NaNoNowWHAT? Small Steps for BIG Change

Ah, we are closing in on the end of National Novel Writing Month. Congratulations to those of you who finished 50,000 words, and congratulations to those who were brave enough to try, even if it didn’t go the way you would have liked. Whether you finished or didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, you are probably thinking NaNoWHAT NOW?

Do I give up because I couldn’t even finish NaNo and therefore I SUUUUUCK?

I did finish, but I have a 50,000 word monster that peed on my rugs and chewed up my favorite shoes. Oh, the editing! I don’t even know where to start! HELP!

No matter where you are, I can tell you that there is a lot of work ahead.

*groans*

I hear you, but I’m here to help.

Magic Ingredient for the Successful Life

One thing I hear people say over and over is, “I wish I had self-discipline.” I even hate to admit that those words often come out of my mouth, too. In fact, I used to be reigning queen of Do-It-Later Land, a sad realm nestled in the Post-It Note Mountains. Over the past few years, I’ve managed to change a lot of bad habits, and I am much more productive. How did I do this? I finally understood a couple of core principles, which I am going to share with you guys today.

Heart of Genius

I have a magazine addiction read a lot of magazines, particularly the nerdy stuff like Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Discovery, Psychology Today, and Scientific American. Okay, I confess I mainly look at the pretty pictures, but occasionally I do READ the articles. There is a special issue of Scientific American I picked up while stranded for ten hours in the Seattle airport. The issue was entirely dedicated to exploring the topic of “genius.”

One article had a line that really resonated with me.

Becoming an Olympic champion requires more than just athletic prowess; it also depends on the ability to focus, mental toughness, drive, optimism and emotional control.

We could just as easily reword this statement:

Becoming a successful author requires more than just creative talent; it also depends on the ability to focus, mental toughness, drive, optimism and emotional control.

If we look at any successful anything, writer included, we will see a lot of similar traits. Perseverance, self-discipline, and the ability to put off short-term gratification for long-term reward. The ability to be self-directed. The exact character traits that make a successful doctor, lawyer, soldier, mother or consultant are no different than the character traits that make a successful writer.

It is all in a change of mindset.

In my almost 10 years of working with writers, I’ve met a lot of highly intelligent, supremely gifted writers. But, after talking to them fifteen minutes? I know they won’t be around very long. It is clear that despite talent, they have life attitudes and habits that will always keep success beyond their reach unless they change their approach.

Successful people are willing to get up earlier, stay up later, work harder and never stop. They will outpace their competition every time. Why? Because self-discipline isn’t a once in a while thing, “Oh, I was so good today.” Self-discipline is the foundation of the successful life…not an accessory worn when we feel particularly inspired.

So do you have self-discipline?

It is easy to say “no.” I know my nature is actually quite lazy. If left to my own designs, I am so lazy I think my heart might stop. For years, and years I had so much trouble staying focused. I would “be good” for a day or two and then would fall off the wagon, roll under the wheels and get caught up in the axle of said wagon until someone heard me whining and cut me free.

Yeah…not pretty.

Then one day I understood something so fundamental that it changed everything.

Self-Discipline is Already Inside Us

You have self-discipline. I have it. It is part of who we are. Confused? It’s okay. Try this.

Unless you have suffered a birth defect or tragic farming accident, you have a bicep muscle. If you can use your arm, it means you have a functioning bicep. Now, it might be puny and withered and buried in fluffiness…but you have a bicep. So do I. So does every person on the planet with functioning arms. Yet, unless you USE your bicep, train it, feed it good nutrition and vitamins, it won’t do much more than move your arm. To have strength and tone…you must exercise your bicep so it can grow stronger.

Same with self-disciple. The more we use it, the stronger it becomes until it is tough as iron…just like our muscles. So some simple principles:

We Must Be Wise How We Train

Just like working out our biceps, we must be wise how we train our self-discipline if we hope for long-term success. If I wanted to build my bicep and I went to the gym and did 500 curls with a heavy dumbbell, then who is the REAL dumbbell? My arm would be sore and likely injured, and it certainly wouldn’t inspire me to want to return to work out. Self-discipline is the same. Don’t start Day One trying to have the discipline of a Shaolin Monk. That is a formula to fail.

