Posts Tagged Don’t Eat the Butt

Lies that Can Poison Your Dreams–Don’t Eat the Butt in 2013

Chuy

Happy New Year! Today we are going to revisit a favorite series of mine that I call Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. Besides, when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, I guarantee most of you vowed to 1) start your novel 2) finish your novel 3) land an agent 4) self-publish 5) be better about checking in with your parole officer.

Maybe that’s just me :D.

Kristen, Why Are We Talking About “Butts” and What Does This Have to Do with Writing?

We’re getting there! Geesh! Patience.

I like to think about stuff.

A lot of stuff.

Probably far too much stuff.

Anyway, I wonder about the first person who ate an oyster. Was it a dare? Someone lose a bet? What about mushrooms? There are 100,000 known species of mushrooms, yet only 2,000 are edible. How do we know this? Someone had to eat the bad ‘shrooms then pass that knowledge down for posterity (after he stopped seeing snakes).

Who volunteers for this kind of stuff?

But the most fascinating culinary assassin, in my POV, is the puffer fish. There is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Marty: Wow, crazy, Dude. This puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over foaming from the mouth*

Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.

This idea of the puffer fish made me start thinking about our careers as artists. There are a lot of common misperceptions that can leak poison into our writing dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, the DETB (Don’t Eat the Butt) lessons are designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. My assistant Chuy (pictured above) is here to help.

In short, Don’t Eat the Butt, It’s Chuy.

This shall be your mantra.

I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. I will not eat the butt. (Romance authors stop sniggering, please. Thank you.)

No butts about it.

bada bump *snare*

Some of us have been there, done that and got the butt-tasting T-shirt. I am here to hand down what I have learned from being stupid enough to eat the literary puffer butt and survive. Watch, listen and LEARN. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others.

Yeah, you’ve got all these shiny resolutions. Yay, for you. But I am here to help you turn resolutions into reality so we need to get your thinking straight. Battles begin and end with the mind.

Without further ado…

DETB Lie #1 I’m not a real writer until I have

  • a finished manuscript
  • landed an agent
  • am traditionally published
  • am selling enough books to quit my day job
  • am writing full time
  • have spent my retirement funds earning an MFA in Creative Writing

This is crap and don’t eat it. What yahoo decided that we aren’t real writers until we meet some silly outside standard of validation? On what plane of existence does this make ANY professional sense? We are writers the second we decide to take this career decision seriously.

Screw aspiring. Aspiring is for pansies. Takes guts to be a writer..

Think of it this way. As writers we are entrepreneurs (refer to this post). Do entrepreneurs use the term aspiring? I am an aspiring restaurant owner. Oh, I am an aspiring landscaper. I am aspiring housekeeper.

NO.

If I want a house-cleaning business, the second I gather all of my cleaning supplies and a vacuum together in the back of my SUV and print off some business cards, I am a house-cleaning business. Even before my very first client.

In fact, I cannot land my first client until I first call myself a business. Who is going to let me into their house wielding a toilet brush if I approach them with, “Hi, I am an aspiring housekeeper. I’m still learning the best ways to get rid of soap scum, but maybe you can hire me even though I am not, per se a “real” housekeeper?

Again…no.

The title is not something we earn it is who we are. Our title defines our level of commitment. 

Here’s a news flash. There is no license requirement to write books (though it might be a good idea).

Profession by Certification

Doctors, lawyers, accountants, and nurses are professions that require outside certification. This is why they cannot call themselves “Doctor” or “Counselor” or “R.N.” until they take certain exams and pass various levels of professional vetting.

When it comes to being a DOCTOR, we are not a REAL DOCTOR until we have gone to medical school.

Profession of Results

Writers are not the same type of profession. We don’t need a license, an MFA, a finished novel, or an agent to call ourselves writers. We are writers when we decide to write.

Now, we might be bad writers, lazy writers, untalented writers, unpublished writers, pre-published writers but we are still real writers. We are a profession defined by results, not intentions or certifications.

Lose the Literary Training Wheels…NOW

Why Writers Fear the Title

When we decide to use the professional title writer, it is a sign to others that we are no longer hobbyists. Others will expect a certain work ethic to go with our title.

I feel many writers fear using a professional title because we invite a new level of accountability. We fear failure and so we hedge with euphemisms like “aspiring author” so that we can goof off and write when the fancy strikes.

We can never become a professional author if we won’t first claim being a real writer. How we define ourselves affects our choices, how we spend our time, and what we are willing to sacrifice. Those who will not first call themselves WRITER are almost certainly doomed to fail.

Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration, the rest of us get up and go to work. ~Stephen King

Writers are professionals who treat their writing as if it is their first, second or even a third job. They have a solid work ethic and they know that they have to ante up and take the consequences for better or for worse. They are mature and no longer playing Literary Barbies with their characters.

Screen Shot 2013-01-02 at 10.22.29 AM

The world does not reward perfectionists, it rewards finishers.

So best of luck with 2013, and I will do all I can to help you guys grow and mature and have the dreams of your heart.

