Category Archives: Self Talk

What’s Your Definition of Success?

In my mind, success looks like stacks and stacks of books at a wholesale store.

Every time I go to Costco, I pass the end table where the books are and I look and I say to my kids, “Someday, my books will be there.” To me, that a mark of success.

If I come to that point in my career, then I have a tangible reminder of the success I’ve accomplished. And I want this to be the right kind of book — a novel — not an “I lived through a disaster and now I’m going to tell you my story” kind of book.

What's Your Definition of Success?

The authors who have books at Costco are household names. That’s why they’re there. So when ordinary moms like me are out buying cereal and fruit and twenty pounds of chicken thighs, they can look and say “THAT BOOK!” or “THAT AUTHOR!” if you get your books at Costco, you’ve already paid a LOT of dues. You’ve put in your time and worked hard. Those books at Costco sell themselves.

If Costco is my measure of success, it has to come after a million more tiny successes preceding it.

I will have to be successful in building a platform and attracting the type of publisher who usually deals with Costco. I’ll have to write not just THE book but book after book after book to get me to the place where THE BOOK is more attainable.

My definition of success is not a one-time deal after all. It's a journey.

But if I am so bold as to have such a finite measure, then there are some questions I need to ask myself.

If this is my definition of success then what will happen after I achieve it? What then?

If this is my definition of success then what will that make me if I don’t achieve it?

What if I do all the work, write all the words, put out all the books, develop the platform and never make that goal of having books at Costco?

Or what if this? What if you get to the goal and you find out that it is not satisfying? What if that goal isn’t enough?

I believe a healthy definition of success is one that doesn’t tie our identities to it.

The goal of having books sold at Costco is kind of arbitrary, really. Perhaps there are other measures that are just as satisfying, just as attainable and just as worthy of a celebration. Maybe my definition of success should include other things too, like selling thousands instead of hundreds, getting on a best-seller list, or earning enough that I could support my family.

I also believe that healthy definition of success should be based on what I can do today.

  • Did I write 1000 words?
  • Did I read great books?
  • Have I tackled my to-do list?
  • Have I practiced the discipline that being a writer requires?

If I focus on these day to day goals my big Costco goal becomes less intimidating. It also becomes less important. I should be proud of what I do on a daily basis so that if my “success” never comes, I can look back and say, “I did my very best.”

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I’d like to suggest that we balance our to-do list and daily word counts with a mindfulness of contentment. Today is a success if we give all we’ve got.

We are successful if we:

  • Choose to work with hope.
  • Tick things off the to-do list with joy.
  • Don’t beat ourselves up if we fail.
  • Put relationships first.
  • Never compare what we do to what others do.
  • Stretch ourselves, grow as artists.
  • Never give up.
  • Enjoy the journey.
  • Write regularly.
  • Read regularly.

Conversely, we are failures if we:

  • Compare ourselves to others.
  • Try to please everyone.
  • Disrespect the rules of excellence.
  • Disrespect our readers with shoddy work.
  • Feel sorry for ourselves when we don’t succeed on the first try.
  • Obsess about numbers, like sales or followers or rankings.
  • Lack discipline.
  • Expect instant success.
  • Isolate ourselves from other writers.
When we get to the end of our writing careers, we need to be proud of what we’ve done, who we’ve touched, and how we grew into something bigger.
Perhaps it will translate into sales somehow or a bestselling list or a table at Costco. You never know.

Success should not just be what happens to us that day. Success comes every day that we make good decisions about how we spend our time, what attitudes we embrace, in whom we’ve encouraged.

Ted Talks have an amazing collection of videos about this concept of success and how it shapes us. I highly recommend them. If that doesn’t inspire you, check out this article on how famous people define success. Note how few of the definitions are as absolute as my Costco one. Then, Harvard Business Review asks the same question I ask, “What Does Success Mean To You?” Perhaps by seeing what the experts say, you can clearly define what success means to you and be inspired to be excellent every day.

So what is your definition of success?

 What are you doing today to make it happen?


If you liked this post, you may also like:
Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic or,
Top 10 Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful

 


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Five Awful Things My Work-In-Progress Says To Me And What I Say Back

I have a work-in-progress and I think it hates me.

Every day I sit down with this project, set my timer, turn on the music, spend way too much time thinking about font, size, and color, and then work at least an hour.

When I sit down with it, I feel it come alive.

It is a non-fiction book, so it’s not like it’s alive in the sense of genre or character. It’s alive with the ease (or lack of ease) that comes with the drafting and sculpting of each chapter. At times, it feels like it’s fighting against me.  Some days, it is sterile and compliant; I’m the boss. I put one word in front of the other.

But most days, my work-in-progress is anything but sterile and compliant. It's the boss. And…

Why Do I Feel Like My Work-In-Progress is Out To Get Me?

5 Awful Things my Work-In-Progress Says To Me And What I Say Back

 

Sometimes my WIP is a wild animal.

 It responds to me with claws and fangs. It requires a chair and a whip and possibly raw meat in my pocket, never coming when I call it. I hold my ground with it, flicking the whip with confidence. I have to remind it that my name is on the contract. (Wait, no that’s not a strong argument. WIP’s name is on it too!) It says that it is an out of control animal and it can’t be tamed.

What do I say? I say, “Hey! Get back in line! I brought you into this world, I can take you out of it!” Then I get out the band-aids.

Sometimes my WIP is a diva.

It’s whiny and demanding. It insists I rewrite the sentences that have been rewritten dozens of times. Often it has high standards that I’m not sure I can meet. It withholds affection from me and turns up its nose at the ideas I bring or the structure I’ve suggested. This IS a book about writing, it sighs to me. How original can you expect to be? And then the dark glasses go on its face and I am dismissed.

What do I say? I say, “I am a professional. I’m a strong writer. If I think the work is good, then it’s good. I refuse to pamper you one minute longer than I have to!”

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Sometimes my WIP is a spoiled teenager.

My work-in-progress is bored and would much rather I turn up the music.  I often sit at my desk wanting to be other places and my WIP (who lives in my computer and never goes out) rolls its eyes at me and whines. “Let’s go swimming!” “I’m so tired of this!” “How much longer do we have to work on this project?” I can beat teenagers at their eye rolling game.

What do I say? I say, “until it’s done. An hour a day in 10 or 20-minute increments. And you realize I have a delete button at my fingertips, don’t you?”

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Sometimes my WIP is an exhausted toddler. This is the same thing as a spoiled teenager, only less articulate.

Tears are usually involved. My WIP holds its fists in anger and screams. “I DON’T WANNA!” Hmm, I don’t tolerate this behavior. I didn’t when my five kids were little and I don’t now. This will require the teacher voice. No one likes the teacher voice.

What do I say? 

I say, “Sit down! Hush! There is no reason to act like that. We are going to get through sixty minutes of drafting and if you give me one more whimper, one more whine, one more tear, I swear to you, I will change the font to comic sans! Do you understand me?

Sometimes my WIP is a harpy.

This is the worst one of the group. Its only attack is to mock me. Years ago, I would have responded by running away, by quitting, by believing all the lies that it was telling me about how this is a waste of time. It’s not going to sell anyway. How is this book different from what others are saying? They only asked you because they knew you’d work cheaply. After you finish this, you’re done, you don’t have any more projects in you. But I’ve changed.

When I see my WIP cross its arms and hold its nose in the air, I stand a little taller. I’ve learned that most bullies back down because they’re cowards at heart.

What do I say?

I slip into my best Dirty Harry voice: Get. Over. Here. And then I may or may not slap it upside the head, (depending on how graphic you want this story to be and how believable it is that I actually take a whack at my computer. Hmm. Not very.)

I’m Learning How To Silence The Inner Critic. I’m taming my work-in-progress.

