Memes for Writing Encouragement

Readers, today’s post will be a gallery post. With the end of NaNo’s July Camp in sight, I recognize the need to encourage everyone to stay on track and push towards their goals. This being said, I own none of these pictures. They have been collected through the years by Google searches and various websites. Their authors are at the bottom of each meme or photo. I’ve compiled them here in the hopes that they will help motivate you in your writing endeavors or perhaps make you laugh. Enjoy!

-RB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now get back to writing!

NaNoWriMo: How to Increase Word Count

The end of July’s NaNoWriMo Camp for 2018 is fast approaching. And with that in mind many writers are looking for ways to increase word count. Myself included. I don’t know what the weather is like where all of you are living but for me I am headed into a weekend of heavy downpours and cloudy skies. In other words, perfect writing weather.

I figured for today a good blog post would focus on ways that we could all increase word count. Next week is the final inning… The home stretch. Personally, I’m about 13,000 words away from my monthly goal of 50,000 words. However, I have spent most of my writing this month on my blog and my morning pages as opposed to working on my WIP. With that in mind, I’m hoping to have an overly productive weekend of words, words, and more words. But we all know how planning for a productive weekend goes. It often results in getting nothing done. With that being said let’s help one another cross the finish line using some of these prompts and ideas.

Tips, Tools and Tricks to Increase Word Count
The Harry Potter Word Crawls

I should saved the best for last but seriously, this one is just too good. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you haven’t heard of these, you’re missing out. A forum on Reddit has a complete list of links to all of the word count crawls. There has never been a more magical way to increase word count.

Write from All 5 Senses

For real. Go back into every scene and use more description. What are the characters smelling? Is it pleasant? Is it malodorous? What are they seeing? Use adjectives like they are going out of style. You will come back to edit and clean it up later. For now, I expect you to be describing mole hairs. Describe every sound…even the quietest places have sound. For example, my home is quiet right now but I can hear the AC running, my fingers on the keyboard and water trickling from the turtle tank filter. Leave no stone unturned!

Kill a Character – Or Several!

I’m talking Game of Thrones style! Kill three main characters off at once. Take no prisoners. Sacrifice your lambs. BURN THEM ALL! Or you could settle for torturing one of them, brainwashing him, then castrating him. Your choice.

Introduce a Character – Or Several!

I guess this could also be Game of Thrones style as that series has so freakin’ many!

Word Sprints

Word sprints, as painful as they can be, really do help. Why? Because they don’t allow you any time to think about what you’re doing. Even as someone who is a “planner,” when I’m forced to try to write as much as I can within a certain time frame, I start coming up with all sorts of crazy goodness. And by the time the buzzer goes off, I usually want to keep going. Embrace that and run with it. That scene might not make it into the final draft but it counts for this month.

You don’t have to have an account on Twitter or Facebook to participate in them either. Host your own within your cabin! That’s what my kick ass cabin does! I almost feel like we should have a team name…

Write from a Different Medium

Sometimes I type. Other times I write long-hand and sometimes I use dictation software. Each method has its own pros and cons. (Can we say new blog post topic?) All levity aside, don’t be afraid to switch things up. If I get tired of staring at the computer screen and feel stuck or don’t know what to write next or how to write what’s next, I get up and move. That’s when I go lay on the couch or the bed with a notebook and start writing by hand.

Perhaps I know what I want to write and I’ve got the whole scene worked out in my head but it’s so long and my fingers are exhausted. Then I sit at my desk and turn on the microphone. I use Dragon Naturally Speaking but I’m sure there are many other dictation programs out there, this is what works best for me. Sometimes I catch myself rambling but it’s a great way to get the words out quickly!

I hope these tips help you reach your goals for camp this year. And please check out those Harry Potter Word Crawls! They are entertaining.

Happy Writing!

-RB

On Poetry (1)

Once again, I have waited until the last minute to update my blog but in an effort to successfully complete my challenge, I am posting a short piece on poetry. After all, I’m over halfway through the challenge and giving up now just isn’t an option for me and my stubborn mind.