Right now we are at the end of NaNoWriMo and some people are feeling like loser-failure-jerks because they didn’t finish, but why? NaNoWriMo is a typical professional pace for those of us who do this for a living, but news flash. A lot of us started out with 300-500 words a day. We didn’t jump into 2,500 words or more in the beginning. This is one of the reasons I really encourage new writers to take my blogging class. Blogging is great training for a professional pace.

Great if you finished and still great if you didn’t. Now show up tomorrow and the next day and the next.

We Must Be Mindful To Progress

Just like curling the same dumbbell eventually can cause a plateau, self-discipline is the same way. Make sure your goals get progressively more difficult as time goes on until you reach a point that works. Then it’s all maintenance :D.

Start with small goals and progress from there. Small successes inspire us to try harder, bigger, better tasks. Too many writers start out with some stupid word count goal (yes, I did this, too) that is destined to fail long-term:

Wheee!!!! I am going to write 5000 words a day.

Uh, no.

What happens is we burn out and hate our writing..and hate puppies. It’s bad when we reach the point of hating puppies. Again. Been there, done that got the T-shirt. Start with 250 words (one page) six days a week and go from there. If 250 was way too easy (like curling a 1 pound weight) then adjust until it is slightly beyond comfortable. Once that word count becomes easy, increase by 15%…just like weightlifting.

This works for any self-discipline. Don’t go on a diet and cut every last unhealthy thing out at one time. Start with lowering the number of sodas and increasing water intake. Then no soda. Then onto no fast food. Easing into these life changes helps make them life-long habits. Just like writing 5000 words a day cannot sustain a career, eating nothing but celery and protein shakes is no way to eat for life.

Learn to Fail Forward

Failing Forward by John Maxwell is one of my favorite books. Successful people are successful because they have a healthy relationship with failure. They view it as a learning experience, reevaluate and then try again, and again and again, each time modifying the approach. Persistence is more than not giving up. There is a fine line between persistent and stupid.

If my goal is to climb Mt. Everest but I’m on Mt. Shasta and refuse to give up even though I’m on the WRONG mountain, I am not persistent, I’m a moron.

I have a saying, Persistence looks a lot like stupid.

Yet, how many writers keep shopping the same manuscript that’s been rejected time and time again? They refuse to dig in and do the tough revisions or move on to a new book and in the end it kills their success. The first book is often a learning curve. Use it. Learn from it. Fail forward.

Failures must be stepping stones, not tombstones.

Don’t Let Feelings Vote

How I managed to change my life around was I learned to stop consulting my feelings. They no longer get a vote. I don’t wait until I feel like writing. I write. Writers write. I don’t go to yoga or the gym only when I feel like it. I get exercise. I plan on being a career author and that requires me to be fit, healthy and relaxed.

I look at the old Kristen and want to go hide my head in shame. I waited for inspiration on everything and that’s why I had a lot of messes and very little victory.

People have a mistaken understanding of how life works. Most of us believe the feeling comes first, then the action and then the change. Heck, I did.

WRONG.

Action is always first. Action, then the feelings will change and finally the results change. Showing up is most of the battle. Trust me.

Feelings are a horrible guide. Feelings can be affected by diet, weather, activity level, the news, traffic, PMS, kids, a full moon, cat puke in our slippers. Feelings are a terrible compass. Are they important? Sure. The bumper on my car is important, too, but it makes a lousy navigational system.

Just remember:

“Amateurs wait for inspiration. The rest of us get up and go to work.” ~Stephen King.

So the next time you look at those authors you admire so much, you might rest easy knowing that you very well could be just as talented. Talent isn’t something we can much control. But, this is good news. This means, then, that the only things separating us from the Author Big Leagues are life habits that we can control. And that is FANTASTIC news!

What stumbling blocks do you guys face? What challenges? Any tips or tricks to share? Great books to read about self-discipline? What is your success story? I want to hear! Are you a reformed slacker, too? Are you afraid of your NaNoMonster?

