Writing Tip #3–Talent is Cheaper than Table Salt

Kristen Lamb, WANA, writing

Image via David Farmer WANA Commons

I’ve been working as a professional editor, writer, ferret-herder for twelve years now, and one thing I’ve learned is that talent is highly overrated (which is why this quote by Stephen King remains one of my all-time favorites). I constantly meet writers more talented than I am, but I know they won’t make it despite their superior abilities.

Why?

Because they’re lazy.

I once had a boyfriend with an IQ so high it couldn’t be accurately measured. I met him when I was teaching Ju-Jitsu part time while I attended college. This boyfriend showed every class he could for about three months. He’d arrive early and stay late and practice until we were so battered we couldn’t move from sparring…

…then the excuses started.

Boyfriend showed less and less.

After 6 months, he decided Kung Fu was more his style.

He’d earned a degree in Political Science and was halfway through a combination Masters-PhD program when he quit. Later, he wanted to be a detective. He made the police force, then gave up to go do underwater basket-weaving or paint grains of rice or something or other.

Boyfriend loved books and always said he wanted to write a novel…

…if he had the time, the money, the right desk lamp from Ikea, a sharper pencil, a faster computer, more free time, or a house by the sea, free from distractions.

I was young and dumb and tried to encourage his genius, because he was so stinkin’ smart it was spooky and that was what I loved about him.

Anyway, we parted ways, and, years later, I ran into him in a grocery store. He asked how I’d been and if I was still in sales, and I told him that I’d left the corporate world and now was a published author. At the word “author” he started down that same old road. He said, “I want to be an author, but I’m just so ADD. Maybe you can help me.”

This time, instead of trying to help or agreeing with his excuses or offering to be his support buddy to make him stay on task, I said, “No, you don’t have ADD. You lack maturity and discipline.”

There are few people more ADD in this world than I am, and I get more done than most people, because I’ve created a system that helps keep me on task and productive. Now, I “focus” very differently than other people who don’t have OOH! LET’S RIDE BIKES!

…ADD, but I still get things done, because I love writing THAT much.

If we want something badly enough, we find a way. Don’t believe me? Chat with Cody McCasland (pictured below). Learn more of his story here.

Screen Shot 2013-01-07 at 1.58.08 PM

What are your thoughts? Do you make excuses? Do you recognize them and then smite them? Do you still struggle? What are your thoughts about procrastination and excuses?

I love hearing from you!

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 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).

NOTE: December’s winner will be announced when I return from Seattle.

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 January I will pick a winner for the monthly prize. 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 Lisa Hall-Wilson on January 7, 2013 - 3:24 pm

    Love it! I am often asked: how did you get so far in such a short time? Ugh – I worked my butt off that’s how! :D

  2. #2 by mrsbongle on January 7, 2013 - 3:25 pm

    I have a classic butterfly mind and yet I finished my degree in history without missing a single deadline and have written two novels. I do this my working in short bursts and I say to myself “I’ll just do five hundred words today” and as long as I do that every day I still get work done.
    On good days I might do a lot more than five hundred words and that’s always a bonus but as long as I’ve done my five hundred then I know I’ve achieved something.
    Yes, I get bored very easily but I’ve found ways to deal with it!

  3. #3 by amyshojai on January 7, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    You really need to weigh in on this survey, Counting Ferrets from the American Ferret Association (and no, your ex-boyfriend doesn’t count…)https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SXS78GL

    *ducking…couldn’t resist*

  4. #4 by mrsbongle on January 7, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Sorry that should say “by working”. That’s what you get for typing in short bursts!

  5. #5 by AH on January 7, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    love this!

  6. #6 by TLJeffcoat on January 7, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    Sadly, your ex sounds like me. Except the smart part. Ok, at least smart enough to know I have no discipline, but I’m working on it. Excellent post!

  7. #7 by James D. Layton on January 7, 2013 - 3:29 pm

    I sat in a warehouse for 6 years saying I was going to make movies if I had the time. I quit my job in 2008 and decided having time but no moeny was better than having money but no time. I was right. Within 2 years I had shot 12 shorts and a feature. I am now putting my first of 9 novels together based on my heroine Eloise Crimson. Within 6 weeks I have a first draft, a model scheduled for the cover shoot, a marketing plan, the list goes on. You just have to grab whatever tools you have and build that house, who cares if the roof leaks.

