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Tag: contemplation

Final Steps Before the Launch

Today is the last day before Identity Revealed hits the market. Today’s tasks are much smaller in general. The largest being doing a final proof, and, if I can, one more readthrough.

Deep down, I know that other little errors will likely make it through. It has now been proofed in total well over a dozen times from the final draft, but the book is over 165,000 words, not counting additional information. Additionally, it is a fantasy novel with fictional languages that appear from time to time.

But I am calm about that.

I’ve put it through more edits and proofs than I would have gotten from a traditional publishing house, and that puts my mind at ease.

Today I am also going through Enemy Known again, which is the sequel for Identity Revealed.  If all goes well, I’ll dig in and work on Wilderness Untamed, the third book.

I’m also going to go back through and analyze the keywords I’ve chosen for Identity Revealed. Still a little time to make changes before it goes live (and the great part of independent publishing is that I can make corrections and tweaks as I go).

Pushing On Through the Discomfort

One of the key points that Jeff Goins makes in his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve, is that practicing in public is essential. He uses Picasso as his primary example, featuring his association with the esteemed Gertrude Stein and other magnificent creators of the time. While I don’t seriously want to live in another time period (pretty sure, I’d get myself killed in record time), I would have loved to be around such creativity and expression. (If I ever get to time travel and go meet people, I have a ranked list. Come on, science! I have the best adventure planned!)

Anyway practicing in public has been one of the hardest elements for me. Part of it is because I struggle with marketing. I am getting better with it. In fact, I am miles ahead of where I once was.

For the most part, this is a head struggle. An unfortunate belief that I have to be invited to participate as well as exposure to individuals who are exceptionally annoying with their self-promotion hangs on. My mind went to extremes in its assessment of what an author had to do, even though I had examples of creators who did it well. I suspect that the desire to be asked (because that means one is wanted) is the most deeply rooted.

Ultimately that is rooted in fear or pride. I suspect mine is a mix. I mean, it’s nice to be asked and wanted, but it also means that there isn’t as much risk.

So yes, I have been pushing forward with addressing this fear, unease, and discomfort. It’s annoying that it has taken this long. I would like to see faster progress. But, for anyone who is still in the early stages of the journey, it does get better. It’s not a fast process. And it requires intentionality.

That’s probably the most frustrating and yet encouraging part of all this. It’s a process. It doesn’t get overcome with a single win, but neither is it destroyed with a single loss. Each day, it has to be addressed (or at least most days; it is a faster process if you do it more regularly). One of my tools is a to do list that breaks down what all needs to happen with set deadlines.

In addition to this, I am doing the “write 500, practice in public” challenge.

Now, as I mentioned, I’ve been writing every single day for years now. Over twenty-five years at this point. It’s almost always been in a fairly quiet way. A lot of days, no one sees anything I write. But for a time, I wrote and posted every day on Wattpad. Some good did come from that, but I need to do better about focused practicing in public.

See, where I always dropped the ball (often knowingly) was in not advertising what I was doing. I’d promote other people, but not my own stories. And it literally only takes seconds to customize a link and prep a tweet or post for the various social media platforms. Writing the chapter or blog post takes far more time.

So to get better in this regard, these are the simple tasks that I am going to take to make my practicing in public more meaningful.

  • Post at least once a day
  • Promote at least one piece I have completed
  • Invest time in choosing good keywords
  • Correct my categories (blog specific)
  • Choose tags for better focus (includes research)
  • Use the customized hashtags I started branding

There is more that I can do and will do in the future to make this more meaningful and effective. It will also be in conjunction with my other advertising and marketing journeys as I continue to learn more about Facebook and AMS and so forth.

So what about you? What is your most persistent challenge with succeeding in your writing dream?

The Tendency Toward Silence (The Quagmire of Mental Questioning and Self Paralysis)

cropped-Old-Typewriter1.jpgI wonder how many people silence themselves because they think their words have no value.

Some might say not enough people consider this possibility. The world is certainly a chaotic place, particularly in certain locations. Twitter and Youtube come to mind along with almost every site that includes politics and social commentary. In some places, a bit of silence would be more than welcome. It would be a great blessing. And there is certainly much benefit to choosing words, tempering responses, and sometimes simply allowing the silence to sit.

But the need for silence in one place does not mean that silence is needed in all places at all times.

Perhaps less anger. Perhaps more listening. And perhaps silence while gathering thoughts. Perhaps silence while contemplating the next step. Perhaps silence while choosing. And certainly not every thought must be spoken or every idea followed.