I love hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of November, 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 November I will pick a winner for the monthly prize (will announce October’s winner at the same time. Been on the road too much to effectively tally). 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 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 Rich Weatherly on November 28, 2012 - 7:16 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Kristen. I’m participating in nano this year. With three days left I have less than a thousand words left to complete my goal. All the best the other NanoWriMo writers out there!

    • #2 by Beth Green (@Bethverde) on November 30, 2012 - 9:35 am

      Thanks for this blog. I just (about five minutes ago) finished my NaNo this year and was happy when I saw a link to this post blog tweeted–it’s exactly what I was thinking. I’m tipping my hat to all the other NaNo participants this year and wishing everyone another year of writing self-discipline.

  2. #3 by K on November 28, 2012 - 7:21 pm

    helpful post for the letdown that inevitably follows nanowrimo!

  3. #4 by Imelda Evans on November 28, 2012 - 7:23 pm

    In a long and distinguished history, I think this may be your best blog post ever. Sharing. Taking to heart. Going now to exercise an assortment of muscles – gently!

  4. #5 by colinfalconer on November 28, 2012 - 7:26 pm

    I think it was Michener who said ‘I’m a lousy writer but I’m a great rewriter.’ What you’ve said here is spot on, Kristen. I’ve made a living most of my life from writing and I don’t see myself as particularly talented but jeez I work hard at it. Took me five years of rewriting and rewriting my very first novel but when I finally got it right it was picked up by a big London publisher and all that work and determination paid off. 20 or so novels later I’m glad I hung in for that first 5 years of failure. Great post!

  5. #6 by billgncs on November 28, 2012 - 7:32 pm

    interesting as always. When I played sports, the mantra was: focused practice yields results, anything else just developed bad habits, which is much more common than bad hobbits.

  6. #7 by authorleannedyck on November 28, 2012 - 7:40 pm

    Thank you for this peep talk. I’m listening. Act like what you want to become.

  7. #8 by Samuel Solomon on November 28, 2012 - 7:41 pm

    I sure did like this blog. I didn’t do Nano this year, though I intended. When it came down to it, I knew this story didn’t have the flesh it needed to live and breathe. But I did do an 80k novel in 6 weeks this summer, so I can live with it. After the holidays, I will begin my next work, lest I go utterly mad.

    As for your remarks about feelings- quite right. We are well-served to apply similar principles to our relationships. Sometimes you suck it up and stick with it regardless of how you ‘feel’ at the moment.

  8. #9 by Tim Huntley on November 28, 2012 - 7:42 pm

    Kristen,

    Over the past year, I have worked with several elite track and field athletes, and to a person, they express the same sentiment you mention above, “focus, mental toughness,….”

    Long jumper, Brianna Glenn had this to say regarding mental preparation:

    “I believe in the following sentiment– ‘success is 99% physical and 1% mental. But it is the 1% mental that determines the 99% physical.’ I am certain I already possess the tools physically to be as good as I want to be. What I need to work on the most is mentally allowing myself to be great when it matters.”

    …Tim

  9. #10 by Diana Layne on November 28, 2012 - 7:47 pm

    Great post for getting me back on track, I’ve spent the year publishing three books (one through a small press) and learning new software and promo (and reading your book), and fiction writing got pushed further and further down the to-do list. I used to get up at 4 to get it all done and I’m gonna have to do it again. (I homeschool too). As for revising that NaNo mess you wrote (congratulations!) I wrote a two part blog for the Rubies on ripping and revising-actually I’m using it right now…http://www.rubyslipperedsisterhood.com/rip-and-rebuild-revisions-part-1/ And I totally start out with a page a day when I’ve fallen off the wagon, lol (I usually fall off when I finish a book and the publishing process starts…gotta figure out how to multitask)

  10. #11 by TLJeffcoat on November 28, 2012 - 7:48 pm

    Hmmm, doesn’t matter if we feel like it? I wish I knew what it felt like to not feel like writing (not really). Now back to writing. Love the post. I do need to work on my discipline though. I’m easily distracted. Like when I get an email that tells me Kristen Lamb posted on her blog. ;-)

  11. #12 by Diana Beebe on November 28, 2012 - 7:56 pm

    Great post! I love the idea that we all already have self-discipline. It’s not something that we must learn, but it is something that we must practice.

