#Life: How to grow through life instead of go through life

 

Instead of having breakfast at Tiffany’s last December, I had breakfast and an epiphany. For close to 30 years, I must admit with much embarrassment I have been going through life without real goals. I’d make the occasional New Year’s Resolution because it was the thing to do but then by February I had forgotten all about the stuff I said I wanted to do and focused on the things I had to do.

Goal_Setting_SamanthaGWritesBut then it hit me. The only reason I had a laser focus on the things I had to do was because I was letting life dictate my next moves. I’d read about goal setting but I never really understood what it entailed.

“So, you have something in mind you want and then you say you want it and then you’ll get it… DONE! Right?”

Not quite.

“Ok, so then I say what I want and then I get it, right?”

Close, but you’re just missing one little but very important step.

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#WritingLife: How to embrace failure and rejection as a writer

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You find a lot of how-to articles on the web on how to make it in the writing world. Everything from how to standout when applying to a gig to how to perfect your skills so you are the best at what you do. But I think we need to talk more about failure and rejection, and how to deal with it.

For a while, the fear of rejection and feeling like a failure kept me from opportunities. I would avoid writing an article or applying for a writing gig because I felt I wouldn’t get it and instead of taking a chance, I didn’t try.

Learning how to embrace failure as a writer is liberating. You’ll feel invincible and confident. Taking chances will be exciting and not scary. Here’s how I’ve learned to embrace rejection as a writer so it stings less when I’m told no.

Change your perspective on what it means to fail

I read this Bruce Lee quote a few years ago that has stuck with me. He said, “Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.” I agree. Failure only exists in the mind. Click To Tweet If you can see the good in failing you’ll fear it less.

See rejection and failure as a lesson

Whenever I submit my work to a magazine or a website, I look forward to the rejection response. I use to dread it and preferred that they not respond at all if they aren’t interested, which most of them did. But when they did send them, they were filled with advice. It’s understandable to view this advice as criticism, but I see them as tips on how to improve my writing. So I’d review the work I sent them, edit it using their tips then submit it somewhere else until someone said yes. It’s better to take away lessons from everything you fail at as oppose to trying really hard to forget them. I’ve tried doing that, and found it gets you know where.

Don’t take it personal

As with everything in life, keeping this rule in your back pocket will get you far. Often times when someone says something we don’t like, we automatically try to vilify them. Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re doing it but we do and that’s not good. If you fail at something, or you experience rejection from an editor, don’t take it personal. You’re not being rejected because they don’t like you and it may not even be that they don’t like your writing. Maybe what you’ve sent to them doesn’t fit what their audience would be interested in or your blog isn’t the type of blog sponsors want to invest in. But someone out there will. And an editor out there will find that same rejected article perfect for their readers. My point is, when it comes to being rejected, it’s best not to take it personally. Taking things personal is a big energy sap and you need that energy to win.

Ask for advice

I believe asking for criticism can build up your immunity to the fear of rejection. Join a writers group on and offline, or have a close friend/relative read some of your work and ask them to give their honest opinion. You need that, I know I do, because if I can’t get use to not getting applauded every time I write something, the one time I don’t (after getting praised all the time) it will be crushing and might even make me feel like giving up. When you ask for advice you put yourself out there. It’s bold, and it’s brave and those are the two characteristics you’ll need to embrace your next rejection, in my opinion.

The writing life isn’t perfect it’s one big lesson and getting rejected is a part of the curriculum.

#MustRead: Reading ‘The Power of Habit’ will change your life

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*This is Day 7 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge.*

I’m a bookworm. I like gaining information and being taken into an author’s world by just turning the page in a book. There have been many books that have changed my perception on everything from mental health and storytelling. Some of which of read more than once (The Power of Now). But this one book sits at the top of the list and it’s called The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.

I read this book 3 years ago when it was first released. The word habits resonates with me because I believe it to be the core of who we are as human beings. Everything we do is based on habits from getting up in the morning and brushing our teeth to having to crack our fingers before we type on the computer. Some of our habits are good and some are awful. The Power of Habit breaks down the role of habits in our lives and in business, even showing how major brands have used habits to make a lot of money.

