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My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Category: How To (page 1 of 12)

How to Become an All-Star Self-Editor

Quick Hits on Self-Editing

 

Okay, so I’m giving you a little rundown today regarding the rules on self-editing. As I mentioned in my previous article, this isn’t a complete rundown and it’s important you find a mentor fast.

However, it’s also important that you have an idea of what not to do as an author. Don’t follow these rules and you might have a hard time finding a reading audience. Follow them, and you’ll be set.

 

Rule #1: Show, Don’t Tell

It was cold doesn’t paint a picture in the reader’s mind, but saying Cain fastened his cloak around him as he turned his face against the wind definitely does. Lira didn’t just say something angrily; she narrowed her eyes and thrust her hands to her sides. Cheesy examples, but you get the point.

In show, don’t tell, just show the character(s) in action and you’ll be golden. If you go through your manuscript and are reading things like ‘she was scared,’ or ‘he was ecstatic,’ show this through action.

 

Rule #2: Omit Needless Words

Okay, take a look at the show, don’t tell section again and take note of the phrase ‘definitely does.’ Definitely could’ve been omitted. Always omit words that tell the reader something.

Why?

Because we need to trust our readers actually know what’s going on. See, actually could’ve been omitted here.

Because could’ve been omitted, too. We need to trust that our readers know what’s going on. Hmmm, sounds better. We need to trust our readers know what’s happening.

When we omit, our sentences are shorter. Our paragraphs are also shorter. Our words have more power. I could’ve said, ‘our words now have more power,’ but the reader knows our words ‘now’ have more power, so we can just say our words have power.

 

Rule #3: The Power of Said

“Why are we going here?” Savannah asked.

The question mark shows the reader a question’s asked. We don’t have to rehash on the fact.

In most cases, readers don’t need to be told someone asked or exclaimed. The question mark and exclamation point do their jobs.

Instead, just say said. People don’t grunt, cough, wheeze, or croak dialogue. They say things.

While my preference is to omit as many dialogue tags as I can, there are many situations where we can’t, like if a scene contains more than two people.

 

Rule #4: Cut the Throat Clearing

It’s a fancy term for overloading the book with backstory. I made this mistake during my first drafts of Northern Knights. These days, too much backstory will scare readers away. We live in a fast-paced society these days, and our books must be likewise.

Instead, get straight to the action. I learned this during my later drafts of Northern Knights, which eventually made up the final manuscript.

If backstory is important in your novel, tell it through action, or through dialogue. Show a conversation between your characters, but don’t show it through a thought bubble as the main character looks into the mirror and reminisces on how he or she got to such a stage.

 

Rule #5: On the Nose Writing

Hollywood loves this term. It basically means describing a familiar location. For instance, in Northern Knights, some of my settings include campus dining halls, emergency rooms, and hotel lobbies.

Do I really have to go into detail with any of these places?

Think along the same lines. If your book takes place in middle-class suburbia, do you really need to explain the neighborhood?

Unless something is there that is important to the story, you don’t have to get crazy descriptive with settings everyday people are familiar with.

 

Rule #6: 1 + 1 = ½

Two adjectives are nowhere near as powerful as one adjective, strong nouns, or strong verbs.

Further, when a reader reads a work, few of them are interested in picturing a character’s every detail. In Northern Knights, the reader knows both Cain and Lira are in top shape due to the fact they’re both college athletes. I don’t have to say ‘Cain stood at a compact five feet, seven inches, with a ripped, six-pack of abs, ringlet hair that fell into his hazel eyes, and possessed pasty white skin.’

The reader knows from page one that Cain is a college athlete. They’re already picturing an athletic-looking kid.
A few pages later, Lira’s athletic physique appeared in the doorway. Again, I don’t have to describe Lira’s toned, somewhat muscular arms, chiseled cheekbones, and defined legs. The reader knows.

Just hint at description and the reader will get it. Remember, in a fast-paced society, the reader is more interested in the action, the story plot, more than they are description.

 

Rule #7: Simple over Complex

Choosing a simple word over a complex one will always win you readers. Unless you’re writing a piece for scholars, go with the common words. For fiction writers, this is even more important, as average people are reading your work.