  12. #13 by H.L. Pauff on November 28, 2012 - 8:18 pm

    Some very good advice here. This was my first year doing NaNoWriMo and there were times where I was exhausted and didn’t think I could write, but the month is just about over and here I am north of 50k words.

  13. #14 by Alice Abel Kemp on November 28, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Outstanding blog, Kristen. You nailed it. Feelings are b.s., nothing we can rely on. All we have is our word. I’ve given my word to be faithful to my partner and I’ve given my word to keep on keeping on with writing. As that great social philosopher, Woody Allen, said, “Eighty percent of success in life is just showing up.” I’ll keep showing up at the computer and often I’m surprised by what comes out.
    Thank you.

  14. #15 by laurel on November 28, 2012 - 8:47 pm

    You really struck a chord with me, several in fact. I am in the middle of the third rewrite for my 2010 NaNo (which was recently requested at a conference). At the end of that NaNo it was a mess and even though I loved it and pitched it to agents and editors, I didn’t have the skills to really make it right, until now.
    Strengthening the writing muscles by building them in increments makes the goal achievable. I feel like I have taken care of the “vitamins and supplements” – aka: skill-building classes and workshops, and am beginning to see real progress from my chapter-a-day approach to rewrites.

    I love your blog and will be picking up your books – as soon as I get this manuscript sent off.
    :0)

    Laurel N

  15. #16 by sharonhughsonar on November 28, 2012 - 9:24 pm

    I’m doing A Round of Words in 80 Days at this point in time. I set a goal of 5,000 words per week and I met that 3 weeks out of 9. I think my starting expectations were a little high.
    I completely concur that it feels like success when the goal is met. The bottom line goal – I’m writing four days per week – has been reached in nearly every case even if the word count wasn’t there.
    Thanks for reminding me to keep on keeping on if I want to reach the ultimate goal of being a published author.

  16. #17 by renée a. schuls-jacobson on November 28, 2012 - 9:44 pm

    Fantastic post, Kristen. When in Hell’s bells did you have a chance to write it? ;) Great advice! I will begin writing my book again in the new year. I resigned from my job, and I’m making the time to make my dreams come true. Time to rebuild after the crash.

  17. #18 by TheOthers1 on November 28, 2012 - 9:55 pm

    My biggest issue is being dictated by my feelings. I really struggle with how I feel about my writing and am inclined to give up often. Writing everyday isn’t the problem so much as my emotions. I can say I’ve learner more about sticking to this in the last year though.

  18. #19 by MonaKarel on November 28, 2012 - 10:28 pm

    I’m stuck in that rut of “I’m not good enough, Everyone else is doing better than I’m doing” Self defeating, oh yeah. Thanks again for the kick in the posterior

  19. #20 by Laura Ritchie on November 28, 2012 - 10:44 pm

    Thanks for a great post! The plan of starting with a reasonable goal, and increasing that goal over time, is such good advice. I’m busy with edits right now, but will be in writing mode again soon, and I will definitely approach it this way to get me to work more steadily.

  20. #21 by Marvin Mayer on November 28, 2012 - 10:54 pm

    Thanks, Kristen! I needed that!
    Just to “test the waters,” I entered NaNoWriMo in 2009. I wrote over 54,000 words during the 30 day period. Thinking the manuscript wasn’t that great, I put it aside. In 2011, I pulled it off the shelf, dusted it off, and read it to myself. Not all that bad, I thought. Skipping the gory details, suffice it to say how pleased I am this first trek into NaNo land is now under contract, has undergone some MAJOR edits, and should be in print by spring, 2013. Now that I know I can do it, why didn’t I try again in 2010, 2011, or 2012? Because I’m not using those practices you just slapped me in the face with in today’s post. Great ideas work, but only if they are put in motion.

  21. #22 by jamieayres on November 28, 2012 - 11:04 pm

    Great message–I even took notes in my journal:-) Wonderful for setting goals with New Year’s just around the corner~cheers:-)

  22. #23 by S.C. Chalmers on November 28, 2012 - 11:23 pm

    Thanks for a great post. I love reading things that remind me why it’s worth it to keep pushing harder than I thought possible … and then keep pushing some more.