Two examples of how habits can change your life, as mentioned in the book, is the process of losing weight or quitting smoking. The author Charles Duhigg gives an example of a 9-5’er who wants to lose weight and cutout eating junk from the vending machine. After close evaluation of self, they realized that they only went to get something from the vending machine whenever they needed a break from looking at their computer or when they got bored.

After realizing this, the subject sets a time everyday to stop and speak to a co-worker. What they realized was less trips to the vending machine, weight loss, and a better relationship with co-workers. Another example was of a woman who wanted to quit smoking. She didn’t realize how smoking was ruining her health and her livelihood. Once she got out of the habit of smoking, she ate right, then that habit lead to her working out religiously. These two individuals traded bad habits for better ones.

My favorite part of the book was when the author broke down how major businesses like Proctor & Gamble and Target made habits grow loyalty in their brand and keep customers coming back for more. In P&G’s case, they were stumped on figuring out how they could create interest in their new product Febreze. Marketing it as a product that just dissolved odors wasn’t enough. So when they asked their testing groups how they were using Febreze and discovered that some of them were using it to a finishing scent when they were done cleaning up a room or making a bed, they marketed this and saw great success. Target did something similar, except they watched what their shoppers were routinely buying then sending them circulars with related products.

One example that stuck out was one of a young girl who shopped at Target and gave them some form of contact. On her first visit she purchased baby lotion and other essentials related to baby. When they sent her the circular, it was filled with baby items like clothes, bathtubs and the like. The girl was a teenager and her father was less than pleased that the company was sending his daughter circulars filled with baby stuff, fearing that they would force the idea on her of having a baby. A few months later when reps for the company reached out to apologize to the father he apologized to them and revealed she was pregnant and preparing to have her baby.

The Power of Habit is a powerful book I recommend. It applies to all areas of life and shows how our lives are shaped by our habits. And if we want better lives we’d be happy with, we have to take a close look at our habits and decide if they are aligned with our goals.

Image Credit: Amazon

#WritersLife: 7 things new writers should do to make money writing online

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In 2008, I told myself that I wanted to get paid to write online. At the time, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to get paid to write about, but I knew that I wanted to write and get paid for it. It’s been a rocky road filled with disappointments and sometimes getting paid in pennies but I’ve found consistent work that pays.

I’ve yet to receive a check so big it would make Donald Trump blush, but I’ve made enough to cover my rent or to pay a bill. Though there are many writers out there with more experience and are making far more than I am, I’ll give you my take on making money writing online as a new writer.

Be prepared to write for free

Oh yeah, I’ve had to do this once or twice. And sometimes the exchange was somewhat worth it. I wrote for a popular website for free and got access to major events like award shows, private parties, and received transportation reimbursements. I did that for longer than I should have; the perks were SO GOOD. This recommendation I typically give to new writers who don’t have writing samples or have little experience writing online.

My tip for writing for free is to not be like me and do it for too long. Set a deadline for how long you plan to write in exchange for perks instead of cash. After the deadline, make it clear to yourself that you will only write for money. The editors you offered free writing to probably won’t like it (if they’re great, they’ll offer you a paid position), but their promise of exposure to their millions of viewers will not pay your bills. If only exposure was a valid form of payment for bill collectors. Click To Tweet

New Writers Should Start a blog

If writing for websites for free for exposure doesn’t work for you, start your own a blog. You can go all the way and invest in a domain name and hosting plan or you can just sign up for a free blog on the many websites that offer them. When no one would give me a chance, I started a small music blog and moderated it for six years. I got a bunch of opportunities from them and met and interviewed a bunch of celebs.