Despite my complaints, I’m blessed and grateful that I have this gig. I’m learning a great deal, growing in discipline and already meeting people who might benefit from this book. But this is hard work. Every day is a battle of will and discipline and not just mine.

Some day this book will be done and be sitting on the shelf beside me. It will be powerless to mock me, torment me or roll its eyes. Instead, it will bring in royalty checks and open doors.

And then the scars, tears, discipline, hard work and ridiculous metaphors will all be worth it.

You Better Believe It!


If you liked this post, you may also like:

Eleven Ways To Know The Best Time To Show Your Work (And When You Should You Hold It Close To Your Chest)

Or, 10 Ways To Lift Yourself Out of That Writing Funk


Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement, and community.

Living With My Old Friend Laziness

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I hate laziness. And yet it’s an old friend of mine.  

Lazy slouches in the corner and asks me to go get it a drink.

 It sneaks out of simple requests, claiming that it’s just too tired. It claims that everything will get done, but when the inspiration hits, or when that condition is just right, or when it feels like it.

Living With My Old Friend Laziness

I check laziness’s work. This underside has been neglected. The corner was cut here, and here and here too. And this is the wrong technique, not what I asked. I should know better than to ask for more.

Lazy complains about the job that he is doing. Lazy sits and ponders all the ways we should find a short cut. Then lazy makes a big show over what little effort has been made.

Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction. –Anne Frank

He makes excuse after excuse. Then I think about my relationship with lazy and I wonder, have I ever seen it give its best? Have I ever seen it actually break a sweat? Have I ever seen it work to completion on a job?  

Laziness is often in me. I’ve had it rub off on me, and I hear its whining come out of my mouth. 

When I see these streaks of lazy in me, I grow angry and bitter. I resist taking responsibility for my failure.  I faint with fake weakness and confess I’m just not up to much more. Oh poor me! 

Laziness doesn’t know this: that there is great satisfaction in doing your best. 

I’ve trained my own laziness with the whip and chair of small rewards.  I’ve pushed my own laziness just a little harder and been so pleased with the results that I pushed even more. When laziness uses excuses to get out of work, I just plug my ears and hand over the mop and the broom. 

My own lazy is getting better and better about taking orders. In fact, my own lazy has discarded the excuses, the sneakiness, the denial. It’s far from perfect, but my own lazy now has muscles that are toned up. It has a new motivation about it. I can actually leave my lazy alone with a job and it will get done. 

I reward it by calling it a new name. My laziness is now called diligence. I don’t even recognize it. 

The job is done. We worked hard together. Now we can enjoy the fruit of our labor. 

As you make plans for change in 2017, think about how you can prod your laziness into action. 

Think about how damaging and unproductive it would be to drag your excuses into the New Year. 

Think about how much more you could accomplish if diligence worked beside you.

But don’t just think, do. 


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread, a comedian wannabe, a former running coward and the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. Besides pursuing her own fiction and nonfiction writing dreams, she also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Wasting Time: Seven Hard Questions To Ask Yourself

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“Don’t waste your time chasing things that will never be beneficial to your future.”
April Mae Monterrosa

Are you wasting your time? Now that you are safely nestled into the routine of a New Year, it’s time to be honest about how you’d like this untouched calendar to be filled. You may have regret over how 2016 turned out for you and a possible repeat of regrets gives you the willies.

Instead of waiting to see what happens, ask yourself these tough questions about how you spend your time.

7 Hard Questions To Ask Yourself About Wasting Time by Katharine Grubb

1. Are Your Priorities A Mess?

This is what it may look like: You want to be that person that everyone comes to for help so you never say no. Your calendar is bursting, you’re not getting enough sleep and you may feel like doing anything for yourself is selfish. This wastes your time because you’ve filled your calendar with stuff you don’t want to do in the first place.

The deeper problem could be that you have boundary issues. You’ve never respected your own boundaries, so you let others walk all over you. You may think that this is the way to keep everyone happy, but it’s only making you aimless and exhausted.

The solution could be:  look for ways to say no, or at least limit some responsibilities. You could also take an inventory of how you spend your time and eliminate those tasks that don’t bring you joy. You could practice saying no to others and get a trusted friend to encourage you to be steadfast in your boundaries. You may also want to read BOUNDARIES by Cloud and Townsend. Saying no now can prevent wasting time later.

2. Are You Wasting Time Waiting For The Greatest Idea Ever?

This is what it may look like:   you think that the Harry Potter series just settled in J.K. Rowling’s mind and you think that your successful future novel will appear much the same way. You may not understand that ideas are cheap and that only the ones with hard work behind them go anywhere. You may also have a unrealistic expectation of what creativity really is. This wastes your time because you could have been writing all this time, working a lame idea into a blockbuster.

The deeper problem could be that: you don’t want to do the work, you may falesly think that a discarded idea is a sign of failure or you just think that success in the arts should be easy.

The solution could be: learning all you can about the struggle authors face in creating things. It could be disciplining yourself for 10 minutes a day and just writing to show yourself you do want to do the work. You may also want to watch this video by Elizabeth Gilbert or read Do the Work by Steven Pressfield. Working on your ideas, even for 10 minutes, can prevent wasting time later.

3. Are You Wasting Time by Micromanaging?

This is what it may look like:  You say that you want help, but the idea of delegating responsibility makes you stabby. Instead, you take responsibilities from others, to make sure it gets done correctly. Or you may waste a lot of emotional energy micromanaging the habits of others because you don’t think they’ll succeed. This wastes your time because your control freak tendencies will crowd out what’s really important (and they may damage relationships in the process.)

The deeper problem could be that you have a lot of fear in your life. You have unresolved anxiety. You are trying to control everything because if you don’t, you believe the worst will happen.

The solution could be: that you need to talk to a mental health professional, if for no other reason than to get some insight on what is worth fretting over and what is not. You may want to try delegating (and not micromanaging) small things once a week and reminding yourself that the world didn’t end if it turned out differently from what you expected. You may also try reading The Power of Surrender by Judith Orloff. Learning to delegate and expecting others to help can definitely prevent wasting time later.

4. Are You Wasting Time Worrying About What Others Think?

This is what it may look like: If they say you’re good, smart, beautiful, clever or wise, then you’re good smart, beautiful, clever or wise. You may use things like blog visits or Facebook likes to feel better about yourself. You may be looking for outside affirmation from a publisher or a reader or an editor, but you also may find that it’s not always satisfying once you get it. This wastes your time because instead of moving forward with a project, you keep looking behind and around you to get approval.

The deeper problem could be that: you are really insecure with who you are. You may not fully value yourself. You can’t appreciate your own awesome and this may stem from previous bad influences in your life who convinced you what they were saying was true.

The solution could be: that you talk to a professional mental health worker and be up front about your feelings of inadequacy. Keep a running list of your strengths and your achievements to remind yourself of your awesome. Consider saying positive things to yourself daily to get your focus off the approval of others. You may also want to read: The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brene Brown. Being confident in yourself is a great engine revver. If you worry less about what others think, you can prevent wasting time later.

5. Are You Wasting Time Ignoring The Real You?

 This is what it may look like:  you don’t think that creatives are practical people, or your first responsibility is to those around you, or dreams are for the weak. You’re ignoring your true self. You are busy doing something because it’s practical or expected or secure. You may feel you’re too old, too experienced, too committed to being one way, that you can’t possibly change. This wastes your time because life really is short! You get only one chance and you are worth pursuing your dreams.

The deeper problem could be that: you’re in a rut. You have settled for a so-so, dissatisfied life because you don’t think there are any options for you. You may also be crippled by fear to try something new.

The solution could be: that you get honest about what would really make you full of joy and provide meaning for your life. You may also want to talk to someone who has made a change in their life so they can encourage you. You may also want to read: Living An Inspired Life: Your Ultimate Calling by Dr. Wayne Dwyer. You don’t want to come to the end of your life regretted you wasted it.