I have both loved and hated poetry. I’m not very good at it, in my own opinion. I also don’t read much of it and the pieces I’m about to share with you were written over ten years ago. Perhaps, in the future I will get back into the craft of poetry and acquire a deeper understanding of it. For now, I hope that they will provide some source of inspiration or entertainment. Please enjoy these tiny morsels.

Poetry

The Fell Tower

whithered and weathered, broke and barren
carved and cracked
the ruined tower stands tall
beneath the burning light of the rising moon

the ravens crow, the wolves howl
the cats shriek

the wind screams, the trees whisper
the leaves rustle
the dark tower stands quiet
beneath the cold light of the moon

the wind pounds, the rain beats
the lightening crashes

the owls sing, the dead serenade
the chains rattle
the old tower crumbles quickly
beneath the dull light of the falling moon

Into the Labyrinth

I have strayed into the Labyrinth,
I am lost inside my mind,
There’s no turning back, there’s no getting out,
I’m stuck here for all time.

The puzzle that will never be solved,
Running through broken corridors as the world revolves,

No matter where I wonder or roam,
The Labyrinth is my new home,
Back to the start or towards the end,
Through the bending halls without a friend.

Rainstorm

Long has the jungle been overgrown with beauty.

As a cool heat was felt through the bamboo,

thunder could be heard dimly in the distance

and the storm faded away. Soft rain still trickled

lightly enough so that the small stream under the hill

could faintly be heard. Little droplets slid off

of the dense emerald leaves into the rich, silky ground

then ran off into a small stream through the jungle.

The creatures soon came out of their hiding

while birds sang and frogs croaked. Soon enough

the sun tried its best once again to light the stage

under the thick canopy releasing the sweet aroma

of the jungle rain. The life after the storm has now returned.

Minimalism: How to Stop Spending

If there is only one lesson that minimalism has taught me, it’s that happiness does not come from things. I wish they would teach us this in school. After all, who uses calculus? When I was little, adults would tell me never to get a credit card but I never learned why until I was deep in debt. I went many years before I realized that I had a  problem and needed to stop spending.

I may have mentioned in a previous post that I grew up in a house with a lot of stuff. We weren’t hoarders. I guess you could say it was a house full of clutter. My mother was always one to collect trinkets like water globes, music boxes, and all sorts of home decor. To this day she puts up four Christmas trees every year. Talk about excessive. In reading this some of you may realize one of the reasons why I became a minimalist.

Minimalism Changed How I Thought About Spending

I used to go to Michael’s Arts and Crafts and easily drop $200+ on supplies for art projects that I never completed. It was almost like I had a need to be creative but for some reason did not want to focus on my writing. Instead I wanted to pursue every other creative endeavor on the planet. If any other writers are reading this, I’m sure they understand the feeling. It’s amazing how much time writers spend trying not to write.

I’ve been a minimalist now for almost 3 years. Within this year I had my partner drop me off at Michael’s Arts and Crafts for a few minutes while he went to run an errand. As I was walking through the store, I realized how much my state of mind had changed since I started down the minimalist journey. I walked up and down almost every aisle. I used to want to purchase every single item I laid my eyes on. Now, all I see is junk. I didn’t want to buy a single thing and I was so impressed and amazed with how much I had changed in such a short amount of time.

Three years may seem like a long time some of you but in the grand scheme of things, it isn’t.

Do I still struggle with spending?

There are times. However, for the most part my spending is mostly done on food. I’m still very bad at gauging how much is eaten in a week. We often over purchase groceries only to end up throwing them away later.

Things like clothing and non-consumable items like home decor have been really easy to stay away from but I also adhere to a certain set of rules and ask myself certain questions before I make a purchase. This really helps me out when it comes to spending and I would like to share those tips with you.

Questions to Help You Stop Spending
Do I really need this? Or do I just want it?

So often we forget the difference between ‘want’ and ‘need.’ Take a look around you and you might discover that you already have everything you need. Food, water, shelter and a few sets of clothing is ‘need.’ Twenty pairs of shoes (I’m talking to women AND men here), twenty Phillip’s head screwdrivers, and twenty 12 liters of soda are ‘want.’ Sticking to water is better for your health anyway.

Where will I put this? How will it fit into my life and in my home?

