Month: August 2012

When You Can’t Hack It As An Author

So this morning when I sat up in bed, I pulled a muscle between my shoulder blades. I probably slept wrong, or something, but this has happened to me before. I was literally in pain for four solid weeks. This time, it doesn’t feel as bad, but it’s still painful. I can’t move my head much. Bending over hurts. Even just sitting still hurts. I know from experience that nothing will help except time and rest. But, crap, I have things I have to get done! Oh, well. Pain or no pain, I’ll be writing today. I’m procrastinating at the moment, however, and just spent the last hour and a half browsing through blog links and reading things that make me feel like a terrible marketer, author, and person. You may be asking why, and I’ll tell you it’s because of noise. Constant noise on what we should be doing and not doing.

Elana Johnson wrote a really great post today about focusing on what you do well and letting yourself work productively because of it. After Elana’s post, I browsed around some other posts. There was one about how to write an effective blog post. There was one on how to use Twitter hashtags better. There was one on how often you should blog. The list goes on and on. Every post was effective and helpful, but after awhile, I started to panic.

I’M NOT DOING ANYTHING RIGHT!!!!!!

And this is why I don’t blog much anymore, why I avoid Twitter like the plague, and why I keep posting pictures on Facebook instead of actual status updates. I get into this spot where I feel like I’m doing everything wrong, people are judging me, or they’re annoyed I’m just trying to sell them something, or they think I’m full of myself, and on and on and on. And honestly, I think it’s because of all the posts out there telling me how to do things the right way. They all end up sounding like noise. If I don’t follow certain rules, my career will crumble before my eyes.

#1 – It’s a tough balance writing and selling a product so intimately tied with who you are.

#2 – It’s difficult figuring out what works for you and separating yourself from what everybody else says will work for you.

#3 – It takes a lot of courage to cut back on what feels absolutely necessary (social media) in order to take the time to work on what really matters — your writing.

#4 – It sucks feeling like you’ll never hack it, that you’ll never get to a place where you feel justified in the amount of time and energy you put into your work.

And because of all that, it’s so very, very easy to want to quit or disappear completely. Sometimes I wish I could delete everything I’ve ever put up online and just quietly slip away. But, yeah right. That would be the easy way to fix a problem that doesn’t even really exist. Instead, as Elana discussed in her post, it’s much better to focus on what you do well. So turn everything around and think of it all this way instead:

#1 – It’s an honor to write and sell a product so intimately tied with who you are. When you’re gone, your words — a part of YOU — will have outlasted your physical self.

#2 – It’s fun to find new ways to do things. Be unique. Blog how you want to blog, even if it doesn’t get you a million hits and followers, because nobody else can do it just like you.

#3 – The quiet, steady tortoise always finishes the race. Writing is hard. It should always come first in  your career, even if it feels like everyone else is racing on ahead of you in the social arena.

#4 – It’s exciting to feel like you’ll never hack it. Prove yourself wrong and just get out there and work hard. Be true to what you’ve decided to chase, and love that you get to do what you love to do. That, in itself, will justify it all.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Think Positive, 0 comments

Separating Productivity from Fear

Yoda spoke great wisdom when he said fear leads to the dark side. And while this is a “duh” moment for me, it’s also a moment of reflection and renewal. I am learning that fear is dangerous, but at the same time, a bit of fear can be used for good. Translating into my own words, here are a few things friends have said to me. These friends are as wise as Yoda:

Momentarily Fearing Your Writing is Not a Bad Thing

All it means when you think you suck is that you are 100% normal, and right where you need to be. Only a fool believes his writing is brilliant and solid and will please everyone who is graced with its mere presence. Believe in your writing. Go to sleep with your heart full of pride at the beautiful, insightful, and exciting things you write, but wake knowing you can improve it. And when it’s published, rest assured you have set down a piece of yourself that captures you in a way nothing else can. Do not wish to change it. And, most importantly, when you experiment and keep writing, your projects will fluctuate. You are not constantly improving, so to say, but expanding. (Thank you, Scott and Davin)

There is Freedom in Rejection

Rejection hurts and stings, but it is also freeing. Being forced off a path we think is right for us can help us see there are other paths to take, and that perhaps our brilliant work wasn’t quite ready for what we hoped. Or perhaps it simply doesn’t fit in a certain place. Allow yourself to open a door when a window is shut. You can fit more easily through a door, anyway.

Publishing is Like Any Other Huge Life Event … Just More Public

And, therefore, for people like me (an HSP, and very sensitive to such changes), even more difficult to deal with because it feels like EVERYONE IS WATCHING … and judging. I think it’s valuable advice to learn how to separate our public and private lives right off the bat. Caroline Starr Rose, a brilliant writer I’ve known for awhile, sent me the most beautiful emails yesterday and today, and also sent me a picture of a poster she keeps on her wall. She created the poster herself (designed by Jeff Fielder), from a series of posts she did awhile back concerning the public, private, and writing life of a debut author. Carolyn has given me permission to post a picture of her poster. Click to see it larger.

Navigating a Debut Year

So, as you can see, there is hope for authors struggling with the craziness of putting themselves out there. Being a writer and being an author are two separate things. Doing both is a big deal and obviously takes a lot of adjustment. Like separating wheat from the chaff, separating productivity from fear is a necessary step to fostering a happy writerly life.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Think Positive, 0 comments

Daily Dish Utah | My First Experience on TV

As I spoke about earlier, I was invited to interview on Utah’s Daily Dish show, hosted by Good Things Utah. Nicea and Brianne were wonderful hosts, and I felt at home and comfortable. Let me just say that I wasn’t so nervous to actually talk on television as I was about everything surrounding it. First of all, I was only given two days’ notice, and second, it’s in my nature to worry about little details when it’s something new. I worried about directions and driving and parking and getting into the right place. I worried about what to wear, how to do my hair, which jewelry to pick out, which shoes to put on, how I would answer the questions, etc. On and on. I honestly don’t know how news people do this every day! But then again, it’s not in my blood to just do this sort of thing as a career. But I suppose being an author, you have to have to have some level of comfort-zone with being in the public eye.

My dear friend, Alicia, offered to drive me to Salt Lake City to the news station building, and another friend offered to watch my daughter all morning. So a huge thanks to these two! My poor hubby had to work. I wish he could have been there.

All in all, this was an amazing experience and a wonderful opportunity not to pass up. I had the chance to talk about my work in a professional time and space, and I am honored to have done so. I don’t know if doing this will garner more sales, but that certainly isn’t why this was such a wonderful opportunity. I realized something important today during this interview—in the end, it does not matter what kind of “level” I see myself at in the publishing world, because I often see myself as inferior for so many reasons. But all that really matters was the two lovely hosts interviewing me were genuinely excited about my book and the story it tells.

My friend Alicia took me to a lovely bakery in downtown Salt Lake. I bought some cannolis, my favorite pastry. And we had some breakfast since I was not able to eat before the interview (I was too nervous!) It was an exciting morning and then a relaxing breakfast.

A huge thank you to ABC-4 and the hosts at The Daily Dish for interviewing me today!

To watch the interview, CLICK HERE.

Posted by Michelle D. Argyle in Books, The Breakaway, 0 comments