Posts Tagged writing life

Slave to Perfection & The Dangers of Comparing Ourselves with Others

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Last night I watched the movie Bad Moms and it was a great movie. Brain candy. A lot of laughs. Nothing too deep…well, maybe a little deep. One of the areas the movie explored is how in this age we are all killing ourselves to reach some unreachable Photoshopped standard. The New Yorker even did a post called How Facebook Makes Us Unhappy which highlighted the growing problem of social comparison.

And I will admit that even I have to be careful. It is tough not to compare my size 12 middle-aged body to my friends who had a baby and instantly went back to a Size 2. It’s tough when I see pictures of a friend’s house and it looks like a Good Housekeeping spread and mine is covered in Cheeze-Its and a sticky film we have yet to explain.

I have elves.

But instead of Overly Responsible Greatest Generation Ever Elves the shoemaker got, I got the Bratty Entitled Millennial Elves who just want to watch streaming video when they aren’t making nachos or tipping over my neatly stacked towels…and wiping their sour cream covered hands on them.

Seriously, It is RIDICULOUS

I live in an apron. Even sitting at the computer. I write for an hour then get up and stretch by tidying. My mom even picked on me and said I had to make sure to never take off my apron because she might not recognize me.

ME, every frigging Monday.

ME, every frigging Monday.

And yet my home is so, so far from those pictured in Pinterest.

How I long to have a master bedroom that is a sanctuary (a.k.a. an “adult” bedroom). You know, the kind of room with blown glass vases of peonies and carefully arranged stacks of books that make me look super smart. Stuff that won the Pulitzer but in reality put me to sleep by page three.

My sheets are stuffed with crumbs and Legos and a dog that get’s super pissy when you try to make the bed.

I went on an organizing spree a year ago and found one of those doo-dads that hangs in your closets, like soft shelves (a.k.a. Poor Man’s California Closet). Anyway, I neatly folded all the scarves that had been taking up so much room in my dresser.

GO ME! I look like a real adult!

Until the cat climbed it, tossed the scarves on the floor (except the ones he kept for his new nest).

Shoot…me…now.

I don’t know. I remember being young and blaming all of this on being young. When I grew up, this would all be different and I would have my $#!& together but the hard truth is I think I very briefly did get my $#!& together back some time in 2011 then put it in a place I would remember where I put it…and now I can’t find it.

I struggle every day to recognize when I am being a lunatic. I only have so much to give and I need to be mindful where I put my energy because “Perfect” is the enemy of the good. “Perfect” will bash your self-esteem, wreck your relationships, and kill your dreams. No one can live up to perfect. And when we are trying to live up to perfect we are being crazy and us being crazy makes everyone around us a little crazy too.

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“Perfect” is an especially dangerous enemy these days in an era where we can use filters and tools to make life rose-colored all the time. That perfectly staged picture of a friend’s new living room set that makes your guts twist? Just be happy for her and secretly know that she probably screamed at all her kids to throw the laundry that had been on the couch for six days into the tub so she could get a picture…then used the Lo-Fi filter for extra pizazz (and to blur that weird stain that smells like chili into retro shadow).

#MyLifeSucksAndINeedLikesOnThisPicSoIDoNotBreakDown

I think that sometimes, if we back away and look at WHY many people are posting this stuff, it makes sense to lighten up on ourselves. We live in a world that expects us to be adults (Sucks, right? I know). But often the problem with being an adult is that somewhere people stopped believing we needed compliments and affirmation.

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If we do a great job at work, who cares? We are being paid. Our paycheck is supposed to be enough. We didn’t fire you, right? 

If the house is clean when our family gets home? There’s not a treat basket we get to reach in and get a cool unicorn pencil or kissing lips eraser and that is fundamentally WRONG.

#IWantPuffyStickers

My husband loves me whether I wear the same pair of pajamas for five days straight because it is NaNo or whether I dress up and often? He doesn’t even recognize the difference.

So if I hope to hear, “You look fantastic!” with any kind of enthusiasm? Yep. Facebook.

No one gives me a sticker that reads, “Your Kid is Alive Another Day! YOU ROCK!” or “You Remembered to Pay the Water BEFORE the City Turned It Off! GO YOU!”

And it can get really discouraging sometimes.

The same can happen in the world of writing.