My advice is to make sure the blog is aimed towards the area of writing you want to specialize in and get paid for. And make sure you know what you’re talking about. Your blog is like a portfolio. It shows the tone you write in, how well you’re able to write, and how much you know. And when you apply to online writing gigs, you can use links to blog posts that show that you can write on the topic they are looking for writers to contribute posts on. Set a publishing schedule you can stick to. And if you’re directing editors to your blog, make sure you’re publishing often. They like that because it shows you’re consistent and reliable.

Actively look for gigs on writer websites

This is one of the most important tips in finding writing gigs. If you’re waiting to be discovered, you’ll be waiting a long time. You need to go look for that next big writing gig. Actively search for gigs on websites like Craigslist, FreelanceWritingGigs.com, FreelanceWriting.com, and Indeed.com. There are tons of other websites I may dedicate a post to during the 30-day blogging challenge, but a quick google search will pull up tons of articles with them listed. Here’s an oldie but goodie tip for everything in life including online writing gigs posted on Craigslist and websites like it– if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Also, don’t feel defeated if all you see are gigs looking for writers to write in exchange for “exposure” a.k.a. for free. There are paying gigs posted on Craigslist often you just have to sift through a lot of crap to find them.

Always have more than one writing gig

This was a lesson I learned the hard way. I made the mistake early in my online writing career to complete one writing gig at a time. Meaning, I would sign a contract with one website and refuse to take on another contract with another website. I thought I would overwhelm myself with more than one writing job. Ha! Guess what happened when the website I had been solely contributing articles to shut down? Or the other website that got banned from Goggle because some of their other writers were stuffing their articles with keywords creating pieces that made no sense when read by humans?

That’s right, I didn’t have another gig to fall back on. So it always felt like I was starting over when the one gig I was working fell through or the traffic resulted in low payment. Today, I make sure I’m working as many gigs as I can handle without burning out. And this is separate from my small business copywriting clients. I don’t play those games anymore and neither should you.

Collect testimonials from editors you’ve written for

Testimonials are awesome and are like reviews that everyone can read. I like to put my testimonials on my resume to give website owners and editors an idea of what my earlier editors had to say about my writing and work ethic. It’s like product reviews. You wouldn’t feel confident in buying a product that customers gave bad reviews for versus the product that’s getting a five out of five star review from satisfied customers. In your budding online writing career, you are the product and the testimonials you collect are your reviews.

If your work is great and you’ve got great testimonials, the editor or website owner may lean more toward giving you a shot. If you’re shy about asking for testimonials, don’t be. Just ask your editor to give you a two line testimonial about what it was like to work with you. They’ll be happy to do it, especially if you’ve exceeded their expectations.

Learn how to sell yourself

Speaking of products and reviews, learning how to sell your skills is important. Excelling in online writing has a lot to do with your writing but it also has a lot to do with how you sell yourself as a writer. That website you want to write for is probably the website that every writer wants to write for too. That means that site’s editor is inundated with responses. Your email cannot sound like the fifty other emails they read before yours. This makes it easy for the editor to skip right over yours or worse send it straight to the trash bin if the first few lines in your email doesn’t peak their interest.

I like to create email templates for my inquiries where I cover the basics and then tailor it to the type of content the website I’m interested in normally publishes. I also make it a priority to read a few articles on their website to understand the voice the editors are looking for and make my emails sound similar, but not like a carbon copy. Then I sprinkle a little personality in them, but not too much because I still need to sound professional and not like I don’t have a single professional bone in my body. But most importantly, I market my skills. You are a brand, so it’s important to know and sell what you offer and sell how your skills will make their brand better.

Never give up

I’ve learned that to write well you have to stick with it. They’ll be days when you can’t wait to get up to write and others when turning on your computer is the last thing you feel like doing. But you have to fight through it and stick it out. Take a break and binge on Netflix for a day or find a different writing environment that will get you in the writing state of mind.

Do whatever you have to do to never give up. I’m all about making plans these days because as my husband puts it, Success is premeditated. Click To Tweet So whenever you feel something isn’t working, take a moment to figure out what about it isn’t working and make a plan to correct it so you don’t get knocked off your path to making money writing online.