I can say that I’ve purchased exercise equipment and furniture that had no place in my home. We have a two-bedroom apartment. Regardless of how big your home is, do you ever find yourself buying things just to ‘fill a void’ or because a magazine told you a console table or an accent chair was needed? Or would look good with a new shag rug? What purpose is that item serving other than taking up space?

Seriously, there is nothing wrong with a little empty space. If anything, it’s refreshing to come home to less stuff. It’s less to clean, less to pack up and move, less to deal with all together. Think about that.

What will I use this for? Am I just buying this one item for this one tiny purpose or will it serve other purposes as well?

Every purchased a funky kitchen utensil because that one recipe that you fixed once said it was required? How about that special saw because that one DIY project that you didn’t complete said it was required to perform the task? Or that huge bottle of oyster sauce for a recipe that only called for a teaspoon of it… If you’re going to purchase something, the more uses it has, the better.

How to Stop Spending on Clothing

Clothing has it’s own separate category. There are so many questions that apply to them alone. Here are the questions I would ask myself if I were tempted to buy a piece of clothing.

Does this fit me? Is this comfortable?

Fit and comfort are HUGE when it comes to your clothing. Who wants to be uncomfortable all day? Who wants to not look and feel their best? Clothing with the proper fit can make all the difference in appeal. This, in return, can affect your confidence and the way you present yourself. Be comfortable, be confident.

Can I afford this? Am I only purchasing this because of the brand-name? Is this a trend item will go out of style?

Please, please don’t buy something you can’t afford just because it’s a brand name and you have to have it. In fact, don’t ever buy anything you can’t afford. More importantly, brand names can be trendy. I can honestly say I’ve never judged a person based on whether or not they had a certain brand of jeans, shoes or polo.

Do I already have something else like this? 

Unless you’re like Steve Jobs and you wear the exact same thing every day, you don’t need fifteen of the same turtleneck. A little variety didn’t hurt anyone.

On Spending in General

It’s not that minimalists don’t purchase things. We definitely do. However, as Joshua Fields-Milburn says in his documentary with Ryan Nicodemus, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things, “the danger is not consumption but compulsory consumption.”

I have been guilty of buying clothing on a whim only to throw it out a week later. Yes, a week. Either it didn’t fit, I didn’t like the way it looked on me, or it wasn’t comfortable. I am so guilty of this. But the important lesson here is that I realized my mistake and I learned from it.

Avoid the Store, If You Can

If you know that a certain store is too tempting for you, I strongly urge you to avoid it. I used to be in Target twice a week. I was there for groceries, clothing, makeup, hair products, and athletic equipment. Now I never go there. I was able to pay off my Target card last year and close the account.

When I do opt to spend money, I usually pay a little extra for a higher quality product. And if it’s clothing, I always try it on first to make sure that I’m comfortable and I like the fit. Something I never did before.

Don’t Throw Your Money Away

We all work hard for our money. Most of us work jobs that we don’t particularly care for. Don’t throw your hard earned money away. I spent years doing it and now I’m going to take a few years to recover from it. Now, I spend my money on wisely. I stopped purchasing books until I read the ones I already have. When spending money on films, I make sure it’s something I really want to see and enjoy.

But You’re a Writer? Don’t You Want People to Spend Money on Your Writing?

On every corner there are people trying to get you to spend. As a writer, I’m one of them. Of course I want you to purchase and read my stuff but I don’t write to make money. Any smart person knows not to write for money. Would I like to make a living off of it? Of course, but that’s not the drive behind any artistic craft. I write to provide a temporary escape from reality, for passion, for thrill and entertainment. I write for the same reason that people read, sing, compose, dance, and design.

So when making decisions on any kind of entertainment, whether it’s a book, film or album, I can’t say, “make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy and get value from” because you won’t know that until you’ve experienced it. What I am saying is not to go drop $500 on books in a day. Instead, read one, then buy another once you’ve finished.

I hope these questions and tips help next time you go shopping. Starting small and starting to question every purchase you make me be surprised how much money you will save.

Happy saving!