    Peace
    James D. Layton

  8. #8 by Stan R. Mitchell on January 7, 2013 - 3:30 pm

    Great post, Kristen, and it’s sooooo true…

    But I’d add one to it, as well. I think there are some who ARE willing to work hard, but they over-complicate things. And they’re so nervous and worried that what they’re doing isn’t right, or good enough, or ready, that they still don’t get to the finish line. Or they do, but it’s taken them three times as long (because of all their research) and they just don’t think it’s worth going through that much effort again.

    And before someone rips me, I am NOT saying you should rush things or not do your due diligence. I wrote 20-plus years before I published something. I am just saying there are super talented people who over-think things and make them harder than they should be. For some things, the saying holds true: “Don’t let good be the enemy of great.”

  9. #9 by Widdershins on January 7, 2013 - 3:31 pm

    Smiting and struggling every day! … ‘fall down 99 times, get up 100′

  10. #10 by Nada Faris on January 7, 2013 - 3:31 pm

    I eagerly await your emails because they are always informative at the same time that they are inspirational. I tried to convince myself that I have ADD when it came to writing (saying “I want to do short stories, poetry, journalism, tv scripts, and so on). One of my goals this year is to learn to focus properly and to start building a 3-year or 5-year writing plan.

  11. #11 by Trevor on January 7, 2013 - 3:32 pm

    Oh, I make excuses. Often retroactively. I’ll procrastinate and not-do and avoid-doing and then justify why I didn’t do.

    Probably the main reason I make excuses and lie to myself about the why-nots of my creative life is the scope I usually aim for. I figure that if prolific authors can, well, be prolific, write treatises of seven hundred pages and make oodles of cash, then so can I. If George R.R. Martin can do it, then so can someone who understands pacing and the editorial process. If Stephen King can do it, then so can someone who is substantively more optimistic and no less bold.

    But scope is scary, and I’m just, apparently, not that brave.

    Thus began my plan to get real, and to stop lying to myself, to acknowledge my own and others’ lies when it comes to creativity. Understanding why others lie to themselves about motivation and focus is beginning to help my own process. And I’ve scaled back on scope; by writing short self-reflective prose poems and developing an artistic style conducive to volume and by (with the exception of the Xmas holidays) committing to three posts a week, I’m encouraging a discipline that I didn’t formerly have.

    And with the confidence built of that, I’m tackling larger projects, serial features, developing new podcasts, building a network, and developing a host of video projects. All with this less-is-more, substantive-but-small approach.

    Will definitely be linking to this on the blog. Cheers, and thanks for challenging peoples’ motivation.

    As always, paddle your own canoe.

    Trevor

  12. #12 by Carrie on January 7, 2013 - 3:33 pm

    I have way too many excuses. I think when it comes down to it: I’m scared. I’m scared to succeed. I’m scared of all the extra work piled on me to get my book out there. So I dabble and dribble and I never.quite.get.it.done.

    Must stop that.

  13. #13 by Asturian Diary on January 7, 2013 - 3:38 pm

    This is simply an awesome post. So, so true. I’m a terrible procrastinator and excuse maker, (or should that be an excellent one? well, you probably get the idea). But, you know what? Life’s too short so I’m all about knuckling down to the important stuff (or at least trying to). Thanks for all the useful tips on here.

  14. #14 by Janet K. Brown on January 7, 2013 - 3:41 pm

    Love this post. Inspiring. Thanks, Kristen.

  15. #15 by howmyspiritsingsd on January 7, 2013 - 3:56 pm

    Your post, as usual, has been inspiring. I think my most difficult resistance came from those around me about my writing. I love to write from the time I awaken to the time I go to bed. It is as one friend describes it “an addiction”. My friends and family did not seem to understand my passion. They couldn’t understand how I could spend so much time on what they considered a “hobby”. I, however, have tenaciously kept at my craft.

  16. #16 by KM Huber on January 7, 2013 - 4:12 pm

    Writing every day keeps me curious, and that, I believe, is key to life. For more than half my life, I have been completely enamored of the process that takes a thought and turns it into words. It has always seemed to me that no matter what one may pursue with writing, it is ever a tool for life. With regular practice, it illuminates, as you so aptly demonstrate.