But those unspoken words and unfollowed ideas can swell inside us. They come to mind, and when we swallow them down, they lodge in our chests and smolder. Sometimes they choke us. Other times they vanish.

And there can be, I think, just as much a regret for not saying certain things as there can be for saying the wrong things.

I might be projecting.

Despite my recognizing that I have a bad habit of pouring out words and then locking them away, I have made limited progress in dealing with this bad habit (recognizing there’s a problem may be the first step, but it cannot be the only step). It’s difficult because so often I find myself holding back, and within minutes, I become mired in an intensive cycle of questioning.

keyboard-909156The same series of questions runs through my mind. “What value is this bringing?” “Are you really the right person to say this?” “Why should you say something?” “Are you sure this is the best way to say that?” “Is this really important to say right now?” “What if it comes across the wrong way?” “What if it’s misinterpreted?” “What if there’re errors that you missed even though you keep going over it?” “What if I’m showing off?” “What if I could do it better?” “Is this Christian enough?” “Is this anti Christian in some way?” “Am I Jesus juking?” “What if this comes across as insincere or inauthentic?” “Is this cliché?” “Does this really have any value?” “What if someone else has covered this and done it better?” “Is this taking away from someone else?” “What right do I have to say anything?” (Humorously enough, I go through the same agonizing cycle of questions when it comes to sharing posts, pictures, memes, and the like though sharing often adds a few additional questions to make the process even more fun.)

Add to that the people who police language and parse out what is acceptable and what isn’t and how wrong it is for some people to speak at all and how self indulgent the culture as a whole is. (Sometimes I can just hear the teeth sucking and tongue clicking.) And then I wind up with a massive slop of paralysis that typically results in abandonment.

The funny thing is that these questions and even an awareness of these individuals are not bad in and of themselves. In some cases, these matters can actually make the project stronger.

This sort of introspection becomes problematic when it results in paralysis and projects cast aside, particularly when those projects are finished in all but the finishing touches or the publication.

It is a sucking silencing spiral. As soon as I finish a post or a tweet or a story or a video, these questions form in my mind in rapid succession if I don’t send or publish fast enough. Wattpad has proven to be an anomaly but perhaps it also has the answer. I, for some reason, feel fairly free to post stories there.

Part of that is also driven by my fans and the fact that I know I would let them down if I didn’t finish the stories. But I am amazed that I was able to start writing on there at all. The fact that people are waiting for updates to the stories helps silence the questions and make me realize my mind’s foolishness when I get bogged into this mental quagmire.

Still I often find myself wondering who I am to speak. Particularly in the larger world or even on social media. Constantly measuring the value of what is to be said and then often dropping it for one reason or another.

It becomes easier to see how negative this is when I look at other people. When speaking with fellow heart-792179writers, students, artists, creators, and the like, I find encouragement falls from my lips easily because what I want so deeply is for them to create and share. To pour out and expand. To hone their skills and ply their trades. I want to hear their voices even when I don’t agree with them and even when it isn’t the best. It’s quite hard to have a conversation if they don’t speak because, even when silence speaks volumes, words and creations still have value, and it’s easier to connect when there is a combination of words, actions, and pauses.

I can’t think of anyone I would tell to be quiet forever. (Maybe a few whom I might ask to calm down or at least stop screaming.) Yet so often I shunt my own work into a drawer and decide what I have to say is irrelevant.

Silence can be a choice. It can be beautiful, beneficial, and much can be revealed within it, but we are not meant to always be silent.

No one has stolen my voice except those to whom I gave the power. Far too many times, I am the one who steals my own voice with incessant questions about my own value. I am my cruelest enemy. The harshest things my enemies have said of me reflect the worst fears of myself, and because I fear that it might be true, the words sting and have their power.

In the end, I suppose it doesn’t matter much. It’s only in the moment that it seems so massive. Despite all the questions I inflict upon myself, I want to speak and to write. It’s easier when I have a justification, but sometimes the desire alone may be sufficient justification. (Perhaps desire paired with recognition that people are free to respond and further dialogue may be necessary and that no one is required to listen or participate.)

We will never be perfect, but for some of us, there is a need to release our works to the world. And, more importantly, you are the only you that exists, and while you should strive to be your best, you cannot wait until you feel ready or perfect to share that voice with the world.

The fact is that I will always be able to find a few thousand reasons why I shouldn’t do something. Whatever that might be. I had hoped that my other habits and tasks would make it easier. But it hasn’t. What can be done I suppose is to recognize when the questions become irrelevant and then refuse to be silent when silence is not actually the best or necessary course. How well that works, we shall see.

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