Writing is like exercising for your creativity so if you do something for an extended amount of time, you’ll get better at it. The more writing gigs you book, the more experience you get, the larger your portfolio will grow, and the higher you can set your rates. Next thing you know you’re writing for one of the top 500 websites on the internet. We can get there, we just have to stick with it.

#Life: How to deal with the negative people around you

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Negative people are all around us. Though we can try to avoid them, they’ll always be there either as a friend or a stranger. It’s not you, well at least that’s what I tell myself. Some don’t even know they’re being a negative Nancy or angry Adam but they are and you’ll have to learn how to deal with them.

In my day-to-day life, I’ll come in contact with a negative person or two but when you live in a city filled with different personalities that are going through different things in their lives, it’s to be expected that you’ll be in the company of negativity energy.

Hence, the inspiration behind today’s blog post. As some of you may know, I’m taking part in a 30-Day Blogging Challenge.

I had another topic I wanted to write about today but after an earlier conversation, I wrote this one instead. It wasn’t on the list but I’m realizing that for writing, not everything needs to go according to plan. I’m already doing that with Nanowrimo and I like finally having a blog to blog my thoughts and feelings.

I’m getting a little off topic so let’s get right into some of the ways I deal with negative people.

Don’t take everything so personally

It’s so easy to get in your feelings when someone makes you feel a certain way. I’m a sensitive person. I can admit this at this point in my journey. So I’ve had to learn to let certain things roll off my back and go in one ear and out the other. With this said, don’t lose precious brain power trying to figure out why the negative cashier at your supermarket doesn’t smile and tell you to have a nice day. And don’t feel bad when you don’t receive a warm welcome at the MAC counter. Either avoid these places or learn to co-exist even if it’s for a few minutes. Now, I’m not perfect at this and you’ll probably find this to be difficult, but the sooner you understand this important rule of not taking things personally, the easier it will be to deal with negative people.

Learn to keep your ego in check

You’ve experienced this before, I’m almost sure of it. You’re having a great day. Your coffee came out the way you wanted it and you’re feeling good. You leave your home and boom, someone pisses you off. You’re wondering what you’ve done to deserve they’re attitude but instead of not paying them any attention and walking away, you let your ego take control. Now you’re arguing with this person, albeit stranger or loved one, and at the end of the argument you’re still pissed. In fact, for the rest of the day you can’t stop kicking yourself for allowing this person to ruin your great day. They’ve transferred their negativity on to you and they’ve done that because you let your ego get in the way. The ego is a powerful thing and if you don’t learn to keep it in check it can get you in the unhappy zone. Have control over your ego and when you notice someone trying to test it walk away. No need to win an argument with a negative person when you can win at being the better person.

Take their criticisms with a grain of salt

Negative people are always primed and ready to criticize whether you’ve asked them for critiques or not. I’m not a fan of criticisms, and few of us are. But there are also many individuals out there who take people’s criticisms to make themselves better. Be more like these people. I like to separate criticisms into two categories: constructive criticisms and reckless criticisms. Reckless criticism can be related to you building your sandcastle on the beach and a negative Nancy coming through and calling your sandcastle ugly, stomping all over it, and then walking away. While constructive criticism is that same person calling your sandcastle ugly then giving you advice on how you can rebuild a bigger and better one without them needing to damage the one you’ve already built. If there is anything you take from this post, take this one. Take negative people’s criticisms lightly because chances are they don’t really want to see you win, they just like seeing you frown.

Spend as little time with them as possible

Saved the best for last. Sometimes we can’t get rid of certain negative Nancys or Nathans because they work in the cubicle next to us, they’re our own friends or worse are members of our own family. We put up with their negativity because we have to and kicking them out of our life is damn near impossible. In cases like this, reduce the amount of your time you spend with them. Listen, your joy should be one of your top priorities, if not your number one priority. People spewing negativity can be toxic and can have a damaging effect on how you see yourself and your own happiness. It’s important that you are selective with the time you spend with them.

