Writing endeavors are fun.
Every time I start writing a new story, I get that same sense of excitement that comes with waking up before dawn and grabbing my suitcases to head to an early morning flight.
Why have I always flown out in the early morning? I don't know. Maybe flights are cheaper when they depart at 4 and 5 a.m.
But that's not what we're focusing on here, we're focusing on the excitement of writing a new story.
Oh my gosh, it's so much fun!
But at the same time, it's a little scary because who knows how this thing is even going to turn out and if it'll break your heart a little as it teaches you more about yourself- because if there's one thing you've learned over the years, it's that every time you write a story, you delve a little deeper into your subconscious.
So, there's all of that going through your mind and it's exhausting because you also have the story to deal with, in addition to the 'how to market/advertise this book' aspect of it all.
How does a writer get through all of this?
Thankfully, three qualities that you already have come to the rescue: Imagination, the ability to pivot, and confidence in your abilities.
Let's take a quick peek at how those qualities become your own, personal superheroes when you need rescuing.
Your creativity helps you out when you get stuck on chapter seven and feel like giving up. Instead of throwing in the towel when writer's block or writing burnout creeps into your wellspring of ideas, you go for a walk or watch a movie or talk to a buddy.
Suddenly, imagination is poking you in the ribs and whispering, "Hey, see that squirrel that just ran by? Use that image to begin Chapter Seven," or "See how your friend just laughed at that joke you made? Use that joke to breathe life into Chapter Seven's boring dialogue."
Imagination bails you out when you hit those creative dry spots.
It also helps you when it comes to marketing and advertising. Unless you're very wealthy, this aspect of working as an indie author is incredibly challenging. But your imagination helps you think of ways to raise money for advertising expenses and to think of cost-free ways to promote your book.
The ability to pivot
When something in your story isn't quite right, instead of stubbornly sticking to an idea that doesn't work, you adapt.
Your humility, or the ability to pivot allows you to do this.
It also allows you to accept criticism from critique partners who may be younger and less experienced than you but who point out flaws in your writing.
It can even serve as armor when editors who might not have the best delivery show you "what's wrong with your writing" or point out a few places where your manuscript needs improving.
Instead of shouting at these people for pointing out your mistakes, you accept their feedback and decide how you can apply their suggestions.
When it comes to marketing and advertising, you may realize that you've been less than successful because you've been advertising to the wrong audience. So, once again, you pivot.
In the long run, this ability really comes in handy.
Confidence in your abilities
Okay. I'll be very honest here. I am NOT a confident person. At all.
But when it comes to things I want to do because I enjoy doing them -things like writing and publishing books- I become very focused, which allows me to sincerely say, "I CAN do this thing."
So, for me (and perhaps for other writers who battle with low-self esteem) it isn't necessarily self-confidence that drives us towards our goals, it's that we just really, really love this one thing and that love for writing propels us forward no matter what obstacles come our way.
For people who naturally have confidence in their abilities, this beautiful quality allows them to do exactly the same thing. They accomplish what's nearly impossible because where other people see barriers, they see possibilities.
These are the people who start with $0, become indie authors, and eventually turn $0 into millions thanks to their writing endeavors.
So, imagination, the ability to pivot, and confidence in our abilities can help us get through the many challenging moments that appear along the path to our writing goals.
Are there any other qualities you've found helpful to your creative projects?
2 qualities of a true friend
There's nothing better than a good friend.
On a bad day, they're on hand to listen, ply you with chocolate and hugs, and make everything okay.
But what if you're in need of a good friend?
What qualities can you be on the lookout for to identify someone you can trust?
There are many, but two key qualities are analyzed below.
True friends are loyal
If you find yourself around a pleasant person who is consistently supportive of loved ones and acquaintances, this may be due to their loyalty.
Personally, I've always admired people who go to bat for and defend their friends even when said friends aren't present.
For example, I have a friend who is very close to her parents.
Of course, they don't agree on everything, but she and her parents are truly friends.
I've been around her when someone says something negative about one of her parents, even jokingly.
She, very politely and without aggression, will always say something positive about her parents in return.
She is loyal.
This is the kind of friend that I'd like to be and it's the sort of friend I enjoy being around.
Spending time with someone who is loyal makes you feel secure.
You know the things you tell them will stay with them and that they're choosing to keep you close because they truly value you. This contributes to your self-esteem and confidence.
You easily see that their loyalty to you comes, not from some cold feeling of responsibility they begrudingly carry out, but from their love and appreciation for you as a person.
It makes you want to be loyal to them in return.
True friends respect you
The word "love" is thrown around a lot.
"I love that jacket!" "I love your hair!"... "I love you."
