strengthen their writing and story-telling skills, it cannot help their work. They’d also be the people who annoyingly stayed quiet through everyone else’s critiques and returned blank drafts to fellow students causing us to wonder if they’d even taken the same time to read our works.

    Over the course of six classes/workshops–two fiction, two non-fiction, two poetry (not my comfort zone but I worked very hard for my B+)–those people who seemed bored in class, who also tossed out “well, maybe you didn’t get it” frequently were the Creative Writing majors, too, for some reason. This became such a regular phenomenon that friends and I (who took the classes as a hobby and really dove in) could guess the majors from the non-majors almost always. So strange! Maybe the majors felt extra-sensitive and extra-pressure? I hope that’s not a true at other universities. I know that in my education classes, I wanted to know more and more. I was determined not to graduate until my teachers had prepared me for everything that I could think of or direct me toward sources that could help me. (There were plenty of education majors who reminded me of the creative writing majors too, though, so that might deflate any argument I could build about majors being one certain thing.)

    Anyway, I have not met a successful writer who hasn’t adhered to the fundamentals for writing success you’ve listed here. Actually, I haven’t met anyone successful in any field who hasn’t adhered to these fundamentals. Long-time reader, first time commenter. Always a pleasure to be re-steered in the right direction by you. :)

  17. #20 by Nickie Asher on August 6, 2012 - 1:20 pm

    I also have the attention span of a crack-addicted fruit bat (that’s so funny) recently. Great article.

    • #21 by TJ on August 8, 2012 - 4:53 pm

      Hahaha! Me too. I almost peed myself laughing at that comparison….what were we talking about?

  18. #22 by damianbloodstone on August 6, 2012 - 1:47 pm

    My biggest problem is my grammar most times. I write at blinding speeds and turn out 10K or more in a week at times. Another of my problems is starting on new projects before old ones are completed.

    I can take the critiques and the comments easy. I’m use to that. They have made me as hard at the trees I admire. I have never forgotten to keep learning either. The day I stop learning is the day I die. Someone always has something to offer me of how to write something differently or with a new set of words.

    Yes, I get distracted but not by the normal things people might. I get distracted by researching things or finding new ways to write something. My biggest distraction are new story lines and plots. Seems I can never finish one work without another catching my attention.

    Great post and it really showed me that I have the passion you spoke of and all of the other qualities. Now just to finish what I start.

  19. #23 by Melissa Groeling on August 6, 2012 - 2:00 pm

    Hi! I loved the biome story—reminds me of myself! I’ve had people ask me constantly why I’m still writing because I “haven’t hit it big” and to this I say, “I’m not writing to hit it big. I’m writing because I like it.” It’s that simple. And if you like it enough, you’ll keep doing it! Right?!? Right! Thanks for this awesome blog!

  20. #24 by barbaramattio on August 6, 2012 - 2:01 pm

    Thanks for giving us the time to write this blog! It is wonderful and I really enjoyed it! I invite you to stop by my blog. Comments are always appreciated.

  21. #25 by Darren on August 6, 2012 - 2:14 pm

    Nice post! Definitely need to work on that self-discipline muscle.

  22. #26 by corajramos on August 6, 2012 - 2:53 pm

    Loved the analogy of your tree story. I struggle with discipline. I never thought I had a problem in that area except when I became a writer. It’s like a bright light was brought to all the tiny defects and magnified them. Writing is so visceral (for me) and it takes so much strength to pull out the stuff for writing that I resist and parry and dance around what I need to do. Or, if I don’t know how to do something, then I procrastinate on finding the way through. Why is that? Forget about trying to balance writing with the rest of my life!That’s on hold. Ha. Thanks, Kristen.

  23. #27 by ckraggio on August 6, 2012 - 3:13 pm

    Thanks so much for all the great info!! Love the story about the little boy and the violen.