Remember! Don’t Eat the Butt…It’s Chuy

For those who need some writer love and support, please join us over at WANATribe, the social network for writers. No ads, no spam, all awesome. We have digital Jell-O shots.

We are not alone!

We also have a wonderful lineup of classes at WANA International. Our digital classroom is state of the art. Learn from home and at your own pace. I HIGHLY recommend Agent Secrets taught by Literary Agent Laurie McLean. She is a FABULOUS teacher and is very savvy with the new options in the Digital Age.

What are your thoughts? Opinions? Fears? What keeps you from claiming the professional title?

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).

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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71 Comments

Don’t Eat the Butt #3–Persistence Can Look a lot Like Stupid

Thank you Parks Australia for the image.

A couple of weeks ago, I started a new series that I called Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. No, I think there are some important lessons here, so let me explain. I have always found the puffer fish fascinating. For those who choose to eat the puffer fish, there is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Take a bite! I dare ya!

Herb: Hey, this puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over*

Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.

This idea of the puffer fish made me start thinking about our careers as artists. There are a lot of common misperceptions that can leak poison into our dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, this series is designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. You might have heard the saying, Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Well, I am saying, Don’t Eat the Butt. 

Some of us have been there, done that and got the butt-tasting T-shirt. I am here to hand down what I have learned from being stupid enough to eat the Literary Puffer Butt and survive. Watch, listen and LEARN. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others.

Without further ado…

Don’t Eat the Butt Lesson #3–Persistence can look a lot like stupid.

The successful writer is the one who never gives up. Yeah, uh…no. This lesson is a bit tricky since, of course, the ability to stick to something is a major factor in success. But, as I like to say, “Persistence can look a lot like stupid.”

For those of you who follow this blog, I hope you took time to read Wednesday’s post The Future of Publishing–Bracing for Impact. Why do I mention this post? Because traditional publishing is certainly not giving up…on an old, wasteful, utterly uncompetitive paradigm. They are being persistent, all right. They are being persistent to the point of making dumb moves like “agency pricing” and clinging to the printed book in a digital world. The Big Six are doing what has worked for decades, oblivious to the changes all around that are about to spell their doom. What do you call the publisher who never gives up (on a flawed business model)?

Extinct.

Big Publishing is currently eating the butt. They saw the music industry eat the Music Puffer Butt and DIE, then the film industry dined on some Kodak Puffer Butt and DIED, and, in the midst of all these dead bodies industries, The Big Six are pulling up a chair and ordering the Literary Puffer Butt thinking they are the special exception. So let us at least be smart enough to learn from all this carnage.

Literary Puffer Butt KILLS.

Okay, moving on…

I believe in persistence, but we need to always make sure it is a smart persistence, an informed persistence, an honest persistence. I love Konrath’s quote, “What do you call the writer who never gives up? Published.” I totally agree, but this really great quote needs a little bit of clarification. Persistence alone (as we are seeing with Big Publishing) can be a disaster. It can make us get tunnel-vision and fail to see that we are on a dead-end road to destruction.

I teach at a lot of conferences, and every year I see the same people with the same books that have been rejected 624 times. They bring the same book to critique and redo the makeup on a corpse that they drag around even though it has started to stink up the place. Granted, some don’t keep querying the corpse, they self-publish it, and, even though it has only sold ten copies (all to their mother), they keep retooling the marketing plan, placing all their future hopes in one book. They remain loyal to a dead novel instead of taking it as the learning experience that it is and moving on to write more books and better books.

We all need to learn to be persistent. Persistence is a mark of maturity and character. Amateurs and infants drift from shiny thing to new shiny thing; professionals stay the course. But while persistence is noble, it must always be taken with a solid dose of reality. We need to stop, take an honest look at the situation, whatever that situation might be, and then be unafraid to ask the hard questions. We must invite real criticism even when we know it likely could sting like hell. And, after we’ve gotten a candid assessment of our novel or business plan or our dream to create the world’s largest Twister board? Then it is time to genuinely seek guidance from others to make a new plan, a better plan.

In the end? Friends don’t let friends eat Literary Puffer Butt.

So I have mentioned clinging to the same novel and reworking again and again as an instance of Literary Puffer Butt. What do you think? What other Literary Puffer Butt is lurking out there on the buffet that we might need to look out for? Have you eaten Literary Puffer Butt and lived to tell the tale? Share your story of survival. Have you saved a friend or family member from Literary Puffer Butt? And, yes, I am having way too much fun typing Literary Puffer Butt :D.

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

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

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75 Comments

Don’t Eat the Butt–Lies that Can Poison Our Writing Career #2

Last week I started a new series that I am calling Don’t Eat the Butt. Why? Because typing “butt” makes me giggle. No, I think there are some important lessons here. I have always found the puffer fish fascinating. There is only ONE TINY PART of the puffer fish that is not deadly. Oh, and if you don’t know how to cut a puffer fish correctly, you can unwittingly unleash deadly poison into the non-poisonous part.

Herb: Hey, this puffer fish kind of tastes like chick–…*grabs throat and falls over*

Fred: Note to self. Don’t eat the butt.