Don’t compare your everyday life with another author’s “highlight reel.”

I read a crazy amount of books and it’s so easy to get discouraged with the What was I thinking? I suuuuck. I can’t wriiiiiite. But here is the deal, I am not downloading Michael Connelly’s first draft-as-audio-book onto my phone. I am listening to a finished product.

Even if our final draft isn’t as good as INSERT HERO AUTHOR HERE’s work, remember they probably didn’t start out writing that way. They had a learning curve too. Stephen King started writing as a kid. He’d written millions of words and countless stories before Carrie ever came along. Dean Koontz wrote under a pseudonym for years, books that for a long time he really didn’t even like laying claim to.

Natural talent is like a diamond. Found in the natural it looks like a hunk of glass. It takes a lot of chipping away and cutting and polishing before it is seen as anything of value.

So if you are doing NaNoWriMo, fantastic! But perfect is the enemy of the good. Many won’t finish because they just won’t frigging lighten up on themselves. Yes, the house will probably be messy and the kids sticky and wear shoes because I guarantee the cat will puke (in the middle of the night because cats cannot puke in sunlight or on anything but carpet).

Remember that anything on Facebook is often a “highlight reel” because we live in a world where we feel stretched thinner and thinner and often we feel invisible. We sometimes just need that GO YOU! And if we can see that is often what others are needing, then it is easier to stop comparing ourselves because we fed our kid Quick Trip donuts for breakfast instead of a gluten-free dairy-free fritatta with pine nuts off a recipe we saved on Pinterest.

So lighten up. Breathe. Have fun and give yourself a compliment today. Give someone else a compliment. Heck we all need it. In fact, here is a song to remind you…

What are your thoughts? Do you find yourself goofing off too much on social media because you really feel down and just need some affirmation? I do, too. We just need to make sure the short-term thrill isn’t stealing a long-term dream with longer-lasting rewards.

Do you feel burned out and stressed out and you deep down know you are doing it to yourself? That you are being ridiculous? Do you struggle with comparing yourself to your author heroes? Do you find yourself in the habit of perfectionism? Are you like me and harder on yourself than you are on others (which is no great prize because you are just a meth-fueled lunatic with yourself)?

I love hearing from you!

And 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. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

TREAT YOURSELF!!!! Check out the Upcoming Classes

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it because the holidays are crazy? No excuses! Take time to be good to yourself!

Important Class for After NaNoWriMo! You might have a New Year’s Resolution to query a novel. Doesn’t matter. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS

Class Title: Pitch Perfect—How To Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 2nd, 2015 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.

Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?

***NOTE: DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN YOUR QUERY.

Good question. We will cover that and more!

But sometimes the query is not enough.

Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn. Synopses are often requested by agents and editors and it is tough not to feel the need to include every last little detail. Synopses are great for not only keeping your writing on track, but also for pitching your next book and your next to that agent of your choice.

This class will help you learn the fundamentals of writing a query letter and a synopsis. What you must include and what doesn’t belong.

So make your writing pitch perfect with these two skills!

Plotting for Dummies

Class Title: Plotting for Dummies
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $35 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: SATURDAY December 3rd, 2016 2:30 PM E.S.T. to 4:30 P.M. EST

Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?

This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)

Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!

Blogging for Authors

Class Title: Blogging for Authors
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 9th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.

This class is going to cover:

How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)?
What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
How can a blog help you sell more books?
How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre?
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.

 

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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10 Ways for ADD Writers to STAR WARS! …Be More Productive

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Other writers frequently ask how I somehow manage to get a lot of stuff done, despite my having the attention span of a ferret…with a bad crack habit. Here are 10 ways to help you be productive even if OOH! SHINY!

…even if you tend to be a tad majorly ADD. The following tips are what help ME stay focused. I am NOT a doctor or psychologist or ADD expert. I’m a Jedi master, warp engine inspector, and WRITER so you get what you get.

We’ve been talking this week about how to be able to do all it takes to not only be a digital age author, but to freaking ROCK IT while we are here. Truthfully, the explosion of social media is just proof to me that ADD people will rule the world…which probably explains all those “End of the World” prophesies.

