Am I Failing with my One Little Word?

So…. It is now the middle of September and I JUST did my first One Little Word project from Ali Edwards’s course. Oooops. Totally ok, though. “Keeping up” is not a requirement to be able to get something out of the practice.

Oh, hey. See what I did there? “Practice” …. My One Little Word is PRACTICE and it seems like everything can come back to it.

[On the off chance that you are reading this and not familiar with the project, One Little Word was created by Ali Edwards. It is the practice of choosing 1 word to meditate and focus on over the course of a year. Go here for more info.]

Back on the very first day of the year — big plans, big intentions — I failed to write 1000 words of fiction, and I failed to hit my 10,000 steps. That’s ok. It was January 1 and I still had 364 days to get it right. And then other things happened and more life problems occurred, and all of a sudden several months had gone by without me even opening my novel file to work on.

I was clearly a big ol’ fat failure. Not even able to walk 10,000 steps in a day. Not coming anywhere near publishing the 4 books in 2015 like I had planned. What a loser.

Or not.

To be honest, when I began this year and chose my word I didn’t even *think* about the fact that PRACTICE can also be associated with the being-ok-it’s-not-perfect part of making. It didn’t even occur to me that the very definition of PRACTICE includes some kind of failure. That’s why you need to practice in the first place, right?

I wish I could remember what I was reading or what podcast I was listening to that reminded me of this part of the definition of PRACTICE — because it completely changed my entire view on how I was doing with my One Little Word this year.

I simply can’t fail at something that is meant to be an ongoing attempt. It’s just not possible. It is literally impossible to fail at practicing. That is the whole point of practicing.

Which, frankly, is a huge relief.

“If it doesn’t work out, it’s just an experiment.” — Elizabeth Gilbert in a recent episode of her new podcast

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Stamp from Kellie Stamps

So right now my One Little Word binder looks like this. Projects from 2013 and 2014 …. and this 1 envelope for all of 2015 so far. The letter written to myself for September’s project.

I might go back and do some of the monthly projects I missed. Or I might not. The projects are not the point. It’s the trying again and not beating myself up and starting up the practice that is the important part.

I’ve still got three and a half months left to PRACTICE.

How is your One Little Word going this year?

P.S. I’m sending out an email tomorrow morning about all the writing practice books I’ve been reading this year, if you want to be sure you’re on that list.

P.P.S. I’ve already chosen my OLW for 2016 and it’s going to be perfect and epic and I can’t wait.

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Get yourself in trouble

So it turns out, what makes for good novels also makes for an interesting and fulfilling life.

The basic (basic) rule of writing novels is to give your characters obstacles. Your characters have to experience conflict. They need obstacles to overcome. They need inner turmoil to wrestle with. Act 1: you get them up a tree. Act 2: you throw rocks at them in the tree. Act 3: you let them get down. If they’re not having at least some kind of a hard time, it’s going to be a boring book.

So when you get those obstacles in your own life? Be grateful for them. Those trying times are going to be the bits of your life you remember. The parts that you look back on and think, ‘Yep, that’s when I realized that I can do this.’ When you put yourself way out of your comfort zone you are forced to deal, forced to come up with answers that you didn’t have before. That is when you will find you.

Get yourself in trouble. Take risks. Be BRAVEIt’s taken me a long time to come around to this way of thinking. I chose Brave as my One Little Word a couple years ago, because that is not my natural inclination. Most of my life I have been generally risk-averse, talking myself out of things that might even have a tiny chance to fail. Taking safe, responsible choices and (honestly) living a pretty average life.

And I realized that mind set wasn’t helping me.

I want to be more than average. I want to be better than that.

Instead, once I started paying attention, all of my best decisions were brave and potentially very very risky. Quitting a day job, dropping several thousand dollars on a writing weekend, moving to Virginia… I don’t have a long history of brave decisions in my life, but I am committed to making more.

Honestly, the fact that I moved coast-to-coast, totally alone except with 2 cats makes me feel so tough. So strong. So proud. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I am so so glad I did it.

The same way conflict makes for a good novel, I welcome the harder parts of my life because they will help me grow.

So say yes to that speaking engagement, or invest that money in manufacturing your new stamp line. Even risk being vulnerable with a new friend …

These last couple years when I have consciously tried to be more brave have been the most rewarding. Every day I feel more and more like ME.

Go get yourself in trouble. Take a risk. F*ck up and find your own way.

P.S. I love Kam’s From a Beginner series for regular examples of taking small risks and regularly getting out of her comfort zone.

