Feb 14

Believe in Yourself as a Writer

Contributed by Suzanne Lieurance

Are you struggling with a writing project that seems overwhelming?

All writers go through this at one time or another.

Usually it means that YOU—the writer—are not quite convinced you can pull off this particular book, article, novel, or whatever the project may be.

In fact, you probably spend precious energy second-guessing yourself thinking, What in the world did I get myself into this time?

But here’s the rub.

The project will only start to fall into place once YOU are convinced you can complete it.

So take a deep breath and relax.

Figure out why you’re struggling with this project and write down the problem(s).

For example—Do you have a too-tight deadline?

Does the project require intensive research and you’re overwhelmed with all the facts and figures you’ll need?

Are you spinning your wheels just trying to figure out how to get started?

Once you’ve figured out the real problems behind your struggle, take some steps to solve them.

For example, if you’re on a too-tight deadline, contact your editor right away and ask for more time.

Your editor wants quality work, and if you contact her now, rather than at the last minute, more than likely she won’t be upset about giving you more time.

Editors usually allow a little wiggle room for all projects anyway.

If your project requires intensive research, make a list of the source materials and experts you wish to use for this project.

Then, BEFORE you contact the experts, do enough research about the topic to develop a structure for the book or article you are trying to write.

You’ll have to do enough research to develop the topic headings, or chapter titles for your work.

But, once you’ve done that, THEN contact the experts with questions that relate to each of your topic or chapter titles.

That way, you’ll get quotes that relate closely to the material you already have for the project instead of lots of other material and quotes that will be difficult to work into your chapters or subtopics.

If you’re stuck at a point in your novel and you just can’t get your characters to move the story along, you probably don’t know the characters well enough and you’re trying to get them to do something they don’t want to do—or wouldn’t do if they were actual people.

Take one or two of the main characters and ask them some questions (yeah, this sounds crazy to people who aren’t writers, but I know YOU know what I mean).

Find out more about their backgrounds and you’ll learn more about their passions, desires, and fears, which will translate into motives and actions that will come naturally for these characters—and will be easier for you to write.

You really CAN complete that writing project that seems overwhelming.

YOU just have to believe it first.

Try it!

Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, and the author of over 35 published books. She offers more tips and resources for writers at writebythesea.com.

For more tips, resources, and other helpful information about writing and the business of writing, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge.

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Jan 05

Inspiration Versus Motivation

I thought I’d start the new year with a couple of inspirational and motivational quotes.

This led me to the question of are these two words interchangeable.

A lot of us throw the words inspirational and motivational around a lot, so I decided to do a bit of research on their meanings.

The keyword search for the difference between the two is such a common one that HuffPost has an article on it.

If you weren’t aware, there’s quite a big difference between the two terms. They’re definitely not interchangeable.

Inspiration means to be inspired from within.

The catalyst for inspiration may be an innate feeling from youth or it can be from something external.

If you are inspired to write, you will be naturally motivated to write and you will willingly take the necessary steps to achieve your goal.

An example of an external catalyst is from when I was a young teenager. I would go to Storm King Mountain in Cornwall, New York (in the Hudson Valley area) with my aunt and uncle. On one hiking trip in the fall, the colors were breathtaking. It inspired me to write one of my first poems, Trees.

According to the site DifferenceBetween, the word ‘inspiration’ comes from a Latin word (inspirare) which means “to breathe into.” The article goes on to say that ‘inspire’ is kind of an “‘inner awakening,’ a sudden burst of creativity and productivity that was triggered by something.”

The catalyst could be anything, a song, a book, a piece of art. For me it was the trees in Upstate New York.

Inspiration has nothing to do with seeking rewards or avoiding something. There are no positives or negatives involved. It’s a strong feeling from within that motivates you to take action, that forces you to take action.

Motivation on the other hand comes from a Latin word (motivus) that means “moving.”

Motivation propels us forward to reach our goals.