This idea of the puffer fish made me start thinking about our careers as artists. There are a lot of common misperceptions that can leak poison into our dreams if we aren’t careful. Thus, this new series is designed to help you guys spot the toxic beliefs that can KILL a writing career. In short, Don’t Eat the Butt. Some of us have been there, done that and got the butt-tasting T-shirt. I am here to hand down what I have learned from being stupid enough to eat the literary puffer butt and survive. Watch, listen and LEARN. The smart writer learns from her mistakes, but the wise writer learns from the mistakes of others.

Without further ado…

Don’t Eat the Butt Lesson #2

Lie: I will take my writing more seriously when others (friends, family, the FedEx guy) take me seriously.

Many of us, when we begin as writers, won’t even call ourselves writers because we don’t yet have a finished manuscript, an agent, a publisher. See DETB Lesson #1. When we are new, often we look to outsiders to give us validation and to take our careers seriously…so that we can, too.

*scratches head*

Okay, on what planet does this make ANY sense?

Hey, I’ve been there. I recall years ago when I first started out, I let EVERYONE interrupt me. When I had time slotted out for writing, all the sudden my mother needed me to take her for errands, my brother needed someone to watch his kids so he could go to Lowes, my friends needed someone to help them write a resume. And everyone expected me to just drop what I was doing and help…because it wasn’t like I was doing anything anyway, right?

Hold that thought. Notice how no one takes us seriously as writers until they need someone to write their resume for free? Then we get, “Oh, well I need your help because you’re a writer.”

Moving on…

So here my entire family would just assume that I wasn’t doing anything and would line up to take their share of my time and energy…but why wouldn’t they? Instead of putting down boundaries, I would comply and do whatever and then whine and moan that no one took me seriously.

Why would they? I didn’t even take myself seriously.

I had to shift my thinking in order to change the behavior of others. If I didn’t view my writing as a legitimate profession, I would continue to let others walk all over me because I had set out a Welcome mat. If I was a doctor or an accountant, no one would think of showing up at my office and dropping off their kids for me to watch, would they? No. So why were others doing it to me?

One of my favorite books is T. Harv Ecker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind and I believe there are a lot of principles in this book that can help writers tremendously. Ecker asserts that many people are poor or middle class not so much because of outside circumstances, but rather because of internal beliefs. Ecker asserts that if we don’t learn to think in the same ways as rich people do, this will keep us trapped in our social class unless we change.

We can get trapped into thinking that we will make different choices once we have more money, but we never get more money because we continue poverty thinking. This is especially evident when one pays attention to winners of the lottery. Those who were impoverished before hitting the jackpot very often soon return to poverty despite being handed a windfall of money. Why? Because they didn’t change the poverty thinking so they continued poverty habits.

Now one can easily substitute “successful writer” for “wealthy entrepreneur” and see why many of us will remain trapped unless we can shift how we view ourselves and our work. If we don’t think like successful authors, we can never become successful authors. And one key to being successful is to understand that the feeling must come from the doing, not the other way around. Do FIRST, then the feelings will come.

Instead of: When people take me seriously, then I will be better at boundaries.

We need: I am enforcing these boundaries so that people will understand I am serious.

We cannot wait for others to validate us before we get serious about boundaries, word count, output, marketing, etc. That is opposite thinking.

It is when we put down boundaries and then enforce them that others go, “Oh, wow. She really is doing this writing thing.” By enforcing boundaries and taking on the habits of a professional writer (writing so many words a day five days a week….no matter what) THAT is when we will shift how we view ourselves and this new profession. In shifting how we view ourselves, we will inevitably shift how others view us as well.

Act like a professional and others will treat us like a professional.

Our internal vision must shift first in order to change our outside reality. The internal locus of focus is the only one we really control anyway. As long as our locus of focus is external (people and circumstances), nothing will change and even if it does change, the change will not be for very long. Getting validation from the outside is like being strapped to a roller-coaster and makes a lousy foundation for a career.

Change begins with us. We cannot believe that we will set boundaries once we are successful, because we will NEVER be successful until we set boundaries.

Eventually I had to stand up to my family. I don’t like confrontation, but loving confrontation is part of all healthy relationships. When my mother wanted me to go out and shop all afternoon on her day off? I would say, “Mom, I know you are used to me being able to hang out with you any time, but I have work to do. But, tell you what. I can call you once I have my 2,000 words, and then I can have more fun with you because my work will be off my plate.”

It won’t be easy at first, but the more we confront in love, the better we get at it and do it enough? And friends and family will call and say things like, “I know you are busy writing, but can you get some time to go shopping with me?” Once we shift how we view ourselves, others will fall in step. And if they don’t? Well, that is a lesson for another day :D.

So what are your thoughts? Opinions?

I LOVE hearing from you!

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

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

Last Week’s Winner of 5-Page Critique is Ed Griffin. Please send your 1250 word Word document to author kristen dot lamb at g mail dot com. Congratulations.

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

Happy writing!

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92 Comments

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