  24. #28 by TraceyLynnTobin on August 6, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    I always love reading your advice and thoughts on writing. It’s definitely a hard thing to work yourself into the groove you need to really BECOME a writer. My biggest thing is the time constraints. I don’t have the financial security to be able to commit myself entirely to writing (I’m currently the only breadwinner in the family while my husband is a stay-at-home-dad) so I struggle to find a bit of time each day to write SOMETHING, ANYTHING.

    Another thing I might add is learning how to understand critique. I was part of a critiquing circle before and I noticed some awful trends. On one end of the spectrum there were people who ignored every piece of advice given as the critique “just being mean” or some such thing, while at the other end there were people who took every piece of advice absolutely to heart, whether it was actually helpful information at all, and I think that can be just as harmful. There’s no need to change EVERYTHING that is brought up during a critique because the fact of the matter is that everyone has opinions, and when opinions come into play they aren’t necessarily RIGHT. If a person’s suggestion for your story completely destroys the storyline, then obviously you have to take that suggestion with a grain of salt. Even professional writers can let their opinions and attitude get in the way of being helpful and unbiased.

  25. #29 by Robynn Gabel on August 6, 2012 - 3:29 pm

    Again, an article that speaks of simple common sense. My first book has yet to receive a negative comment, which makes me nervous. I agree wholeheartedly you need the negative in order to grow. I know, as a newbie, I have far to go. Just wished someone was brave enough to give me a honest critique. So now on to learning how to blog. Thank you for your insights.

  26. #30 by thesparechangekitchen on August 6, 2012 - 3:32 pm

    I very timely post. I had to face up to a “failure” this week and whilst it felt in someways humiliating, its also somehow freeing. I can move onto the next thing now. I love you biome story. I just wonder why I’m still so short!! ;)

    • #31 by thesparechangekitchen on August 6, 2012 - 3:34 pm

      Oops….fail….again…..like damienbloodstone…check grammer and spelling! A very timely post!!!!

      • #32 by thesparechangekitchen on August 6, 2012 - 3:35 pm

        Oh Im going back to bed!! grammar….not grammer……note to self…..do not type fast at 6.30 am on too little sleep!!!!

  27. #33 by Angela Ackerman on August 6, 2012 - 4:17 pm

    I love the tree analogy. I tell my son all the time that mistakes are an opportunity to learn. He soon got his opportunity too, as he pulled into the driveway after our driving lesson and crashed into the garage door.

    Kids. Gotta love those little treasures. You day is coming…soon the car keys will be dangling from Spawn’s hand…

  28. #34 by DeeAnna Galbraith on August 6, 2012 - 4:31 pm

    Kristen, very nicely put. I have the passion down pat – it’s the discipline that is interrupted by shiny objects. I also find it interesting that the beautiful pictures, which I assume are taken by writers, usually focus on an object in the distance. Is this an element of composition, or a manifestation of his or her writing objective? Okay, just a thought. I love writing as well as photography and both require good elements of composition. Still practicin’.

  29. #35 by Yvette Carol on August 6, 2012 - 5:23 pm

    Hey Kristen, if I had any healthier relationship with failure we’d be married by now, for sure! :-)

    • #36 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 6, 2012 - 6:49 pm

      Good! Failing a lot means you are trying a lot and that is AWESOME!

  30. #37 by marsharwest on August 6, 2012 - 5:58 pm

    Great post, Kristin. Especially like embrace the failures. In my head I get that. In my heart, not so much. Working on it though. Gonna get there. (Also working on the brevity thing. LOL)

  31. #38 by Sharon Hughson on August 6, 2012 - 6:04 pm

    Kristen-
    Lately I’m feeling I might not have the passion for writing that I once had. It seems that every criticism makes me want to quit and everything I write sounds subpar in my own ears. Maybe I’m just tired of going to school full-time and need a vacation (I was reminded today that my summer hiatus from my full-time job is just 3 weeks from ending).

    Can burn-out steal the passion?

    I’ve really been questioning my “call” to write lately. Thanks for this post that certainly hones in on a few reasons why I haven’t been successful in my quest to become a published author.