There are two types of motivation, intrinsic and extrinsic. (1)

Intrinsic motivation is when you’re willing do something without the expectation of an external reward.

Examples of intrinsic motivation:

  • Eating healthy because you want to live healthy
  • Dieting because you want to lose weight
  • Writing because you love to write
  • Volunteering or helping others because it makes you feel good

Extrinsic motivation is when you’re willing to do something for an anticipated external reward or to avoid a punishment or judgement.

Examples of extrinsic motivation:

  • Going to work because you want to make money
  • Helping others because you want recognition or praise
  • Buying expensive jewelry to impress others
  • Doing something or acting a certain way to avoid judgement

Okay, I got a little carried away here, but at least you should now know the difference between inspirational and motivational.

On to 20 inspirational and motivational New Year quotes for 2020:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“The most successful people in the world have an
insatiable hunger to do more, be more, give more, and create more.”
~ Tony Robbins

“Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes if permanent.”
~ Marilyn VosSavant

“Optimists are the most skillful manipulators of reality.”
Robert Arnot, M.D., The Biology of Success

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.”
~ Mark Twain

“Some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they want to, when all they need is one reason why they can.”
~ Willis R. Whitney

“I have NOT failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
~ Thomas A. Edision

“Somewhere someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer.”
~ Louise Hay

“Life is too short for shoes that hurt your feet, friends that make you feel bad about yourself, and jobs that crush your soul.
Take a chance. Make a change. The time is now.”
~ Lisa Lewtan

“There are only two days in the year on which nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.”
~ Dalai Lama

“The harder I work, the luckier I get”
~ Samuel Goldwyn

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
~ Alan Kay

“I would rather regret the things that I have done than the things that I have not.”
~ Lucille Ball

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” ― Anne Frank

“It’s always too soon to quit!”
~ Norman Vincent Peale

“Thankfully, perseverance is a good substitute for talent.”
~ Steve Martin

“Even the woodpecker owes his success to the fact that he uses his head and keeps pecking away until he finishes the job he starts.”
~ Coleman Cox

Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off. — Ellen DeGeneres

“Laughter is timeless,
imagination has no age,
and dreams are forever.”
Walt Disney

“Four things you can’t recover:
The stone … after the throw.
The word … after it’s said.
The occasion … after it’s missed.
The time … after it’s gone.”
The trust … after it’s gone. (I added the fifth)
~ Unknown Author

Come on back next week – I have another 80 inspirational, motivational, and writing quotes to keep you on the right track!

Additional Sources: http://www.differencebetween.net/science/health/differences-between-motivation-and-inspiration/

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Or, if you’d rather give it a shot and do-it-yourself, check out my book, FICTION WRITING FOR CHILDREN.

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Jul 14

7 Steps to Writing Success Through Positive Thinking

Can you think your way to success? Is it really possible?

Whether you call it positive thinking, a positive attitude, or a winning mindset, in regard to writing it’s the strategy of having a dream, creating a plan, projecting the positive results of that plan, and taking the necessary actions to accomplish your goal.

Part of positive thinking and projection is the importance of determining your true motivation. In other words, what is your purpose? Why do you want to succeed? And, what do you want to succeed at?

All this matters.

You need to know and be focused on what you want, what success means to you, and exactly what you want to succeed at. You also need to know your motivation, your purpose. Do you want to:

• Write as a hobby or just pass the time
• Earn a supplemental income to be able to buy the extras you can’t afford now
• Make a full-time living at writing and marketing – be able to support yourself
• Become rich
• Become successful in the writing world
• Become well-known
• Become a famous author
• Become a superstar

Will becoming a New York Times bestselling author be your pinnacle? Or, is your heart set on becoming a multi-millionaire, or a billionaire? Maybe you simply want to be a career author, getting contracts for your work on a regular basis. Only you know what success means to you.

Chicken Soup for the Soul is the perfect example of knowing what you want, along with being a perfect example of positive thinking and perseverance. It took the authors 144 attempts to land a publisher.