 

Rule #8: Don’t be Redundant

Please, don’t add anything unnecessary. He clapped his hands, for instance, is redundant. If someone’s clapping, do we really need to be told the character is clapping their hands?

She nodded her head is another one. He shrugged his shoulders. Okay, you get the gist.

Just stick to ‘he clapped,’ ‘she nodded,’ and ‘he shrugged.’

 

Rule #9: Get Rid of Ups and Downs

Unless it’s needed, of course. You don’t need to say they flew up into the air. They flew. They descended down the chute is unnecessary. They descended the chute. Looked up, looked down, etc. Eliminate all of it.

He got up, she sat down, etc. It can all be avoided.

 

Rule #10: Get Rid of That (and other words)

That, very, just, suddenly, only, etc. You don’t need to use any of these words. That is overused, and for every sentence containing ‘that,’ see how it regards without the word. Ditto for very, which in almost every case a stronger noun or verb can take the place of very.

Suddenly has no more impact than it would if the author just states what ‘suddenly’ happened. Suddenly, the metal put a hole through the wall is weaker than the author writing ‘the metal put a hole through the wall.

 

Rule #11: Your Reader Gets It

In other words, resist the urge to explain. Many novice authors think they have to explain their character’s every action. Cain sets the story in motion when he attacks Southpoint police forces in Northern Knights when they invade the hotel lobby in an effort to round up high school and college-aged kids.

There’s no need to explain Cain’s actions; the reader knows why Cain is acting, especially since they know about his desire to play pro sports and live a self-serving life.

The same goes for any situation, especially controversial ones.

Or, there are times the author is explaining every little detail, which again, can be avoided. Many novice authors will say this: He opened up the car door and sat down in the driver’s seat.

For one, you can eliminate up and down. For another, an author can say ‘he entered the car,’ or a similar type of word choice.

 

Rule #12: Again, Your Reader Gets It

Avoid quotations except in dialogue. Again, if you’re quoting something outside dialogue, it gives off the notion your reader doesn’t get it unless you mark it otherwise.

Newsflash: The reader will get it.

 

Rule #13: Stop Saying What Isn’t Happening

You don’t have to say ‘she didn’t respond,’ or ‘he wasn’t talking.’

Scott told Ashley to leave the room, but Ashley refused.

If the character didn’t commit the act, the reader knows it’s not happening. If Scott asks Ashley a question, and she turns and gazes out the window, don’t say Ashley’s saying nothing; we know.

The same goes for ‘he didn’t move,’ or ‘she didn’t follow her mother’s orders,’ or anything similar.

 

Rule #14: Nouns and Verbs Outlast Adjectives and Adverbs

They say adjective and adverbs contribute to lazy writing while strong nouns and verbs reign supreme. I’m here to tell you that is definitely the case.

I never knew this until I incorporated it into my writing, but when I did it added so much power the reader could paint an accurate picture in the mind.

Doesn’t ‘she ran quickly down the field’ sound inferior to ‘she bolted downfield?’

Or, it’s so much better to show something through action, as if you can allow the reader to visualize your book like they’re watching a movie rather than reading.

“I can’t stand this,” he said aggressively.

Or…

He slammed his phone on the table. “I can’t stand this.”

 

Rule #15: Don’t Hedge

Avoid hedging verbs. You don’t need to say ‘he almost smiled’ or ‘she almost laughed.’ They either did or didn’t.
Never write ‘he slightly grumbled,’ or ‘she kind of frowned.’

There’s no hedging when it comes to verbs. Verbs state action, so they either did something or they didn’t.

 

Rule #16: Literally Isn’t Figuratively

You don’t need to say her or she ‘literally died’ when meaning it in a figurative manner. The same goes for all figurative language.

If you mean something in a figurative manner, ensure you say it as such. Something like ‘I literally laughed until my ribs cracked’ is useless unless it really happened.

The same goes for anything of its kind.

 

Rule #17: Readers Don’t Care About Stage Direction

Related to on the nose writing, we don’t need to know everything that’s going on in the scene unless it has something to do with the story. If you find yourself giving off-stage direction that has nothing to do with the story, delete it.

