Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Get Over Yourself

This new ebook I put together, "Get Over Yourself; 17 Actions to Stop Whining and Reignite Your Purpose" is an attempt to get you moving in a positive direction. 

The 17 actions contain exercises and thought starters aimed at helping you get over yourself and get working on something productive. 

You’ll find ideas that you can apply to virtually any role in any organization / company / family / tribe. 

Best of all, it’s FREE for a little while, so grab your copy today!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nobody Wants to Wait 10 Years for Your Story

Everyone has projects they would like to get to, but life seems to get in the way. Sometimes that takes the form of procrastination. On the rare occasion, it's because you truly have been too busy. (Too busy is often code for, poor time management, or prioritization based on the needs of other people.)

Most often a project lays dormant because of fear, uncertainty or doubt. Can it be finished? What will it look like? Will you like it enough? What if no one else likes it? These are all reasonable fears, but they hold you hostage, and that is unreasonable. If you're going to feel those emotions anyway, doesn't it make sense to get them over with?

I know, sometimes it takes time to erect a statue or build a new park. Somethings can’t be rushed. Ideas need to ferment, and the Muses need to sing in perfect harmony, but for how long ... really?

I have no shortage of half-baked prose sucking up disk space and file cabinets, but I'm talking about the projects you’re actively working on. There are countless tales about authors who have worked on their novel for years, sometimes they finish it on their deathbed and sometimes death beats them to their final period.

When I hear those stories I often wonder, what the hell took them so long? What got in the way? Sometimes a war, often depression. Believe me, I get it. Debilitating things in life can keep you from working what you tell everyone you want to be working on, but let's be brutally honest, nobody wants to wait ten years for your book. You're supposed be a storyteller, not a tease.

If you write, write the damn thing. If you're an artist, paint the damn thing. If you’ve got a passion project, finish it. Otherwise, what good is it to the rest of the world? You undoubtedly had plans for it to begin with, what happened?

It's now generally accepted that productivity helps to create happiness. So, it stands to reason that those who wallow over the lack of progress in their project, primarily due to their unproductive behavior, won’t be particularly happy. To me, this is one of life’s tragedies. You’ve got enough of a gift, skill, passion, or maybe all three, to have gotten something started. Now finish it. Stop with your excuses (see 10 Best Excuses Worksheet) Keep your commitments to yourself and move on.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Dog Days - Avoid the Pack

We’re entering the Dog Days of summer, but with two political conventions on the horizon and the start of the Olympic Games, it’s hardly languid. There’s a lot of ambition in the air.
Leaders, artists and entrepreneurs don’t typically take the summer off. They use the time to prepare for the autumn months. They know the things they do today will help them to finish the year strong. 
Relaxation is a crucial component to success. It’s tempting to move slower during the hotter months, sip on iced tea and relax by the pool. This is an excellent time to self assess. 

Ask yourself, “How am I doing?” Take account of several areas of your life.
  • Are you where you want to be financially? 
  • Is your career going as you had planned?
  • Are you happy with the current state of your health?
  • Are you pleased with and fulfilled by the relationships in your life?
  • Have you created enough time in your schedule to pursue your hobbies?
  • Are you regularly increasing your education, either formally or informally?
  • Are you satisfied with the contributions of time, treasure or talent you’re making to the community of your choice?
  • Are you continually improving?

If you’re less than satisfied with your answers, don’t just shrug it off. Make a plan that will start moving you to where you want to be. Do something, right away, even if it’s just writing down your goal or a next action. 
It’s hot and many people are on vacation, so you may not feel as motivated to do something as you would a couple months from now. It helps to remember, that if you start today, a couple months from now you could be finishing, instead of starting.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

10 Best Excuses Worksheet

When people neglect pursuing their dreams they often create clever stories to justify their lack of progress. 
Sometimes they kick their feet along the floor and act apologetic. Frequently they minimize their commitment to their own goal. 
“Something else came up,” is a common refrain when what they did was prioritize trivial things over the things they once deemed as important. 
There is a word for the hearty defense they offer. It’s called an excuse. 
Some people have no shortage of excuses for why they didn't do what they know they should have done.
Well, don't fight it anymore. Instead, use this 10 Best Excuses Worksheet I’ve developed. 
To get started, brainstorm your 10 best excuses for not accomplishing the most recent thing you committed to accomplishing. 
Next, explain why this reason is not an excuse.
The rest of the sheet is self-explanatory.
When you’re done, you’ll essentially have two choices. 
  1. Either eliminate your goal, because you're not serious about achieving it.
  2. Eliminate your excuses, and turn them into obstacles to be met and overcome.

Regardless of your answer, don't dwell on it. Take action and move on.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Do Your Passions Overlap?

Sometimes when I'm surrounded by competing priorities, long to-do lists and neglected wish-lists, I feel stuck. So, I open up a notebook and see where my pen takes me. 

More often than not, I sketch a mind map that resembles a smashed spider. A splotch of something in the middle, surrounded by eight or so legs, each labeled in an attempt to either quiet my mind and organize my thoughts, or motivate me into action.

I usually keep these brainstorming notebooks and every once in a while I glance through them to reminisce and try to comprehend what my thinking was at the time. It surprised me that many of my pages contained variations of a Venn Diagram containing; Leadership, Business and Writing. 

These are not the only things I'm passionate about, but nearly every significant project that I've successfully pursued has taken place in the overlaps or sweet spot of these three themes.
There's a clue there.
What three things are you passionate about and how often do you craft your life to work on all of them simultaneously?