-RB

 

Going Viral VS. Adding Value

Good evening, readers! For a while now I’ve wanted to write a blog post on the difference between going viral and adding value. I recently had a discussion with my boss’s boss involving this subject. My statement went something like this:

“I see a lot of that in this company, especially among the directors and VPs. I don’t know all of them but from the angle I’m looking at it’s almost as though they’re all trying to trump one another. Who can get their next 15 minutes of fame? Who can outdo the previous person? And instead of focusing on adding value to their workforce, they are trying to look good in front of one another and earn themselves bonuses.

My superior agreed. He nodded his head and said, “There seems to be a lot of throwing spaghetti at the ceiling and seeing which strands will stick. And a lot of them aren’t sticking right now.” Our company as a whole is in such a dire need to change and grow because we’ve been so stagnant for so long.

There is suddenly a mad scramble to catch up from years of being closed-minded and not forward thinking.

Our leaders are scrambling to “go viral.” They are not adding value to anyone’s lives. Instead, they are over-committing and volunteering themselves for things they know they can’t uphold. By delegating those things to their workforce (a workforce that often runs without their input and has its own commitments to uphold) we all end up stressed out and unhappy with each other.

How does “adding value” apply to my writing career?

When I look at my blog and my writing, I don’t want to be one of those people who’s just trying to go viral. I want my writing to mean something. I want to add value to other people. However, I realized that by pushing myself to write a blog post every day that some of the posts (like yesterday’s for example) are not always super engaging.

I don’t know if I will keep up the “one blog post a day” momentum going after this month is over. It has been an interesting challenge and I’ve been surprised that I’ve been able to keep it up. Now I’m in the home stretch so I want to push myself to finish this month out strong. However, I don’t want to fill everyone’s blog feeds and inboxes with crap posts that mean nothing and add no value.

What is “adding value” to you?

With that being said, you all know where I stand and hopefully a little more about my goals and what I seek to do and improve upon. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions I would love to hear from you in the comments below. I’m always open to blog post ideas. Therefore, if you have any questions about minimalism or being a writer, etc. I would absolutely love to hear from you.

I know that I don’t have a lot of original work out there yet but I work at it every day and I hope to have a readership that is comfortable with talking to me about my work. I’ve always enjoyed that sort of open collaboration with artists and fans. In the hopes that I can add value to people’s lives, I am going to continue to press forward with this challenge and try my best to come up with some more thought-provoking and engaging posts for all of you.

Thank you for reading!

-RB

The Story of Brutus, King of the Guinea Pigs

So I feel like it’s time to share the story of Brutus the pig. Why? Because it’s an interesting story. It doesn’t have anything do with writing or minimalism. It’s story time.

So I had a guinea pig for a pet. I had never owned a guinea pig before. Instead I was raised with cats, dogs, fish, a rabbit, turtles, hamsters and gerbils… but never a guinea pig. I got him because we’re not allowed to have dogs and cats in our apartment but I really wanted something that would sit on my lap and chill when I watch TV. Apparently guinea pigs are as popular in England as dogs are in America.

The Adoption

I got the number of a local Guinea Pig Rescue (yes, they exist- apparently people leave the little guys in boxes on the sides of the road!) from my sister-in-law who had adopted a guinea pig for my niece and nephew. The owner was a British lady who immediately started talking to me about what kind of pig I wanted. I really didn’t know the answer, being unaware that they had different personalities just like dogs.

She started asking me questions about my lifestyle and I mentioned that it was a quiet home with no children or other pets. She said, “I just got two boys in today. I haven’t had time to see if they’re ready for adoption and I’m at the vet right now with one of our rabbits. When I get back home, I will check them out and see if one of them is ready. If not, it may take a few weeks.” I agreed and we ended the call.

For your entertainment, here is a two day old guinea pig in a champagne glass.
Meeting Brutus

Within a few hours she called me back and said, “One of them is definitely not ready for adoption. He’s super hyper and he’s not going to work but his brother, Brutus, is borderline comatose.” She laughed. “He is super chill. He moves around a little bit but not much and the boys are usually quieter than the girls so it’ll be a boy for you.”

“Sounds great!”

This is the little guy, Brutus.
Brutus’s Rescue

As it turns out, a Brazilian family had brought him in earlier. They  had originally purchased him from a Peruvian lady in Florida. When the Peruvian lady sold them the pigs, she asked if they wanted any recipes…

The Brazilian family said, “What do you mean?” and the Peruvian informed them that she sold her pigs for meat.