Before describing any location, object, or action, ask yourself if it contributes to the story. If not, cut it.

 

Rule #18: Don’t Head Hop

This is a tricky one because it involves mastering point of view. Whose point of view is the story taking place in? Or better yet, the scene?

If the scene (or whole story) takes place in Cain’s point of view, but the author instead tells the reader what Lira is thinking, that’s called head hopping and it will confuse the reader.

You only need to convey the point of view character’s thoughts. I like picturing the point of view character as myself, only seeing my own thoughts and not knowing the thoughts of non-point of view characters.

The reader will know what the non-point of view characters are thinking with their actions the author describes. If Lira’s angry with Cain (point of view character), she’ll thrust her hands to her sides, or scoop her books and storm out of a room.

Always describe non-point of view characters’ emotions through action and you’ll be gold.

 

Rule #19: Stop the Clichés in Narration

You might have a character that speaks in clichés, and that’s cool. What you don’t need, however, is to narrate your story in clichés, as your writing will get old fast. Clichés are ideas or expressions that have become so overused they’ve lost their original meanings.

Avoid them in narration. It will tire the reader as clichés aren’t original. If you want a solid readership, make sure your writing style is something original. If not, you won’t last long in the writing craft.

 

Rule #20: Shayna and Savannah Didn’t Cut It

Okay, Savannah stayed, Shayna got written out.

Why?

Because while I proofread Swords of Destiny I kept getting the two names mixed up, even if their voices were distinct. Instead, I thought typo, then no, then another typo, followed by another false alarm.

Luckily, Shayna had a group of friends in Northern Knights.

Enter Kiya, one of Shayna’s mind traveling best friends.

The voice remained the same. The character was the same. I just changed the name and altered the character’s appearance somewhat. And you got Kiya while Shayna stayed in North Columbia.

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How to Fit Writing Time With the Dreaded Day Job

How many of you are stuck in the cycle of waking up, fighting traffic, arriving at work for eight to ten hours, then repeating?

A lot of us do so six days a week and with it we sacrifice writing time and other passions for the sake of a place we admittedly would rather do without.

We want to pursue our writing passion and make a full-time living off our writing, but man, where do we start and when do we find the time?

It’s a question all aspiring writers ask themselves.

I’m currently working a 2pm to Whenever work shift and I’m in this thing strictly for the money. I fit in with warehouse work about as well as one of my favorite symphonic metal bands would at what used to be Jamboree in the Hills (the Super Bowl of country music).

So comes the obvious: Focus on both my writing to make money in it and return to my old fitness passion and start making money in it again after I turned my back on it not so long ago.

The goal for all of us is to get the hell out of these dreaded day jobs society has trapped us in as soon as possible. Only then can we start to experience life to its fullest.

 

Your Writing Time is Sacred

I’ve touched up on this in previous articles, but I like doing so every few months as reminders to my reading base. You need to choose a time to write and stick to your guns no matter what.

It’s like when I choose my workout times; nothing and nobody will stop me from working out at those times.

If your writing time is 6am, then it needs to be that way every single day. Ditto if it’s on your lunch break or 6pm.

Nobody can take this time from you unless there’s a legitimate emergency going on somewhere in your life. Don’t allow anyone to take this time away from you and if they’re confused regarding your writing time, be real with them.

If they try to guilt-trip you, then get rid of that person. True friends and understanding family members won’t do this; they’ll support you.

 

Speaking of Support Systems

A lot of writers out there, even those who have accomplished a thing or two, have dreaded day jobs they’d rather not be at.

Like you, they want to be at home, in libraries, or in coffee shops, or wherever their sacred writing place is, doing what they love.

Even if no one in your personal network understands or supports you, there are a lot of writers out there that will. While they’ll be online for the most part, remember that these are real writers and real people.

Twitter and Facebook have revolutionized global communications and you will find a lot of good people on both sites if you haven’t already done so. A lot of them are just like you and we all want the same goals.

While many writing fields are competitive markets, it’s important to remember each writer has their own niche or field that they write in, so don’t think of other writers as your competition. Many won’t be. And even if they are, we’re all on different levels as it is.

The only person a writer needs to compete with is themselves.