    • #39 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 6, 2012 - 6:48 pm

      Likely you are tired. The creative well needs refilling! When we are tired, we are emotional and fatalistic. In fact, when I have those thoughts, I know it is time to REST. Just know it is normal. We all go through it.

  32. #40 by Bev Robitai on August 6, 2012 - 6:37 pm

    Great post – I especially like the story about the unchallenged trees not developing. How fortunate that we writers are so VERY challenged! And just when I was about to embark on a shiny new writing project instead of starting the third book in my theatre mystery series, you’ve reminded me to stick at what I should be focussed on. Sigh. OK, OK, back to the Regent Theatre and the latest murder plot. The post-apocalyptic novel can wait a little longer. Thank you!

  33. #41 by James L'Etoile on August 6, 2012 - 6:44 pm

    Crack-addicted fruit bats unite! Great post. If I’m not mindful, I find any excuse to get my butt out of the chair. The dog needs walking, the lawn needs mowing, or the nieghbor’s cat needs a snack, it doesn’t matter. The trolls who live under my personal bridge of self discipline know when to strike. Distractions appear in direct proportion to my need to get something down on the page.

  34. #42 by kimvanderpoel on August 6, 2012 - 8:02 pm

    Thank you so much for this great blog post…and kick in the pants. I blogged about it tonight at http://kim-living4today.blogspot.com/. Also, I love the tree story and will be keeping it for reference when I talk with cancer survivors. Thanks again!

  35. #43 by Donna McBroom-Theriot on August 6, 2012 - 8:50 pm

    Wonderful post as always. Really enjoyed.

  36. #44 by Tamara LeBlanc on August 6, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    In addition to your 5, I mean 4 keys :) I think that confidence is a great thing for an author to have.
    Confidence helps us overcome doubt. It overshadows insecurity and gives us the strength to reach our goals.
    My goal is to be multi-published, and to earn fans who look forward to each and ever story I write.
    Passion, self-discipline, humility, a healthy relationship with failure and confidence, will get me there.
    As always, thank you for your wisdom. And thanks, also, for the Hannibal quote! Love that one.
    Have a lovely evening,
    Tamara

  37. #45 by Sonia G Medeiros on August 6, 2012 - 9:29 pm

    I love that example of the biome and how adversity makes us strong.

  38. #46 by Char on August 6, 2012 - 10:40 pm

    I love the Hannibal quote!

    Self-discipline, changing my routine – these appear to be working for me. In the old days – 1-2 years back – I used to work until 5:30 or 6. By the time I got home, fixed dinner, and did dishes, I was too exhausted to write. My schedule is more flexible now. I get to work around 7am, leave at 4pm. I I still have the energy after work to write or revise for at least a couple of hours. I’m getting so much more done! It’s exciting. :)

  39. #47 by pragati on August 6, 2012 - 10:49 pm

    Hi! This is a great post. I really like all the anecdotes and stories you have used to illustrate a point. Most of us have felt like the boy with the violin at some point in our life. So resilience is as important as self-discipline. Being thick skinned should help :)

    Thanks for all your great advice. Looking forward to more.

    - pragati

  40. #48 by Tima Maria Lacoba on August 7, 2012 - 3:22 am

    Kristen, your blog gave me the kick in the butt I needed. After reading it, I went straight to my PC and wrote my next blog. I’d been down with a head cold the last few days and blaming it for my lack of inertia. No longer. I even drew my own picture, so I don’t have to worry about copyright!
    Thanks for those inspiring words.