Up until this point, I had no idea that people ate guinea pigs but they are actually quite popular in South America.

The Brazilian family denied any recipes and took the pigs in as pets. However, when they moved up to Virginia, the mother was put on full oxygen and they had to get rid of all of their animals. They had dogs, cats, birds, and the guinea pigs. Luckily, they were brought to Carrie’s rescue the very day I called.

He was my writing buddy. As an animal lover, I miss him and I don’t expect those who have never owned a guinea pig to understand.
Talk about perfect timing! Brutus is one lucky pig.

No, I didn’t name him. Brutus was the name given to him by his previous family. His brother, Pop-Eye was eventually adopted as well and became a certified therapy Pig at the Chesapeake General Hospital. They were both about two when they were adopted. Unfortunately, Pop-Eye had problems eating and eventually he had to be put down.

Brutus had a life of luxury. He was very quiet, loved being pet between his eyes, around top of his nose.  He was particularly fond of parsley and when I made a “juice” I would sometimes feed him the pulp from the fruit and vegetables…which apparently is like guinea pig crack.

He was an awesome little pig and unlike most guinea pigs or any kind of rodent he actually had a butt crack.  Both he and his brother had butt-cracks and I wish I had a picture to show all of you!

He was two years old when I adopted him and lived another two years before I had to sadly lay him to rest. It may sound silly to some to have a guinea pig cremated but he was the first pet that I adopted as an adult and that meant a lot to me.

Will I get another one?

Probably not.

We’ve tossed around the idea of getting another pet. Even though I really want a dog, we’d have to move elsewhere in order to have one. We’ve talked about moving for the sole reason of getting a dog believe it or not, but we can’t justify it. Right now, between work and travel, it wouldn’t be fair to the dog to keep it locked up and alone all day, inside. So with no other options, we are forgoing pets for the time being.

I can only hope that one day in the future we will move (hopefully somewhere far away) and a big fluffy dog can join us on our journey together.

Thank you for reading.

-RB

 

 

How To Cope With Imposter Syndrome

First of all, I want to take some time to elaborate on how difficult it was for me to find the right cover art for this blog. What exactly does an imposter look like? What does someone with imposter syndrome look like? As most of you know, I use Canva to create a lot of my blog art. At first I searched for “imposter” but nothing relevant came up in the results. After that, I searched for things like “thief,” “poser,” “wannabe,” “disguise,” “fake,” “uncomfortable,” and “outsider.” None of these terms were giving me exactly what I was looking for and eventually I stumbled upon the current cover art when I searched for “outcast.”

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Wikipedia (I know, not the most reputable source but it’ll suffice for the sake of this post) defines Imposter Syndrome as follows:

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.[1] Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.[2] While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.”

I just finished reading 52 Pep Talks for Writers by Grant Faulkner. Inside, his 21st “pep talk” is titled “Treating Imposter Syndrome.” Towards the beginning of the piece, he writes, “Authors are especially susceptible to imposter syndrome because writing is such a vexing labyrinth of self-doubt. What does it take to feel like the real thing? Writing every day? Finishing a book? Finding an agent? Publishing a book? Getting reviewed in the New York Times? Appearing on the Tonight Show? Have writer friends? Famous writer friends? Per Maya Angelou, even all of that sometimes doesn’t suffice.

Basically, it boils down to thinking that you’re a fraud, you’re going to be found out, and you’re minimizing your accomplishments.

Why do we have Imposter Syndrome?

It’s so easy for us to talk down to ourselves but we have other people talking down to us all the time. We’re brought down by society, our own friends, and our family.

I never really considered myself as having a low self-esteem. I always felt confident in my ability to write but at the same time I have a lot of moments of self-doubt and I think all writers struggle with that. At least a lot of us talk about it.

In Dr. Abigail Brenner’s post Why Do I Feel Like a Fraud? on Psychology Today, she poses questions to readers on why they might feel this way. Three topics she highlights are personal relationships, profession life and early upbringing.