  23. #24 by Char on November 28, 2012 - 11:29 pm

    I don’t wait until I feel like writing. I write. Writers write.

    I finally got into this mode of thinking last year. I adjusted my work hours so I still had the energy to write at the end of my work day. And on the weekends, it’s the first thing I do each day. The laundry & grocery shopping can wait. Writing is the priority.

    Thanks for another inspirational post, Kristen.

  24. #25 by J. L. Mbewe on November 28, 2012 - 11:43 pm

    When I went off to college the second time around, I learned the power of color-coded schedules and maybe I became a little OCD. I discovered self-discipline. Then parenthood derailed that. My biggest struggle is the battle in my head. And then mismanaging my priorities and biting off more than I can chew. I’ve got two little ones, but like you said, waking up earlier or going to bed later, etc. I can make time, but if my head isn’t on straight, my compass is broken, I spin in circles rather than actually going forward. Some days I feel like I can tackle the world, then others I want to cease to exist.

    Thanks for the post. I’m hoping to get my head back on track, determine what my next step is in my career, and what kind of goals I need to set. I hope to be able to take your blogging class next year. We shall see.

  25. #26 by Karin on November 28, 2012 - 11:47 pm

    Yes! I want to write. Now if I could just get the kids to make their own meals, do their own laundry, grocery shop and make some cash …. sigh. I will keep trying to make more time to write because I’m addicted to writing and can’t stop. Thanks for you post!! = :))

  26. #27 by Susan J on November 28, 2012 - 11:54 pm

    Thanks, Kristen, for another encouraging and instructional post. I just crossed the Nano “finish line” this evening; first book I’ve attempted to write. I don’t plan to savor that long, but for today it’s exciting.
    I found the discipline it took to set and work toward daily goals has opened up space in my routine that I intend to keep for my writing. Thanks for all the writing helps.

  27. #28 by Karen Lynn Klink on November 29, 2012 - 12:03 am

    I needed that.

  28. #29 by Elle Carter Neal on November 29, 2012 - 1:32 am

    I had a similar lightbulb moment when I was pregnant with my second child. I worked out that I could get the first draft of a novel written if I stuck to a smallish, doable target every single day (270 words). But if I missed too many days, I would not finish before the birth. It was a great self-discipline workout. By the time I wrote THE END, my numbers were 156 days in a row of writing every single day. 111 days in a row of hitting a target greater than 270 words. And I tripled my starting goal as an average across six months.

    And now I know how to repeat that success whenever I want. I used that same self-discipline to edit a 645 page novel for a client, with two young children demanding some of my attention, too.

  29. #30 by Maria M on November 29, 2012 - 6:08 am

    Just what I needed to read today! Thank you!

  30. #31 by kathils on November 29, 2012 - 6:50 am

    An excellent post, Kristen, and one that applies to several aspects of my life. I’d also like to smack a certain (non-writer) friend over the head with it and scream, “Hey, pay attention!”

  31. #32 by abbie42 on November 29, 2012 - 7:25 am

    Great post – very inspirational. I have a demanding day job, yet over the last three years I’ve written three novels. When people ask me how I find time, I give them a look and tell them I don’t. Time doesn’t magically fall from the sky and drop into my lap. I ‘make’ time. I make sacrifices. I stay in on sunny days, I miss social events, I essentially work 7-day weeks as I spend all day on Sat and Sun writing (treating it like a job, so I get to the computer by 9). I’m just hoping that, one day, it won’t be so difficult to make time, and that there won’t need to be so many sacrifices.

  32. #33 by David Todd on November 29, 2012 - 9:00 am

    I don’t participate in NaNo because it’s in the wrong month. If it were in October, or March or April, I would do it. I lose a week of writing because of Thanksgiving activities. There’s no way I can get 50,000 words in three weeks after 60 hours goes to the day job and commuting.

    I’m working on a novel, and have about 20,000 words in November. But it’s not a NaNo project.