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Review: Prosperity for Writers ecourse and ebook

In January, I decided my current Core Desired Feelings are : Valued, Affluent and Brave.

Let’s talk about that middle one — I want to feel affluent. I don’t need Donald Trump money. I don’t even need to go shopping every week. I just want to FEEL like I have enough abundance and wealth in my life that I can support my vlogger friend, or not have to scrimp and save for a short weekend away.

I just want enough to not have to worry all the time. THAT would make me feel affluent.

Skip to May …. I had met business coach Honorée Corder at a conference and shortly afterward I took a 4-week course with her called Prosperity for Writers.

LOVED IT SO MUCH …. official description here:

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a “starving artist” mentality? What do you need in order to increase income, productivity, happiness, and overall success?

The Prosperity for Writers Course is the first program for writers that addresses, and eliminates, the cultural assumption that writers must struggle, strain and strive. This course teaches you to tap into the abundance mentality that best-sellers and rich, successful writers are already accessing, and it gives you practical, tangible action steps you will enjoy taking as you increase your productivity and your income.

I loved this course …. and now the author — Honorée Corder — has put the same information into a $5 ebook and you MUST purchase it. I guarantee it is not just for writers. If you are a creator trying to make money from your art this book will help you.

Prosperity for Writers by Honoree CorderI read an advanced copy of the book …. basically as fast as possible. I can’t wait to re-read it.

Grab the ebook here — it comes out today!

The course and ebook are NOT “how to budget” or “how to price your writing” or “what retirement accounts to open”. Nothing as nuts and bolts as that.

Instead you’ll deeply examine your mentality and attitude toward money, you’ll consider what your obstacles are keeping you from being more prosperous, and (most of all) you will COMMIT to changing those things.

The course and ebook are not even specifically for writers.

Corder uses writers as examples throughout the book, but any entrepreneur, any creator, anyone trying to move past a bi-weekly paycheck can benefit from the teaching in this book.

I really do love it. I will be getting the paperback copy so I can make notes, dog ear pages and really get involved in the text itself.

Grab your copy here

P.S. I’ve got a super personal email going out tomorrow morning about money and prosperity. Make sure you’re on the list if you want to read that.

Note: I am NOT an affiliate for this course, but the book link is my Amazon affiliate link

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What to do when your life falls apart

You have probably noticed I haven’t been blogging very recently. You may also have noticed some changes to what I’ve been posting on social media.

The short version is — I am getting a divorce. Because my husband no longer wants to be married.

Of course there is a lot more to it than that, and of course this was not a quick or easy decision. In fact, accepting this will be the best thing for me and actually walking away is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.

But essentially …. 2015 has been the worst year of my life, everything that I thought I had and knew is wrong, the foundation of everything in my life is now up-ended. Everything has changed. Everything is different. I am starting over completely.

So what do I do now? Now that I am starting over? 

  1. Make a plan — There were months of uncertainty and anxiety and through it all the only thing I knew for sure was what I would do if/when my marriage truly ended. I needed that lifeline. I needed that plan, those guideposts. Even if it changed or never came to pass, I needed that 1 thing I could control. My plan.
    That plan ended up changing a bit over the last few months, but I always had that list to come back to to reground myself.
    And now that that scenario has come up, I was 200% better prepared to meet it when it finally did.
  2. Be gentle with yourself — I haven’t been blogging because I’m depressed and anxious. Plain and simple. I can’t focus on anything work-related, I don’t have any energy. I need a lot of time.
    I’m ok with it. I’ve been going for more walks. I’ve been indulging myself by buying $6 kindle books if I want one. I’ve been giving myself permission to miss deadlines.
    I certainly can’t do everything I had been doing before my life fell apart, so I’m giving myself a pass. I’m looking forward to getting back to myself, but in the meantime I know it’s ok that I’m not.
  3. Stay positive — I had so many hopes for our married life together, and now that it’s over I have made a concerted effort to form new hopes. I’ve started researching tips for women traveling alone, I’ve planned a couple hypothetical road trips, I’ve looked at house prices in different cities where I might want to move. …. Not a lot. And nothing definite. But better than nothing.
  4. Ask for help — or if you’re more like me, accept the help that is offered. Friends gave me so much slack on missed deadlines and missed project. My boss told me to take as much time off as I needed and my other boss offered to write Andrew into a book and then kill him in a violent manner. Even Andrew’s family offered to come help pack stuff if I wanted them to.

And, you guys? I need help.