 

Self-Competition

As someone who used to compete in men’s physique between 2012 and 2015, I’ve come to learn one thing: It isn’t simply about the competition on stage as it was to me becoming the best version of me.

In other words, if I took the stage in the best shape of my life, I knew I’d done my job. The same goes for you as a writer. We still have about 45 weeks left this year, so if you can start today if you haven’t already done so and by the end of December, truly state you’ve come a long way, you’ve already won.

Set goals and commitments, such as:

1. Write every day during that sacred writing time.

2. Make at least three new writing friends per month.

3. Turn what you’re writing into projects and watch them grow throughout the year.

Guys, the possibilities are endless when it comes to self-competition, and soon you’ll be setting goals like:

1. Minimize adverbs to X amount.

2. Stop using two or more adjectives to describe, instead use stronger nouns and verbs.

By watching yourself grow, you’ll add tougher challenges for yourself over time.

 

The (Not So) Long Road Ahead

A year really isn’t a long time, though it seems so to many.

It’s already the middle of February, so the first six weeks of the year have flown by.

Did you do anything to better yourself yet in 2019?

If the answer is no, today would be a great place to begin.

Here’s why you need to pursue your writing dream despite the 40+ hours you’re working already at the DDJ.

1. Writing is a great escape from reality.

2. Writing will provide you a sense of accomplishment.

3. Writing is a process that you can see through from beginning to end.

4. Writing is work, but it’s fun and fulfilling work.

5. Writing is a form of self-care. If you haven’t researched the importance of self-care, I urge you to.

6. Writing will open the doors to new friends, both online and potentially offline.

Imagine accomplishing just these six examples over the next ten and a half months. Look at where you are now and ask if you want to be in the position you’re in. If the answer is no, then by all means, it’s time to pursue the passion you’ve always had in you and wanted.

Why wait another second?

Why continue to procrastinate?

It’s about time you started enjoying your work, feeling successful, feeling as if you did something other than the 9-5 (or in my case, 2-10) grind.

Get out there, write, make time, find a support crew, set goals, accomplish them, grow, and you will soon find that the full-time writing dream really isn’t as far off as it appears.

Oh, and always, always, always keep learning. Invest in courses, find ways that make you better as a writer.

Never think you know it all. Never assume just one or two people know it all. Invest in ways that will take you to where you want to be in the writing field and no one can ever stop you.

How to Avoid Brain Drain at the Keyboard: Two Simple Steps You Can Take Today

 

Okay, so what is brain drain? I first came across the term back in the sixth grade when my teacher defined it as coming back to school on Monday after the weekend or coming back after Thanksgiving or Christmas break.

Yes, she was one of those old school teachers who gave homework as if she was the only one giving it out.

Needless to say I passed her classes with a ‘C-minus’ and a 2.2 overall GPA back in the sixth grade.

Anyway, enough for the throat clearing. Today I want to talk to you about how to avoid the dreaded forgetfulness at the keyboard.

Recall my previous article where I stated my four awesome ways to get motivated to write.

Something I neglected to mention: Always have a notebook on hand or at least make notes in your phone when the inspiration pops up say, if you’re gazing into the sunset at your favorite place where the memories stir up.

If I’m gazing at the good old Wintersville water tower it’s wise to have something to write with so I don’t sit at the keyboard and wonder what the hell motivated me in the first place.

So, embark on the following steps in the following situations.

 

Journal

I don’t mean a daily journal. Instead I mean an idea journal. Jot down the thoughts, emotions, and inspiration. Sure, you can use your laptop in such situations, such as if it were a clear summer evening when I gaze into the lost horizons behind the tower and write down every single thought that crosses my mind.

Remember, you aren’t writing a novel idea here; just write your feelings and analyze them later on. They don’t even need to make sense.

For instance, if I’m gazing into the tower (see picture above), I’m writing something like this:

1. Time

2. Gin Blossoms

3. Not only Numb

4. Congratulations, I’m Sorry

5. New Miserable Experience

6. Goo Goo Dolls

7. Only Wanna be With You

8. A synopsis of my own, personal music videos for some corresponding songs like Lost Horizons, Hey Jealousy, Found Out About You, etc.