  41. #49 by carol hedges on August 7, 2012 - 3:26 am

    Thanks for this post. Just discovered you via Twitter link. After 11 successful novels, I am a ‘victim’ of the recession, and publishers dropping mid-list authors. So have just uploaded first ebook. Yup, it is easy to spend all day on social media (!!!!) and some has to be done, but you make a good point: next book is more important than current one. And not getting screwed up by dreams of fame. In the end, we write because it’s what we love to do. I’ve discovered blogging ( pays nothing, but such good fun) and made lovely friends on Facebook. I’m 62, and suddenly, I’m enjoying writing – not scrambling for that elusive Award. Thank you for your insights. Now – back to the next book…

  42. #50 by Pat on August 7, 2012 - 3:34 am

    Great blog post, but I have an additional problem, which is brand new: the internet. Specifically, I have begun a blog, to twitter, have joined GoodReads, LinkIn, you-name-it-and-I-am-there.com, and I am sure there probably is such a website.

    There is so much good stuff out there, but it wastes my time. It wouldn’t be so bad if I were just writing, but at the moment I am editing – which I’m not that fond of really.I have to be twice as self disciplined as before, or my entire day disappears, reading interesting blogs, replying to fascinating people, tweeting like crazy,

    There is a purpose to all this: I have decided that if I am ever going to get my novels published, someone (make that everyone) has to know that I exist and I am doing my best to make sure that they notice me, but the balance is proving difficult.

    New strategy: the kitchen timer.

    After it pings, back to the editing. Just listen to that whip crack!

    • #51 by kathils on August 7, 2012 - 5:23 am

      *Love* the idea of the kitchen timer! Of course, I may do the same thing to that I do to my alarm clock — hit the snooze! LOL

      • #52 by Pat on August 7, 2012 - 8:13 am

        This is indeed a problem. And I never was very good at doing as I’m told.

  43. #53 by kathils on August 7, 2012 - 5:22 am

    Wonderful post! I love the Hannibal quote, and the story about the trees. Perfect timing on the failure=storms=make me stronger, as I’m currently in the query process. *gnawing fingernails, checking e-mail constantly*

  44. #54 by emilykimelman on August 7, 2012 - 10:00 am

    Great post. A friend of mine’s grandma beats her fruit trees with a chain to make them bear more fruit and she says it works.

  45. #55 by luckygurl on August 7, 2012 - 12:40 pm

    @broadsideblog – brilliant additions to what’s already been brilliantly outlined by Kristen. @Pat The kitchen timer has absolutely been my best friend as a writer!! I set it to feel successful for my writing time. (Yeah, another 15 minutes with butt-in-chair!) Aaaand to make sure I don’t spend too much time lost in the black hole that is all things internet. ;)

  46. #56 by Jae on August 7, 2012 - 2:42 pm

    I really liked that tree analogy. Do you happen to know where the original story was from? I’m fascinated and want to read more about it. I’ll go try googling…

    • #57 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 7, 2012 - 2:47 pm

      I heard it from my mother. No idea, but the science is sound even if the story is fiction, :D. If you find it let me know.

  47. #59 by Julie Glover on August 7, 2012 - 3:18 pm

    I love ‘em all, Kristen! Being the reflective person I am, I sat here trying to think of more. I wonder if patience would be on my list…because you have to be willing to wait for the right opportunities, wait to publish your work when it’s really ready, wait to get that cloning machine.

  48. #60 by Jolyse Barnett on August 7, 2012 - 3:38 pm

    My weakness as a writer is difficulty turning off my inner-editor. Recently, I’ve focused on adding at least 1K new words before I allow myself to go back and edit previous work. Since I’m usually tired by the time I put in the 1K, I’m less compelled to “fix” things. I’m also working with a critique partner, and we’ve agreed to exchange a new chapter each Friday. That also urges me forward.

    Thanks for the great post. Love the tree and adversity analogy!

  49. #61 by Kelly O'Sullivan (HILWD) on August 7, 2012 - 6:35 pm

    When I started blogging I had a plan and a schedule, and then I let that slide. I made excuses. I justified. The result was I blogged less, spent more time in my head, and put fewer words on paper, It took me some time to realize I missed the self-imposed deadlines. I have a passion but I also have a busy life and the deadlines served a real purpose for me. Just this past weekend I wrote up another plan with goals and deadlines. I am already energized and your post was just the extra boost I needed.