I no longer have a husband, roommate, travel partner, best friend, financial support, co-cat parent, etc. I need to figure out how I can make a full-time income. I need to figure out where I want to live now. I need to figure out who I want to spend my time with.

I am moving and starting over somewhere else. We are selling the house and I have no reason to stay in California, so today I am getting in the car with my 2 cats, driving across the country and moving in with my parents for a little while (I will probably post from the road if I can).

I’ll have more thoughts as I restart my life on my own. As I continue building a full-time freelance income. I’ll have more ideas about scrapbooking and memory keeping through life events like this. I’ll have stories and laughs with the friends and family I will see more often now. I’ll have ideas about where I want to live next and what I want to deliberately choose now that I am rebuilding on my own.

This is my new story.

P.S. This is the reason I’ve barely blogged. The reason my first book hasn’t been finished as planned. The reason I never finished my December Daily album or ever went back to my January RESET project. The reason I can barely accomplish anything right now. Life is hard. Getting out of bed is hard. Please be gentle with me.

P.P.S. I will be moving into posting more long-form articles on the blog and sending more personal posts to my email list. Sign-up here if you’d like those.

P.P.P.S. This is where I ask for help. One thing you can help me with now is send your referrals for editing my way. I love that work, and I can do it any time, any where. Or grab any one of my courses. Or just buy your Amazon products through my affiliate link. Thank you. I love you guys.

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How to be an Introvert: Attending Live Events

Last September I went to a writing mastermind, a world-building summit where I met with a handful of writers over 2 days and helped create an entire fictional world. It was AMAZING. I loved it and it totally shaped my career going forward.

And, I’ll be honest — it was scary as hell. I didn’t know ANY of the other people (8 of us total), and I was 100% the least experienced of any of them. I was very VERY nervous, and if it weren’t for Andrew insisting it would be best for me I would have talked myself out of it.

The same guys/company put on another writer event just a week+ ago. It was totally different in a lot of ways — focused on business instead of story, no Dave, and WAY more people.

Summit Attendees JPG

As an introvert, and an introvert that works from home and doesn’t have much in the way of co-workers, attending a live event is way way outside my comfort zone.

But I found a few ways to make it work without being totally spent and drained at the end of each day ….

How to attend live, in-person events when you’re an introvert:

Try to make sure you know AT LEAST 1 person going

This might mean planning ahead with a friend, or possibly reaching out to 1 or 2 people you know are attending. Online, ahead of time. In a 1-on-1 email basis.

Fortunately, I now work with Johnny and Sean (who led the weekend) as well as Monica and Garrett (who attended). Plus, since I actually did the planning and corresponding with attendees, they were all at least cursorily familiar to me. I didn’t feel like I was in a room made up ONLY of strangers.

And just that little bit of familiarity helped so much.

Sit in the corner

In the third image below, you’ll see a shot of the whole room. In about the middle of the image, at the very end of the table you’ll see a blue water bottle. That’s mine. That’s where I sat. In the corner, with my friend Monica next to me and no stranger sitting on the other side. That wasn’t 100% intentional (there actually was an empty chair on the other side of me when the weekend began), but it was very fortuitous.

This cornering of myself limited the amount of stimulation I was made to deal with at any given time, and allowed me to *almost* have ‘alone time’ in the middle of the full room. I didn’t feel drained from making small talk all the time. It worked out really well.

Let people approach you

The first morning, I came in, sat down in my corner, and three different people approached me to introduce themselves. If I didn’t write about it here, I really REALLY doubt any of the other attendees went home thinking, ‘That Amy girl didn’t proactively introduce herself to anyone.’ Who would know?

Instead, I STILL met new people, but one at a time, without feeling like I was bugging them or encroaching on their space or anything. I admit, I had an advantage because I organized the event and they all had an idea of who I am, but still.

Give yourself time

Time to open up, time to be alone, time to make new friends. Give yourself time in your hotel room at night, even if everyone else is staying up to chat. I stayed up MUCH later than I usually do all 3 nights I was in Austin. But each time I was very conscious about how I was feeling, how tired I was, if I would be better off sleeping more.

I still didn’t get a chance to REALLY talk to everyone there (the event was only 2 days), but I feel good about the way I did spend my time.

Really all these tips can be boiled down to — BE YOURSELF. Give yourself permission to be an introvert and try not to care what someone else might think about you.

I also realize that these tips make me sound cranky and anti-social. Which I absolutely am not. I don’t think any of the other 20+ people there would have ever thought I was being anti-social or trying to limit my exposure to them. It is all just a way of knowing myself, what I am comfortable with and in what environment I can best thrive.

