The view from orbit – a launch followup

You may have noticed, I’ve helped out a couple of cool people recently with launches they were doing.

First was Holly Lisle (affiliate link) who is a brilliant guru for fiction writers, and someone I consider a personal mentor. She is a great example of how to make a living writing fiction and helping others write fiction.

Next was Jeff Goins and his new book The Art of Work (affiliate link). He is a brilliant guru for bloggers and non-fiction writing, and a great example of how to make a living writing non-fiction and helping others do the same.

Why did I use my personal blog to do marketing for other people? There are a few reasons beyond just, “because I like these guys” and “because I can get paid a commission to do it.” Those reasons are enough for some people, and I won’t deny that they’re factors. But if that was all it was, I don’t know that I’d feel good about using my blog for promotion.

But I’m happy to use my blog for promoting the work of others, when it meets certain criteria.

I believe in the product

This one is key. I have to know what it is I’m promoting, I have to have used/read it myself, and I have to think it’s a product worth sharing with others. I have to think the person behind the product is worth sharing with others. You will never see me promote a book, course, or other product that I don’t have personal experience with. I’m not going to be that person who goes hunting for things on ClickBank or elsewhere and start selling stuff just to sell it.

  • I don’t need the money that badly. Don’t get me wrong–I can always find a use for a few extra bucks. But while I won’t hesitate to point you at things I’m familiar with and that I’ve found useful, It’s not my intention to just become a sales outlet.
  • I value your time and your wallet. I can’t in good conscience tell you to spend money on something if I don’t know what it is, whether it works, or whether the developer will respect you as a customer. Also, see the above bullet point – I’m not looking to sell you stuff just to sell it.
  • I value my own reputation enough that I would never want to promote something that might make you, my audience, think less of me. I expect that you will judge me based on what I think is important enough to talk about here. And while I don’t expect everyone to agree with everything I do, say, or share, I won’t risk my reputation on something I don’t personally believe in. I just won’t .

I want to show you my process

This, surprise, is my author blog. Part of my purpose here is to show you what I do, how I think, and what is important to me.  Giving you links and insight into products I use and why, books I’ve read and whether I like them, and people I follow who make me think differently… all that lets you get to know me a little better. and really, isn’t that kind of the point of a blog?

I want to help you out if I can

This goes back, a little bit, to my first point, but with a subtle difference. I use a lot of products, I play with technology and software, I glean what I can from other writers and gurus, and make a lot of decisions about what works for me and what doesn’t. If I can save you time in making some of those decisions yourself, I will. If I can encourage you to take a step at finding your own dream, I will. I know not every person who follows my blog will have a need or interest in knowing what I use behind the scenes. But for those that care, I’m willing to share. At some point I’ll probably build a page dedicated to pointing people at products, instructors, gurus, and other authors that I believe in, but right now it’s limited to occasional blog posts.

The selfish part of all this

If I’m going to be honest (and why wouldn’t I be?) I have to admit there’s a selfish side to this too.

Yes, I can get paid commissions, but that’s not really it. In fact, I didn’t actually make any sales on these two launches, so that means no commissions at all.

But, a big part of following other writers and helping with their launches is that it gives me a front row seat to what their doing. I get an insider view of processes they walk through. They will often discuss privately what worked or didn’t work during a launch in a way that will never be put out there for public consumption. I’ve learned that it’s often much more effective to watch what someone else is doing than it is to try to study what is said about a particular process. I’m a hands-on kind of learner. So when someone I already believe in gives me the opportunity to get up close and personal, I’m probably going to jump at the chance.

It’s not my intention to ever let other people’s launches and promotions overrun the other, more personal aspects of this blog. And I hope never to overwhelm or annoy you with things that aren’t important to you.

I just wanted to take a minute to let you understand why doing things like this is important to me.

Note: links on this page are affiliate links. If you make purchases on the sites linked to, I may receive compensation.

The “want to” of writing

For years, I wanted to be a writer. I loved words. I loved books. I loved reading. That was, to me, an ideal form of entertainment. And I loved the idea of putting together stories that would entertain other people. But when I sat down to write, it wasn’t fun, and I wouldn’t follow through. Why? Partly because I had mental blocks getting in my way. Partly because I didn’t have the skills I needed to get me where I wanted to go. Partly because I didn’t have people coming alongside me, learning with me, sharing the journey, and encouraging me while I encouraged them.