    Karen

  17. #17 by Tony McFadden (@Tony_McFadden) on January 7, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    Excellent, and so true. Work is what separates the wanna-be’s from those who complete their goals. And yay for Cody. Inspirational little man who will go far.

  18. #18 by Michael Rochelle on January 7, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    There is no doubt that I continue to make excuses for not accomplishing all the things that I’d like to. What’s bad is that people care enough to continue asking me about my writing, but it seems that I don’t care enough to have an update for them.

    It’s not a lack of time. If I watched one hour less of Undercover Boss, or wandered around Wal-mart less, I could have a book done. Complete. Finito. But instead, I enjoy laying arond now and wondering why I’m still at square one. Or, I make everything else a priority and get around to writing when I get a free moment–which is never, or is when I’m too exhausted to think about writing.

    I have to do better.

  19. #19 by Sarena Straus on January 7, 2013 - 4:22 pm

    Does writing this comment qualify as an excuse? Either way, I agree. i’m a full time attorney, a full time mom and I’ve completed 3 full lengths work and have 2 more in progress. And I did a half marathon last year and I’m doing another one this year. Is it hard to find time? Heck yes. But I find the time because I love to write. And be a lawyer. And run. And most of all, be with my family!!

  20. #20 by broadsideblog on January 7, 2013 - 4:22 pm

    It just depends how badly you want it.

    Writing/publishing looks so easy to those who have no idea and have never done the truly hard work to get there. My ass-in-the-chair will beat your Talent every single time. (Plus all the networking to find the right agent and editor.) Freaking out endlessly won’t get your book on the shelf.

  21. #21 by Cindy Sample on January 7, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    I’m going to Retweet this post right after this comment. It’s applicable to so many writers I know. I’m an ADD reader and writer but I learned early in my corporate life that I can harness that creativity by giving myself specific deadlines. I also like the reward system i. e. I used to reward myself with a Mrs. Field’s cookie after a visit to the gynocologist. It gave me something to contemplate other than what was happening below. Now I don’t get a glass of chardonnay until 5 pages are written!

  22. #22 by cravensavor on January 7, 2013 - 4:24 pm

    What a great post, great because it’s so true… My brother is the same way… so much smarter than any one I know, but I think he lacks the ambition to use his god given abilities to his potential. I think it might just be because everything was always so “easy” for him as far as intellectual challenges, that he was able to excel (in school, mostly) without much effort. I think in the real world, there are so many factors that go into success, individual drive and motivation being high on that list, in my opinion. I’d love to hear about your system that keeps you on task and productive…
    I love riding bikes among a ton of other things; however, I haven’t been doing a lot of those things in a long time, but maybe that’s why I am in a lot different of a situation than during the times when I was… I don’t in any way, feel like I’m missing out. Writing has definitely done a lot for my life, although I’m not sure about pursuing it as a career at this time… I still love reading your tips, despite my blogging just being a creative outlet.

  23. #23 by Wo3lf on January 7, 2013 - 4:26 pm

    Thanks for this post. It resonated quite deeply. It reminded me how full of excuses I was growing up. I used to start things and the minute I was on a roll I would quit because I got bored. I used to hate that about myself. It’s funny how you realise something and yet, it’s so difficult not to continue down that same path. Sure, I was diagnosed with ADD as a kid, but it didn’t take away awareness. For me to overcome it I had to do a complete mental shift and that only happened when I was in my early twenties. From jumping from job to job I ended up in law school and became a lawyer. And now, 12 years later, I’m following a 27 year old writing dream. I wrote intermittently during the years, but never took it serious, or my ability. Now I do and I realise it will be a lifelong skills training session.

    I have the world’s respect for people who can commit for the duration it takes to achieve what they’re aiming at and the discipline it involves. I can only strife for that. I’ve been following a very short adage: If you really want to do something, you’ll do it. I remind myself this anytime I get the impulse to quit. I still get those impulses, but age has made me stubborn. lol

  24. #24 by Lynn Blackmar on January 7, 2013 - 4:32 pm

    I’ve always written. It’s a part of who I am. But I didn’t always believe I could be a published or full-time author. I wrote in other outlets, for fun. Grad school also forced me to write a great deal of academic work. Even so, writing is one of those things where nearly everyone tells you not to do it, not to seek it. “You can’t make a living off that!”, “Only the top 1% of people who like to write will ever get published.” and so on. There’s a strong culture of shame that says “Write, but don’t write to earn.”