Here are just a few photos from the weekend, so you can get a sense of the room and the amount of people in attendance. I’ll be going to a September event as well. It will be only 15 people, MOST of whom I already know. Easy :)

 Dave the Tapir -- Sterling & Stone Colonists Summit 2015 colonist  002 colonist  004 colonist  005

colonist  003 James  011

The guys want to put on a MUCH bigger 200-person event next spring! I’ll have to come up with a whole other set of tips for that!

What are your best tips for attending in-person events?

I want to start a small series of posts about living as an introvert! It’s a part of my personality I’ve only started to recognize and work with over the last couple years, and it’s fascinating to me. Check out my related Pinterest board here: How to be an Introvert

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START. Now.

As Lara Casey says, there’s nothing magical about January 1. That said, today is just as good a day as any to start that one thing you’ve been thinking about for awhile.

start

How many different excuses have you come up with to keep yourself from starting? Are you afraid of failure or or afraid of success? Are you having to overcome the negativity of other people, or the negativity from yourself?

You keep telling yourself you are going to start someday — why not start today?

The most difficult part of most projects is the starting … and the finishing. So, get half of that over with now by beginning.

Start. NOW.

(leave your accountability requests in the comments)

P.S. I (hopefully) started 2 daily habits today.

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Giveaway: January Reset digital kit

reset digital kit

GAH, you guys! I hope you can tell how excited I am about this new January RESET project!

I hope you are joining me, and I doubly hope you are investing in the digital kit to give yourself a little break on having to create everything from scratch.

Be sure to grab it soon — it’s on sale for a couple days!

or you can enter below to win one!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Goals and intentions for 2015

Image taken in Austin when I was there to meet with other writers. 2 more similar trips to Austin planned in 2015!

Image taken in Austin when I was there to meet with other writers. 2 more similar trips to Austin planned in 2015!

2014 was rough. So much so that I’m not even going to do a year-in-review kind of post. Let’s just say I gained a lot of weight, didn’t really make any money, barely got to spend any time with my husband and started over (again) in a new career. There were some cool things, yes, of course, but …. over all I’m ready to look forward.

Right now…

I have 5 jobs. FIVE. Lemon and Raspberry, fiction-writing and 3 part-time jobs working for other people. I’m really excited about starting the new year like this and even more excited about the possibilities for the future. I would much (much much much) rather it be this way than a full-time day job outside the house, with no real control over how I spend my day.

I am *this close* to finishing my first book in a series to be sent off to beta readers (I wanted to be done before Thanksgiving, but oh well). I cannot wait to be done, mostly because I cannot wait to see what happens next. I’ve made writing novels a much (much) bigger part of my day than this time last year.

I read more than 100 books in 2014 (112, to be exact) and …. I never thought I’d say this, but that might be too many. I *maybe* could have gotten more done in my life if I hadn’t read so much.

Looking forward ….

 As mentioned – fiction. Tentative release schedule will be book 1 (currently called Academy of Secrets) of my first series published end of Feb/beginning of March. Another book (stand-alone) published end of June, and then possibly books 2 and 3 of the series published in the last half of the year. Sign-up for my email list here for dates, cover releases and maybe even free books.

Also … editing fiction. I would love to do developmental editing on 1 novel every month or so. Not a ton. Not a full-time career, but enough to be useful to other indie authors and help them become better writers. I did a bunch last year, and have a few things lined up for this year. It’s kind of the best job in the world – reading novels.

Those 2 things combined (plus all the work I have done with the BUILD ecourse) mean it is a natural fit for me to jump headfirst into self-publishing. I am already a part of the community of self-published authors that listen to SPP, and I am working on becoming a bigger presence there.

Lemon and Raspberry was kind of … just treading water last year (part of my goal to NURTURE what I had instead of continuing to launch new things), but I have some plans for this year. I want to do more webinars, and offer more journaling and memory keeping resources. All tying in with my hopefully daily PRACTICE of writing more. I have a bunch of content that needs to be organized and added to the BUILD ecourse. I love this space.

This will be the year Andrew quits his day job. We are set on it. I don’t know when yet, but he is really doing incredible things in the music industry and his little niche and he is an honest-to-goodness record producer. He is so close to being able to be totally freelance.

No big trips planned, no big house projects (except landscaping the backyard which we are trading with one of Andrew’s recording clients for). 2015 will be a year to reset and get a firm foundation for the future.

What do you have planned this year?