One hundred and forty-four submissions. What if they gave up after 25, 50 or 100 rejections?

Co-authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen had a positive mindset and clear vision. They had focus and determination. They knew exactly what they wanted – for Chicken Soup for the Soul to be a New York Times best seller. In fact, according to Canfield, the number one reason for being stuck and not realizing your potential or goals is the lack of clarity.

Canfield and Hansen fulfilled their dream with positive thinking, clarity, and perseverance.

This strategy of a positive mindset and positive projection is nothing new. In 1953, Norman Vincent Peale made the psychological term ‘think positive’ popular via his book, The Power of Positive Thinking. And, in 1958, Napoleon Hill, using Andrew Carnegie as inspiration, wrote Think and Grow Rich.

And, this new-fangled way of thinking has roots much earlier than that. According to Wikipedia, early influences of positive thinking came from religious and philosophical sources. The ancient Greeks, including Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, developed their own form of self-realization. Early Judaism and Christianity also had doctrine subscribing to seeking happiness. (2)

Making a stronger and much more fine-tuned resurgence, and referred to as the scientific realm of positive psychology, today more and more people are being made aware of the positive mindset strategy, especially through sources such as The Secret.

Adding to this, super successful people like Oprah, Deepak Chopra, Louise L. Hay, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and Tony Robbins enthusiastically proclaim the benefits. Harnessing this ‘mind power’ can lead to success, better health, wealth, and even happiness. This is the premise behind the strategy.

So, what strategies can YOU use to create and nurture positive thinking?

Hill wrote, “All the breaks you need in life wait within your imagination; Imagination is the workshop of your mind, capable of turning mind energy into accomplishment and wealth.” (3)

Seven Steps to Writing Success

Based on Hill’s quote, the first step is to answer the questions raised earlier. What do you want to succeed at and why? Take time and think carefully about these questions. Determine exactly what success is to you. Imagine it and see it clearly.

  1. Put your vision into words and other visuals. Write it out in detail and make it readily visible. Read it every day . . . envision it every day.

2. Canfield and Hansen put projection notes all over the place, even in the bathroom. This is a visualization technique and you can also use images or objects to help with your projection.

You can use Post-Its, you can type or write your goals out in big letters on a sheet of paper and paste it somewhere that you’ll see it throughout the day. By your computer should work. You might put it in a plastic sheet protector – it’ll last longer.

3. Create a realistic writing and marketing plan. Again, you will need to make it detailed. List the steps needed to go from point A to point B?

TIP: Include learning the ropes as part of your plan. Learn the craft of writing and learn and test marketing strategies to find those that will work for you.

4. Give yourself a timeline. Don’t leave your success plan open-ended. State when you will achieve the success you want. It may be six months, it may be a year, just be sure to be realistic. Make it doable. This will help keep you on track.

5. Don’t just talk-the-talk. You must walk-the-walk. This means do the work. Take the action steps necessary to attain your objective. Go into it realistically, knowing it will take time and effort.

6. Keep positive. Reign yourself in when needed. No matter how positive you are, there will be times when negativity rears its head. Simply stop it in its tracks. Push negative thoughts aside and replace them with positive thoughts and affirmations. Let positive thinking permeate all your thoughts and actions.

7. Keep focused and persevere. Nothing in life is guaranteed to go smoothly, so expect the unexpected. Know where you’re heading, envision where you want to be, and ride through any obstacles that may come your way.

What are your thoughts on the power of positive thinking?

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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Jun 02

Writing and the Winds of Change

“When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and other build windmills.”

This Tray Hurn quote says a lot about the character of different writers.

A common denominator for all writers is that they will at one time or another be rejected and/or struggle with a story or an assignment or some type of content they are writing.

Another significant common denominator for writers is that they will most likely follow the ebbs and wanes of the writing business.

These changes can be challenging and how writers deal with them is what will set them apart from each other.

Do you put up walls when the winds of change blow your way?

When those winds of change come your way, it can be upsetting, especially if your income slacks off. But don’t get ready to jump ship or get depressed.