    When I am not writing novels, I end up writing other things. Forum posts. Blog posts. Roleplaying. Diary entries. I finally realized that if I’m writing all this stuff anyway, I might as well direct it into something more meaningful, and something for which I receive a lot more pleasure and sense of accomplishment. So what if I don’t make that much on them? I’m still making something.

    My dad, who is probably the strongest proponent of the “get a real job” club, has been dumbfounded a few times when asking my sales numbers. He never thought I would sell more than five. I’ve beaten that with a single novel by quite a bit now. I still write educational materials and make more doing that, but if I keep putting out novels, that will turn over, just looking purely at numbers.

    There might be a lot of people like me that write, but feel intimidated about seeking publishing. Or they write many, many short things, not realizing the amount they really write from week to week could easily be what it takes to write a novel or be a successful blogger.

    • #25 by lythya on January 8, 2013 - 11:26 am

      Congratz and good luck in the future. I definitely agree with you there, especially about the roleplaying. I once wrote roleplaying with a few other people for like five hours a day. We were pretty productive.

  25. #26 by SweetSong on January 7, 2013 - 4:34 pm

    This is so true! I have a close friend who’s like that. He’s always going on about all this stuff he’s going to do, but he just sits around. The thing is, I know he could do it if he put his mind to it… he just can’t, or won’t. I know I fought with my own laziness for a long time too – still do. But I discovered that I am happiest when I’m writing, even when it’s hard, hard work. That’s incentive enough for me!

  26. #27 by Daniel Escurel Occeno on January 7, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    On Kristen Lamb’s Blog,

    “Talent is achieved with practice.” – Daniel Escurel Occeno

    I am not an advocate that some are born with natural talent. The gifted, I believe; it was learned along the way since the first day of conception and in the womb. The little baby in the womb can hear and starts to develop the mind which controls the rest of the body. A superior athlete needs the mind to train their body. Read to the little baby in the womb.

  27. #28 by John Hayden on January 7, 2013 - 4:48 pm

    Talent is cheap? Or do you mean talent is plentiful? There are many talented high school baseball players, football players, tennis players, and golfers. Talent all over the high school ballfields! But the higher you go on the talent ladder, the narrower it gets. A small percentage of talented high school players will qualify for college athletic scholarships.

    At the very top, there’s hardly any space at all. Only a small percentage of talented college athletes will ever be good enough to play in the Major Leagues or the NFL, or on the professional golf and tennis tours.

    Talent alone is not sufficient for success. I agree that you have to love what you do. See Marsha Sinetar’s “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow” for the details. But of course, love alone is no more sufficient for success than talent alone. Please don’t tell any high school athlete that he or she can make it to the top if only they love the game enough, work hard enough, and persist. It’s not true. No matter how much you love it or how hard you work, nobody without talent makes it to the Major Leagues.

    To be good in any field, you need talent. To make it to the top, you nearly always need EXCEPTIONAL talent. (Just my opinion.) You need exceptional talent, you need to love what you’re doing, and you need to work hard. If you have all three, you’ll probably be very good, but there’s still no guarantee you’ll make it to the top. Sometimes you need luck. (Who said the world is fair?)

    A bestselling book is a classic example of a “Black Swan.” It’s rare (considering how many books are published) and it’s impossible to predict.

    The good news is that many of us are writers, even though most of us will never have a bestseller. The other good news is that if you have talent, you will probably love using your talent. You may even be driven to be a workaholic.

  28. #29 by Jackie Vick on January 7, 2013 - 4:48 pm

    Being slightly ADD myself, I would love it if you did a post on your project/time management system!

  29. #30 by colonialist on January 7, 2013 - 4:54 pm

    Wise words. Of course, it isn’t all that easy to get top quality table salt, either! :)

  30. #31 by Christine Ashworth on January 7, 2013 - 5:11 pm

    Yes, yes and yes! I have been lazy, and I have been productive. I much prefer the productive me over the lazy me. And productivity is so seductive, too, that I’m having a blast. I still fall into lazy ways, but those are fewer and further between than they used to be, so that’s a plus. Hugs hon!

