Tag Archives: motivation

100 days of self-brainwashing: Day 1, Ted Talks

I’m in Cabo, y’all! Having a grand time – here’s the proof:

  

After the miserable Melbourne winter, the heat and the sun are doing wonders for my well-being, and I have even started writing again. It’s easy to do when you have all day to do what you want:

I wrote 1,600 words on the first day. I was elated. Then the next day I wrote 900, the day after it was 600, yesterday it was 260, and today I have written nada, if you don’t count this post. Why, do you ask?

I thought I was lazy at first. Too much sun, food, tequila, you name it. Everyone else around me moving at a snail’s pace. Wanting to savor every moment, as if the ocean would cease to exist the moment I stopped staring at it. All very good reasons, except in the back of my mind I knew it was more about the uphill battle of publishing this third book. It was more about knowing that I have not yet made back my investment into the first two, about how hard I will have to work to sell each copy, to get reviews, and above all to keep going against the grim odds. I could very easily just relax, keep working on my career, which is going gangbusters, and let this little dream die a quiet death, like the one in which I was going to be an actress (four years, forty roles, whole of career earnings: $2,000).

The only problem is, without a big, ridiculous dream, I feel like something is missing. I’ve been miserable for the past few months, partly due to that miserable weather I’ve mentioned earlier, and partly because I got myself locked into a routine of going to work, giving it my all, then coming home to collapse and recover just enough to put in another day. Sounds familiar? Where’s Ana from ten years ago, the one that went to Australia on a tourist visa, convinced against all odds that she was going to get a job and a work visa sponsor? The one that signed up for triathlons and kiteboarding and could run 10K every day? The one that was abused so badly by her manager, she decided to become a manager herself? The one that thought “I can write a book, start a blog, and publish against those very glum odds”?

That fit, excited, and energetic Ana had not only the big goals in mind, she truly believed that she could accomplish them. And after some pondering this morning, I’d realized that I started it all with self-brainwashing. I was living in the US at the time, and I was miserable. The weather was great in Florida, I can’t blame it, but my first marriage was hell, and I was caught in a corporate hamster wheel of produce-get promoted-produce some more. Then something miraculous happened. The terrible first husband insisted that we move out to the boonies, where he could safely smoke dope and shoot deer out the window. That’s not the miraculous part, by the way. The move resulted in two major changes: we couldn’t get cable TV and I had to commute almost an hour each way to my corporate hamster job. I was bored at home, and I was bored driving. So I started reading and listening to audiobooks in the car. For some miraculous reason, the local library had the entire Tony Robbins audio collection and after a few hours of Tony insisting that I could do whatever it was I wanted to do, I was hooked. At the time I thought all I wanted was more money, as if that could fix my terrible, terrible marriage, so I kept reading and listening, and reading some more. I got hooked on psychology, motivation, self-help, and anything that promised to grow my mind. After a few months of that self-brainwashing, I realised that I didn’t want more money. What I wanted was to leave – my terrible husband, my hamster job, and unfortunately the US. It was a huge gamble, but it has paid massive dividends since.

So that’s what I’m going to do again. Brainwash myself again. I have started today by listening to a few TED talks, because I could still stare at the blue ocean while various successful people told me that I could do it, whatever it was. This was my favourite one:

It’s also the one from which I stole the idea of challenging myself for 100 consecutive days. It’s too early to tell, but hey, this blog post is 775 words, which is a whole lot better than yesterday. I’ll come up with something else tomorrow and see what happens.

 

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Filed under 100 days of self-brainwashing

I have a dream. Again…

Look who’s back! “Who dis?” I hear you say, and yes, you have every right to forget me – I’ve been gone for three months. In cybertime, that’s like a generation. I’m sure new Twitter stars have managed to rise and implode since then, but I wouldn’t have known. I was too busy getting married and starting my new job.

Speaking of getting married – look at this happy couple!

registry-steps   walking-in-cbd   nighttime-in-cbd-2

You almost can’t tell that it was 39 degrees Celsius, which is just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit…crazy, but that’s the January in Melbourne for ya! I know that some of you can’t feel your toes right now, but trust me – you wouldn’t want to feel like you are cooking alive, either.

