Take charge of your life and your writing
by Debbie A. McClure
We all do it. We allow others to make decisions for us, or are heavily influenced by other people’s opinions on everything from what we should do for our life career, what we should eat, where we should live, even what we should wear. I once heard someone say, “Don’t Let Anybody Should On You!” and it struck me as one of the truest things I’d heard.
Still, it’s harder to do than it sounds. We’re influenced to do, or be, something other than what we want. We become comfortable in the back seat of our life and our careers. For example, I was a medical secretary for over twenty years, then a retail owner, then a real estate agent, then a mortgage advisor. Each time I was sure I’d found “it,” whatever “it” is. The problem was, none of them felt like the true me. Of course the million dollar question became …
What Is The True Me?
They say with age comes maturity, and as I began to look around at my family, friends, and acquaintances, I started to realize a lot of people are struggling to find who they are in this crazy world. Oprah calls it “Finding Your Purpose.” Sounds pretty grand, doesn’t it? Okay, so you want to discover your purpose, but how? Well, sometimes you really do have to go through all the steps to find out what you don’t want, in order to discover what you do want. That’s where I say, “Accept No Back Seat” in your life.
When we allow others to control our driver’s seat and make loving, helpful suggestions regarding our lives, too often we listen to them to the exclusion of our own inner voice. We’re essentially giving them the keys to our present and our future.
Take Back The Keys
So what’s a hard-working, struggling writer to do? First, take back the keys. No need to be nasty or rude about it. Just smile and nod your head, then grab the keys to your life and RUN. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love talks about this in her video with Oprah Winfrey on Super Soul Sunday.
Next, sit down and make two lists: one for the things you want in your life, your writing career, whatever you’re struggling with, and another for how you plan to get those things. As writers, we’re used to seeing things in print. It helps to sort through the muddle in a soggy brain and puts things into solid context. You’ll hear it often enough in your writing career, so I’ll say here: just get the words on the paper!
Now, look at your list. Really look at it. Think about how doing and achieving these things will make you feel. Next, choose the first item and write out a plan for achieving it. This small exercise helps establish needs, action, and timelines. Don’t worry about the other things on your list yet. Just do one thing at a time, one step at a time.
Start the Car
Now that you know where you’re headed, apply the gas and begin to move forward. Don’t worry about how fast or slow you’re going. The point is to start. Many new writers get hung up on the planning phase, but planning isn’t writing or doing. Depending on your situation and personality, you can either tell everyone around you that you are now driving your own car, or you can quietly begin driving without whispering a word. The beauty of this whole idea is that it’s up to you. Once you’ve gotten comfortable driving your “car” for a while, you’ll find you can begin to relax. Ignore the back-seat drivers who try to tell you what lane you should be in, or what road you should take. As long as what you are doing feels right for you, you’re doing fine.
Going off-road can be either a planned or unplanned expedition. If it’s planned, that’s a good thing. It means you’ve taken some decisions into your own hands and you’re gaining confidence. But what if it’s unplanned? What if you find yourself in foreign territory that feels bad or awkward? What if everyone around you is shouting at you that you can’t go in a certain direction, or that you don’t know what you’re doing?
Just relax and review your lists. Keep in mind that sometimes when we allow ourselves to go into unknown territory, we discover amazing things about ourselves, our writing, and our strengths. That’s a good thing. The more we experience life, the better our writing. Boxes don’t work so well for writers. We have to be willing to open ourselves up and live out loud to get the most out of it.
Pimping Your Ride
So now you’re in the driver’s seat, you’ve written your book, poetry, journal, whatever, and you’re ready to tell others about it. Now that’s scary business, but marketing and promotion needn’t be daunting. First, learn everything you can about the business of writing and publishing. Follow other writer’s blogs (hint, like Molly’s or mine), and soak it all in. The internet is your greatest friend and teacher. Join writing groups both online and off, ask tons of questions, form a plan, write out the plan, and network like crazy.
Yes, you’ll need a website, social media pages, possibly a blog of your own, etc. Molly shares great advice in posts like 50 Fabulous Ways to Kickstart Publicity and 5 Book Promotion Tactics That Really Work, to name a few.
Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat now, not the back seat. If you discover something isn’t working for you, relax, breathe, go back, and begin again. Enjoy the journey, learn as much as you can, and share your experiences with others to help them find their way. Author Brené Brown quotes former US President, Theodore Roosevelt, and advises us to Dare Greatly. I couldn’t agree more.
Debbie A. McClure is the author of two paranormal romance novels, In The Spirit Of Love/Echelon Press 2012 and In The Spirit Of Forgiveness/Echelon Press 2014. She now writes full time from her home in the quiet lakeside resort village of Grand Bend, Ontario, Canada with her husband. In addition to her writing, Debbie enjoys connecting with others via public speaking events, writing workshops, regular blog posts, social media, and of course through her books. Having discovered a love of historical research and blending fact with fiction, she looks forward to penning many more historical fiction novels. Visit Debbie’s website, blog and Amazon Author page and find her on Facebook and Twitter.
Readers, what’s your philosophy about accepting input from others? How do you handle unwanted advice? Leave a comment and share!
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