Personal Relationships

Many who know me understand that I believe in the “private life,” something that people seem to not value these days. Besides my blog and Instagram, I stay away from social media. I don’t need to know who is dating who, who is getting divorced, who everyone is voting for along with their stance on every political issue, who is taking a shit at the dentist… you catch my drift. We live in a world where people no longer respect the bounds of privacy. We are a society that encourages voyeurism and encourages the sharing of too much information.

As such, my close, personal relationships are with three very select people. No one knows me better than those three in what I’d like to call “The Inner Circle.” There is an “Outer Circle” too that consists of perhaps twenty people but they are still held at arms length. Those three individuals in the “Inner Circle” are the only people in the world that I feel I can let go and truly be myself around. But even then, there are times I hesitate to say what I truly feel or mean due to fear of judgement.

It’s silly because they’ve never judged me before. In fact, that is how they go to that “Inner Circle” to begin with. But that fear is still there. Why? Probably my upbringing- done by a highly judgemental family.

Early Upbringing

I don’t feel like I can be myself around my own family. I always feel like I need to have my guard up when I visit them. Which is part of why I hate going to visit them. It’s emotionally and psychologically exhausting. It’s such a waste of time; it drains me and I don’t feel like it adds any meaning, value, or purpose to my life. After all, some of the most hurtful things about who I am, what I’ve done and what I haven’t done (to their standards) is what rings in my head most times. I grew up feeling like nothing I said had any value.

In Rachel Hollis’s bestseller, Girl, Wash Your Face, she mentions that as the youngest of four children, she was mostly ignored unless she did something good. I was also the youngest of four children and most often ignored and left to my own devises… unless I did something wrong.

When I first went to college, I was shocked when people stopped to listen to what I had to say. It took me awhile to get used to because I was so used to being talked over or ignored. Whenever I tell people that I’m not on good terms with my family, they want to know why. There’s no amount of explaining that I can do to articulate 32 years of feeling like you’re not appreciated… feeling that you’re an outsider in a family you were born into. If I truly wanted to patch up the relationship, I would but the problem is I don’t want to – I don’t care to.

To some people, family is everything. Their immediate response is that “you should patch things up.” To me, that is such a close-minded response. Not everyone’s family dynamic is the same. I know that there are shittier people out there. It could have been much worse but that doesn’t mean that bad things didn’t happen or horrible things weren’t said… Things that may affect me for the rest of my life.

Professional Life

No. I am not where I want to be with my career. Sometimes I look at my age and I think to myself, “Why wasn’t I more serious about such-and-such in college?” or “Why didn’t I see how important this one thing was and pursue it when I was younger?” We all have regrets even though we try not to. Even though I hate my current job, I recognize that without it there are many things I wouldn’t have learned… So many great people I wouldn’t have met. Whether I like it or not, it has shaped me into the person I am today.

In short, I work with imposter syndrome almost every day. Rarely, if ever, do I feel like I’m supposed to be right where I am. In Grant Faulkner’s closing remarks to his own Pep Talk he states, “Whatever you tell yourself is the truth.” He’s right there. The trust is what we make of it. That is easier said than done.

How do we cope with Imposter Syndrome?
Hold on to positive things.

I used to keep a word document filled with positive reviews of my writing. I called it “My Wall of Vanity.” The title itself suggests that I was ashamed at receiving praise for my writing… that I was being “vain” in rereading good reviews. Keeping a positive document like that is nothing to frown upon though. Those were real, organic reviews, written by people who didn’t know me from Timbuktu. I hope I still have it saved somewhere.

Stop the comparison trap

Another way to treat Imposter Syndrome is to stop comparing yourself to others. When I was on Facebook, that was all I did. I was part of many “writing” groups and often compared myself and my work to what others had done. If anything, that made me feel like more of a fraud. I kept thinking, “Why am I in a group with someone who has published 8 books?” or “Why am I with people who write 3,000 words a day on top of working a full-time job and being a parent?” Stop comparing yourself! Everyone does things differently and that’s OK.

Add value

For a few weeks now I’ve been thinking of writing a blog about Going Viral vs Adding Value. We’ve got too many people in this world seeking their 15 seconds of fame instead of trying to help others. As long as you as genuinely interested in adding value to others’ lives as opposed to seeking self gain, you’re not a fraud.