6. Are you afraid of failure?

This is what it may look like: you can’t remember your past successes, you only remember that time you tried and failed. You have people in your life who remember your failures. This wastes your time because fear is a paralyzer. Your fear may keep you from taking any action at all.

The deeper problem could be that: you’ve put far too much importance on the mistakes you made or the non-successes. You’ve allowed your past to define you.

The solution could be: go to someone who truly loves you and tell them what you’ve been thinking. Allow them to remind you of where you have succeeded. Make a list of all of your accomplishments and your strengths and think about them. Pay attention to times you make mistakes during the day and affirm yourself with “I am not the equivalent of my mistakes”. Consider talking to a mental health worker and maybe reading this book: Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Mistakes by John C. Maxwell. We’re all going to fail. Acknowledging and accepting this can prevent wasting time later.

7. Are You Wasting Time on Negative Thoughts?

This is what it may look like: your inner voice is on an endless loop of “you’re no good.” “This goof is just like you.”  “Who do you think you are?” “Why are you even bothering?” “You’ll never amount to much.” If your confidence is shaken, you won’t be able to do much at all. And that will waste your time.

The deeper problem could be: those messages have been put there by someone else in your life. It could also be that you’ve never practiced disciplining those thoughts. Or maybe you need to show someone the door.

The solution could be: paying close attention to what you tell yourself and responding nine positive things for one negative. It could also be keeping a positivity journal or surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best in you. And, surprise! I’m going to suggest talking to a mental health professional about this too. You could also read this book: Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance At Work by Shawn Achor. Breaking this habit will make all the difference in your life and can prevent wasting time later.

2017 can only be awesome if you make it that way.

Don’t be afraid to ask yourself these tough questions, address the deeper problems and find good solutions.

The next twelve months are a gift. Don’t waste them.


I am a fiction writing and time management coach. I help time crunched novelists strengthen their craft, manage their time and gain confidence so they can find readers for their stories.

Katharine Grubb is a homeschooling mother of five, a novelist, a baker of bread and a comedian wannabe. She is also the author of Write A Novel In 10 Minutes A Day. She also leads 10 Minute Novelists on Facebook, an international group for time-crunched writers that focuses on tips, encouragement and community. 

Top 10 Ways To Beat Insecurity (At Least Temporarily!)

We are insecure for a lot of reasons.

We’re insecure because we probably have artistic temperaments that makes us feel deeply. We overthink and over analyze. We find it’s easier to dwell on what it negative in our life rather than what is positive. We may have lived in environments in which confidence and boldness was discouraged and despair was fertilized with lies and fear. We may lack skills. We may fear failure. We may long for approval and we know it’s hard to achieve it anywhere, much less in this field. We’ve been burned before. The last person who read our work was mean or hateful or didn’t get us. We’re  bound too tightly to the failures of yesterday. We speak a lot of negative words to ourselves. We compare others’ highlight reel to our bloopers. We are so aware of our weaknesses that we can’t comprehend that we have strengths. We’re too worried about what others think.

This insecurity is a poison.

It can seep into our lives, into our motivations, and into the words that we put together. This poison can infect our subconscious, our thoughts, and our habits. It has a paralysis that freezes all of our dreams. It’s a hallucinogen that creates ravenous monsters  that devour our hopes in one bite. It’s contagious. You can be given this pestilence by someone else with their disapproving looks, their snide comments, and their general disrespect of you.

You know how unattractive insecurity is in your friends or your romantic interests  Just think about how you’re coming across to others if you’re insecure about your writing?

Top 10 Ways To Beat Insecurity (At Least Temporarily!)

 

Here are my Top 10 easy fixes for some short term relief from insecurity. The long term fixes my need bigger guns! 

1. Practice writing. You will get better with practice. Set a word count goal or set a time limit, even ten minutes will do, and put in your effort to get better. Strengthen those writing muscles with daily workouts, even a small one.

2. Read. Read books by authors that you would love to be compared to. Study what they are doing. Look for things that you know you can do like them, like character development or dialogue. Look for things that inspire you and analyze why it moves you so.

3. Take time alone. Get away, even for a few minutes, from any people or environment that is not completely supportive.

4. Practice positive self talk. This is tough and it takes practice. Write down truths about who you are.

5. Make a list of things that you are really good at. They don’t have to be writing related. But these are your strengths. And you should be proud of these.

6. Make a list of your accomplishments. Big or small. Things that you did that were hard and you succeeded at. These things should make you hold your head up high.

7. Go for a walk. Or exercise in some way. Exercise releases endorphines and those will make you feel better about yourself. My therapist said that 20 minutes of exercise is worth one dose of Prozac. I totally love this.

8. Write down personal goals. Make them small and measurable. Something for the day, something for the week. Something for the month. And then work toward those goals. Then reward yourself for meeting them.

9.Identify the toxic, discouraging people in your life and do your best to remove yourself from them. This is not easy, but emotional and verbal abuse can wear on your self esteem and wear you down. Stay with healthier people. This means weird, clingy girlfriends. 

10. Eat well. Without getting militant about it, you will feel better and have a better emotional health if you minimize processed foods.

Want more? Stay hydrated. Limit stimulants. Get enough sleep.  Write about why you want to be a writer. What prompted this goal in the first place. Join a writers group. Like 10 Minute Novelists. See a therapist. Seek spiritual help.

Now all of these are practical steps. But this is not a complete list.

You’ll be a better writer and a better person if you’re secure. 

 

 

 

Top 10 Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful

By Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

I believe we can accomplish great things if we get our thought life under control.

Good thoughts produce good habits. Good habits produce good patterns. Good patterns help us grow in discipline, which makes us more confident, which allows us to succeed. 

I strongly encourage you, as you are facing the end of this year and the beginning of the new one, that you consider what you think about and focus only on the good things. 

In June, I posted, Top 10 Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer  Today I want to do the opposite!

op Ten Things You Should Be Saying To Yourself That Will Help Make You More Successful

1. Everybody Makes Mistakes.  This is huge! You need to be reminded that every successful writer has a team behind them of editors, agents and publishers that help them make their book the best it can be. Don’t freak out over the errors in your manuscript. Just fix them and move on!

2. Tomorrow Is Another Day. Plan on making every single day the best you can to pursue your goals, but be realistic. Some days, you’re not going to get your words in, or write that blog post, or get those tweets out. It’s okay. Try again tomorrow when life doesn’t interrupt.

Think postivie (1)

3. Look How Far I’ve Come! It’s easy to get discouraged when you see so many authors around you who are more successful than you are. Instead of looking to the left or the right, look behind you. Remember where you were a year ago, or two years ago and get excited! You’ve made remarkable progress!

4. My Book Isn’t For Everybody. This is a tough one to swallow, especially when you get a few 1 or 2 star reviews. But it’s true. Your book isn’t going to be universally loved. Put your energies into those people DO get you.

5. I Can Learn How To Do This Better! Getting discouraged with your lack of skills? Don’t worry. Everyone was a beginner once. You can learn  to write better, revise better, edit better and market better. It takes practice and it’s worth doing.

Think postivie (2)6. I Don’t Have To Do Everything.  Don’t feel like you have to do Facebook AND Instagram AND Tumblr AND Twitter AND Pinterest AND Google+ AND whatever else is hot right now. Instead find the two or three that you’re comfortable with and ROCK THAT! You’ll be spending your time and energies more wisely.

7. I’m A  Lot More Than My Sales Numbers Or Amazon Reviews. Sigh. Quantity can’t accurately measure quality. Your book for sale is just a book. It’s not your soul, not your identity, not your life. Your passions, your loves, your spirit, your responsibilities, these are what make who you are. Give yourself a hug!

8. My Dreams Are Worth Pursuing. If you’re a mom, like I am, it’s easy to get sucked into guilt for not doing more for your family. But you must find time to nurture your passions even if it’s for 10 minutes a day. If for no other reason, your family will see this and be inspired to follow their passions too.