Notice that I’m associating time in Wintersville, Ohio with alternative rock songs from the 1990s plus some other subgenres.

Also note that what I wrote doesn’t even make sense, but that’s not the idea here. The idea is to know exactly why I drove to that abandoned grocery store parking lot to catch a view of the Wintersville sunset falling behind the tower.

At least I have an idea on what to write about.

 

Make Videos

Yes, make a video of your ideas. If I’m running around town during a summer morning I might make a video as they spark my creative juices.

Since Northern Knights was set in a Wintersville-like area, I did this constantly. Some of the more notable landmarks in Wintersville were also set in Northern Knights, such as shots of the water tower, the mural, Kettlewell Stadium, which is actually mentioned in the book, and the “location” of Summit University.

Note that no actual university is located in Wintersville and the nearest one is Franciscan University of Steubenville a few miles away.

I also snapped a little picture montage as well, which I’ll share below.

The pictures and videos both allowed me to be more descriptive while writing and editing the work.

 

Take Action

It’s more than just me stating this is what you need to do. You actually have to get up and do it.

I know the weather is still somewhat cold, but don’t worry, we’re only eighteen days from March 1st when the season changes in my neck of the woods.

Your homework assignment is a simple one, and don’t worry, it’s nothing like the mountain of work my sixth grade teacher once gave my class.

All you need is a notebook or laptop and a cell phone. Write your feelings and ideas, snap photos of places that provide inspiration, go home and get writing.

Trust me, you will be inspired by what you find and your creative juices will start flowing immediately.

Four Exciting Ways to Find Writing Inspiration

 

Exhausted from work? Too tired to carry on and see another day? Well, you’re in luck because I’m going to give you four tips that will help you find writing inspiration.

Kind of cool, right?

The fact is you, yes you, can find inspiration just about anywhere, if you know where to look. We’re going to search deep inside ourselves for such inspiration, such as the search for that initial motivation to write.

What was it that caused the motivation in the first place?

That’s what we’re looking for right here, right now.

So, let’s search for that long-term inspiration today that will light a fire in you.

 

Music

Music does strange things to us. It takes us back to another place, another time, back to a group of people, a time when we may’ve felt elated, depressed, inspired.

The reason I placed music so high is the fact it’s associated with the other three little-known ways listed below.

We embark on a journey when we listen to music.

When I hear, say, New Miserable Experience or Congratulations, I’m Sorry albums from Gin Blossoms, I’m catapulted back to Wintersville, Ohio, the town I grew up.

But I have more memories than just an awesome childhood.

I spent a summer working out at the local track with a great friend before we parted ways. It was truly one of the best times of my life, if not the best days of my life.

And yes, remember that creative nonfiction piece I was telling you about in a previous post?

Yep, it’s really a memoir that speaks of my early days working as a personal trainer, all the way to my massive breakup with the profession after becoming disheartened by it, to the great comeback that’s being set up right now.

 

Places

I revealed a huge hint regarding places, by associating them with music.

But think about it. Where were you when you were first inspired to write?

Why did this particular place spark the creative juices?

Know what’s funny?

The place you might be thinking of might not even be a real place.

Maybe mom and dad read you a story about Neverland when you were young and you immediately were inspired to write your own work. Your own Neverland.

Or your own version of Hogwarts? Narnia?

Did you take a vacation to Scandinavia and were immediately inspired by the beautiful scenic landscape?

Where were you when you were initially inspired to write?

Go back to that place, even if it’s a virtual tour. If it was a novel, read it again. I guarantee you’ll find that initial fire inside you once more.

 

People

Again, taken from the first way of inspiration.

This is especially true for those of you who write nonfiction.

Who inspired you to write and what kind of plot?

Are you still friends with them?

Or have you gone your separate ways?

Really think about this.

They might have a lot to do with the plot of your work, or perhaps you’re like me and tend to base every single character in your work on people you’ve met, worked, and were friends with over the past few years.

Why did they inspire you to hit the keyboard?

What kind of relationship did you have with them that you just had to write?

You will find a lot of answers and perhaps a lot of inspiration.

For me and the creative nonfiction piece I’m working on it was the gym staff, my old client base, my workout buddies, including the one I mentioned earlier.