But before pulling a disappearing act on them, it’s important that you talk to them first if you haven’t already. Tell them about their negativity and how it’s affecting your relationship with them. As I mentioned before, some negative people don’t even realize they’re being negative. They really believe they are keeping it real. You can’t really fault these negative people. But if the negative person in your life isn’t trying to hear it, you have to do what’s best for you. So if holidays, birthdays, anniversaries and funerals are the only time you’ll see or speak to them, so be it. Your happiness is important, protect it like a baby.

Image credit: Dollar Photo Club/Trimbaldi

Welcome to #Brooklyn! 5 tips for surviving in Brooklyn your first year as a writer

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In “Sex and the City,” Carrie Bradshaw makes living in New York City seem so glamorous. She’s often seen attending new restaurant openings with a cosmopolitan in one hand or walking the New York streets questioning why Big won’t love her back. But one thing that’s painfully obvious throughout the series is that the ladies rarely cross that bridge into Brooklyn. Even when Miranda moved to Brooklyn in season 6, Carrie, Samantha and Charlotte were not feeling it too much.

Well, here we are in 2015 where Brooklyn is now considered everyone’s new favorite borough of the metro area. I’ve lived in Brooklyn all my life and have witnessed the transformation. I’ve also noticed that among the new people I meet who are writers, they’ve come from all over the world to follow their dreams of having a successful writing career.

So I’m here as your Brooklyn fairy godmother to give you some tips (besides getting yourself a roommate) on surviving in Brooklyn your first year as a writer. I believe these tips are useful for longtime Brooklynite’s and those who have just moved to the borough.

Tip 1: Invest in a MetroCard

A MetroCard is a little gold card that you load with a certain amount of money that you swipe to pay for your train and bus fare. Back in the day, commuters used tokens to pay for their train and bus rides, today it’s the MetroCard. Now, Carrie may have gotten around the city in a city cab, but that can add up. If you’re a fairly new writer living in Brooklyn you may need a higher income to afford daily rides in a cab or via Uber. And owning your own car and dealing with minimal parking (unless your building offers an underground parking garage), gas prices, or the high costs of parking lots isn’t worth it. The subways and buses run often and they’ve improved since the 80’s and old episodes of Law & Order, A LOT! There’s minimal graffiti (if at all) and they are safer. In some of them, they even offer free Wi-Fi. If you buy an unlimited MetroCard you’re good to go practically anywhere in the city. There are fare hikes but when MTA’s fares go up you can bet the same will happen with the cabs. A MetroCard is like a golden ticket…that you pay for.

Tip 2: Buy your produce from local fruit and vegetable markets or green markets

Eating out is all good and everything, but if you are trying to stay in shape and reduce the amount of times you get sick, especially during our freezing winters, you’ve got to learn how to cook for yourself. Your oven is not an extra drawer for your things. With this said, we don’t have farms in Brooklyn (that I know of) but we have fruit and vegetable markets located all over Brooklyn and they sell their produce for reasonable prices. If you don’t have these markets in your area, do research online for green markets where you can get produce for great prices. At the Grand Army Plaza entrance of Prospect Park there are several green markets offered throughout the year where you can get super fresh produce, most organic.

Tip 3: Do most of your home goods shopping at Brooklyn discount stores

Target is great, believe me I know. But you’d be surprised what you can find at discount stores. To give you an example, I purchased mason jars from my local dollar store for $1 each. And found a collection of Pyrex branded bowls and cookware for under $10. At stores like Bobby’s and Bargain Hunter, I’ve been able to decorate my bathroom, kitchen and living room for a little over $100. I promise, I’m not making this up! I still shop at Target for some home goods, but for the most part I buy my home goods from discount stores because they sell most of the same items Target does, but for less.