9. Hard Work Trumps Talent. Down on yourself because you don’t think you’re any good? The solution? Put your butt in your chair and write. Talent is nice, but success, both commercial and critical, comes to those who aren’t afraid of the work involved. Go for it! You’ll never know what can happen.

Think postivie10. I Don’t Know Everything! Print this one out and paste at the top of your computer! You don’t know everything. You don’t know all there is to know about drafting, revising, editing, publishing and marketing. And there is so much to learn!  Take advantage of as many free resources as you can. Read books. Take a class. Listen to your peers, critique group and readers. Be humble and teachable and you’ll see that you’re a stronger and more confident writer! 

Got another one? I’d love to hear what you tell yourself to succeed!

Top 10 Great Things That Happened When I Stopped Complaining

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Sometimes, the world really is insufficient, faulty or stupid. But sometimes it’s just better not to notice. 

A few years ago, after a particularly difficult time in my life, I challenged myself to watch what I said and to stop complaining. I thought that by stopping the bad attitude was just a generally a good step in the direction of restraint. I had no idea that this would change nearly everything about my life. 

Now, this blog has the main purpose of encouraging time-crunched writers in their dreams, but sometimes, I want to write for everyone. I firmly believe that the world would change dramatically if we stopped complaining.

TOP 10 Things That Happened When I Stopped Complaining

1. I saw the world for what it was. The glass really is half full! How delightful to discover little surprises in my day that I only discovered because I decided to live in light, not darkness.

2. I had more friends. I can’t believe it took me over 40 years to find out that people are attracted to happy people, not angry ones. Who knew? I had always thought that there was virtue in honesty. Now I’m seeing that negative thoughts, kept to ones self, can open doors in a way that negative words spoken will only shut.

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
Maya Angelou

3. I became more trustworthy. This is another Who Knew moment! The people that was spending time with — those who were attracted to me for my optimism — were more willing to trust me with their real selves. This strengthened my friendships. And I suppose if I gave up the fact that they were trying to hurt me, then my vulnerability made me a better friend too.

4. I worried less. I really believe that all my negativity was rooted in fear. If I chose to be less negative and chose to dwell on the positive, then all those bad things that I thought were going to happen never happened.  Now, after practicing thinking rainbows and sunshine I’ve gotten to where if I ever feel afraid, then I know it’s because I’m thinking the wrong things.

5. I had more ideas. A fearless, brave, positive person will most definitely take more chances than a fearful, angry, worried person. By releasing my negativity, I was far more willing to move forward on my ideas, try new things and forget failure. This also added a lot to my happiness.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”
Abraham Lincoln

6. I had more energy. Negativity does something to me. It makes me tired and restless. It drives me to eat too much or sleep too late. By thinking happy thoughts, not only was I confident that I could tackle my to-do list, but I also make exercise a priority, which made me more energetic. This was surprising and very encouraging.

7. I had fun. Another surprise. It is more fun to be happy than to be sad. Funny: when you choose to be happy, you’re taking responsibility for your own happiness and fun rather than having it come to you. I didn’t know this before even though it makes perfect sense. It also makes me regret wasting all that time being negative.

8. Doors opened up to me. If I’m more attractive to others and I’m taking more risks, then more opportunities will come to me too. All the things that I want out of life are on the other side of fear and negativity. Hmm. If that isn’t motivation to put a smile on my face, I don’t know what is! 

“Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”
Lily Tomlin

9. I set a good example. We all face things that we don’t like on a daily basis, but whining and complaining to the leadership rarely helps. I am a leader in my family — I am the mother. And when my children complain, I listen to legitimate concerns, but I also want to teach them that their attitudes make my job easier. Let’s all choose to be happy, even when circumstances aren’t great and we’ll probably grow stronger for it.

10. I stray clear of other complainers. For the first time in my life, I can see how toxic complaining can be. I can see how unattractive it is in others. I see how sometimes it’s destructive and divisive. I see how it can bring everything down. I don’t need complaining people in my life, so now I stay away from them and I don’t feel guilty about it.

I’ll be honest, I haven’t completely given it up.

I catch myself sometimes creating a long mental list of everything that is wrong with my life. But the difference is now I see it and I stop it as soon as I can. I have friends around me who I can be honest with about this. I can keep myself from picking up more negativity like a lint brush and making things worse.

I see now that my complaining is like illness-causing bacteria.

Complaining can cause rifts and divisions, bring down a mood, make others miserable and spread like conjunctivitis in a kindergarten class. If I choose a good attitude then I’m doing what I can to fight the infectious negativity around me. 

What about you? What do you do to combat negativity in your life? I want to know!

Top 10 Ways To Love Yourself When You’re Sick

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

You know when you’re playing Wii Golf and you hit the ball way to hard? That was the noise I heard in my ear whenever I blew my nose.

I didn’t have the flu, a sinus infection, an ear infection or bronchitis.  I didn’t have the fever to warrant antibiotics and I didn’t have enough symptoms to make even a trip to the ER worth it. I knew they’d say, “yup, your ears are stuffed up”.  I knew that the treatment would be a combination of Mucinex and Benadryl and Motrin for pain and rest. Lots of fluids.

This stupid virus was interfering with my life! I had plans! Big plans! I was spending over an hour every day on the treadmill. I was writing 1000 words a day in addition to  leading the fastest growing writers’ group on Facebook. I was marketing my new release. I was homeschooling 5 children. I couldn’t afford to be sick.

And for a moment or two there, I thought I had let myself down. I can’t meet my goals if I’m sick. 

 

It’s hard to go from Super Mom mode to snothead. It’s hard to decide that you just don’t have the energy to write today.  It’s hard to realize that the Benadryl is making it way too difficult to do anything but watch The Lego Movie for the millionth time.  It’s also easy to slip into self pity when you’re confident that the amount of stuff that’s come out of your nose is way more than the volume your nasal cavity can hold.

I should have taken the opportunity to be kind to myself.should have said this: Just rest. Just close your eyes. Just think about something else. Don’t think about the things that are not getting done. Don’t think that your book will not be marketed properly because you coughed up three lungs today. Don’t worry about it.

 I should have fought against the self condemnation in the same way that antibiotics would have fought off an infection. If someone around me couldn’t fulfill their obligation to me because they were sick, wouldn’t I have grace for them? Why don’t I have grace for myself?

I know why. Or at least I know partly why. I know that my mother never reduced my workload when I was sick. I was taught to tough it out. I was taught to shut up and get over it because there was work to do. I was taught that sickness was for the weak. All I’m doing this for is attention. If I had been working harder, I would have never been sick.

I need to change my thinking. I need to learn to love myself. 

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  1. Be realistic about what you can and can’t do. Pushing myself mentally or physically when I am sick is rarely a good idea. I need to stop comparing the productivity an on fire good day to a wiped out sick day and just enjoy the extra sleep. 
  2. Take cues from your body and your family. If any of us is physically down, then a change must be made. As the mom, I need to figure it out. I’d be the first one in my family to send them to bed if they’re sick, I need to be just as bossy with myself. 
  3. Stick to a schedule, a survival life schedule. This means eating regularly, sleeping regularly, spending the minimal amounts of time doing the basics. Even one load of laundry a day, when you are sick, will keep the mountain from growing in the laundry room. 
  4. Get back to the basics. Enough sleep, water, right food etc. I have a mental list of what Survival Life looks like. This means the most basic of hygiene, the simplest of meals, the past of least resistance in everything I do. When I’m sick, I need to just default to this setting and live with it. 
  5. Lower your expectations. When I am sick, I need to just set the bar on the floor and try to step over it. I also need to not beat myself up for this, listen to negative thinking or feel the least bit guilty. 
  6. Celebrate what you can do.  Get the whole family cheering when you can take a shower without passing out or eat a simple meal without losing it. 
  7. Don’t compare yourself to others. This is great advice for all of life, but when you’re already weak, it’s even more of a bad idea to look beside you. Someone will have it better than you: their kids vomit in the toilet instead of the bed. But then, someone will have it worse: it’s not the flu, it’s Lyme disease! This division of mind will never be productive if you are trying to recover. Just don’t do it. 
  8. Ask for help. Delegate responsibilities. Ask to move the deadline. There is grace in this season. Regardless of how humiliating it feels at times to ask for help, you need it. Don’t be afraid to ask kids, in-laws, neighbors, or anyone within reach to ease your life just a bit while you’re down. 
  9. Say no. This should be a no-brainer, but somehow we believe that we have to say yes, even when we don’t have the strength. While you’re sick, make sure that you have steadfast boundaries with those around you. 
  10. Think positive thoughts. Generally speaking, most minor illnesses go away in time. Keep it in perspective. You can catch up on reading, you can buy a new coloring book, you can finally get the rest you need. 