I did base a lot of characters in Lord of Columbia on them, but the (sometimes) wild memories I shared with these people, I knew someday a novel would be written. There are too many stories to tell in the Tales from the Gym Office.

I could probably write a three-book box set, to be honest, and still have stories left over.

How my boss and I were never fired for the things that went on in our offices I’ll never know. And the colorful people.

You get the gist of it.

 

Time Periods

Finally, time periods come last because it sums up the previous three.

If you read the first three closely, you probably found a little pattern.

Music takes you to a time period.

Places take you to a time period.

People take you to a time period.

All written works occur in a time period, and again the first three can relate to fiction. Maybe you listen to fantasy-based music as I do and it takes you to a place like Neverland? I don’t think I have to explain the cast and characters.

I drew most of my inspiration for Lord of Columbia from Harry Potter, as it’s not even a secret these days, and the series is what I continually reverted back to.

I listened to music that reminded me of Hogwarts, mainly symphonic, pagan, and power metal, with composers like Thomas Bergersen and even some Disney songs scattered in there.

I’m lucky to have grown up around a landscape that is Hogwartian in nature, with bounding hills that eventually turn mountainous, endless forest, and few urban areas so the sky lights up on those clear nights.

Again, you should see what I’m talking about now.

 

If You’re Feeling Down

Go back to these four cornerstones.

Play some music, as it’ll always help, no matter what. I love to pair it with one of my two daily workouts.

Go to places that first inspired you. I don’t have to go far. I can sit in the parking lot of an abandoned grocery store, park my car, sit on top the hood on a spring, summer, or autumn night, gaze to the west, and watch the sun set behind the white water tower, which serves as the gateway to the bounding countryside.

If I pair it with listening to music, it automatically brings back the people, my favorite people, the workout partner whom I spent the whole summer of 2014 with, wondering what she’s doing now, and when she’s coming back.

Aha, see?!

You know where those lyrics came from, right?

Bam, it just took me back to the time period.

As crazy as this post sounds, I insist this works, and you’ll be glad you undertook it.

Thanks for reading.

How to Achieve Writing Success: Eat Your Humble Pie

This is a week for morality here at my blog, because I have been in a whirlwind as of late with life, but I want to take this whirlwind and turn it into a positive to help you achieve writing success and keep it.

As with success in any field, succeeding in writing won’t come easy and it won’t come fast. But it will come. Success in other fields will come faster, such as a primary income career (for the time being) or something similar.

Let’s face it, there are millions upon millions of writers, but it’s possible to set yourself apart from the pack.

I’ve talked to you all about finding a writing niche, or a genre that you can build your writing brand around.

For me, it’s urban fantasy tied in with epic fantasy since my two series place in the same world but in different time periods.

As I stated in yesterday’s blog, I’m working on an inspirational piece which one can call a hybrid inspirational/creative nonfiction story, which will be built around another brand and a pen name (my first and second initials plus my last name).

So, we have two brands to build around, and two brands I can utilize to separate myself from other writers, and you can do the same. For instance, perhaps you wish to write nonfiction but are also into writing science fiction. You can create two separate brands by using a real name for one, a pen name for another, or two pen names. It can be anything.

The first way to succeed as a writer is to build separate brands for all your work. Build around them, and watch them flourish in time.

There’s also a second way to succeed in writing and in life, for anything, so for non-writers, you’re welcome to view this article. This second way is to have a humble approach to your writing profession.

How is this accomplished?

 

One: Be Interactive

Okay, so first thing is first. If someone wishes to interact with you, interact back. It’s that easy. If they comment on your Twitter, comment back. Ditto for Facebook, blogs, anywhere.

You have fans and they took the time to reach out to you.

Knowing this, you need to take the time to respond to fans and followers. They’re investing their money into your work. Your work must’ve meant something to them, as they’re writing to you.

That’s pretty freaking cool, and you need to write them a personalized message. Not a cookie-cutter message like an email blast or anything of the sort.

And for the love of goodness, do NOT hire someone or outsource responses to someone else like a team member UNLESS that person is a close friend or family member who knows you AND your voice. There’s nothing more disgusting than people who hire some random person to answer fan mail. Honestly, it sickens me.