  31. #32 by Rosi on January 7, 2013 - 5:22 pm

    Great quote. I’m afraid a lot of the time I’m much more creative with my excuses than I am with my writing. (sigh)

  32. #33 by katewyland on January 7, 2013 - 5:41 pm

    So true that talent is useless without hard work. But I don’t think it’s always laziness that keeps people from achieving. Fear has a lot to do with. Fear of succeeding, fear of making a mistake, all sorts of fears can keep you frozen.

  33. #34 by Larry Wilson on January 7, 2013 - 6:00 pm

    Interesting quote from a successful writer. It is a theme heard often from those who we view as successful, so there must be an element of truth to it. There is no success in any field without hard work. But talent is necessary too. I could have doubled or tripled the time and effort that I put into playing the trumpet and I would never have been Rafael Mendez. And I would never have been a professional football player either.

    Excuses. Now there is something cheaper and more common than salt. I’ve got bags of them. Most of them start with, “if.” The worst is, “If I had the time.” We choose to do what we want to do. It is that simple. If we are truly living at a pace that allows no time to write, then writing isn’t very important, is it?

    The truth is that I found practicing the trumpet hard because I sounded so bad. It is like that with writing. When a master like Hemingway says that the first stuff I write is crap, then I just don’t feel like writing crap. It is painful to write what I know to be crap. It is a terrible price to be paid.

    Fear is my biggest excuse. Fear of failure, fear of success.

    I’m not ADD, but I am a perfectionist. So if I can’t write the perfect story, why try?

    Then there is lazy. Yep, I battle that too.

  34. #35 by MaLinda Johnson on January 7, 2013 - 6:36 pm

    Procrastination = Fear. Most people fear success or the unknown or change itself. (What will my life be like if I actually do what I want to do?) The only way to get past that fear is to actually do the something and face your demon.

  35. #36 by Tiffany Pitts on January 7, 2013 - 6:44 pm

    Hello from Seattle!

  36. #37 by reneemaynes on January 7, 2013 - 7:02 pm

    I think sometimes you’ve got to raise the ADD flag and other times you have to pull it down and get stuff done. As you said, finding a system that works for you is the key.

  37. #38 by Daniel Escurel Occeno on January 7, 2013 - 7:26 pm

    I have no big time monetary success to write about – an article on Filipinas Magazine ($50) and a 100-word craft for Highlights for Children ($30). Print publication for Crowder College Quill of my short stories for children and freelance articles of ending the poverty at the Philippines on Internet Newspapers. I have completed five novels because of self-gratification as the prize in contests to write a 50K novel (Textnovel, NaNoWriMo, and JANO Writers).

    I look at writing the novels as a long-term investment, which I cannot withdraw from now, like Social Security.

    I will keep putting in the limited time to write the novels in hopes of earning the money for my old age. I am fifty-two so I hope I can cash out soon.

    I really do not care if I do not have the talent because I know how to read and how to write. I usually learn something from “writing blogs” and I try it if I like it so having previous talent is not really necessary to inspire me to keep writing. An idea to write the novel is plenty.

    I tell people; I write to find those, which want to buy and to read my novels. There are billions of people in the world and I would be happy with selling at Barnes and Noble’s best selling prices, oooh, a hundred thousand units per novel. A very, very, very small percentage of the total global marketplace I know, but I could buy food in my old age. – Daniel

  38. #39 by Karen Rought on January 7, 2013 - 7:33 pm

    This is what I have to keep reminding myself. There are a lot of people out there who are more talented than I am, but that doesn’t mean they’re better. It doesn’t mean they’ll make it. Thanks for the reminder, as always, Kristen. Love that picture of the little boy too. If that’s not inspiration, I don’t know what is.

  39. #40 by carbozombie on January 7, 2013 - 7:42 pm

    As always, you inspire me. Thank you.

  40. #41 by hcfbutton on January 7, 2013 - 7:47 pm

    I think I sabotage my chances by saying I’ve got this, that and the other thing to do. But as I recently learned from Michael Hyatt, I can’t chase 2 rabbits at the same time so I should pick the one I want the most. No more excuses!