But sometimes, when it comes to loving another person, we forget that love involves respect.
In my home state of Louisiana, domestic abuse is a huge problem.
In addition to the many cases of beatings and attempted murders that are related to domestic abuse, local media outlets say that in 2021, at least 61 homicides related to domestic violence occurred. Many of the victims were women, as Louisiana is one of the leading U.S. states when it comes to men killing women.
I bring this up because in many of these incidents of domestic violence, the abuser will say they "love" the person they abuse.
They often mean this sincerely.
But they hurt them, physically and emotionally.
So, how is this love?
It's a dilapidated form of love, like a "house" that's so damaged it's not even a house anymore, it's a blighted building.
This is because their love lacks respect.
So, is it love?
True love involves holding someone in esteem, regarding them as valuable, which fuels a person's every decision when it comes to how they treat this individual. Because they value this individual's perspective, ideas, and their very presence- they always treat them with respect.
So, a good friend will treat the people they care for with such respect.
What does respect look like?
It means speaking well of someone even when they're not present, it means listening to someone with the aim of understanding their perspective and perhaps even learning from them, it means deferring to them during an argument or peacefully agreeing to disagree.
To be honest, as I write this, I realize I could be a much better friend to the lovely people in my life, because they deserve more loyalty and respect.
This may seem like a random post, and really, it is lol.
But sometimes it's helpful to reflect on these things and assess ourselves as well as the people we've allowed into our lives and hearts.
It helps us to see if we're headed in the right direction or if we need to regroup and change our path.
Thanks for stopping by the blog!
And if you have any thoughts on the subject of what qualities make a good friend, please feel free to share them in the comments section below, or on the comments section of the YouTube video above!
What does friendship mean to you?
Do you think that the idea of 'friendship' is a singular universal concept, or that 'friendship' can mean different things to different people?
The older I get, the more I suspect that friendship doesn't mean the same thing to everyone, just like love doesn't mean the same thing to everyone.
Some people think of friends as commodities to keep on hand for various seasons. They're sort of like the clothing we keep in our closets, we like what we've selected and we wear what's appropriate depending on the season and weather.
The same is true of friends who we select for days when we want to quietly watch a movie with someone who's shy and chill or nights when we want to go out with other friends who are full of energy and always ready to do something fun. These individuals tend to have a lot of friends.
There are other people who view friendships as something akin to romance. They fall in love with all of their friends, not in a sexual way, but in a way that engenders a deep respect and appreciation for this person they choose to invite into their life. These individuals typically have a few close friends.
I fall into the latter category, and this is reflected in the way I write stories about friendship. They're almost like romance novels because the connections between the friends is incredibly strong.
I used to think everyone felt this way about friendship, but now I believe that most people fall into the other category and friends are, not necessarily disposable, but the connection isn't as strong and the conversations aren't as deep, and this means it's easier to let go and move on.
But maybe that's a good thing. Maybe it's a more cautious way of testing the waters of friendship to see if someone deserves your heart, instead of simply handing it over.
The older you get, the more life gives you to think about.
What do you think about friendship? Which category do you fall into? Or, are there other categories that I'm missing? Probably. If you feel like it, leave a comment to let me know!
Reaching Goals- 3 tips
Do you have an "Idea Folder" on your laptop or phone?
Or maybe you're like me and have far too many sticky notes lying around with ideas written on them.
If that's the case, it's likely you're a goal-oriented person, meaning you get an energy boost every time you set a goal.
Daydreaming about goals is fun, but sometimes, the process of actually achieving them can feel cumbersome, or even impossible.
If that seems to be the case with the majority of goals you set, what can you do to overcome whatever it is that's stopping you from carrying out your plans?
The three steps below may be helpful in this regard.
Plan, plan, plan
What to do: Once you've set a goal, the next thing to do is plan how you're going to achieve it. For me, this means breaking my plans down into daily action-items that aren't too difficult. For example, if I'm trying to write a 300-paged novel, I might set the goal of writing one paragraph every day. Or, on days when I'm super busy my daily goal will become even more doable by becoming "Write one sentence today." Seriously, one sentence. Because that's doable.
So, even if you have to plan ahead for the next year, and literally write out a daily to-do list for the next year, it's worth it if it'll help you move closer and closer towards your goal.
What not to do: Where I often go wrong with this step is overburdening myself with unrealistic daily goals. For example, I might set a daily goal of writing 20 pages of my novel every single day for three weeks straight. That's not realistic considering my physical limitations and the fact that I have a day job. When I set unrealistic daily goals, I can't achieve them, which discourages me and makes me feel like I can't achieve the big, long-term goal. So, don't be like me! Set realistic and achievable daily goals!