  33. #34 by Rachel Thompson on November 29, 2012 - 9:55 am

    Force of will is the Key. One must accept that most things standing between us and our work are excuses and not a justified reasons. Junkies and alcoholics that really quit choose to do so, they commit and succeed. Things like writer’s block, inspiration and other procrastinations are nothing more than excuses to prop up weak commitments. Years ago I read this hookey self help book called, “Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway.” The title said it all. The rest of the book was unnecessary self tricks. We don’t need to trick ourselves. Breaking a bad habit or making a good one is a choice. Like Yoda said, “Do or do not, there is no try.”

  34. #35 by Kate on November 29, 2012 - 10:06 am

    Once again, you’ve given me great perspective on life and writing. One of the pieces of writing advice I’ve enjoyed is from Naomi Novik, who suggests setting a goal of ten words per day. It’s such a little goal it feels foolish NOT to do it, and usually more than ten words get written. I like the 250 words/1 page for day a little better as a building block to a larger goal. Thanks for the post, as always!

  35. #36 by hillarymaalouf on November 29, 2012 - 10:10 am

    This is just what I needed to read before I start finishing my Nanonovel today. I tried last year and gave up after a week. This year I plugged away, made my family listen to all my plot twists and ideas, got thoroughly addicted to the process and my characters, and plan to keep writing at the same pace the day after it’s over. I don’t want to lose my momentum or the good habits I’ve gained in the past month.

  36. #37 by Maryann Miller on November 29, 2012 - 11:04 am

    Thanks for another great motivational post. I especially liked that you pointed out we all have discipline within us, we just need to exercise it. While my biceps are very firm, my discipline is a bit flabby. Getting better, though. Your blog has helped a lot.

  37. #38 by TheOthers1 on November 29, 2012 - 11:10 am

    Reblogged this on ChantelC and commented:
    How appropriate for the last few days of NaNo. I’ve said “Now what?” A few times already. Learning how to be more dedicated.

  38. #39 by mfawriterguy on November 29, 2012 - 11:17 am

    You are truly masterful at motivation. And I love the way you blog. It’s so pretty, with colors and pictures. My blog is…plain and filled with words and…nothing more. I’ve still got a lot to learn, and I learn from you. Thanks for the hard work you do for all of us.

  39. #40 by Sandra Wagner-Wrught on November 29, 2012 - 11:26 am

    Absolutely right on every point. And during the holidays too

  40. #41 by PA Lassiter on November 29, 2012 - 11:41 am

    Here’s my question. If a professional writer writes 12,500 words a week (the pace of NaNoWriMo) how do they maintain that speed? When do they do their plotting and researching? So often, the plot changes as we write…a character does something we didn’t expect, an idea change comes halfway through, and so on. Or if you’re writing mystery or suspense, you’ve got to make the whodunit elements come together just right. So it’s not all about word count, is it? Can writers plot, research, *and* write at that speed?
    Thank you for the post and any insight you might offer.

    • #42 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 29, 2012 - 12:10 pm

      A lot of that word count can go to things like rewriting or blogging. It is true that when we write professionally that we are not always in the actual “writing,” but, when we are, it is common to write 1000-4000 words a day. It takes discipline to do edits and revisions and also research, but then we need to make sure we are getting back to the actual writing. Also, in the new paradigm, the pace for publishing is picking up. Writers who can keep up with fan demand are at an advantage. I know of writers who plan and plot the next novel while they are writing the current WIP. Then as they write the next book, the revise the previous, so there is always a novel in the pipeline.

      I know that when I am not traveling, I average about 2500 words a day between blogs, articles and the books I am working on.

    • #43 by MonaKarel on November 29, 2012 - 12:13 pm

      The name is escaping me at the moment, but there is a blog by a writer who achieves 5,000 wpd. She does this by spending her non writing time planning her story. Not down to the nth detail, but in general…who does what with whom, where they will go in the next scene/day/week. So when she writes, that aspect of the book is already in place. Actually if you Google 5,000 words per day you’ll be able to immerse yourself in ideas. I think the main idea is not to become a plotter but to do the basting before you sew up your pants (sewing reference from one of my former selves)

  41. #44 by PA Lassiter on November 29, 2012 - 12:42 pm

    Thank you very much for the clarification. That makes sense to me. I agree that the speed of production these days seems crazy fast, especially in romance. I don’t know how some of the successful writers keep it up–perhaps with a lot of help.