And yes, I’ve been at my new awesome job for almost three months, and yes, it’s incredibly demanding, but enough excuses already. I want to tell you about a wonderful thing that happened yesterday.

I came home late, as usual. Good thing that Josh cooks, because if not, I’d be surviving on tuna cans and stale bread. Early to rise and late home from work makes Ana one tired woman. So tired that a mere thought of sitting down to finish that third book or even write a new blog post creates involuntary spasms in my legs, which usually results in a couch faceplant, supplemented with trash TV. Every now and then I would also feel intense regret that the writing dream is over, and then pass out to start the early-to-rise cycle all over again. Sounds familiar? Yeah, it sucks.

I’ve tried beating myself up, writing daily plans, and setting up a reward system, but nothing was working. That is, until yesterday. I was in the shower, trying to wash off the daily stress, when I sort of spaced out. I was fantasizing about how my life could be different, when a story idea came to me, as vivid and real as one of those hallucinations I had when I was high on opiates in the hospital bed. When I came to, the bathroom was full of steam and my mind was full of plot twists, characters, and whole scenes.

My sister-in-law came over to have dinner and watch “Married at First Sight,” so I had to play hostess for a couple of hours, but all I could think of was the new story. I could not wait for the stupid show to be over, so that I could write down the idea, I was that afraid to lose it. I jumped onto the computer as soon as I could and did not get off the chair until Josh started yelling from the other bedroom that we had to get some sleep. I could not stop thinking about it this morning. I told my sister. She liked it. In fact, her exact words were: “Yep, here we go again!”

Yes, indeed. Here we go. A completely different new novel, a psychological thriller with little comedy, if any. A male protagonist. More character development, although I’m in love with the plot too. And I have a feeling I will be able to spill it onto the page in a couple of months – last night I could barely keep up with typing out the ideas as they were flooding in.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to in the last three months, and sorry again for disappearing, but if you’ve been self-beating and self-hating over a writer’s block, perhaps it’s time to try spacing out in a hot shower. Let me know how you go.

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The full-time writing gig is almost here, plus pics of my writing room

With just a couple of days left till I’m a full-time writer (for five months, but still!), I’m feeling the pressure of my ambitious writing plan. To be honest, I have not been writing much lately, partially due to some traumatic personal stuff I’m going through at the moment, and probably because I’ve been deferring writing for this time when I will be free from work stress and thus magically transformed into a writing machine. As a result, my tracking spreadsheet looks like this:

Bad writing record

The zig-zagging red “goal” line shows that I have twice already given up and reset my goal, only to fall short again. This can’t happen over the next five months, otherwise I would have wasted my long service leave, which I’ve been accumulating for eight years…it can’t happen!

So, I have started by setting up my environment. Virginia was right – oh, what a difference a room of one’s own makes…and here is mine!

IMG_2791

Terrible photo, sorry, can you tell how fabulous is the desk? Made even more so by the fact that it set me back just $10 on eBay. I mean, $10 AUD! That means it was practically free in American dollars! And the chair was just $25 from a garage sale.

My Italian Greyhound approves…everyone, meet Bubbles:

IMG_2737

I have managed to write a thousand words today, which is a far cry from the 3-4K I mean to write every single day for the next three weeks or so. Still, having a space to go and sit at the desk, all official-like was better than my usual lounging in bed or on the couch, which inevitably led to Internet surfing.

I plan to also dangle a carrot in front of my nose, for further motivation – I just made a deal with myself that if I complete my weekly plan, I will get a 45-minute massage at the end of the week. If I overachieve the plan by at least 25%, I will get an hour-long massage. And if I don’t complete it…well, there will be an extra grueling gym session on the weekend. Oh, I didn’t mention – I plan to also lose a couple of kilos during the five months. These are quite possibly pipe dreams, but who knows? I am trying to pound into my cerebral cortex a message of “your life could be like this every day.”

Speaking of pipe dreams, here’s another one. I finally unpacked an artist’s easel and a huge canvas I’d bought about a year ago:

IMG_2792

The big white canvas is just as frightening as my current word count and the number on my weight scale. Still, with a plan and daily discipline, I should be able to do it all, right? I started by taking stock of the “current state”, as I usually do at work:

  • Published books: 1
  • Drafted words: 33,330
  • Paintings: 0
  • Kilos: 62.6 (that’s 138 pounds)
  • Klout score: 61 (more on Klout in the next post)

Let’s see where I get to by 1 August 2016!

