WANACon was a huge success, thanks to the tireless efforts of many amazing WANAs coupled with gutsy presenters and courageous attendees. Everyone was so brave trusting that WANA could really reinvent the conference experience, and I am immensely grateful for everyone’s work, faith and trust.
But I am always growing, learning, and reaching to go higher. Right now, I am slap-happy tired, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about something very important (before I fall asleep and forget, LOL).
How BADLY do you want the dream?
Since launching my business a year ago, I have grown so much. A lot of that growing, frankly, SUCKED. It hurt.
When we reach for bigger things, we are tested. We find out a lot about who we really are, and sometimes what we see is less than pretty. In fact, it can be downright embarrassing. Pressure reveals cracks, weaknesses, and areas that are just plain flawed.
Others have dubbed me the WANA Mama, and I feel that is accurate because I am not here to deliver a fluffy kitten hug and feed you sugar.
Yes, I do believe in every one of you. I feel you are unique, special and have a wonderful story inside of you. But you need your meat and veggies, too. We all do. Becoming a career professional isn’t easy and it isn’t for the weak of heart.
I’ve had these exact same lessons, so I’m not feeding you anything I haven’t had to eat, myself.
Beware of People-Pleasing
One of the largest challenges most of us will face is the need to please others. Critique groups are fabulous, but if we don’t have a spine, we can end up with a book-by-committee.
At WANACon, all the presenters had strong opinions about what way to go, which resources to use. But, here’s the thing, no one has all your answers.
Except me. Listen to everything I tell you .
Part of maturity is listening to all the information and then applying what seems to fit to our own career. Make your own decisions. Stand firm, yet remain flexible. Not everything will work, so don’t be afraid to admit something didn’t work. Move on. Keep moving.
Traditional publishing is suffering because it’s having to learn to bend and move with change. Many indie authors suffer the exact opposite problem. They don’t stick to anything long enough to watch it bear fruit. As writers (or even publishers), we have to find that middle-ground where our feet are planted, but we can still stick-and-move when we need to.
Publishing has been very rigid for the past century, but now we are in an age that publishing can be tailored specifically for you. This is why it is vital to be educated. It’s why WANACon brought all kinds of experts not just indie.
Take everything in. Listen. Learn. Then try new things. Sometimes we will have stuff blow up in our face. In fact, a lot of the times it will. But we will learn far more from our failures than we will from success.
We have to keep trying stuff until we find the best fit, and, as the paradigm shifts, most things will continue to change. What fits today, might not fit in three months. We are all shooting at a moving target, and that is why we have to be vested, present and teachable.
If we aren’t failing, then we aren’t doing anything interesting.
When I launched WANA International, I failed…A LOT. I hired the wrong people, then had to fire, then try again. I needed to learn that talk is cheap. People can say anything. Words cost nothing. How do people react when the heat is on? Do they stand by you or do they bail and leave the mess in your lap? Do they help solve the problems or contribute more?
Is your team of support there for the good and the bad? Fair-weather friends are no use to us, and pressure is good at showing us who our support network really is.
I won’t lie. WANA International had a lot of really tough times.
For one, the original interface blew up into a GIANT mess, so I had to let go and search for better technology that could achieve the vision I had in mind (fortunately Jay found me ). Additionally, I failed to be a good boss, set boundaries, keep people accountable, and there were consequences. HARD consequences. But the aftermath of all that pain was I grew tremendously as a person and a professional.
There are probably more tough times ahead, but we have to change our attitude toward adversity. Adversity is there to test who we are and make it plain what and where we need to change.
A lot of people shy away from growing pains and avoid what scares them, yet I will say this. BEWARE of times you are comfortable. It means you aren’t stretching as an artist and professional. It’s like working out using the same dumbbells for ten years. Your muscles won’t grow. Pain and discomfort are vital to making us better.
I was terrified to try doing a conference like WANACon. There was so much fear and doubt and I don’t think I’ve slept properly in three months. But I had to try it and be willing to risk that I could very well fail as badly as I did last summer. In fact, I could have failed even WORSE. But I had grown enough to know that, good or bad, this experience would make me better. Do what scares you.
Suck It Up, Buttercup
Many times, when we become writers, we have this magical-mystical vision of what being a writer is. These dreams are for hobbyists and amateurs. Real writers work. They work hard and are willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
I used to tell writers that, if they didn’t like Facebook or Twitter or blogging, to not do it. Now? I take a much more hard-lined approach. Being successful involves doing a lot of stuff we don’t like. There is no Plan for Writing Success that involves us doing only stuff we enjoy. That’s a pipe dream.
We Must Ask Ourselves What We Like MORE?
No, maybe I am not thrilled with having to do Facebook, but I LIKE the idea of being a successful writer who makes a very good living MORE. Before social media, writers had a 93% failure rate. Most writers (traditional and non-traditional) failed to ever earn a living wage doing what they love. Now we have the power to tip the odds in our favor. If we choose not to take advantage, the onus is on us.
WANA, in many ways, reminds me of Dave Ramsay’s Financial Peace University. Dave’s advice involves a lot of initial sacrifice coupled with discipline to become debt-free and wealthy. Yes, in the beginning it is tough to live on a strict budget and save when our friends are spending. But down the road we will have long-lasting and stable success others won’t.
If we work when others are playing, later we can play while everyone works.
It is hard to tell friends and family we have to write instead of play. It’s hard to lose friendships. It hurts to fail. But all of this is necessary for us to grow and to reach our dreams.
So I challenge you today to look deep inside. Be honest. How badly do you want the dream? What are you willing to sacrifice? What areas can you come up higher? Who do you need to cut loose? What is holding you back? What scares you?
I LOVE hearing from you…
And a HUGE thank you to all of our presenters and agents. I am super grateful for the amazing Candace Havens who not only was our inspiring keynote, but she stepped in to teach Revision Hell when one of our other speakers called in very ill. Major thanks to Jay Donovan of Tech Surgeons, to the WANA Operations Manager Chad Carver, WANA Boosters like Laura Ritchie & Lena Corazon. A nice round of applause to Jami Gold who did a fabulous job as moderator and helped keep WANACon running smoothly. TEAM WANA held an amazing conference and it wouldn’t have happened without such a wonderful and giving group. THANK YOU.
To prove it and show my love, for the month of February, 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 novel, or 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 February 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.