“The brave are simply those with the clearest vision of what is before them—glory and danger alike—and, notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”
—Leopold (Hugh Jackman), Kate and Leopold
It takes a certain amount of bravery to be a professional writer or book author. It isn’t the act of writing itself that feels dangerous. You can write in your journal all day and end up feeling refreshed and lighter for having been so honest with yourself. The security of knowing no one will ever read those words liberates your fingers to fly.
Danger isn’t inherent with the penning, but the publishing.
“How do you get over the fear of putting yourself out there?” I’ve lost count of the times clients and fellow writers have asked me this question.
“How the heck do you do everything you do?”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked that question throughout my life.
Most people expect some simple answer that will fix that part of their life that causes sleepless nights, family fights, the “I wanna puke” feeling and worst of all, shame and emptiness.
Here’s the reality: Success has never been easy. It’s never happened overnight, and, without your best effort every stinkin’ day, it can’t happen!
CONFESSION. I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” I think this label is nothing more than a convenient excuse for us to delay our writing dreams.
Before you lock me up in the loony bin, let me peel off the mask by pull back the curtain. I wrote 6 traditionally published books, coached over 60 authors on their book projects, and ghostwrote 3 books for high-profile clients.
But I’ve also:
Justified watching movies to “research” for my next book.
Avoided a deadline because unloading the dishwasher seemed more thrilling.
Hit the disc golf course to find inspiration for my next chapter
Wasted more than a few days satisfying a “Platform Building Fix” on Facebook and Twitter.
Bottom line. All these activities seemed noble at the time. And yet, they merely created space between my current state and my calling.
Maybe you can relate?
This is supposed to be an article about how to be a focused and intentional writer. It’s supposed to equip busy people with tools and techniques to fit writing into an already full life.
- I could tell you to wake up at 5 a.m. and write for an hour. Do it every day, no matter what.
- I could tell you to write 1,000 words a day before you do anything else.
- I could tell you to write something even if you don’t know what to write.
- I could tell you to “write ugly” and clean it up later.
That’s all good advice and it might work, but it’s never worked for me.
I am a broken writer, yet somehow I’ve managed to complete two books.
Sounds so glamorous. I remember the first time I turned down an invitation to lunch with the words “Oh, I can’t… I’m writing today.”
“Really?” my friend Laurie replied, “what an awesome way to spend the day! I can’t wait to read your book!”
Nodding and smiling, I left her fantasy intact. I knew in my heart a “writing day” wasn’t just creativity flowing but sometimes meant hours of starting at the cursor blinking and trying to string some words together in a semblance of creativity, thought and inspiration. The myriad of other tasks on my to-do list wrestled with my discipline to actually write. It’s a sad state of affairs when cleaning the bathroom looks more enticing than squeezing out another paragraph from a very dry well.
I love hearing great speakers present a well-crafted message. I especially love presentations when the speaker is an author whose books I’ve read. Even if we’ve never met, it feels as if we have a connection. I’m eager to hear my favorite authors speak because their message has already intrigued, entertained, or inspired me.
So when I learned that Lysa TerKeurst was scheduled to speak at an event about an hour down the road, I knew I would be there. TerKeurst is the president of Proverbs 31 Ministries and the author of three New York Times bestsellers—and 16 others books. Of all 19 of her books, I’ve read one. And I only read that one last fall when Proverbs 31 did an online Bible study using The Best Yes as a study guide. She’d written 19 books in a genre that I enjoy reading and I had never even heard of her until last fall.
We live in a world overflowing with opportunity and choice. With so many options, sometimes it’s difficult to choose. Rather than settling on one thing, be it a career, brand of coffee, hobby or target market, we either decide not to choose or we dabble in lots of different things.
I’ve always wanted to be writer. In fact, for as long as I can remember, I’ve written.
I wrote in a diary when I was seven. I wrote papers and stories in junior high and high school. I majored in English literature in college. I got a job in marketing where I was able to do some copywriting.
And, because I wasn’t great at being in the corporate world and needed to moan about it, I took to writing in a diary again though, as an adult, it’s called journaling and the writing this time was much less peppy than when I was writing as a second grader.
If you had asked me when I was 21 and fresh out of college what my dream job was, I would have said writing articles for magazines. I didn’t pursue that, though. I think I was intimidated by what I thought of as a glamorous job reserved for up and comers in Manhattan. I was living in the grunge era of Seattle and perhaps I just didn’t feel I fit the part. So, I did other work.
I began this year with really excellent plans. Really excellent. I planned to blog weekly and post a weekly guest article on MyWritersConnection.com. I planned to connect with speakers, authors and coaches on 48 Days Ultimate Advantage Cruise with Dan Miller, Michael Hyatt, Rory Vaden, Sue Detweiler, Chris McCluskey and slew of other fabulous people. I planned to launch new programs and host another amazing MWC Retreat and Workshop. And I planned to connect with you weekly.
Congrats to Paul Solarz on his newly released book, Learn Like a PIRATE!
But life didn’t go as planned. My family and I returned to the States from Ireland in early February when a monthly contract abruptly ended. In less than 30 days, we packed up and moved back across the Atlantic. Another four weeks later, we rented a house on Florida’s Emerald Coast, got my son enrolled in a new school, and bought a couple of beds so we’d have somewhere to sleep. And in the middle of all the crying, packing and wondering about what’s next, I helped a fabulous, first-time author get published, edited a soon-to-be-released book, and went on that cruise—and it was an absolutely fantastic place to connect.
I have been a book author, speaker and a trainer for twenty-seven years. I have written sixteen books—most of them on motivation and leadership. On May 4, almost three years ago, something happened that changed my life. My wife of thirty-two years died suddenly of a brain aneurysm. On Friday night I was married and on Saturday morning I was a widower. Needless to say it was the most tragic and shocking moment of my life.