Tip 4: Join a writers or ladies/guys night out group

As a writer, landing gigs has a lot to do with what you know and how great you can write, but it also depends on who you know. Your connections are everything in New York and can get you a coffee date with that publisher who will change your writing life. A great way to connect with other writers is through writers groups. I find most of my groups online on MeetUp.com. This website isn’t only good for finding writing groups, you can find groups for just about any interests you have even groups for writers who just moved to New York. Another great place to find writers and to receive critiques on your work (this one is mostly for writers of novels, memoirs, poetry) is the New York Writers Coalition that hosts workshops in the Central Brooklyn Public Library. Free feedback plus an opportunity to meet fellow writers and make solid connections! Win-win if you ask me.

Tip 5: Make Groupon and LivingSocial your go-to place for everything else

Chances are you’ll be living on a budget, so Groupon and LivingSocial needs to be your go-to place for everything else like entertainment, grooming, training, headshot photos for your website, or when you don’t want to cook and need to treat yourself to a meal at a restaurant. Groupon, LivingSocial and other apps like it offer great deals on places around Brooklyn and all of New York. My advice is to do a little research on the deals you find on these sites. Sometimes you can get the offers for cheaper elsewhere. Plus, you want to make sure you’re not purchasing an acupuncture session at a place in the back alley of a Chinese takeout restaurant. Not saying those exist, I’m just saying do your homework.

*This post is Day 2 of the 30-Day Blogging Challenge*

#Turning30: 7 ways to cope with not being where you thought you’d be at 30

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Three weeks ago, I celebrated my 30th birthday. I told myself on my 21st birthday I would be in Las Vegas the moment the clock struck midnight on October 16, 2015. That didn’t happen. If you asked that little girl in the photo above where she thinks she’ll be at 30, she’d say rich, living in a house the size of a mansion, and retired because 30 is old. That didn’t happen either lol.

This is a natural feeling wanting more in your life and not being 100% satisfied with where you are. That’s what leads you to seek better and live the life you truly believe you deserve.

There is a lot of 30+-year-olds who are where I am. Wishing they had more and dealing with the fact they are in a new decade of their life not having accomplished the things they thought they would have, or worse just settling for the way things are. This can be a source of unhappiness. But I’ve discovered that there are ways to cope and fix this.

Here are 7 ways I’m coping with not being where I thought I’d be at 30. Hopefully these tips will help you too.

Come to terms with the fact you want more

The first step to recovery in anything in life is to admit that there is a problem. The longer you say you’re fine or pretend to be happy is the longer it’s going to take to get to your goal. I drowned myself in positive quotes when I was in my 20s. But I didn’t work on making sure my inner happiness was on point so that what I read really stuck with me. You can curate a fabulous life on Instagram, Facebook, twitter or wherever else you publish your thoughts and doings on social media, but once you turn off your computer or put your phone down and are left alone with your thoughts, the truth of knowing you want more from your life can be suffocating when you’re in denial. Come to terms you want more, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

Understand that it takes time and dedication to make necessary changes

Time is a commodity. I know this more than ever now as a mother. I have so much more respect for my time now. Something simple like running in the park alone with myself for an hour is a treat. To reach the goals you didn’t achieve in your 20s, you’ve got to stick through it in your 30s. It may take 2 months or it could take 2 years to get where you want to be. As long as you’re working towards it, that’s all that matters. Sign up for the gym and keep going, you won’t see results next week, but 8 weeks or more from now you’ll fit into those jeans you haven’t worn since you were 23. Or apply for your bachelors or masters. You won’t graduate next year but four (maybe more, maybe less) years from now you’ll have that job you really want. Whatever your goal is, understand it takes time to get it. It’s the hard work you put in that makes you appreciate how far you’ve come. Plus the time you are spending working on your goal is preparation for you maintaining your new lifestyle.

Write a list of things you are grateful for and that you’ve accomplished

Wanting more is great, but let’s not forget how grateful we are for the things we have in our lives now. Are you breathing on your own? Can you see? Did you turn on your faucet this morning and water came out of it? Then boo, you’re blessed! No matter how small the thing you are grateful for is, speak it into the universe and you will get blessings tenfold. The best way to do this is first thing in the morning or last thing at night. You can sit at a table and write it pen to paper or use the notepad on your phone. Personally, I find it resonates more with me when I write it down because I’m thinking and jotting down my gratitude. Do the same for your accomplishments. Promotions, new baby, helped your best friend plan an epic wedding – write any and everything you’ve done that made you feel great.