There is no shame in being sick. There is however, a lot of shame in not believing that you’re worth the effort of self-care. Maybe I’ll learn my lesson and be a better patient next time. 

Now, to print this and paste it next to the Mucinex and Benadryl.

How about you? What do you to care for yourself when you’re sick and weak? What else can be added to the list? 

Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic

by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

In my writing life, my inner critic is the single greatest threat to my success.

My inner critic blames me for things that go wrong.

My inner critic calls me names like stupid and loser.

My inner critic compares me to others and finds me wanting.

My inner critic sets impossible standards of perfection.

My inner critic tells me that if I’m not the best, then I’m nothing.

My inner critic beats me up for the smallest mistake.

My inner critic keeps track of my failures and shortcomings.

My inner critic exaggerates my weaknesses.

My inner critic threatens to withhold love.

My inner critic attacks me with rage when I fail.

My inner critic says, “You’re a failure. So why try?”

My inner critic is especially loud when I feel pleasure, when I feel love, recognition or success.

 

And if my inner critic is successful, then he has produced severe anxiety in me and made me feel worthless. It’s at this point, I’m in complete bondage to this stupid, foolish, bumbling henchman and I am dragged away to be imprisoned by fear.

The problem is, I forget just how much power I actually have. A few weeks ago, I described how I was going to kick fear in the teeth, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’ve already let that inner critic have too much ground.

Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic  by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

I’m not an expert, but I think these are very good steps:

1. Recognize the inner critic right away. You know his voice: it’s negative, accusatory and hopeless. In your head, it sounds either just like you or like someone in authority over you who was really good at saying toxic stuff like this.

 2. Yell right back at him. My therapist told me I can tell him to shut up. He will. You owe it to yourself to fight back. And you can mentally. And if you’re in a place where real people are saying stuff like this to you, leave them. 

“Learn to catch yourself and stop yourself immediately when you are engaging in negative self-talk.”
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

3. Concentrate on positive truths and self-affirmations. It usually takes me about four or five self-affirmations to get this inner critic to evaporate. (Yes, he evaporates. Why was I so afraid of something made of air?) Get in the practice of collecting positives about yourself as your weapon against your inner critic. Keep them posted where you can see them. Surround yourself with people who love you and encourage you. Inner critics love vacuums — so don’t allow yourself to have one. Fill your life with good and evil can’t come in.

 4. Get to work. I’ve been finding that this inner critic shows up more frequently when I’m stuck on something. With a little hard work and determination, I get over the hump and he’s got nothing to stand on. Set your timer. Write for 10 minutes. This may shut that inner critic up for a while.

 5. List all the people who do love you and build you up. We need reminders sometimes of who is on our side. This inner critic does not want you to succeed. Listening to it and giving it attention will make you miserable.

“Negative self talk costs more than even the richest person can afford. So be nice to yourself whenever possible … and know that it is always possible.”
Doug Pedersen, Tuna Breath: A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming of Age Story

 6. Recount all your victories. My inner critic, for all his nastiness, is a really bad accountant and can’t see that there are far more successes than failures. Yours probably is too. If you have to create a list of all the ways you’re awesome and paste it to your computer screen, do it!

7. Enjoy your moments of victory and accomplishment for what they are without focusing on the tiny mistakes. Your inner critic also has very bad vision. He can only see the faults and failures. It’s likely someone in your life taught you to look at the world that way. I suggest you change your prescription and look for good and you’ll learn to really revel in your success.

 8. Celebrate who you are on your journey. Our paths to success are filled with bumps, detours and near disasters. This is part of life! While they can be frustrating and painful, instead of sitting down on the side of the road to bawl in self pity, we should celebrate that we’re still going forward! Stop every once in a while and say to yourself, “WOW! Look how far you’ve come!”

“As believers, we must speak only words of prosperity, health, and power.”
Lynn R. Davis, Deliver Me From Negative Self Talk

9. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your inner critic may be obsessed with the success of other writers. He may whisper in your ear that you should be doing this better, or you should be published by now, or you should have more reviews because of other people’s successes!  This is a bunch of ca-ca. Your success is yours alone. Just tell that inner critic to shut up once and for all so you can focus on being you!

 10. Practice good self-care. I’m far less likely to hear from the inner critic  if I’m well rested, I’ve eaten well and I’ve exercised. Take a moment and check yourself. Are you putting your physical well being at the top of your to-do list? This could be all you need to silence that inner critic.

If I actually listen to my inner critic, then it’s like I am putting the handcuffs on and I’m allowing him to drag me into fear. There’s no way I can be successful and listen to him at the same time. One of us has to go.

What about you? What does your inner critic say? How are you kicking fear in the teeth?

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You

According to an interesting article on WikiHow, “How To Fall In Love” you can find yourself in a satisfying relationship in a few not-so-easy steps.

 I’d like to suggest that authors follow their advice to be “in love” with their readers. And hopefully, readers will fall in love with them too!

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

  1. Boost Your Self-Esteem. For those looking for romance, this means exude confidence, know who you are, and stop comparing yourself to others. This will make you attractive to others. Writers should do the same thing. Take the time to make yourself into a good writer.  That means that you need to seek out challenging mentors and coaches that can push you to be better. You may need to take classes. You may need to have a critique partner who makes you cry. No one wants to follow a loser. So train like a winner. This also means looking good. You need to make a good impression. All of your social media personalities should be consistent and reflect the emotional goals of your brand. In other words, act like a professional! 

2. Consider why you want to fall in love. The article suggests that if we are looking for a romance to “complete” us or give us validation, we may be in it for the wrong reasons. I totally agree. I also think that writers who pursue publication for fame, fortune or any other reason may need to reconsider. Being a great writer who can live off their income takes a lot of work. Only you can decide if you’re doing it for the right reasons.

3. Consider what you’re looking for. If you are looking for a romantic partner, then you need to put some thought into what kinds of people you enjoy. You also need to think deeper than a pretty face or huge biceps. Writers need to be just as thoughtful. They need to know what kind of writers they are. Do they write mysteries? Romances? Thrillers? Steampunk? They also need to know what kinds of people read their genre. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding readers.

4. Meet people. This should be the most obvious. If you want healthy relationships, romantic or otherwise, you have to get out into the world. For writers this can be terrifying because we often like hiding out with our laptops and our cats. You can do this in real life, such as with a writers’ group or book club. You can also do this online, where we care far less about personal hygiene. My personal favorite group is the 10 Minute Novelists group on Facebook. Join us. 

5. Open Yourself To New Possibilities. This is good advice all the way around, for any part of your life. To have what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. For lonely singles, you may want to try a local meet up or ask your friends to set you up. For writers, this means you need to stretch yourself. Try signing up for a new social media platform. Try joining a chat. Try calling your local library and asking them if you can drop off one of your books. Get over your fear. Take chances. You’ll probably be surprised at how fun it is.