RELATED POST:  Where to Invest Your Time


Find easy to download and read .pdf versions of these titles: 

GO GET IT!, Pushing Back the Ocean, Trouble with Women, Attracting Success, and for a limited time, a special 8 title package called, Goal Goodness

Friday, July 6, 2012

61 More Thought Starters to get you in the Write Frame of Mind

You can CLICK HERE and get 61 More Thought Starters in an convenient pdf ... or just keep reading.

  1. If you know every characters’ internal and external motivation before you start writing, you’ll be less surprised by their actions. 
  2. Give your protagonist a nervous tick or habit that reveals their character. Make them fold a napkin, slurp a straw, twirl their hair or check their phone incessantly.
  3. To find fictional names, open up a magazine and scan the masthead of editors and contributors, then combine the first or last name with a noun. 
  4. Often the best villains are the ones that practically mirror the main character except in one or two areas.
  5. If your antagonist showed up in an art gallery what pieces would they gravitate to and how long would they stay?  
  6. How would you feel if you were in a cafe and you learned another writer was looking at you, getting inspiration for their villain? 
  7. What trait do you personally have that would serve your antagonist well?
  8. What would happen if you changed the gender of every character in your story and started over? Would your characters be the same if you changed their race, or age? If not, you might not have enough life in them yet. If you change those identities, your characters should change. If they don't, you’ve got some more work to do. 
  9. What would your story's antagonist blog about?
  10. Put your characters in conflict. Make them uncomfortable and write them out of a predicament.
  11. What would happen if one of the characters you created tweeted you?
  12. Pick up on a random conversation at a cafe and then imagine the backstory or create a new one.
  13. Characters that have at least one thing that others admire about them, and one thing that makes them an ass, gives them realism.  
  14. Run your characters through something like a Facebook 20 questions and see what they would answer. 
  15. Sit your characters in front of Google. What would they do?
  16. Would you like to have dinner with your character, or are you worried that they may think you're too boring? Would they pick up the tab? 
  17. What’s an interesting and potentially awkward dinner topic to have with the characters you create?
  18. Be careful of developing crushes on your characters, they don't love you nearly as much. What if they did?
  19. Interview your fictional character. 
  20. Open Cosmo or whatever magazine they would read and have them take one of the quizzes.
  21. Do you know if your characters are left or right handed or are you just assuming? 
  22. Insult your characters and pick a fight with them. See what they do.
  23. Your characters will tell you when the words don't feel right. Until then, let them talk. 
  24. Give your villains something to love and your heros something to hate.
  25. When you can't write, plot. When you can't plot, write.  
  26. Google as your character for 5 minutes then look at your search history. TaDa! Their personality is revealed.
  27. Sometimes you have to silence your pen to hear your character speak.
  28. Make your character arc match your character ache.
  29. Write on index cards, then shuffle them until a story emerges, then write to bridge each card. If stuck, skip around.
  30. Never neglect the middle of your story. Why? As in life, your middle makes an impression to those who you've enticed to look.
  31. It doesn't matter where you start. It only matters that you start, and then finish. It won't be complete otherwise.
  32. Typos are the cowlicks of a writer's life. Tidy up, but don't be fussy.
  33. The beginning is a great place to start, but anywhere will do.
  34. Make villains do three things expected and two things unexpected.
  35. Pay attention to your villains. Know their internal / external motivations & conflicts as well as any other character.
  36. The 'villain' can be a clash within the Hero's value system.
  37. The villain is the personification of an obstacle to the Hero. It’s fun when an obstacle can't be easily assigned to a person.
  38. It's killer when the Hero & Nemesis see themselves in each other's eyes and are disgusted by the view.
  39. Make your nemesis & hero have 80% - 90% in common with each other then highlight what's different.
  40. One person's hero is another person's nemesis.
  41. Inspiration is the spark that starts you on your path. Discipline is the fuel that keeps you following it.
  42. Voice is your wardrobe & comportment. You can change it, but generally you don't. You stay in a range that fits the occasion.
  43. Find your voice by looking at your body of work. Voice is bigger. It's there all along. Change it if you want to.
  44. Books have been published about discarded shopping lists. Ignore people who say, "No one will read ..." They lack imagination.
  45. Don't beat yourself up as a writer. Pay professional editors to do that for you. Struggle with editing. Don't struggle with writing. If you’re creating a story you get to make things up.
  46. Desire is easy. Commitment takes work.
  47. The writer is responsible for building a relationship with a reader. This is accomplished through writing.
  48. Hope is a vital ingredient, not the meal. A day with only hope is destined to disappoint. A day with no hope is destined to fail.
  49. Pacing ebbs and flows like a tide. It's predictable, but sometimes a storm wrecks havoc. The storms are your plot points.
  50. Try to write while standing up. You're voice will have more authority and less entitlement and whining.
  51. Plot your life as you would your stories. Fill them with interesting characters to face predicaments in a setting you enjoy.
  52. Read something important. Learn something important. Write something important. Do something important. Not for yourself, for others.
  53. Want to write? Schedule the time in your calendar and keep your appointment. When it's time to write - write.
  54. Writers pluck inspiration from air and color them with ink. Those who are successful get readers, who begin to think.
  55. The written word can been consumed in many places. 
  56. If you feel "stuck" in a first draft, you're not understanding the concept of a "first draft."
  57. Answer the question "What happened?" in an intriguing way sprinkled with grace, humor and urgency.  
  58. Sometimes the piece you're working on is like unrequited love. You may be lavishing it with unwelcome attention.  
  59. Decision by indecision is the plague of progress. Errors can be fixed, but change can never occur unless one acts.
  60. The greatest obstacle for a writer is perfection. Their fear of it, or their belief that they have obtained it. 
  61. Craft trumps inspiration, but without inspiration, craft is crap.