Don’t build a wall.

Instead, build your own windmills. Use your time wisely.

Things you can do when you find you have extra time on your hands or your manuscript has been rejected by several publishers/agents:

  1. Brush up on new marketing strategies. Go over you current strategies and see if you can make any improvements to wrangle in new clients or sell more books.
  2. Follow up with potential clients. If you’re a writer for hire, you should have a list of possible clients, ones that queried you but never hired you. This is the time to reconnect.
  3. If you’re an author, the first thing you should do if you’ve been rejected by numerous publishers or agents, is to go over your manuscript again. See if you can find room for improvement. If you’ve given it an honest, careful ‘go over’ and you feel it’s where it should be, start another story.
  4. Brush up on your writing skills. Take a class or a workshop, go to a writing conference, if you’re able. Always keep your writing moving forward.

There are always things you can do to move forward in your writing career. Build those windmills!

Children's ghostwriter

Whether you need editing, rewriting, or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box. Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your idea off the launch pad or your outline into a publishable story today!

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Apr 07

5 Things You Cannot Recover

Unrecoverable Things

5 Things You Can’t Recover

The stone … after the throw
A word … after it’s said
An occasion … after it’s missed
Time … after it’s gone
Trust … after it’s lost

I love this quote and wish I knew who originally wrote it. It was originally four things, I added the fifth.

While there are other losses that can’t be recovered, these are five important things to think about.

1. The ‘stone’ may be an action that can’t be recovered.

It’s kind of like ‘the word,” only with actions.

It may be getting angry and acting upon it too quickly. It may be refusing to help someone who is in need. It may be taking the wrong path. It may be submitting your manuscript before it’s ready – I actually did this early on in my career.

2. The ‘word’ is an easy one.

We’ve probably all said something we shouldn’t have and later regretted it. Words are powerful: they can help, they can be uplifting, they can be motivating, they can be inspiring, they can hurt, they can be devastating.

And once a word is said, it’s out there forever. Choose your words carefully – in speaking and in writing.

Here are a few ‘word’ quotes:

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” ~ Mother Teresa

“Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.” ~ Joel Osteen

“All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

“The tongue has no bones, but is strong enough to break a heart. So be careful with your words.” ~ Unknown

3. The ‘occasion’ reminds me of missed opportunities.

It may be a lost opportunity to support someone in their endeavors or help someone in need. It may be a trip you’ve wanted to go on, but never did. It may be a work opportunity that you let slip by. It may be spending more time with family and friends. It may be the smile that might have brightened someone’s day. It may be never sitting down to write that story that keeps seeping into your head.

Here are two great quotes on missing opportunities:

“Nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work.” ~ Thomas Edison

4. Time is another obvious one.

Every moment that passes is a moment that’s gone forever. Instead of procrastinating about writing or submitting your work or self-publishing, do it now. Make the time.

Here are a few of ‘time’ quotes:

“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”
~ Warren Buffett

“Time is free, but its priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.”
~ Harvey MacKay

“Don’t be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. One man gets only a week’s value out of a year while another man gets a full year’s value out of a week.” ~ Charles Richards

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” ~ Stephen R. Covey

“Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” ~ Wayne Dyer

5. Trust lost can take a lifetime to recover, if recoverable at all.

Here are a few ‘trust’ quotes:

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” ~ Warren Buffett

“The glue that holds all relationships together–including the relationship between the leader and the led–is trust, and trust is based on integrity.”
~ Brian Tracy

“Trust is like blood pressure. It’s silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly.” ~ Frank Sonnenberg

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
~ Ernest Hemingway

“Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” ~ Albert Einstein

When thinking of these ‘unrecoverable’ moments, Dan Nielsen said, “It caused me to stop and ponder just how many moments I may have thrown a stone or a hateful word, missed an occasion, and lost time. What have I lost because of these instances? How would my life be different if I would have taken the time to consider my actions in the moment?”

Certainly things to ponder.


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