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect.

Making an error or being wrong about something doesn’t make you a “fraud.” Everyone is wrong several times in their life. Hell, I’m wrong about something at least 5 times a day… at least. And I’m far from perfect. Stop trying to do what others expect you to do and instead, do what you feel is right. Do what you feel is what you’re meant to do. No one can live your life but you.

What about you? Have you ever felt like a fake? An imposter? Please comment below with your experiences.

-RB

Help! I Don’t Understand ‘Target Audience’

Readers, I need your help. I’m always after new ways to try and better my writing. To fine-tune it. But there is one term that comes up a lot when reading about the craft of writing and I can never grasp its purpose. I don’t understand “Target Audience.” I understand what it is, I don’t understand the purpose of it. So many websites and books preach that you must know your target audience to be successful.

I know that there is a different in writing for yourself and writing for the industry. I’m a firm believer in writing for yourself. I think you should write the book that you want to write and if someone isn’t happy about it, screw them! Not every person is going to like every book. I’ve read insanely popular bestsellers and hated them. I’ve always read popular books that I love. I read some Stephen King books that I love and some that I can’t force myself to finish because I found them boring. You can’t make everyone happy. So why have a target audience?

Are target audiences wrong?

I feel like so often they are. The Lord of the Rings had a target audience of 9-year-old boys… do you realize how hard that book is to get through as an adult? Regardless, it took the world by storm anyway. So did Harry Potter which had a similar target audience. So why to authors continue determining their target audience?

Who is my target audience?

Anyone who wants to read…? At least that’s always been my answer.

I would love for everyone to post in the comments below, their thoughts on the term “target audience.” Do you understand it? Are you like me and feel like you’re missing a point? I feel like I’m missing some bigger picture or perhaps I’m just looking at it from the wrong perspective. Please let me know.

-RB

 

A Call to Action: Free Stories for Reviews

Hello readers! Today’s post will be short and sweet. As a writer, I both have confidence in my ability to write but also think my work is crappy at the same time. As odd and contradictory as that sounds, it seems to be pretty common among writers. In past years I have confidently published short reads to Amazon, only to lose faith quickly and take them down a month later. Luckily, Amazon allowed me the freedom to do that.

Though taking them down may have hindered me more than helped me. Instead of keeping my neck out there, I pulled it back like a turtle, to protect myself. After all, when creating anything and showing it to the public, it’s sort of like baring your soul to the world. It can be embarrassing. It can be unnerving. No one likes to be judged. Yet, that’s what we long for. We long for opinions of our readers to drive us forward, to tell us where we could improve or to tell us they loved it. We even long for them to tell us they hated it as long as they tell us why.

But the world is not always so kind.

A very small percentage of readers actually leave reviews. And many negative reviews can be written in such a way that it keeps the creator from trying to ever create anything every again. In a recent tumblr post I came across, I saw one of the best things I’ve ever read about writing reviews. Here is the screenshot:

As a writer, I have definitely experienced this in the past. I think we all have. Those kinds of reviews give us what I’ve heard referred to as “art scars” or “creativity scars.” However, that is not what I’ve come here to talk to you about today.

A Call to Action

In the past few days I have revisited and revised my dusty GoodReads account. I noticed that two of the short reads that I had published and then unpublished had received ratings. Positive ratings. It was only one or two but it was enough of a push in the right direction to prompt me to re-publish them. I thought, “We are often our own worst critics. I may not think it’s my best work and it probably isn’t…but someone liked it. Someone got value or entertainment from it and that is all that matters.”

Dear readers, I ask of you a favor. This weekend I have three of my short stories taking part in a free book promo with Amazon Kindle which means that they are free to download and read. Two of them will be free from today until Tuesday of next week.

The other will be free from tomorrow (Saturday) until Wednesday of next week. I ask that should you wish to download them for free, that you please leave a review. After all, reviews help writers sell more books and stories.

I will also be publishing a 100% new, never before published short story this weekend. So please be on the lookout for it! You will be able to see it as soon as it’s published from my Author Central Page. Thank you for being readers!

Happy Reading!

-RB