6. Give Things Time. This is the best thing on the list. Writers absolutely cannot expect to be best sellers overnight. That’s as ridiculous as a lonely woman arriving at a singles dance expecting to meet Prince Charming, getting engaged in three months and married in a year. Be content to start at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to fail.  Write every day that you can. Don’t give up because it’s hard.

7. Develop The Relationship. Now this is where the article assumes you’ve met Mr. Right, (or at least Mr. Right Now). The author suggests that you talk, expressing interest in the values and experiences of this new person in your life. This is great advice for you as a writer too! I totally believe that if we are going to have life long reader fans, we need to start with our friends! This means talking to them. It means asking good questions. It means getting your focus off yourself (and your book sales) and work at this new relationship.

8. Open Yourself Up Emotionally. This is also great advice! Now in a romantic relationship, you need to take risks and be vulnerable. Sometimes that’s really scary! Writers have to take risks too! With each reader that reads your book, you have to be willing to get a mediocre or bad review. You have to be able to handle rejection. You need to not take it seriously when they say, you’re not my type. There are plenty of readers out there, so if your heart gets broken, keep trying! To be successful, you must deal with bad reviews like a pro. It also means understanding that art is subjective and what one person loves another will hate. The artistic nature of this business makes everything wonderful and everything harder. Sigh.

9. Build Trust. All relationships are built on trust. How do you build trust? You keep your word. You communicate gently. You don’t antagonize. You don’t criticize. You don’t judge or condemn. You don’t ignore. An affable, approachable writer who is trustworthy to his readers will be in greater position for long term success than one who is disrespectful and lacks integrity. This means absolutely no misrepresenting yourself! No manipulating numbers! No fudging reviews! No underhanded dealings! Any shortcuts you may take to “gain readers or followers” will someday come back to bite you in the butt. Don’t do it.

10. Appreciate what you’ve got. No one likes to be taken for granted, not even readers. Once you have readers who are willing to buy your books, keep them posted on what’s next for you. Say thank you by sending personal messages. Do your best to remind them that they are important to you. This will go a long way to building a great writer/reader relationship. You must understand that your readers’ attention is precious.  They will  have no trouble finding other books to read. Respect this. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t answer questions hatefully or sarcastically. Be warm. Be generous if you can. Get to know them, don’t just make it all about you.

To get our readers to fall in love with us, we’re going to have to work. We’ll need to take our art seriously, their relationship seriously and give everything our best.  

There are no shortcuts. Sorry about that.

Each bullet on this list is a long tedious task that can only be accomplished with hard work. Discouraged? Don’t be. Good relationships and enthusiastic tribes take time. And it starts with what’s inside you!

Readers are worth it. 

Top 10 Ways To Respect Your Art As A Writer by Katharine Grubb

Thank you, Internet! 

Because of you, I have to do so little work to expose myself and my family to the works of the world’s greatest artists. Gone are the days when we have to pay for parking at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Now, all we have to do is click the mouse a few times and we are seeing, perhaps not perfectly, the art of the masters.

Click the link for print availability

I appreciate this as a writer because I clearly don’t have enough distractions as it is. But I also can appreciate it because I believe that writing is an art. I also believe that like the great painters of western civilization, great writing can be something that can be respected and revered. I believe that inspiration comes from a lot of different places and that exposing myself to great art will touch my soul somehow, and make me a better writer in the long run.

I believe also that even beginning writers need to have a great respect for the art of writing. Just because visual art is cheap and easily accessible doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it. The same can be said for the art of writing. Just because publishing has never been easier doesn’t mean that contemporary writers should reduce it to something common.

I’d like to suggest that all writers, regardless of their experience and tastes, learn to love their art.

Top 10 Ways To Respect Your Art As A Writer by Katharine Grubb

 

1. If you love your art, then you respect the masters. You have spend time reading the works of great writers, analyzing their style and choices. You’ve saturated yourself only with the best books so that you can be inspired and taught how to be great.

2. If you love your art, you don’t makes excuses for others’ bad works. This is tricky, but if we were truly respectful of the craft of writing, then we would have no trouble being honest in a review on  Amazon.com or Goodreads. We’d point out technical flaws, we’d question the author’s choices, we’d give our reasons for reducing our ratings from four to two stars. We’d be thoughtful and kind in our observations while at the same time backing up our claims.

3. If we are respectful of our art, then we should have no trouble with receiving critical reviews, even the ones we don’t agree with. We can’t leave honest reviews with integrity if we aren’t willing to receive honest ones in return.

Click image for print availability

4. If we respect our art, then we have studied the rules of it. Despite popular platitudes in the writing community there are rules to writing. If we respect our art, then we see the rules as helpful boundaries –especially those that allow us to be clearer and better understood, such as grammar! And spelling! If we respect our art, we don’t look for excuses to break the rules. Instead we look at the rules as friends.

5. If we respect our art, then we are willing to put time into it. It is disrespectful to the art and to our readers if we are looking for ways to cut corners in our composition or creation. If we respect our art, we don’t look for easy answers like, “how many times do I rewrite this paragraph before it’s good enough?” The answer is “at least one more.”

6. If we respect our art, then we take the commitment to craft seriously. We read blogs, we read writing books, we go to conferences, we take notes, and we look for ways our prose can improve. You can’t love and respect your art if you are too proud to take correction.

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7. If we respect our art, then we write every day. Every day! There has never been a concert pianist that didn’t sit down and play for hours on a regular basis. There will never be a great writer that doesn’t slap their butt in their chair and their hands on the keyboard. If we respect our art, then our diligence in regular writing should be like breathing.

8. If we respect our art, then we don’t tie our identity to the current work-in-progress. To respect our art means to allow it to stand alone, separate from us, open to the criticisms and praise of others. As time goes by, and we add more to our finished works, we see it as an entire body of work, with individual pieces that have each had a place in the building up of our careers. The single titles are not big enough to fill the satisfaction of a lifetime of hard work. (I’m not crazy about that sentence.)

9. If we respect our art, then we don’t compare it to others’ works. It is OUR art. We can be inspired by others, but to truly respect art, that means that we refuse to copy or cheapen our work by making it derivative of someone else’s.

10. If we respect our art, then we’re never in a hurry. The best things in life are the things that take time to nurture. Rushing through a story for the sake of publishing it weakens the art process and makes the final creation the literary equivalent of a Big Mac. Take your time. Do it right. Respect and love your reader.

So, what do you think? How can you respect your art? 

Top Ten Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

I spend DECADES of my life saying negative things to myself.

Slowly, I’m addressing them one by one, changing what I say and taking positive steps (like NOT buying a box of donuts to eat in one sitting) to make my life better and my soul happier.

Below I have a list of the top ten things wannabe writers say to themselves that keep them stuck in failure.

Top 10 Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

If you are saying any of these things to yourself, then you will, most certainly fail.

The reason? This negative self talk is a paralyzer.

It fosters inaction.

The antidote is two fold: say positive things and take baby steps out.

1. I’m So Disorganized.

Okay, this could be true. You maybe disorganized because you lack focus, or management skills or a plan. But all of those things are tools.  Successful people have learned how to use these tools that they can stay organized. This is the secret that super organized people know — organization does just happen, it’s daily work! If your house, office, desk, ideas or life is super disorganized, find the tools the experts use and make them work for you!

What to say to yourself instead: Today I’m taking 10 minutes to get more organized. I’m starting small. Something is better than nothing. Go me!

 What to do: Take 10 minutes, start with Pinterest and search for specific links, then create an organization board. Don’t get distracted. This is your starting place for the actual work. Or, take 10 minutes to make a list of the specific areas you want order in. Then, commit to ten minutes a day working on this area. You’ll see progress. You’ll find order. Try also Flylady.com (my personal favorite).