Create a list of things you want in life and things you want to change about your life

Lists are everything! They help you organize and paint a clear picture of what exactly needs to get done. The most successful people in the world swear by lists and create lists for all facets of their lives. Writing for me is therapeutic and having my stuff together and right in my face in list form is an amazing habit. Ok, now back to creating your list. Create this list when you have little to no distractions. I like to write my lists when my son and husband are asleep that way I don’t have to stop doing what I’m doing to get something for someone or help the other look for his tie lol. Set up your area so it’s super Zen. Light a candle, burn incense, or meditate. Whatever you got to do to get you in the mood to create the list that will change your life, do it. Everything you want in life no matter how big, silly or crazy it may be, if you want it, write it. If your list is just one page that’s fine, if it’s 10 pages, that’s fine too. You make your own rules, this is all you, so be nice to yourself.

Next, write everything you want to change about yourself. Sometimes you have to look deep for this. At one point I wanted to change that I was selfish. Admitting I was selfish was hard because I associate selfishness with being a bad person and I think I’m a sweetheart. But you’ve got to be honest with yourself. You’re great just the way you are, but you could be better. We all can. Click To Tweet So if you feel you could lose a little weight, switch up your hair, change the way you think from always seeing the bad in people to seeing the good too, then write it down. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING you want to change, write it down. Another helpful way to do this, is to think back to negative things others have said about you. Don’t consider it all because people can be petty and some of their criticisms could be their own flaws they refuse to deal with. But consider the negatives that have been said about you and see if it is also an issue for you. Be honest with yourself and this list can be a godsend.

Draft a step-by-step plan of how you will get the things you want and how you will change certain things about yourself

Now this is my favorite part! We all got a lot of problems, but not enough solutions. This step-by-step plan will be your solutions! I got this idea from my husband who is militant about making plans. You don’t have to be about yours but you need to create one. So let’s take a simple example for instance. Let’s say one of your goals is to get your driver’s license. The plan you would make would go a little something like this:

Step 1: Learners permit
Step 2: Take 5-hour class
Step 3: Sign up for lessons
Step 4: Take those lessons
Step 5: Schedule road test
Step 6: Pass the road test, the end.

You’ll also want to set realistic deadlines for when you will complete each step. Just as simple as that plan is to set up that’s how simple it will be for you. Pick five wants from your list and write a step-by-step plan. Or pick more wants and write steps for them. Go at your own pace. Know how you want to get these things and set yourself up for success. This task may take a day or maybe even a month, but once you have your plan, you’ll have an agenda every day and anything that doesn’t align with your plan or goals will be seen as a waste of time for you and not even worth it. It’s a really liberating feeling. And if you see that your plan isn’t working for you, revise it as many times as it takes until it does. The more proactive you are in planning, the better things will unfold for you.

Share your plans with the ones who support you

The last part of the tip is important. There are real dream killers walking the streets. So you can’t share your plans with just anybody. People’s thoughts can be toxic and your mind is like fertile ground. Those toxic thoughts can mess with your drive and influence your decisions, and not for the best. It’s important to share your plans with people who support you because they care about your growth and progression towards happiness. They will also hold you accountable because you can bet they will ask you how things are going with whatever you have plans to accomplish. These people are gems. They’ve showed their support for you in other things and they are the ones clapping hard and loud for you when you win at whatever you work hard for. The smaller your support group, the better, so if you only have one or three people, that’s fine. Share your plans with the ones who really support you.

