Category Archives: Inspiration

The Myth of the Overnight Success Story

If you’re anything like me you’ve been working on your novel (or a series of novels, or several stand-alone novels) for many, many years. And you probably have friends that know this. Or maybe they’re just coworkers and if they’re not the type of people who sit down and read or write then they’re not going to understand what takes you so long. The problem is that they are fooled by the myth of the overnight success story.

While I still worked for the same company I do now, in years previous I was in a different position and surrounded by people who didn’t read. They didn’t read. They didn’t write. And they most certainly didn’t understand the publishing industry, the literary market or the process. Hell, I don’t even think I understand the process sometimes as our world is ever-changing. The thing is a lot of people think that overnight success happens because it can seem like it does to certain individuals. It also doesn’t help that we live in a society that craves instant gratification.

No one ever sees all the years of struggle before that.

Amanda Hocking is a self-made millionaire. She wrote several YA novels. For years she submitted to publishers and received a whole shoe box full of rejection letters. But to keep all of those years spent devising plots and crafting characters from going to waste, she decided to self-publish on Amazon.com. At that time she was working a job that made under $30,000 a year. And all she wanted was a few hundred bucks to go see an event in a nearby town.

I believe she had seven novels written at the time. She posted all of them on Amazon around the same time. Within two years, she was a millionaire and a lot of people saw that as an overnight success. But again, no one takes into account the years she spent writing the novels and receiving the rejection letters.

Don’t let the myth of overnight success fool you.

Don’t get caught up in the belief that you’re going to write a book, put it out there, and wake up the next day to fame and fortune. That’s not how it works. Yet, a lot of people think  that’s what happens… when that never happens. It just appears that way from our angle. It appears that way standing on the outside, looking in.

In the end, when your friends or coworkers start questioning you as to what on earth takes you so long to accomplish your goals and dreams, remind yourself that at least you’re working towards something. Because people with that kind of attitude usually aren’t working towards anything in life. They are content to wake up, go to work, and come home. If they don’t understand that it takes time to be successful than they’re not working toward success themselves.

The Best Writing Advice I Ever Received

The most important piece of writing advice I ever received is to read. Sounds crazy right? Believe it or not, when I was younger, I hated reading. I had enjoyed it for a time when I was allowed to read what I wanted. However, school ruined my love for reading.

How School Ruined My Love of Reading

Forcing children to read certain books is a horrible way to get anyone to appreciate literature. New books for young adults come out every year but school systems usually stick to the same outdated classics. Yes. I understand that they are classics for a reason. However, an adolescent or teenager doesn’t have the same appreciation for classic literature as they would something written for the Modern Age. Leave the classics for adults who have more life experience.

As a teenage girl, I didn’t give a rat’s roasted rectum about The Red Badge of Courage. I really wasn’t even that into The Outsiders. And I most certainly did not have any interest in Wuthering Heights. In fact, I didn’t rediscover my love of reading until I started the Harry Potter series in the eleventh grade. At that time several of the books had already been released and a movie or two had been made. It was something I could relate to. It was far more personable and pulled more at my own emotional strings then Les Miserables, something that I appreciate more as an adult.

The Best Writing Advice: Want To Be a Better Writer? Read!

As someone who is highly independent, free-spirited, and who loves freedom and autonomy, finding books that work for me and beginning to write my own stories is what allowed me to learn what I wanted to, at my own pace.

The best writing advice I ever received was to read. I saw a quote that said, “Reading is like breathing in. Writing is breathing out.” So when I find myself struggling to write, I make myself read. I pick up a book, any book, and I begin a new story. I’m inhaling others’ thoughts and experiences, digesting them in my mind, and then letting those ideas flow from my fingertips on to a new page into a new form.

For those of you who are aspiring writers, don’t just read what others force you to read. Find what you like and devour it. Breathe in so that you can breathe out.

Happy writing!

-RB

Sometimes I Fail at NaNoWriMo (And That’s OKAY)

April Camp NaNoWriMo 2019!? Is it that time of year again already? I suppose since NaNoWriMo technically happens three times a year now it comes upon us a lot faster than it used to and we’re not always ready. I don’t know how many times I’ve participated in the April and July camps, but I can say that I have participated in the November writing challenge for over 10 years. Does it get any easier? Not really. But that’s okay. That’s why it’s a challenge, right?

If you consistently participate in NaNoWriMo, there may be times where you don’t reach your goal for the month. And there may be different reasons for not reaching said goal. Work, family and health may be some of the reasons you don’t reach that goal. Don’t panic. It happens to all of us. There will be years where you make it and there will be years when you don’t. Don’t beat yourself up.

Failure is a key to success.

Sounds backwards doesn’t it? You can’t win all the time. And if you did win all the time and you knew you were going to win, it would defeat the purpose of the challenges that life presents. After all where is the fun in that?

NaNoWriMo is a challenge in that it’s a competition with yourself. It’s not a competition against other writers. You’re not competing against them, you’re competing alongside them.

Setting SMART Goals

The great thing about the April and July camps is that they allow you to set a different goal instead of sticking to the regular 50,000 words. Don’t be afraid to push yourself but if you feel like, “I just want to get this 20,000 word novella out this month,” or “I want to finish the last 10,000 words of the novel I started in November,” that’s fine too. Set a goal that challenges you but is realistic. I’ve seen people knock out over 150k words during these challenges. Personally, I’m not there yet.

