Don’t Let Anybody Should On You!

Take charge of your life and your writing
Debbie A. McClure

SuccessHereSign_Opv2We 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

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-McClure_OpDebbie 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!

All original content by Molly Greene and guests is copyright protected – did you enjoy the article? You can show your support by checking out my Amazon Author Page – and hey, buy a book while you’re there! Or, subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts. Your email will NOT be sold, shared, abused, or rented – that’s a promise. If you’re not already, follow @mollygreene on Twitter. Mwah! Thank you so much.


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21 Responses to Don’t Let Anybody Should On You!

  1. elainepinkerton May 4, 2015 at 3:00 pm #

    Another wise, inspiring post. Thanks, Debbie, and, as always, Molly. Great inspiration for a Monday. I’d love it if you’d check out my Monday Blog, as today’s post was along the same lines (but seen through my “adoptee glasses.”

    • Debbie McClure May 4, 2015 at 4:27 pm #

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Elaine. Molly is certainly a terrific host and I’m always gathering interesting tidbits from her posts.

    • Molly Greene May 4, 2015 at 4:33 pm #

      Thank you so much, Elaine!

  2. Maureen Grenier May 4, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    Enjoyed this post very much. It’s tough not to go along with really good suggestions when you know they won’t work for you and you can’t explain why you’d rather do something the hard way.

    • Molly Greene May 4, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

      Ha! I agree, Maureen. I sometimes am verrrrrry tempted to do something that’s not on my game plan, even when I know it wont be a good fit for me. I need blinders!

  3. Debbie A. McClure May 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm #

    I think we all face that one, Maureen! It would sometimes be sooo easy to just nod and accept the well-meant advice. The nice thing is that most mistakes aren’t cast in stone, so if the wheels fall off, you can still put them back on and get going again. Believe me, by now, I’m an expert wheel-changer.

  4. Kim Wenzler May 4, 2015 at 5:25 pm #

    Great post Thank you!

  5. Christina Hamlett May 4, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    Well said, Debbie! I think too often that people try so hard to please others – be it parentals,spouses, coworkers – that they completely lose sight of what would bring the most joy, fun and satisfaction to themselves. For instance, had I done what my parents thought I *should* do, it would be to allow myself to be married off to someone they deemed suitable, belong to the right social circles, and become a martini-swilling and unhappy woman like my mother. Instead I ran away to the theater, became an actress, consorted with interesting characters, and committed to the dream of becoming a full-time writer. “Oh but that’s not like a REAL job,” several well meaning friends tried to tell me. Over the years I’ve come to realize that anyone who didn’t think being a writer was REAL was because it was something they could never imagine doing, much less being successful at it. Debbie’s advice about being in the driver’s seat for the journey of a lifetime is not only excellently written but profoundly true as well. In fact, if it weren’t for the length of this blog, I’d recommend that every aspiring writer needlepoint it on a pillow and repeatedly bop themselves on the forehead with it if they allow anyone else to dictate their unique destiny.

    • Molly Greene May 4, 2015 at 5:35 pm #

      LOVE IT! *Looks around for embroidery thread*

    • Debbie A. McClure May 4, 2015 at 5:53 pm #

      Lol! I can’t even spell embroidery (for once thanking spell-check) and I want to do it! The sad part is, it’s so easy to do all the “right” things, yet so hard to just be yourself. Been there, done that! My daughter still emails me job postings for “real” jobs. If people could only learn to have as much as faith in themselves as they do others, what a wonderful world it would be.

  6. Garry Rodgers May 4, 2015 at 7:14 pm #

    “The internet is your greatest friend and teacher.”

    Great quote, Debbie. I have no idea how writers connected before the internet. We’re in an amazing world today with so much information and so many great people to connect with so easily.

    Thanks for your post and thanks to Molly for hosting it.

  7. Debbie A. McClure May 4, 2015 at 7:26 pm #

    Glad you enjoyed it, Gary, and yes, Molly ROCKSI’m with you in wondering what writers of the past did to connect before the internet. I guess that’s why so many of them claimed that writing is a solitary endeavour that could drive a person to drink! Thankfully now we can bridge gaps we didn’t even know we’re there. Because I consider myself a connector of people, and I love to learn new things, the “net” has become my safety net. With my next book being a historical fiction, it’s also been my researching lifeline. Best of all, it’s FREE!

  8. Sue Coletta May 5, 2015 at 7:21 am #

    Excellent advice, Debbie! To answer your question: I think the best approach is to accept the advice that resonates with you. Not everyone knows what they’re talking about, and, without malice, can steer a new writer wrong. I’ve made the mistake of following bad advice and it wasn’t pretty. So, I would add, look for people at either the same level as you or further along in their career.

    • Debbie A. McClure May 5, 2015 at 7:31 am #

      You’re exactly right, Sue. Even those who do know what they’re talking about can’t possibly know what’s right for YOU! I always try to listen to what others say, let it percolate in my brain for a bit, then listen to my gut. Sometimes it’s more a matter of self confidence and learning to trust that inner voice. Virtually every time I’ve made a huge mistake in my life, it’s been because I ignored that voice.

  9. Kathryn Goldman May 6, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    The “You Shouders” make me shudder. Especially when it comes to suggesting things you should do that they’ve NEVER done themselves.

    I agree with you, Debbie, don’t even try to explain why you’re not taking their advice. Just nod and smile while you drive the other way.

    Great post.

  10. Debbie A. McClure May 6, 2015 at 10:23 am #

    Exactly, Kathryn. Granted there are times when you want and need to ask for advice. The key is to make decisions that are right for you. If you haven’t read Theodore Roosevelt’s quote, Dare Greatly, or sometimes called, The Man In The Arena, then please do. He sums it up quite nicely. 🙂

  11. Susan Jennings May 9, 2015 at 5:42 am #

    Elaine, just love the ‘don’t let anyone should you’ I spent most of my life allowing people to ‘should me’. But with every grey hair I pushed the shoulds away. I now have a full head of white hair and no more shoulds or very few in my life. I would love to see younger women push those shoulds away early in their lives. Elizabeth Gilbert’s philosophy is excellent as is yours. Thank you.

  12. Debbie A. McClure May 9, 2015 at 6:46 am #

    Elaine, sometimes we just plain need to learn from experience, which is the ultimate teacher. It isn’t that others are necessarily internationally trying to steer us wrong. It’s up to each individual to listen equally as close to our own voice. Glad you enjoyed the post, and Liz Gilbert is phenomenal.

  13. Jacqui Jacoby June 7, 2015 at 5:01 pm #

    Ego and I have never been distant strangers. Should I? It depends on if I want to and others opinions will not deter me all that much, if at all. I have three books coming out by Feb, 2016, the first on July 1st (DEAD MEN PLAY THE GAME). They exist because no one was going to tell me I shouldn’t when I knew I should.

    • Molly Greene June 8, 2015 at 7:36 am #

      I agree, Jacqui – if i want to do something, I typically don’t ask anyone’s opinion, and I don’t surround myself with people who feel the need to share theirs if I haven’t asked for it. 🙂