2. I’m Not Any Good.

This could be true. You may not be a good writer. How do you get better? With practice. Writing is a skill and the most talented writers in the world still have to practice! They did not just spring up out of the ground as NYT bestsellers. They worked on their craft over and over until they grew in skill and confidence. Learn all you can about the craft of writing. Be teachable. Find a mentor. Take a class. And write every day!

What to say to yourself instead: Everybody has to work hard. I’m no different.

What to do: Take 10 minutes and write. Don’t evaluate it or edit it. You just practiced! Then take another 10 minutes and request writing books from your local library’s website, or search Goodreads for the best books and buy them, or go to Writer’s Digest website and spend ten minutes reading. You can learn to be a better writer on ten minutes a day.

3. What If Someone Doesn’t Like It? 

Someone is not going to like it. This is a fact of life in the world of artists. If you choose to be an artist, then you’re choosing to have a bad review occasionally, you’ll receive a rejection letter or two and your skin will have to toughen up. But somewhere, someone will like it. This is your first fan. If you don’t write, you’ll never find them. It is for this reader (and all their Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Google+ people) that you write what you write.

What to say to say to yourself instead: What if someone does like it? That will be awesome!

What to do: Read all the one-star reviews of your favorite books on Amazon.com. Some of them are horrible, aren’t they? Notice how this negativity keeps these authors down. (Hint: it doesn’t!)

4. I Don’t Have Time.

You’ll pardon me if I roll my eyes on this one. For nearly every other item on this list, I have great compassion, but I don’t for this one. The truth is you have time for everything you want to do. All you need to accomplish your writing goals is a minimum of ten minutes a day. I know that this is true because between my five children, my homeschooling responsibilities and my homemade bread baking, I found time to pursue my dreams in ten minute increments.  It took me five years to write my first book, but I did it. I examined my carefully to find the time, made the time and then worked all the time!

What to say to yourself instead: I can find the time!

What to do: Spend ten minutes looking at your schedule on a daily and weekly basis. Where is there lolly-gagging time that can be devoted to writing? Where are you waiting for your kids? What Netflix show can you forfeit for the sake of writing? I bet you can find a lot more than ten minutes a day.

5. I Don’t Have What I Need.

This excuse is an easy fix. If you are reading this, you’re on a computer or a smart phone. That means you have what you need. Don’t have word processing software? Put your work on Google.docs. Do a search for all the great writing apps for smart phones. Or go low-tech and buy a spiral notebook and a pen. You can get what you need to be a writer very easily. Don’t let this small problem keep you from pursuing your dreams.

What to say to yourself instead: Wow! That was easy!

What to do: Spend ten minutes finding a place at home that will be your workspace — it doesn’t have to be big or glamorous. (I spend years standing at my kitchen counter on an iMac.) Then set up a document, create orderly files, put that journal in your handbag, get a great pen. You can do this!

6. I’ve Failed Before.

We’ve all failed. The first time you tried to walk, you fell. The first time you tried to eat solid food you spit it out. The first time you tried to read, you got it wrong. I can GUARANTEE that there are grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog post. Failure is a part of life. I’m not a psychotherapist, but I’m going to guess that it’s not the failure that’s the problem here, but the feeling of worthlessness that plays piggyback on that failure. This took me a long time to realize but the truth is, failure doesn’t define me.  I am so much more than my series of mistakes. I’m going to fail in the future, that’s a given. But I’m not going to let it keep me down.

What to say to yourself instead: I’m going to fail in big and small ways, but so what?

What to do: Read this. I am especially impressed with the fact that Oprah was fired because she was too emotionally involved in the story she reported.

7. I’m Not As Good As Them So Why Try?

Trying really hard not to eyeroll here, bear with me. Of all the excuses on this list, this one is the most cowardly. It’s bad enough that you have no confidence in your God-given skills and abilities, but then you take what you perceive as your weakness and compare it someone else’s strength and naturally come out lacking. It’s a double whammy against who you are and what you were created to be. You are never going to be as good as anybody. Do you know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! If you have artistic inclinations, then you have a distinct point of view, a unique voice, a perspective that no one else has ever had (you’ll still have to work hard to make it shine, but still). The world needs you!

If you really, really want to believe that the success of other people is the reason to hide your talent under a bushel, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I want this post to be encouraging and hopeful but I’m half-tempted to tell people who actually believe this crap to stay on the couch, stay in front of Netflix, do nothing. Please. I want your future readers for myself.

What to say to yourself instead: Dangit! I have something to offer!

What to do: Put some blinders on. And for the love of Pete, stop comparing yourself to others.

8. I’m Too Old To Try Anything New.

This one is breaking my crap-o-meter. You are NOT too old. Life is going to pass you by if you don’t pursue your dreams now. You don’t want to come to the end of it and wish you’d take ten minutes every day.

What to say to yourself instead: My kids (and grandkids) need to see me pursue my dreams!

What to do: Read this Huffington Post article about writers who got published later in life. One woman was 99!

9. There’s too much to learn, so it’s too hard.

When it comes to writing and marketing and publishing there is a LOT to learn. The bad news is that there’s always an new app or a new social media platform or a new guru to read.  The wealth of information is intimidating and overwhelming. Instead of thinking about how hard it is, choose the easiest thing or most interesting aspect of writing/marketing pursuit and only do that. The good news? Nobody knows and implements it all. The most successful people have put limitations on themselves so that they keep the ever growing information monster at bay. You can do that too.

What to say to yourself instead: My time is valuable. I’m going to focus on one aspect of my goals, like writing, and learn a little bit every day. 

What to do: Find one or two blogs on writing to follow. Read one book at a time. Don’t panic over what is left, just do what you can when you can.

10. I Don’t Have Anything Worthwhile To Say

Deep sigh. Then a hug. Then another sigh. I totally get this. Sometimes the desires that we have to write are lonely. They don’t exactly have ideas to play with. Personally, I’ve found that ideas, for some reason, inspire other ideas. The act of creating sometimes can spawn new inspiration and then you have something to say, something you didn’t know was in you.

What to say to yourself instead: Hey Muse! I’m going to sit down to work, you’re going to join me!

What to do: Write for 10 minutes about anything. Sign up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts. Then, watch this Ted Talk about the creative muse by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is my all time favorite Ted Talk. It makes me cry every time!)

The most powerful voice in the world is the one you use to talk to yourself.

Make sure the voice you use is the one that can keep you motivate, encourage yourself to succeed and keep hope alive.

It took me about 20 seconds to come up with ten, because I’ve said every single one of these to myself. I know how powerful these lies are.

 

So, what else are you saying to yourself that could be keeping you down?

What can you say to yourself instead?

What can you do to change everything?

 

Top Ten Ways To Deal With Writer’s Block by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Have you fought with writer’s block?

It sucks, doesn’t it?

Writer’s block is that state when there seems to be no inspiration. Writer’s block is when you wrestle back and forth in your confidence to create and still come up with nothing. Writer’s block is the realization that you have no ideas. Writer’s block is a searching for new words or new ideas and putting only dull words on the paper. Writer’s block can be dangerous in that we start believing that we’ll never have a good story again. Writer’s block is frustrating and maddening. Writer’s block can be blamed on our muse ignoring us, on our chest cold, on our own insecurities or on lies we’ve been told.

Top 10 Ways to Beat Writer's Block by Katharine Grubb

Writer’s block comes in many forms. Sometimes it’s fear based. Sometimes it’s energy based. Sometimes we’re just bored with our own ideas.

But these are some ways that you can overcome:

1. Fill your tank. If you’re not writing, you should be reading. Read broadly with as much diversity as you possibly can. Read in our genre and out of your genre. Read poetry and nonfiction. Read constantly.

2. Write anyway. Journal. People watch. Do the morning pages. Just add words. The habit of getting down a little will help you immensely.