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Filed under Self-publishing and marketing

You’re on your own. Sorry.

Let me start yet another controversy by saying:

Winning a writing competition or landing a traditional publisher is not a guarantee of author success.

Ok, ok, stop shooting! I know, those were my goals not long ago, and they are traditionally equated to striking gold and really “making it” as an author. And yes, winning a Pulitzer, perhaps, can make a difference. Or, you know, landing a million-dollar deal which gets you a ton of publicity. However, I now know the simple fact that publishers would invest very little into promoting your book, unless you are Stephen King.

Before we get into the argy-bargy of traditional vs self-publishing, let me illustrate my point with some evidence.

Exhibit A: Pitch Week

I just found out about this competition and I was actually going to write this post about it and encourage everyone to apply. Then I’d decided to check the current sales ratings of past winners. See for yourself:

Death by Roses by Vivian Probst is currently hovering around one million overall ranking on Amazon.

Stony Kill by Marie White Small is around 300,000 with the best category ranking at 13,000-plus.

Girl Walks Out of a Bar: A Memoir by Lisa Smith is getting published in another six months.

The winner announced in July of this year is yet to be published.

“But this is probably some small potatoes award,” I hear you say. “Surely, something like Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award means publicity and big bucks?” Lemme check…

Exhibit B: Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award

Remember, winners of this award got a traditional publishing contract and a hefty advance, plus ongoing publicity through the Amazon listing of past winners. This was a HUGE competition, even though it has now been discontinued. So how did the winners fare? Yeah, ok, some of them became bestsellers, but lets examine the less fortunate ones:

Crossing by Andrew Xia Fukuda – current rank #173,062 Paid in Kindle Store. Worse than my self-published debut.

Catcher, Caught by Sarah Collins Honenberger   current rank #233,775 Paid in Kindle Store. Much worse than mine.

Stalina by Emily Rubin  – current rank #245,024 Paid in Kindle Store. Ditto.

Fresh Kills (Berkley Prime Crime Mysteries) by Bill Loehfelm current rank #1,058,230 Paid in Kindle Store. Whaaat???

Fully Involved: A Firefighter Story by Jackson Harris current rank  #1,144,996 Paid in Kindle Store. OH. MY. GOD!

I didn’t have the strength to continue. Have a look for yourself at the long list of Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award past winners. But before you go and start slashing your wrists, let me say this:

You can be a successful author.

I truly believe in the above statement, qualified by “if you are willing to work hard enough for long enough.” In a way, I felt liberated by my findings – they made me realize what I already knew – there’s no point in hoping to win an “author lottery” and spend years chasing a traditional publishing contract. I’d spent a year sending query letters to over 70 publishers and agents, and the best response I got was “it’s funny, but we don’t know if there’s a market for it.”

So don’t give your power away by believing that someone else has to judge your book worthy. Do your own research. Become a better writer. Become your own publisher, marketing guru, PR rep, and cheerleader. You are the best suited person to mange your business. Yeah, that’s right, I said it – treat it as your business, work on it, invest in it, and grow it.

Like, now would be a good time!

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Filed under Self-publishing and marketing, Shizzle, Inc.

I’m gonna beg you like you’ve never been begged before…

If you’ve read Shizzle, Inc, you’ve probably recognised the above as an almost direct quote…and if so, you’re the one I’m gonna beg – could you please, please post a review on Amazon, Goodreads or both?

I already have 13 reviews on Amazon, all positive, so it’s not about that scary initial silence, where you’re not sure that publishing your book was a good or even decent idea. It’s just that there has not been a new one posted for several weeks, I’m tired, it’s raining, and to be honest – just feeling a bit blah about everything. I need your help pushing along with my writing plan and you have no idea what a boost of energy it is to wake up in the morning to find out that a new review has been posted.

So if you’ve read Shizzle, Inc and liked it, could you pretty please write a few words about it? Of course, on other hand, if you’ve absolutely hated it, then I’m sure you have better things to do. I bet there’s dust behind that fridge and your sweaters need re-folding.

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