  41. #42 by sharonhughson on January 7, 2013 - 7:51 pm

    Excuses? Procrastination? Aren’t those the things that make the world go around?
    I hate when I make excuses. My stress level has been so high over the past several months (or years, give or take a few weeks here and there). Sadly, I’ve allowed myself to let the strain derail many of my scheduled writing times. Sure, stress does play havoc with the creative muse, but I can gripe that out in my writing journal and then roll my chair up to the computer and start pouring my story onto the page.
    Thanks for reminding me to “pony up.” I think I’ll go get some words on paper now=)

  42. #43 by thelifeofwritingandthewritingoflife on January 7, 2013 - 7:54 pm

    Thank you, Kristen. I’ve been writing for eight years and have been making far too many excuses as to why I can’t get published. This blog alone is inspirational. It makes me realize that it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be done.

  43. #44 by Kerry Gans on January 7, 2013 - 8:44 pm

    Yeah, the excuses get me sometimes. Today, for example, I was working on a short story that’s hitting me in some raw emotional places. The closer I got to the really tender part, the more excuses popped up. Had to check email. Then Facebook. Then Solitaire. Then I REALLY needed to find out how to use Outlook to set a time reminder (I didn’t succeed). And then I “ran out of time.” Today the excuses won, even though I knew very well what was happening. Tomorrow they will not. I just did a post on this very thing, which I called the Internal Saboteur. http://wp.me/pZ1r9-iY

  44. #45 by 1 Story A Week on January 7, 2013 - 8:45 pm

    A very timely reminder. Thank you.

  45. #46 by billgncs on January 7, 2013 - 8:51 pm

    this reminds me of that old phrase… how many coming men has one known, where on earth do they all go?

  46. #47 by Kim on January 7, 2013 - 8:58 pm

    Love this post. Yes, it all takes hard work and discipline. My son has a friend with an excuse for everything–his most used excuse is ADD. I love that you told your ex that he doesn’t have ADD but lacks maturity and discipline. I need to tell this to my son so he can use that the next time his friend uses the ADD excuse!

  47. #48 by tanlee3 on January 7, 2013 - 9:23 pm

    Bless you Kristen. I really needed to hear this today xx

  48. #49 by Bupe Rose on January 7, 2013 - 9:51 pm

    I say, adopt a work ethic like ants: though they be little on earth, they are exceedingly wise, proactive, and hard working!

  49. #50 by laurimeyers on January 7, 2013 - 10:06 pm

    Ju-jitsu? Is that how you kick a book’s @$$? Tell me more, great wise one.

  50. #51 by hillbillyzen13 on January 7, 2013 - 10:31 pm

    I’ll be serving cheese with my whine – hope that’s ok. Words are wondrous little critters, able to convey images and emotions and actions simply by their placement, by carefully choosing the order in which they appear. i love words. I read the King James Bible instead of other translations, because of the beauty in how the words dance across the page. Sooo….why do I deny myself the pure pleasure of arranging words that I have chosen? Because when it’s not pure pleasure it’s sheer torture, that’s why. Those days when the words refuse to wrap around the idea in my head exasperate me to the point of desperation, and I just…stop….writing. If I pay attention, though, to the lessons you’re willing to teach, and abide by your advice, I’m thinking the good productive days will outweigh the frustrating blank ones. Thank you for sharing your knowledge, and for your encouragement.

    • #52 by nancyhartney on January 8, 2013 - 9:50 am

      Thanks, hillbillyzen13, for your comments. Cheese with whine indeed. Write on when the pleasure is with you. Write on when you stumble on those ‘blank’ days.

  51. #53 by colinfalconer on January 8, 2013 - 12:35 am

    Great post, Kristen. Loved that poster: YOUR EXCUSE IS INVALID. I was told talent is like chewing gum; even if you’ve only got a little bit you just have to keep making it stretch. Mine is so long and thin, it’s transparent.

  52. #54 by Inion N. Mathair on January 8, 2013 - 3:51 am

    Great post as usual Kristen. I don’t think enough people say this either. We hear plenty about talent and gifts. Not enough about hard work! Without ambition and drive, a gift or talent is wasted. And that, is a crime. My dad used to tell me, that if you didn’t use what God gave you, he would take it away and give it to someone who would. Coarse, I tried this theory with my room cleaning and garden work but it never took! Try it now with cooking but still hasn’t caught on. (lol) I think this is a good message for all to read and will be sharing this with our networking friends.