The bookThe fact is, I wanted to have written, but I didn’t even really know what it looked like to actually write.

What did I really want?

For a long time, I quit more than I succeeded. I never really stopped wanting to write, but I wasn’t putting in the time or effort of writing. In some ways I think I was in love with the idea of writing… of being a writer. But I didn’t know how to be in love with the actual writing. It just seemed so overwhelming.

Then I found Holly Lisle, and that all changed. Her classes helped me realize that I was looking at the process of writing in the wrong way. I didn’t know how to set aside my desire for perfect words and sentences and ideas, and just get the story itself written down.

As I worked through How To Think Sideways (affiliate link), I pulled down some of those mental blocks, I began putting in time and effort, and I quit thinking of stories as something passive that I wanted to be entertained by, and started thinking of them as something that I would get more out of creating than I ever had from just reading. I turned up my passion and started working at being a writer. I discovered that some of the stories I knew I would love, hadn’t been written yet. So if I wanted to read them, I was the one who would need to write them.

And, big surprise here, I’m actually doing it. I am a writer. It’s no longer just a dream–it’s my identity. I’m still have things to learn. Every day I’m still met with writing challenges that can be hard. But I can no longer imagine a life in which I’m not writing, because writing is just too much fun.

What do you really want?

Because I’m passionate about writing, I wanted to make sure I let you in on an opportunity. As I said above, Holly Lisle’s writing classes have made a huge difference for me, and I’m always thrilled to be able to share them. However, How To Think Sideways will be closing temporarily later this month, and it won’t be available again for about a year. (No, Holly isn’t being rude or playing coy–she is in the middle of a major website redevelopment, and wants to be sure any recurring payments are finished during the actual changeover when it happens later this year.)

If you think you want to be a writer, or if you’re already a writer and you want to up your game, I would strongly encourage you to consider signing up for this comprehensive writing class before it disappears for a year.

How To Think Sideways (affiliate link) is the perfect class for anyone who is either just starting out in writing, or who has been writing for a while, but doesn’t have a finished novel. This is a comprehensive class that will take you from figuring out where to get an idea, straight through to preparing to submit to a publisher or even self-publishing.

How To Think Sideways is designed to help you build a career writing fiction, if that’s what you want. Obviously, there are no guarantees that your writing will sell, or that you’ll be able to quit your day job anytime soon. But as a professional author with more than 30 published novels, Holly Lisle absolutely knows what it takes to get there, and she will teach you the processes that she uses to get paid to write and publish fiction.

I’m also planning some bonuses for you, if you purchase through my affiliate link. Part of that will be special access to me, in addition to the forums on Holly’s site. I’ll be taking a project through HTTS at the same time that you’re working through it. So you’ll get to see what I’m doing, and I can give you feedback on what you’re doing. I’ll be posting one more time before registration closes, and I’ll give you the details on what you’ll get from me then.

I hope you’ll consider joining me! Follow your dreams, and become the writer you always hoped to be.

Note: links on this page are affiliate links. If you make purchases on the sites linked to, I may receive compensation.

See my first post on Holly’s How To Think Sideways here.

The fun of writing

I’ll admit it… writing is hard. Like, really hard.

But I’ll let you in on a secret. Some of the hardest things in life are also the most fun and the most fulfilling. Just ask Sean White, the world-class snowboarder who has won both Olympic and X-Games gold medals. Or ask Alex Honnold, the climber who has conquered locations like Yosemite’s Half Dome. Or even ask someone like Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook.

I’d bet dollars to donuts that those guys each think they have the best job in the world. They have fun every day when they show up to work. And they work hard, all the time; much harder than it looks like from those of us who just look at how much fun they’re having.

What is fun?

But what is fun, really? It’s putting in enough effort to make something look effortless. It’s being fully committed to what you’re doing in a way that makes other people sure that you’re exactly the kind of person who should be doing it. It’s developing the skills over time to take you farther than you ever dreamed possible when you first started out. And usually, it’s interactive–we rarely have fun by ourselves.