I am guilty of setting goals for myself that are way too big for me to achieve. When I set them, I think, “I know I can do this. I know I’m fully capable.” However, some days I come from from work after staring at a computer screen all day and I don’t feel like staring at a computer screen anymore. Life happens. I’m not saying you should purposefully pad your schedule but the most successful goals are SMART goals. And by SMART I mean Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

I am severely guilty of setting goals for myself that are unattainable because they don’t take into account my daily mood and life schedule.

The real objective of the month is to get you writing daily. Whether that’s one word a day, two pages a day, or 2000 words a day, it’s progress on a daily basis. NaNoWriMo is about forming the habit of sitting down and putting words on paper every day, no matter what. So if you don’t reach that traditional end goal of 50,000 words in a month, don’t beat yourself up for it. Beating yourself up will only slow you down and hinder you even more. Trust me, I’ve been there. Sometimes I still go there.

If it’s your first time doing NaNoWriMo, you don’t know what to expect, you aim for those 50,000 words, and you find that you’re way behind halfway through the month- it’s okay. You’re not failing. The only way to fail at writing is to not write.

As we embark on this journey of the April writing challenge, I say to you, just keep pushing forward. I look forward to seeing you all out there in NaNoLand. I will be joining you in this camp. If you would like to see some motivational posts or memes, please follow me on Instagram here. I look forward to seeing everyone’s progress. Good luck in the month ahead!

Happy Writing.

-RB

P.S. Don’t forget bug spray, rope, a knife, and a good sleeping bag.

Cover art created with Canva.

Turn on the Faucet

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” -Louis L’amour

One of my most popular posts on this page is titled 6 Ways to Find Creative Motivation. One of the reasons why think it’s so popular is that as creatives we sometimes struggle to find the determination and willpower to work on our craft. Sometimes we lose passion. Sometimes we grow tired. When that happens we expect there to be some easy way to ignite the fire within us. However, we just have to change our thinking because the fire and passion we need, comes from within.

I recently read a book on leadership for work entitled The Servant by James C. Hunter. The lesson that stood out to me the most and was the idea that you must take action first and then inspiration will follow. It may seem a little backwards. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s true. Whether it’s within my writing or conquering a task like cleaning the house, getting started is always the hardest part. But like the quote mentioned above, once you turn the faucet on the water starts to flow.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

Instead of wasting time looking elsewhere for inspiration and motivation all you really have to do is start. It sounds too good to be true. I promise you that once you jump that hurdle and get started the task becomes much easier.

“We are more likely to act ourselves into a feeling than feel ourselves into action.” -Jerome Bruner

As I’m writing this blog post right now- I’m exhausted. I’ve been burning both ends of the candle. Sometimes I feel like I’ve bitten off more than I can chew but I’m striving for a better me and isn’t that worth going the extra mile for? So I made myself sit down at my desk despite my exhaustion to churn out this blog post. Not only have I proved to myself everything that I’ve stated within this post by doing so, but I hope that I’ve also inspired some of you.

Take that first step. Turn on the faucet.

Happy creating.
-RB

Dealing With a Day Job You Hate: Creating Castles from Carriers

Today I was sitting at my desk, staring out the window as rain pelted against it intermittently. Suddenly, a writing prompt came to mind! For almost seven years now I have held a day job in a place where I feel like a total outsider. Not only am I a female in a mostly male construction world but I’m also an artist in a world populated my engineers and others inclined towards mathematics. I held down a few others jobs before that, always knowing that this wasn’t the end result – that this wasn’t where I wanted to be.

Looking back at my childhood, I remember knowing even then that I was not meant for a typical 9-5 job. However, as time went on and I graduated from high school, I entered the work force to pay for clothes and college books, etc. One part of me wishes I had taken my writing more seriously back then but another part of me is glad that I waited for more life experience before sitting down to take part in the craft.

Using Creativity to Cope with the Day Job

Speaking with a friend at work about the rain that we’ve had on and off for the past two weeks (an unusually wet July), I mentioned, “I wonder if this is how people in England feel?” I’ve always wanted to visit England. I feel a strong pull towards both the location and the culture. It’s almost as though something inside of me is saying, “you belong over here!”

I went on to say, “I wouldn’t mind this weather so much if I had castles to stare at instead of carriers.” Outside of my office window I am greeted every day by a view of the USS Enterprise and the USS Gerald R. Ford. Constructed of rust and steel, my original thought was just how far from castles they really were. However, I began to think of how much they were similar to castles. And in some weird way this resulted in a means to cope.

Building Castles from Carriers

Though my job has become exponentially better since I first started working there, I often still feel imprisoned. Silly as it may sound, I started comparing my workplace to the “days-of-old.” This simple exercise in creativity might become a fun way to get through the tougher days.

After all, it isn’t a lie to say that I work inside of a gated fortress. The moat surrounding the fortress is represented by the druggies and criminals that peruse the area. We are constantly under attack by unseen forces (cyber-terrorism). And when you really look at them, how different are castles and carriers, really?

Letting the Imagination Roam

My new tactic for dealing with my day job is to pretend I’m really working for a fierce and righteous ruler. After all, both carriers and castles would have been built with blood, sweat and tears from the workers. I know I’ve given my fair share. They both take a long time to build and are constructed with the finest materials available. They both see battle, be under siege and be protected by legions of soldiers. I could go on, but I think you get the gist.

Sure. It sounds silly. But thinking I’m walking into a medieval adventure everyday is so much better than the soul-sucking alternative. Do you have a soul-sucking job? Or are you stuck in a day job where you feel you don’t belong? Feel stuck to a job because the pay is good? If you’ve got any fun and imaginative ideas on turning your day job into something fun, please share them below!

-RB