In the meantime? We have dreams and deadlines and most of us have grown fond of clean clothes. Also, our family is all needy and whiny and says things like, “Mommy, why is there no food?” “Daddy, why won’t the lights turn on?” “Honey, why are there people living in our basement?”

*rolls eyes*

Can you say “high maintenance”?

OKAY, so tips…

1. Make lists.

I get distracted easily, so a list reminds me of what I need to get accomplished. I make separate lists—housework, fiction, non-fiction, business stuff, global domination using sea monkeys. Then, once I have the list, I do the hardest thing on my writing and business lists FIRST (housework can WAIT).

Like Covey says, Never mistake the urgent for the important.

I also add stuff to the list I’ve already done…just so I can cross it out because it makes me smile and feel SUPER accomplished. Don’t judge me because you do it, too.

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2. Understand that feelings are narcissists and pathological liars.

Writing is a profession, not a playpen. Professionals ignore their feelings and do it anyway. Only children, amateurs and  The Long Island Medium listen to their feelings. Feelings are fickle, lazy, and secretly jealous of your work and a tad pissed that you no longer hang out with them as much as you used to. The secret to success is to work your tail off. Be willing get up earlier and stay up later than others. Be willing to do what others won’t.

But I wanna write books. I don’t wanna do social media, toooooo. It’s haaaaard.

Yes. It is. There are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

3. Use The Force…of self-discipline.

Who cares HOW you get things done, so long as they get done?

I use the “Swiss Cheese” approach. I have my list and I take bite after bite after bite until the work is finished. Every book can be written in 250, 500, or 1,000 word bites. I CANNOT work linearly, so I don’t try and yes I was always in trouble in school but public schools were designed to train factory workers and corporate mind slaves, not people who get paid to play with imaginary friends.

4. Mix it up.

I am a writer, wife, entrepreneur, teacher, and mom who has yet to make enough money to afford servants (which sucks), and cats make lousy slaves. This means I get to do most of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and housework. Write your 200 words, fold a load of whites, empty the dishwasher, then write another 200 words.

5. Suck it up, buttercup.

Understand that sometimes we will have to sit for a long time and focus. It’s hard. Whaaaaaaahhhhh, but anyone who thinks being a writer is a fluffy hamster dream has been hanging out with their feelings…and feelings lie, sabotage and will talk you into living on ice cream and cookie sprinkles.

6. Make mean writer friends.

Yes, the Swiss Cheese approach works well for people with ADD, and yes, there are times we need to duct tape our a$$es to the chair. This is why I befriend really mean people who kinda scare me. On the surface they are funny and sweet and would do anything for a friend…but that’s the issue. They will do anything for a friend, including ordering a hit on my X-Box 360.

7. Ditch loser friends.

We all have them or have had them. People who like to complain, make excuses, indulge in their feelings all the time. People who have a new dream every other week. I wanna be an astronaut, no a writer, no a vacuum salesman, no a journalist!

Ditch writers (and other people) who believe in luck, not work. Laziness, apathy, and whining are contagious. Treat excuses like EBOLA. A friend coughs blood excuses all over you, and, within two to three days, you start coughing up blood excuses, too…until your dream of being a writer liquifies and bleeds out and I hope you’re happy with yourself.

Killer.

8. Forget perfection.

Perfection is an urban legend, started by Feelings (because Feelings are a needy boyfriend/girlfriend who don’t understand the world does not revolve around them.) The world doesn’t reward perfection; it rewards finishers. Often we lose focus on what we are REALLY doing, because we are getting sidetracked with nitpicking.

9. Exercise.

Often ADD can be fueled by being too sedentary. Human bodies were not designed to sit on their @$$e$ all day. Ever have a puppy that chews everything and is into everything and short of strapping itself to a rocket is just being a GIANT PAIN IN THE @$$?

How do you get it to behave? Put on roller blades and run puppy until puppy wants to slip into something more comfortable…like a coma. ADD people are human puppies, so stop piddling on the carpet…I mean, go get a little exercise and your focus will generally improve.

Four times a week I go to Jiu Jitsu and roll around on the mats and inflict pain on large men. Sure, it is probably Freudian, but it is also fun and it helps keep the joints loose and the mind calm.