  • You have to be passionate, knowing that what you’re working toward is what you want more than anything else you could be doing.
  • You have to practice (a lot!), sometimes figuring out what works and what doesn’t by “brute force” or trial and error.
  • You have to be willing to keep learning, because sometimes what you know will get in the way of what you need to know.
  • You have to always be pushing things to the next level, because once you’ve figured this one out and it’s easy for you, it’s really not fun anymore.
  • You have to connect with people who are either on the same journey as you, or who are on a related, complimentary journey; people looking for someone they can commiserate with, be encouraged by, and learn from.

In short, you have to get outside your comfort zone. Because, let’s face it, being comfortable is safe, but it’s rarely actually fun or fulfilling.

But wait, you might say, what about having fun doing something passive, like watching movies? We call that fun, but really it isn’t. It’s entertaining which isn’t the same thing. Real fun takes real effort. The actual fun in watching a movie often comes afterwards, when you’re picking the plot, the acting, the wardrobe, and the cinematography apart with your friends.

Have fun writing

It sounds counter-intuitive, but I didn’t start having fun as a writer until I decided to embrace the difficulty and really started working at it.

If you like the idea of being a writer, and are ready to put in the effort to make it really fun, I want to encourage you to check out How To Think Sideways (affiliate link). It’s a comprehensive course on fiction that will take you from planning and writing, all the way through preparing for publication. It’s available now, but it will be going away later this month as it’s creator, Holly Lisle, prepares for a major website restructuring.

I believe wholeheartedly in Holly’s methods, and HTTS has made a huge change in the quality of my writing, and (more importantly) the fun I have writing.

Before Holly closes the class, I’ll let you know a little more about my experience in her class. And I’ll also let you in on a few bonuses if you decide to order her class through my link. But for now I’ll just say that I wouldn’t be the writer I am without How To Think Sideways and the community that has grown up around Holly’s classes.

I’ll be going through How To Think Sideways again, and I hope you decide to join me!

Note: links on this page are affiliate links. If you make purchases on the sites linked to, I may receive compensation.

Writers Write

I was reading from Jeff Goins’ book “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)” last night. In the first chapter he talks extensively about being a blogger and how he didn’t feel like a writer. In fact, when a friend asked him what his dream was, he said he didn’t have one. It was his friend who responded, “I thought you wanted to be a writer.”

That changed something for him. And even though he didn’t feel like a writer, it changed something in his writing. He got back to writing for himself – writing about his passions. He stopped writing what he thought he should write, and got back to writing what he wanted to write. For Mr. Goins, it made all the difference.

I should be a writer too. I WANT to be a writer. Many people have told me that they like the things I write … when I write.

And there’s the rub.

To be a writer – I’m not saying author, which implies publication (at least to me) – to be a WRITER requires one simple task.

You have to write.

So… if I want to be a writer, writing can’t just be the occasional blog post. It can’t be limited to being a member of a couple of writing forums where I encourage other people in their writing. It’s more than just taking a few online classes. I can’t only talk about the ideas I have and the books I want to produce. I have to actually put the words on the paper (err… the screen). I have to start telling my stories.

I have to write.

And you know what? The thought kinda terrifies me. That seems crazy, I know. But what if I put down the words and discover I hate them all? What if I find that I’m no good? What if people laugh at me? What if…. What if whatever?

And the answer to all of that is this… So what? All the what ifs don’t amount to anything. The simple fact is, if I want to be a writer I have to write. Nothing says it has to be good. Nowhere is there a rule that says you’re not a writer until somebody likes you. A writer, by definition, is a person engaged in writing. It’s time for me to start doing that again. And I know from hearing lots of testimonies from writers, and even my own experience, that the process of writing makes you a better writer. That effectively kills that excuse.

So… in the immortal words of Captain Picard…

ENGAGE!

If you want to join me, I invite you to take part in Jeff Goins’ challenge to writers. Let’s do this thing!

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling

As a writer, one of the most important things I do is to keep on learning. I’m part of an online community where I learn from both a published writer who is sharing her knowledge, and from the cross-pollination of interacting with others who are pursuing writing. I have a pretty good personal library of books about writing. And, of course, I have a Google and I know how to use it.

The internet is a treasure trove of information. Much of it is even useful. 😉 The World Wide Web is my primary go-to source when I’m looking for specific information.

So it stands to reason that I’m not above shamelessly pointing at something interesting, funny, or just plain smart that’s worth reading on the internet and saying, “go read this.”

Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling happens to meet all three of those criteria.

So…

Go read this.