Former NASCAR superstar Richard Petty used to overstay for every single one of his autograph sessions so he could interact with all his fans. He was the most famous driver on the NASCAR circuit for ages, even after his prime.

Follow Petty’s lead and interact with your fanbase. All of them.

 

Two: Be Helpful

You realize that some fans of yours are aspiring writers themselves, right? Fantastic, so it’s your job to help them out.

No, I’m not saying you need to offer one-on-one Skype services or anything like that; I’d personally be very uncomfortable doing so, since I believe the best training for anyone is hands-on, not online.

However, this blog you’re reading right now helps writers.

Some of them might be interested in my books and follow my blog because I’m an author who’s published two books in a series and is on the verge of publishing a third within the next few weeks.

Some might just like my blog and have zero interest in my books. Like it breaks my heart; they’re still fans of mine because they find value in what I have to say on this blog, and that’s good enough for me.

Why?

Because word of mouth is a powerful advertising tool, and trust me, if people like your work in any capacity, they’re letting others know about it. The more you help others who were once in the same position you once were is more rewarding than any type of monetary success.

You were once walking lost through a forest of endless tips to the writing craft until you stumbled across something or someone that helped you out. So, you need to do the same for your people and hope they follow your example.

 

Show, Don’t Tell

Yes, you can be humble and still be a showoff.

I’m giving you permission to be a showoff, but if you think it means people need to look at and bow down to you, you’re out of your mind.

No, show as in show your readers and followers the process that took you to where you are today.

People. Love. This.

It gives you the opportunity to be an inspiration to someone else. You can show them where you were once upon a time at Point A, working X job and making X amount of money per hour. You were in debt, behind on all your bills, living on a prayer, facing total bankruptcy, whatever your story is or was, and you ended up not only succeeding but succeeding in your wildest dreams.

How’s that for show, don’t tell?

Do you realize how many people in America live paycheck to paycheck, or live without job security?

Or worse yet, are working two or sometimes three jobs just to make ends meet?

I’m one of those guys who isn’t a believer that government programs solve these problems (you may disagree with me here), but it’s because I believe in something else.

I believe there are a lot of people out there convinced their situation will never change, that it’ll never get better, and that they were destined for the short end of the stick.

This isn’t true.

Maybe you once thought this way.

You know this isn’t true.

Maybe these people are surrounded by others feeding them this lie.

Maybe you can be the one, even though you’ve never met them, to feed them the truth, the fortunate truth, a life-changing and perhaps a life-saving truth?

Share your freaking story, don’t be ashamed of it, and rest assured it will inspire others.

Your Fans are Your Partners

You’re not above your fans and I don’t care if you’re the next J.K. Rowling. In fact, I don’t care if you succeed at everything you touch, you’re not above your fans. Man, I wish certain NFL players realized this fact.

You do realize that without your fans, you have zero success, right?

You do realize that if your fans didn’t take to your work, you have zero success.

You might not even be that talented; hate to break it to you.

Let me give you an example: Bruce Springsteen never had a great voice. Some say he never even had a good voice.

But do you know what made Springsteen successful and even these days, when he turns 70 this year, what still makes him successful?

The guy can relate to his audience. He can relate to his fans.

He realized and realizes to this day his fans are his partners in crime.

If you haven’t done so, read some of his song lyrics.

The guy was able to click with his audience through some of the topics he sang about. That’s what made him successful.

It wasn’t because he had a good voice. It wasn’t because he could’ve been in the right place at the right time. Forget the myths. The guy knew who his target audience was, wrote song lyrics that pertained to them, he set them on a pedestal, and the rest is history.

Fans are partners. As you build your brand, your fans will be able to relate more and more to that brand. If you continue to work in ways that your fans can relate to, they’ll continue to follow you.

And if they continue to follow you, you’re set up for long-term success.

 

This should be your mission statement:

To ensure long-term success for (your name) by exceeding your readers’ wildest expectations.

Foundations for Your Success

1. TLC for all readers

2. Prompt delivery

3. Little room for error, if any

4. Heroic values

Pillars

1. Readers

2. Interaction

3. Helpfulness

4. Sharing

5. Partner Up

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