10. Drink lots of water. The clear stuff. That stuff from the faucet.

Human bodies are a hydroelectric system, and water enhances conductivity. Cool writer ideas/thoughts work this way. Muse Pixies of Awesomeness are conducted through your brain to your fingers and they bring the cool story stuff. MPAs like to travel via fairy, or ferry on WATER. They can’t travel if the waterways are too dry and moor them on a cookie sprinkle…and then you can’t focus.

It’s science. Don’t argue.

Must…get…off…Instagram…..

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BONUS TIP #11 MULTI-TASK YOUR A$$ OFF!

Some experts say multitasking doesn’t work and that is simply because they suck at it.

Multitasking is awesome for ADD people namely because by definition we need at least two simultaneous activities to talk our brain into cooperating. Why some people suck at multitasking is 1) they have a normal boring brain that needs time to buffer or 2) they pick the wrong activities to pair together.

BAD IDEA: Using a chainsaw to clear deadwood while doing baby-mommy yoga.

GOOD IDEA: Listening to soundtrack to American Horror Story while clearing deadwood and making mental notes of the feel of chainsaw for future use in stories.

I’ll give an example of a great way to multitask. As writers, READING is a huge part of our job. I can almost instantly tell writers who don’t read, mostly because their writing sucks.

Audio books are our friend. I inhale audio books while folding laundry or doing mundane but necessary chores like taxes dishes.

Thing is, pair one rote activity with one that you need to do that will engage and develop your creative brain. It’s about working smarter, not harder. And, since your ADD brain likes to paint the cat when you aren’t looking, giving it story time keeps it happy and engaged and out of trouble.

What about you guys? Those of you ADD folk out there who’ve paid attention to this point, first of all, CONGRATULATIONS!!!

…now back in your hole.

It writes the words or it gets the hoseO_o.

What are your thoughts? Struggles? Tips? Words of wisdom. It’s okay. You have permission to get back in your hole after you comment😀.

It rubs the elbow grease on. IT RUBS THE ELBOW GREASE ON! *pets fluffy white dog*

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of OCTOBER, 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. 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.

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook

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68 Comments

What to Do When Your Christmas Tree Wants a Bass Boat

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My Valentines Day Tree. It’s a tradition…in Finland…ok the insane asylum.

Yesterday, I did an author interview (here is the link if you care to show this sweet new writer some blog love) and one of the questions was:

Kristen, I have four children and a full time job to juggle alongside my writing, so I can understand how busy life gets, but you, you are a business woman, a wife, a mother, a role model to all of us. How do you find time to juggle all of this and still stay sane? 

My first response is, “Who ever said I was sane?” Yes, I work hard, but this idea that we are going to work a day job, write books, blog, build a platform, be the perfect mother, spouse and have a Martha Stewart home is absurd. Yes, I confess. It is now Valentines Day and my Christmas Valentines Tree still proudly stands in my dining room.

Exactly how long can one leave up a Christmas tree before you are officially white trash?

I know that, technically, an artificial Christmas tree isn’t a living thing, thus shouldn’t evolve, but yesterday I heard Willie Nelson coming from the dining room, and, when I looked closely at the tree? I saw it had sprouted THESE:

Stop standing there like a GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE and get me a BEER!

Stop standing there like a GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE and get me a BEER!

To keep my tree from shooting in the air and playing banjo, I had to come up with a plan.

Take down the tree.

*clutches sides laughing*

Are you kidding? I have writing to do!

So I distracted the tree with Bud Light and some glittery nail polish from Wal Mart and took it to Pic Monkey for a Makeover:

Evolution of the Christmas Tree...

Evolution of the Christmas Tree…

And now my Valentines Tree allows me to happily live in denial. It also no longer swats me in the @$$ and asks me to cosign for a bass boat.

I think the Easter Tree will be AWESOME.

And the whole “I am a role model to all of you” part? I think it gets clearer by the day why I wasn’t allowed to play with the other neighborhood kids.

So what about you? What is the longest you have ever left up your Christmas tree? Did it like to sing Stand By Your Man and watch fishing shows? I figure if I drag this out long enough I won’t look like a slacker. By the end of October I will be a role model!😀

Confess! Tell us about the Christmas lights still on your house or the plastic reindeer still munching your grass. Oh, and Happy Valentines Day! You know I love each and every one of you and THANK YOU for blessing me by coming to my blog.

I LOVE hearing from 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 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 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.

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