  42. #45 by keelaurow on November 29, 2012 - 12:51 pm

    What a great blog! I don’t suck because I’m uninspired, I suck because I’m undisciplined! That I can fix. Your words spoke directly to me – I very much operate on a “What Do I Feel Like Doing Today” basis. Thank goodness I found you while writing book number one. I’m motivated to do things the right way now! Maybe by starting early on good habits, it won’t take years to publish. Thanks Kristen!

  43. #46 by KM Huber on November 29, 2012 - 1:19 pm

    Your blogging class takes writers into the real world of blogging but more than that, it is a class that helps writers discover themselves through their writing. In short, you give them confidence as well as a way to appreciate their blogs because they enjoy the work of writing their posts.

    I have always believed writing is one of the greatest tools we have, whether we write for personal enjoyment or for publication; trying to capture the mind’s thought onto the screen/page provides us an immediate distance–and thus, another perspective–on our lives.

    Absolutely masterful, Kristen–brava!–another fine essay.

    Karen

  44. #47 by Kitt Crescendo on November 29, 2012 - 1:28 pm

    Thanks, Kristen! This post got me back on the treadmill today. I’ve been pretty good at pushing myself with my writing, but your words on self discipline helped me realize I was using my writing as the excuse to not exercise. Time management needs to be happening in all aspects…not just writing. Plus, those endorphins can work wonders for my creative thought process. ;-) Awesome post!

  45. #48 by Ashley on November 29, 2012 - 1:53 pm

    Wow. This really resonates with a lot of different aspects in my life right now. One of my fellow “aspiring author” friends directed me to this, and boy does it hit home. The procrastination gene is strong in me, and I need to fight it and get in gear!

  46. #49 by edvinasfreibergis on November 29, 2012 - 3:01 pm

    This is a very intelligent post, keep up the good work!

  47. #50 by AJ Bradley on November 29, 2012 - 3:56 pm

    I’m not here for a prize, though a critique from you would be BANGIN’. I just want to say that this blog post KICKS ASS. A lovingly-delivered bitch slap is just exactly what we need sometimes!

  48. #51 by Janet K. Brown on November 29, 2012 - 6:09 pm

    Good post,& so right.

  49. #52 by Elisa Nuckle on November 29, 2012 - 7:18 pm

    Lately I’ve been getting a lot of posts floating around like this one, or someone talking to me about self-discipline, and it’s all more or less the same message. You know when you hit your head against an idea repeatedly until it finally clicks? I think I’m in the clicking part. I’ve started writing daily and have managed to get 2000 words a day for the past week and intend on keeping that number. Now, to actually do other productive things outside of writing, like exercise and jobs and such.

    I think when I can manage that stuff I’ll feel proud of myself — and I never really feel proud of myself.

    • #53 by Author Kristen Lamb on November 29, 2012 - 7:36 pm

      I think it is easy to dismiss the baby steps, but baby steps are steps that add up. I know how you feel about the never being proud of yourself. I am often too hard on myself as well and that’s why balance is SO important. Self-discipline is easiest when we just put one foot in front of the other and don’t ever stop. You can do it! :D

  50. #54 by Rob on November 30, 2012 - 1:49 am

    Wonderful post and a great read. As a writer of poetry it is all to easy for me to use the excuse that the muse isn’t favouring me today. Stephen King is right though, if you get up, sit at your desk and just start writing, it’s amazing how often the muse suddenly becomes more interested in you. Blog posts are the same, even if I am not really feeling like I want to pull a post together, if I just start it anyway, it usually ends up flowing out of me.

    The first step is the most important, I completely agree.

  51. #55 by The Hook on November 30, 2012 - 10:19 am

    I think I have a lot of work to do. Now I’m really depressed…

  52. #56 by lynettemburrows on November 30, 2012 - 10:32 am

    Awesome post, Kristen. A journey of small steps can travel a very long way but you don’t get far if all the steps are in a circle. Yup, being mindful of progress really spoke to me. I feel like I’ve been churning miles and miles and was getting down on myself for not making enough progress. Yet, I have a year’s worth of blog posts, a small but steady audience, these were goals I’d had and lost in the small steps, wasn’t seeing. Now my goals include a small increase in the weight of those dumb bells and a few more reps to take me to the next level.