  53. #55 by sandnige on January 8, 2013 - 6:27 am

    Thank you for your post it was very encouraging.I am honing my talents in writing, whilst still writing; I am also attending creative writing classes, doing an English Language/Literature course hons degree, having life coaching lessons to improve positivity, volunteer 1 day a week, reading, reading, reading, attend church and am an active member, all this and more whilst I have a disability and mental health issues. My meds make me fall asleep at anytime. I was told nothing good comes from our family so I am proving otherwise. Also from a council run housing estate where the attitude is towards failure and idleness and society owes us something. I have never really fitted I am better than that, I achieve what I set out to do, I work hard but sensible, I give of myself to what I do and to the neighbourhood to change the preconcieved ideas that other people have about the estate and am as generous with my neighbours baking cakes or looking after children or spending time with the elderly whatever is needed to make the area more respectable. Sometimes it is like walking through treacle, but I carry on as much as I can and sometimes stretch myself too thinly but I am determined that council run estates can be as respectable as private housing. So I am with you on this preach it more, help them more and lets all help to improve and help our fellow writers with kindness and respect and with time.
    Hope I haven’t gone on too long but needed to say these things May God continue to bless you bringing success to you and your family.

  54. #56 by TraceyLynnTobin on January 8, 2013 - 6:40 am

    I’ve been the Master of Excuses my entire life. I’ve wanted to be a writer since the third grade, but as I started getting older the excuses started rolling in…first they almost sounded reasonable: “Oh, well I WANT to be a writer but that’s such a financially unstable field that I’m going to go into technology first to make sure I can pay the bills.”
    As I got older it became, “I can’t sacrifice my social life for writing time!” and, “I’m just not as creative as I used to be,” and, “I just can’t find the time between work and chores and etc,” and, “Jesus Christ, I’ve got a CHILD to worry about.”

    Excuses all.

    It’s only really been since starting my blog that I’ve really gotten back into the swing of things and been able to force myself to delegate time for writing. It’s finally occurring to me that if writing is important to me then I have to MAKE time for it, FIND the creativity, and STOP making excuses!

    Excellent advice as always, Kristen. Love your blog to pieces. :)

  55. #57 by Marilyn Hudson Tucker on January 8, 2013 - 8:52 am

    Excellent post, as always, Kristen. I will be putting your link on the San Antonio Writers Guild FB page, as usual.

    I have found that I work better with a time constraint. I know many people like to write a certain number of works, but I simply put out better stuff if I set a time limit.

    Also, if I work for an hour, I spend the next ten minutes exercising in order to keep my metabolism burning.

    I am getting closer and closer to being ready to send my novel to an agent. When I forced myself to write a certain number of words, I did not write as well.

  56. #58 by Richard Snow - Writer on January 8, 2013 - 9:32 am

    Kristen: I’d love to know what your system is. for overcoming being ADD and still getting work done.

    • #59 by lythya on January 8, 2013 - 11:23 am

      Haha, me too!

  57. #60 by nancyhartney on January 8, 2013 - 9:46 am

    Richard – appreciated your response to Kristen’s writing tips. Sitting down to write and getting serious about marketing are two essentials for ‘making it.’ Write on.

  58. #61 by Andy Decker on January 8, 2013 - 11:15 am

    Hubba hubba – what you said. I teach composition at a community college here in Central Illinois. I get all type of students and the common denominator between success and failure is whether or not they do the work. When they enroll in Comp. I or II, these students need, more than anything else, more experience writing. Part of my course involves journals – easy journals, like get the dart on the wall next to the board and you get the points. But so often, they just don’t write. I tell them writing is like a muscle – go do a couple of laps, exercise their writing. Many don’t. And I can always tell the ones who arrive in my classes from ‘real’ universities. They, like your previous boyfriend, are what I’d call smart kids. But the reason they left the first school was because of laziness (and too much party & facebook & etc…). At the same time, the ‘at risk’ students sometimes amaze me with what they are willing to do. They don’t know jack about the English Teacher Stuff (like commas and run-on sentences) but they can be prolific writers. So yeah, git-r-done.