  50. #62 by Ryan Casey on August 7, 2012 - 6:54 pm

    Great post, Kristen. I totally agree with regards to self-discipline.

    Although I stick to my schedule of three posts per week, I find it terrifying if I don’t have a blog post planned out a few days in advance. And then I fret some more when I have missed a day of blog reading. And then some more when I only get a few hundred words written…

    A schedule can be both beneficial and restrictive, mind. I think it has to be used as a living, breathing document, that constantly changes, instead of something to be bound to for eternity.

  51. #63 by Gilliad Stern on August 7, 2012 - 7:17 pm

    Right now consistency is my problem as I am still growing the self-discipline to stick to a schedule. I have noticed that now since I am posting regularly on my blog, it has helped bring me back in line and I have to thank you for that. Maybe one of these days everything will fall into place!

  52. #64 by Dave Stovall on August 7, 2012 - 9:57 pm

    Thanks for the “attention span of a crack-addicted fruit bat” comment. That’s the stage I’m working through in my writing. Distracted by shiny objects.

  53. #65 by Dani on August 7, 2012 - 11:33 pm

    Hi Kristen and thank you. I like the bit about a healthy relationship with failure, which I had for two decades. Now I have to embrace success and frankly it’s overwhelming me. Post on pulling it all together without losing it completely, please :)

    FYI, I mentioned the book in my blog that links back to here (perhaps not correctly.) If I win, I would love a critique of my blog… my secret plan in leaving a comment ;o)

    cheers,
    Dani Collins

  54. #66 by Daphne Shadows on August 8, 2012 - 4:25 am

    I love my self imposed blogging deadline of one to two posts a week. It feels good to accomplish that. Plus, blogging has helped me with a lot of my writing. This actually shocked me. I’m glad I started.
    I love this post. I can’t imagine not writing. Sometimes when I’m having a problem with my writing, I make myself really think about what would happen if I stopped writing. That just makes me want to write more. And perfect my art as much as I can.
    The info about the trees is crazy amazing. Thanks! :D

  55. #67 by Carolyn Arnold on August 8, 2012 - 5:37 am

    So true, on all counts. If you love something you will not let it go–no matter what obstacles come your way.

    Everything can either be a determent or a learning experience. I chose to learn.

    It’s up to all us which way it will go, and if we don’t have the passion to start with we’ll never make it as a writer.

  56. #68 by jackielayton on August 8, 2012 - 7:01 am

    Hi Kristen,
    I’m so glad to meet you. (I discovered you today on Bookshelf Muse.)

    I appreciate the encouragement to never give up! I’m about to go to my first writer’s conference and when I think of all the money I’m putting into it and all the time I spend writing and studying writing, I’ve begun to wonder if there will come a day when I need to throw in the towel.

    You’ve inspired me to keep writing.

    THANKS!

    Joyfully,
    Jackie

  57. #69 by Claude Nougat on August 8, 2012 - 7:32 am

    Love your post and an on-the-spot reminder that writing requires first and foremost passion! Ever since I read your manual (the WANA) I’m a fan of yours – it was the first manual I read, basically you introduced me to e-publishing and if I’ve taken the plunge and self-published a year later, it’s largely … your fault (smile :). Actually, it’s back to Hannibal and I’m determined to cross the Alps (yes, surmount the highest obstacles) and make my way! And in this endeavour, you’re a great help not only for me but for so many others, thanks Kristen!

  58. #70 by danezeller on August 8, 2012 - 7:57 am

    Devious marketing ploy, Kristen. But, please put my name in your hat anyway!

  59. #71 by karonadrummond on August 8, 2012 - 9:07 am

    Kristen, I love the story about the trees and their growth when exposed to difficulties. i’, about to teach botany for a year. I’m looking for ways to make botany relevant to our lives. This is a gem.
    Thanks!