P.S. I want to be Joanna Penn when I grow up

P.P.S. I wrote these long-term goals almost 2 years ago and I think I’m doing pretty well so far

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One Little Word 2015: PRACTICE

One Little Word | Ali EdwardsChoosing BRAVE as my One Little Word in 2013 changed my life.

Choosing NURTURE in 2014 ended up being exactly what I needed for a rough year.

I had chosen One Little Words before 2013, but it wasn’t until that year — the first time I signed up for Ali Edwards’s class — that I actually got anything out of it. I don’t even remember the words I chose in 2011 and 12. I am not even an affiliate, but I just love it so much. Sign up for 2015 here.

(I know if you have done the class once or twice, you might feel like you don’t need it. You *get* what kind of projects to fill your year with. But I need the accountability, so I am happy to give Ali money every January)

My word for 2015 actually came to me about … two or three years ago or so, and I knew I wasn’t ready for it. But I wrote it down (in this very same draft post) and thought about it. Around November of 2014, I revisited this word and description and knew it had claimed me.

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 1.09.36 PM

An online entrepreneur I follow — Chris Brogan — chooses 3 words every year. For 2012, he chose Practice as one of his words and described the meaning far better than I can:

Practice is the building block of all habits. But I just realized something. You might think I mean “practice” as if that’s separate from doing.

Practice is the path. Practice is what you do every time, not just before the “real” thing. Practice is the choice to adopt the lifestyle, the way, the path of what you intend to be.

Because the secret is that there are those who “do” and those who “are.” If you “train for a marathon,” you might complete a marathon. If you “become a runner,” you will run as many marathons as you’d like.

When you go beyond “do” and into “be,” that’s because you’ve chosen a practice and not a destination.

The practice is the reward. The practice is the reward. Practice means that I will remember to do DAILY what needs doing. I will look at all of my larger efforts in life as the results of the work I accomplish through practice. I can’t be a sharp sword if I stay in the scabbard all the time. My days will be geared around practice. I refuse to just “wing it” in any aspects of my life any longer. And when I say that, I don’t mean that I’ll not allow for serendipity or leisure, but instead, that I will be much more mindful of how I can accomplish what needs doing, and that I will work towards those goals and interests in a way that affords me more success.

 I love it. That is exactly what I need right now. That’s what I mean when I say I wasn’t ready January 1, 2012 when I first heard it (I was still at the day-job then), but I *totally* am now.

Now — 2015 — I feel like I have finally shaken off all the baggage and crud from having a full-time day job that made me miserable. I feel like I am ready to start again with a new foundation and build my work and income (and practice) from the bottom up. Taking 2014 ‘off’ from launching new L&R products is a big part of that and now I have a clean slate.

I’m ready to actually identify myself as a writer and publish finished novels. Move beyond ‘do’ into ‘be’ … I love how much this word means DO. Look at the synonyms in the image up there: execution, use, implementation. All focus on doing. Actually doing it, and not just planning to do it.

The word PRACTICE ties in with my 2 biggest goals for the year — write fiction every day (and publish it regularly) and get into shape.

I have everything I need to write (just gotta get my head in the right space), and I bought myself a Fitbit a couple weeks ago to track my steps and be the constant reminder that I have been sitting for too long.

Lucky me — Elise’s Make29 product for December was perfect for these goals! I logged on too late to get a letterpress one, but I bought the digital download and promptly printed myself off one (and then my printer ran out of ink).

 December  001 (1)

That’s where I’m going to start. 1000 words written (and I’ll print up another for 10,000 steps taken). Considering I don’t yet do either of these every day it’s enough to start with, but I’m hoping by the end of the year I will have a higher word count and other daily/weekly practices.

I also want to work on improving my chosen PRACTICE (read: career) and read at least one writing-craft book each month.

Results are the external proof of practice. If I can write at least 1000 words every day, that’s probably 2 books a year. If I can walk 10,000 steps each day, that will burn about 4x more calories than I am doing now. I want to get into the practice of taking care of my backyard (I forget to water vegetables) so we have a lovely place to hang out. I want to get into the practice of a better-structured promotional calendar for L&R, so new readers can easily find my old offerings.

There are lots of ways to take this, and I love the long stretch of 365 to feel my way through this word.

I’m ready to PRACTICE.

 What is your word for 2015?

P.S. One Little Word word choice and discussions from my friends Megan, Elise, and Ali. I hope you find your word!

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Resources for setting and reaching goals

It’s that day! The first of January. Fresh start, new beginnings, and goal setting! I love using January first as an excuse to reset and visualize how the coming 12 months will play out …. Here are some great resources I’ve found for setting and reaching your goals:

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