Just do it

Nike isn’t the top selling brand with sustained brand loyalty for no reason. They’re slogan is so powerful for just three words that are less than five letters each. Once you’ve done coming to terms with wanting more, understanding the time it takes, creating lists, plans, and telling the supportive friends or family what you plan to do, you need to just do them. Don’t wait until December 31 to say that next year will be your year. It won’t if you keep procrastinating. Tomorrow is unknown and today is a prize. Click To Tweet The more you put things off the longer it’ll take for you to get to where you really want to be. I wanted to get in shape and not look like I was in my 30s, so I decided I wanted to become a runner. I came up with a plan, downloaded and bought the tools, and was outside on the day I said I would be and have been out there three days a week ever since. I won’t lie to you – the first day you do any of the things you planned will be hard. You’ll face obstacles and feel like giving up. But the more you do it, the easier it will be. Experts and professionals don’t become that way overnight. Work on your goal every day and you’ll get better at it. I told myself in 2008 that I wanted to get paid for writing. It took time, but now I’ve got clients, I’m getting paid to contribute to websites, and I even landed a gig on TV once. Now I want to be paid more for my writing and receive residual income from it, and I will make that happen by first coming to terms with the fact that I want more.

#NaNoWriMo: How to write a book in one month and still have a life

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Writing a book in a month might sound like a dream or even a time consuming task but you’d be surprised. I’ve always wanted to write a book but could never finish. Either I’d start it, get to the middle and not know how to finish it or let life get in the way. That was until I discovered NaNoWriMo – an event that takes place in November (National Novel Writing Month) that helps you write a 50,000 word manuscript.

Before NaNoWriMo, the thought of writing a book in a month had me thinking that I’d have to be locked in a room all day and night just typing away on my computer. You can imagine how relieved I was when this wasn’t the case.

I tried NaNoWriMo for the first time last year and finally finished my romance novel! I haven’t buckled down to edit the damn thing, but that’s another story for another time. As to how to write a book in a month and still have a life, it’s very possible, and it all comes down to preparation.

So how did I do it? By planning out exactly how I wanted the book to begin and end, fleshing out my story so that I could see it clearly before writing. I began by writing what the purpose of the story was. Then I broke it down by scene, what events I wanted to happen in each scene and what conflict my main character would have to work resolve. Then I organized the scenes and settings into chapters.

It’s a good idea to start planning your book at least a month before you write it Click To Tweet. Give your characters personalities and your settings so much life that the characters seem like they could walk right off the page and your settings are described so perfectly that your readers see it when they close their eyes.

Next, decide on a daily word count (a certain amount of words to write per day) and never miss a day no matter what. CatchiFor me, this was difficult at times. I’m a mother and I am a freelancer with clients, so having to do client work and then commit to a word count every day was exhausting at first. But you get used to it. It becomes a habit, a healthy habit. And when you meet your daily word count you feel a sense of accomplishment.

So for me, I would commit to at least 1667 words a day. If sitting down and typing up 1667 words sounds like too much, split it up and do half in the morning before work and the other half at night right before bed. Make things easy for yourself so that you finish your novel. Click To Tweet I usually exceeded the word count because I’d get so deep in my story that I didn’t want to stop which was great. There were NaNoWriMo participants who wrote more than 50,000 words. I’m talking over 100,000 words – typical for fan fiction. If they can do it, so can you!

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For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I already have my story fleshed out. I’m just going to work a little more on my characters and their personalities. I’m also writing in another genre, I’ll talk more about that in another post.

If you’re planning on participating in this year’s NaNoWriiMo it’s best to find writing buddies from now. I had two writing buddies last year, and they were lifesavers. One suggested I read Stephen King’s On Writing, and that was the best advice I’d ever received. I didn’t get a chance to read his autobiography/writing how-to during the challenge, but I did after and it has changed the way I write fiction.

Writing a book in one month is very possible. Just plan out your story from beginning to end and commit to a word count every day. Tell everyone you talk to that you are writing a book in November so that you have people to hold you accountable. Get excited about your book and really fall in love with the plot and characters. And most importantly, make finishing your book a priority and you’ll get it done!

Btw, my name on NaNoWriMo’s website is Miss Write It All, let’s be buddies.