  53. #57 by Ruth on November 30, 2012 - 12:18 pm

    Thanks for the Maxwell recommendation! Failures are to be expected in any endeavor, if you keep at it long enough. I’m always looking for ways to make mine more productive!

  54. #58 by MonaKarel on November 30, 2012 - 1:12 pm

    Need to repeat how much of an inspiration you always are…and I’ve linked my blog here. Again. So more people can get a Kristen boot in the butt! http://mona-karel.com/2012/11/30/i-am-a-nano-failure/

  55. #59 by Tracy Abell on November 30, 2012 - 1:55 pm

    Thank you for this kick in the butt. I’m disciplined but today was feeling mentally flabby. I’m gonna get back to it!

  56. #60 by Julie Glover on November 30, 2012 - 2:15 pm

    You had me all the way up until the words “no soda.” LOL. Marvelous post, Kristen! It is amazing that you can really build that muscle and make writing a disciplined activity. Just because we make ourselves write doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy writing. I love it once I get started!

  57. #61 by Melissa Maygrove on November 30, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    Great advice.
    (Love the comma splice. :P)

  58. #62 by Marti Parham on November 30, 2012 - 8:13 pm

    Another great post. I will be sharing this one for sure.

  59. #63 by A Writer Inspired on December 1, 2012 - 3:49 pm

    My favorite line in this post: “Successful people are willing to get up earlier, stay up later, work harder and never stop.”

    I think this is going on my mantra wall. It’s the hard truth, that people don’t want to hear.

  60. #64 by kimterry on December 1, 2012 - 5:28 pm

    Kristen, I started NoNoWriming faithfully, and with the best intentions, until my job (which pays the bills) and a very demanding training course in Distance Learning had its way with me. (In fact, the impression of a combat boot is still engraved in my rear-end.) Before the month ended, I still managed to bang out a little over 5k.

  61. #65 by Margie Brimer on December 2, 2012 - 10:59 pm

    My favorite part of this is,”Becoming a successful author requires more than just creative talent; it also depends on the ability to focus, mental toughness, drive, optimism and emotional control.” I think another requirement for a successful writing career is the unabashed and perceptually naive idea that, against all odds, I will shine out among the many voices trying to be heard. I’m SO VERY sad that I found this blog too late to enter the contest!

    • #66 by Author Kristen Lamb on December 3, 2012 - 9:01 am

      The contest runs continually, so you are entered :).

  62. #67 by A. Colleen Jones on December 3, 2012 - 6:26 am

    You always give such great advice. This applies to all aspects of my life, not just writing. Thanks!

  63. #68 by Tiffany Pitts on December 3, 2012 - 12:49 pm

    Thank you for this post. I consciously did not do NaNoWriMo this year because it always makes me depressed and feel like I’m not doing enough. Instead, I continue to plod along at my 1000/day pace. I am a slow writer but I keep doing it because at least I know I’m getting something done that way!

  64. #69 by primalnights on December 4, 2012 - 7:11 pm

    I wish I had seen this earlier. I love it. Great advice. I will come back to this an read it again. I love writing even though it causes as much suffering as anything else.

    Just for fun my son and I decided to write a book together. Notice anything odd about this sentence. Yes I said Just for fun. It has not really been what you would call fun, but I am loving it.

    Great Post

  65. #70 by Jessie Conley White on December 5, 2012 - 12:53 pm

    Thanks for this post!! I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second year. I’ve managed to finish both years but it’s always a hassle with kids, work, a husband in school, and a house to try to maintain. It was decided that November was “Leave mom/wife/friend alone month” for me. I get free reign to write down all the stuff I try to get out there during the year in rough outlines. I have found that outlines don’t help me out at all though. This year taught me that in a big way. As I was writing in November I realized that my characters have a mind of their own and nothing I wrote looked even remotely what I had thought out. I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing but I do know that the idea is out there and I don’t want to look at it again until at least January for the long editing process. I’m still editing the first one I wrote last year. Does it get any easier the more I do it? Or am I doomed to hiding from family and friends until I can get it out of my head?

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