  59. #62 by lythya on January 8, 2013 - 11:22 am

    I just realized one of my biggest excuses “I’m not talented enough, so why bother?” has just been smashed to the ground. Thank you. This was world shattering to me.

  60. #63 by Leigh Ann on January 8, 2013 - 11:40 am

    I find myself making “mom excuses,” which aren’t entirely invalid, but still excuses. I can’t work with three small kids at home, I can’t get organized because they zap all my brain cells, I don’t have time to write because blah blah blah. In 2013 I vow to emerge from this kid fog, work on my organization, read more, and write more. I just have to work at it, like everything else.

  61. #64 by startraci on January 8, 2013 - 12:18 pm

    I admit to suffering from excuse-itis when it comes to my writing. I have kids and a home to run and a side job and volunteering and… The truth is that there is more time to write than I allow myself because that would be scary. To sit at the computer and just do it would mean that I own what happens and whether I am successful. Thank you for this kick in the rear because I do want this. I am going to make myself conquer this fear so that I can be successful at this dream. :-)
    Traci

  62. #65 by nwbe11e on January 8, 2013 - 12:51 pm

    Thank you for the advice! I’ve just started writing and I enjoy reading your tips. You’ve inspired me to finally try to publish some of my academic papers that I never felt we’re “perfect” enough. They’re award winners and I should. I have no excuse. You’ve also inspired me to set goals for my writing. I know I’m good and practice and perseverance will only make me better. I need to make this happen for me. No one else will. Thanks again!

  63. #66 by Maryann Miller on January 8, 2013 - 4:06 pm

    You are so right about perseverance and hard work being the defining characteristics of a successful writer, and I think that applies to any endeavor as well. Too many people dream and talk and dream and talk some more, but don’t do the hard work. And it is hard work. No doubt about it.

  64. #67 by eqtrainer on January 8, 2013 - 4:22 pm

    I am surprised how many people admitted to having excuses not to achieve some goals. It probably means that you were not motivated enough to do it or you have wrong goals. Self-motivation depends on personality and knowledge about what works for you.
    Personally, I do not believe in working hard, especially in writing. If it is hard to write it is harder to read. If we have passion for something then we get inspiration, motivation and energy. Nothing wrong with stopping or pausing, as long as we do not give up!

  65. #68 by Marianne Sheldon on January 9, 2013 - 5:10 am

    I love this Stephen King quote. Thanks for the post. As usual, you’ve given me the kick in the pants I needed.

  66. #69 by Chyina on January 9, 2013 - 7:34 am

    I still have excuses, and I fight with them each time. Deep down I know they are really a reflection of my fears. One issue I have is that I tend to focus on too many things at once. I get a great idea for something, and then think of a hundred of different ways to do it, but instead of trying only a few I for the full boat. Or I’ll have several different ideas and instead of trying to focus and finish I try to tackle them all at the same time. Sometimes I manage to work it. Most times I fall flat on my face, which in turn makes me have to push myself up harder to start again. :P I think it’s always a struggle with all of us, and it’s only that some of us have found a way to circumvent or manage it better than the rest of us scatterbrains. :D

  67. #70 by marsharwest on January 9, 2013 - 12:31 pm

    Great post, Kristen. Apparently there are a lot of us out here with various attention issues. There are certain things that seem to help–lists are a must for me–but you really need to find what works for you. And be able to laugh when it doesn’t. I’m still always amazed to find myself in one room when I was somewhere else, doing something else just moments before and not exactly certain how or why I got there. LOL Now, I just back up and that usually brings to mind what I was supposed to be doing, whether it was putting a load of clothes in the washer or getting back to the computer. I’m a believer. Smarts are great, but hard work will “git’er done!”

  68. #71 by Sylvia Liu on January 11, 2013 - 1:35 pm

    Thank you for reminding me – not that I didn’t already know – that it is hard work that pays off. And it is hard to sit myself down at my workspace and really produce, instead of blogging or doing other things.

  69. #72 by Fred on January 13, 2013 - 9:49 pm

    This hit me where it hurts most. You know, round about where I store away the truth? This is a great eye opener and quite the timely reminder. Gotta wake up from the dream and actually pursue it. No more procrastination. No more inaction!

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