3. Don’t equate your lack of productivity with your value. Sometimes we’re so wrapped up in the fact that we’re not writing, that we dig ourselves deeper into a pit of despair. Shake off any dark thoughts about this season. It happens to everyone.

4. Describe an anecdote. Write about anything that happened to you recently. Use the opportunity to write about it as practice. When you’re done, change the setting or characters or specific details to make it more creative. Even if this isn’t a publishable piece, your act of writing will help you grow in confidence.

5. Use a prompt without any expectation of a result. My favorite writing prompts are the first lines from great works of literature. I find that the craftsmanship of the first lines an inspiration. Now, I would never claim them as my own, but it does get my creative juices flowing.

6. Turn off the inner editor. First drafts are supposed to be messy. The editor comes in when you are completely satisfied with the drafting process, not any sooner.

7. Stop comparing yourself to others. This is good advice for all of life. But writers have a tendency to measure their success based on what others are doing. This is a huge mistake. Your creativity is yours alone. Just keep writing and don’t worry about what others are doing.

8. Give your projects breathing room. Put your project aside and come back to it in a month or even longer. We often need the perspective of time to see our art with fresh eyes and have a realistic vision for what needs to be done. Don’t be afraid to wait.

9. Surround yourself with other great art. I believe that art begets art. Listen to creative music. Go to an art museum. Watch high quality films. Your subconscious is hungry for the thoughtful and beautiful. Feed it. At some point, this art will show itself in your writing.

10. Read a writing book. Sometimes we’re blocked because we really don’t know how to do something in our stories. A writing book may help. If you haven’t your own collection of writing books, check out your local library.

Writer’s block is, I believe, just part of a journey of a writer.

Our creativity can move in and out like a tide. We can overcome writer’s block with discipline, practice, low expectations and stepping back into a playful place where we can enjoy writing again.

Our ideas are often organic beings. They are independent organisms of our life. They don’t have a time table nor a calendar. Wait on them. Give them time to stew properly.

Our ideas are never perfect. They require patient sculpting and reshaping. If you can lower your expectations of what they should look like, and ban your inner editor from the drafting stage, you can conquer the perfectionism that often comes with creating.

Our ideas will never be universally loved. Instead of focusing on who won’t like it, focus on who will. Don’t allow your fear of rejection to keep you from working.

We will not overcome writer’s block by procrastinating.

We will not overcome writer’s block by being too dependent on inspiration.

We will not overcome writer’s block by reminding ourselves over and over that hey! We have writer’s block!

You can beat writer’s block. I believe in you.

10 Destructive, Cowardly Lies I Had To Discard So I Could Become A Writer

This is one of my favorite blog posts. I’m bringing it back from 2014 because I think we could all use a fresh reminder! 

We don’t get in this business to be comfortable.

We get in this business because the drive to create is bigger than the drive to be accepted.

It takes guts and courage to throw your words to the world. And if lies are keeping you back, then you need to put them in the toilet with the rest of the ca-ca in your life.

What do I do when I lack courage to write?
There isn’t room enough for the words “flush”, “pound”, or “destroy”. Pity.

 I’ve overcome a lot of lies to get where I am today. That alone makes me a success.

Not sales, not followers on Twitter, not likes on my Facebook page.

For eight years I’ve taken my writing seriously. For seven years, I’ve battled poor self image and wobbly self confidence far more often than I’ve battled convoluted plots and characterization. If I hadn’t battled them, wrestled them to the ground, wadded them up in a ball and then flushed them away,  then they would have festered and killed any creative desire. If they had won, then I would have believed  that my writing wasn’t worth the effort.

I’ve fought a lot of lies.

They are hateful, destructive and cowardly because they do nothing to make me feel better about myself, they feed my tendency to isolate myself and they make me more and more fearful. I hate these lies. I don’t ever want to believe them again. 

These are the top ten:

10. I can only be successful I find some other writer out there like me and copy them.

TRUTH: I am a unique individual. My interests, experiences, perspectives and skills are totally unique, so copying someone would only make me a hack, not a real writer.

9. I don’t have time to pursue my dreams, I’ve got five children.

TRUTH: I do have time. I can find ten minutes here and there to work on my novel. I can delegate household responsibilities, make meals in advance, keep my computer on in my kitchen, carry a notebook to the playground and work at it.

How can I write when I can't find time?
This mom only has one kid. Lightweight.

8. It must be some cosmic joke to have a desire to write, yet have no opportunity.

TRUTH: I am not a big fan of the phrase “God helps those who help themselves”, yet I do believe that I will have to go out and work to find the opportunities. Since starting seven years ago, I’ve started a blog, written and sold e-books, won runner up in a short story contest, written three novels, self-published two, became a quarterfinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and published dozens articles. Oh, and I got a non-fiction writing contract, which required me to get an agent.  I’m tweeting and I have a Facebook page. I’m doing something every single day to pursue my dreams. If I’m going to succeed, then I need to find the opportunity myself.

7. Past failures certainly trump future successes.

TRUTH: I still remember sitting in college writing courses holding back the tears for a paper with a D on it. I had a lot of D’s in my writing classes. I look back now and believe that as a 20 year old, I had no life experience, no self-confidence and clearly not much skill. But I’m older now. I’ve got something to say. I still might make mistakes, but I’m not going to look back at what happened in college. I’m just to keep looking forward.

6. I can’t be a real writer, I don’t wear black, chain smoke or have a whiskey habit.

TRUTH: When I was younger I had a lot of preconceived notions about what a real writer looks like and does with his free time. My ideal always was a poor housekeeper, wore mismatched, torn clothing and had a couple of cats. My mental image also included a lot of hard alcohol and cigarettes. I am not like that and yet, I want to be a real writer. I need to discard any silliness and just write. Real writers write. That’s all I need to worry about.

How can I get my family to leave me alone?
I mean, pretty please, with sugar on it?

5. I can only write when I feel creative.

TRUTH: Because I have so little time to devote to my writing, I’ve had to discipline my emotions. I don’t always feel creative, but I write anyway. I don’t always feel like making dinner or getting out of bed either, but it must be done for my household to run well. This same self-discipline pays off when I apply it to writing. I’ve never forced myself to write for ten minutes and then regretted doing it.

4. Everything that needs to be said has already been said, or, there’s no room for me.

TRUTH: This is a tough thought to shake, especially when agents and publishers are unkind or uninterested. Nevertheless, I must believe that my stories and perspectives are important and then sculpt them beautifully and clearly. I must work on my craft so that my creations are so well said, that others will happily make room for me.

3. Taking another idea, twisting it around to make it unique and then calling it my own is cheating.

TRUTH: There really are no new ideas, just unique interpretations of old ideas. How freeing it is to realize that many Shakespeare’s plays were based on factual events. What makes them valuable is his artistic interpretation. I can do that too. And if I’m lucky, I’ll have a fraction of the success that he did.

How can I relieve my stress?
It does. It so does.

2. Real writers write quickly and elegantly without effort.

TRUTH: BAH! This is nonsense and it took me a long time to figure this out. Real writers understand that the writing process often means riding an ocean of ebbs and flows, of storms and doldrums, of smooth sailing and choppy waters. If I think that because I get stuck once in a while, then I can’t be a real writer, then I’m doomed.

1. This can’t be my “calling. It’s way too much fun.

TRUTH:  Those of us from austere backgrounds have a hard time with this, but yet, it is true. We were created for specific purposes and by doing what we were made to do, we will find much joy. I didn’t fully embrace writing until I understood that the reason I do this is because it makes me happy. And to have readers who enjoy it, makes it a double blessing.

These are my 10 Destructive, Cowardly Lies.

Because I’ve finally seen them for what they are, dealt with them properly and embraced the truth, I’m free to write. I’m free to pursue my dreams.

What about you? Do you have any lies? How are you fighting them? What is your definition of success?