  60. #72 by Leigh Moore on August 8, 2012 - 10:14 am

    This is such a great post and very much what I needed to hear today. Thanks, Kristin! And congrats again on winning the Writing Hero award from TBM! I’ll be back! :o) <3

  61. #73 by C. A. Husted on August 10, 2012 - 3:12 am

    So… You make a promise and fail to keep it, then expect others to advertise your work for free? — Interesting thought process you have.

    • #74 by Author Kristen Lamb on August 10, 2012 - 8:45 am

      I don’t expect anything other than manners and common courtesy. And considering I give away 3-5,000 words of current, relevant, researched teaching on this blog for free every week, if people would like to share it then that seems like a fair trade to me.

  62. #75 by Larry on August 10, 2012 - 12:04 pm

    Long time lurker here (okay three weeks or so). I just received another “I really like your manuscript but didn’t love it enough to sell it and as you know in this wretched marketplace it’s so difficult for agents…” comment on my manuscript. That was after another very big agent said, “You’re such a great writer, but too bad it isn’t five years ago when this might have sold…”

    So. It looks like the writing is on the wall. Or on the kindle as it were. Does anyone know the market for humorous long form fiction? Any success stories in self pubbing this, and any specific advice for reaching readers in this area? (It’s a black comic mystery, to be precise – genre crosser, me). Thanks.

    This blog gives hope.

    • #76 by MonaKarel on August 10, 2012 - 12:22 pm

      Larry, have you checked for other humorous long form fiction? It might be the publisher you need is out there, you just need to find them. It might be a smaller press is in your immediate future.

      • #77 by Larry on August 10, 2012 - 1:27 pm

        Perhaps. But my patience is running out. I’ve been on this merry go round for a long time, as a novelist and before that as a screenwriter (talk about layers of gatekeepers all poised to say no). I’ve been killed by encouragement, slowly, for years. Can anyone else relate?

        • #78 by MonaKarel on August 10, 2012 - 1:32 pm

          It only took me 27 years to have my first book published, and I’m not alone in my story. IF you want to take the time to check other publishers of your sort of book, you might find one open to taking you on. Look at the effort by writers of “different” styles of romance: M/M; menage; LGBT. And now there is a wide array of more open publishers.

  63. #79 by Chrystal on August 11, 2012 - 6:59 am

    I have finally taken the plunge and started writing a book, or eh, story. Okay words. I’ve started writing words with page numbers and ideas are developing as I write. Characters are coming to life. Sure I’m only 2000 words in. Which is EXACTLY why I needed to read this. What a great post! Thank you.

  64. #80 by Chrissi Barr on August 12, 2012 - 6:23 am

    Listen to your heart for your story… When you hear it, really hear it you’ll just have to write it. Sometimes it’s a word, a picture, an event that stimulates the “something.” Pick up your pen and write, and when your not sure write some more and your story will emerge A writer who really hears a story emerge from their heart is in a great position to find the energy to tell the story. My motivation to write has been driven by this need and litte did I know that my story would start as a family memoir and eventually surface in the form of a YA fantasy novel.

  65. #81 by Sophie Dawson on August 12, 2012 - 10:02 pm

    Great article, Kristen. You asked for things we do to write successfully, so these are mine.

    One thing I do is ‘write’ while I’m doing other things, especially driving. My kids are grown and out of the house and car so there aren’t as many distractions. I’ll work over a scene or plan what will happen in the next one as I’m driving to town. The major danger with this is paying attention to my driving and visualizing the scene at the same time. Fortunately I live in a rural area so the traffic is minimal.

    Another thing is to listen to the character. They can dictate how they want to be. A character in Healing Love was supposed to be a nasty. She absolutely refused. I had to change how she would interact with other characters. It’s a good thing I listened to her. She’s now the main female in my second book.

  66. #82 by J. Lenni Dorner on August 14, 2012 - 6:22 pm

    … And thus when they made the movie Bio-Dome, they tossed moronic best friends (played by Pauly Shore & Stephen Baldwin) in to make failure fun!
    ^ Words from the Random Fairy ^

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