What to do: Find someone who has achieved the goal you're looking to meet (or a similar goal) and learn what they did to be successful in carrying out their plans. You might find this person among family/friends, on YouTube, Instagram, or perhaps they're even a celebrity. Thanks to google, social media, and podcasts like How I Built This, it's easier than ever to find out exactly what steps people have taken to achieve their success.
So, find someone who inspires you and learn from them! This way, when you face a moment of self-doubt, you can think of this person and how they pushed through similar moments of self-doubt. This may give you the motivation to keep moving forward.
What not to do: We may hear the phrase, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," from time to time and it's probably true. But does imitating someone else really help us to find joy in reaching our goals? Not necessarily. There's a difference between admiring someone as we use their example as a source of inspiration and idolizing someone as we imitate them as much as possible. No one is perfect and it can be self-defeating to put someone on a pedestal as if they're perfect and try to copy their every move. It's much better to see people as they are- beautiful yet flawed, take what we can learn from their experiences and apply them to our own personality, our own vision/perception of life. If I'm so busy copying someone else that I mute my own personality, I won't find joy in life. I won't even know myself. And that's just sad. It's almost like self-brain-washing or something.
So, while it's helpful to be inspired by the great people in this world, it's important to remember that it's likely they've made some missteps along their path to success, and these are habits that we don't want to emulate.
What to do: Every single day, follow the daily 'to do' list you've created for yourself to help you reach your goals. And if you have a setback, don't get discouraged and give up. Remember that by following tomorrow's plans you can get back on track! So, keep following your plans, one little step at a time, until you reach your goal!
What not to do: Don't overthink it. Don't get to week three of your step-by-step plan and say to yourself, "Can I really do this? I think I might need to give up." That's fear talking, it's trying to get you to overthink everything and throw in the towel. Shut it down by ignoring it and pushing forward!
I hope you're able to find success in reaching your goals.
And if you'd like to share what your goals are, please do! You can leave them in the comments section of this post!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my ramblings!
Let's say I wrote a novel that featured three male characters and eight female characters. All three of the male characters are unintelligent, domineering, and physically abusive to women.
At the other end of the spectrum are the eight female characters, who are all intelligent, sensibly humble, and skilled at resolving problems with open communication instead of with their fists.
I hope that if I wrote a novel like this, it would be absolutely eviscerated in Amazon's 'review' section.
Stereotyping men by consistently featuring them in a negative light is completely unfair.
And sadly, that's exactly what a lot of Hollywood's White male screenwriters constantly do to women.
How often do we watch movies that feature an abundance of significant male characters, all of whom have an appropriate variety of personality types while the comparatively small number of featured female characters are basically all the same person? The women are ALL nagging, screaming, intuitive yet completely illogical, and have a tendency to scream phrases such as, "Be a man! Do something!"
It's as if these screenwriters have only one mindset when it comes to writing female characters- the women must be sexy yet HIGHLY annoying.
But that's not what women are like in real life.
Most of us don't nag or scream at men for no reason.
In fact, in many cases, the opposite is true.
A lot of us are trained to be overpolite and put up with abuse, meaning we often let the men in our lives do terrible things to us because we think this is okay.
So, yeah, maybe when we reach our breaking point, we might lose it and scream. But we don't just walk around yelling and demanding to be treated like royalty. Sadly, that's typically how we're portrayed in movies written by Hollywood's most adored White male screenwriters.
And then there's the case of the 'Black woman' character who these men feel obligated to add to their movies as a sort of comic relief.
The Black woman is never a main character. She typically works in the service industry. Perhaps she's a nanny, a waitress, or a salesclerk of some sort. That said, this character has the attitude of an esteemed Duchess. Completely narcissistic, despite the fact that she's laughably unattractive, this loud and angry character has a tendency to roll her eyes at everything the White characters say.
And at some point, she will roll her eyes and mumble, "White people," under her breath in a way that is supposed to be funny.
I always feel bad for the actresses who have to play this role. Because they're so talented, but they repeatedly get stuck in roles like that. (Until they get on Shonda Rhimes' radar and end up with a more realistic character in a production that's actually decent)
I also feel bad for myself and for other Black women in the audience when I'm watching movies like this because they subconsciously tell us that this is how the average man views us- they see the color of our skin and immediately expect us to be unpleasant.
Of course, not every White male writer in Hollywood is doling out screenplays with these stereotypes.
Some of the talented writers who do an excellent job in portraying female characters are J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, and Michael Schur. It's usually pretty refreshing to watch their productions, because I know that whatever movie or television show they're behind will include people who look like me and who aren't stereotypes.
Hopefully one day, more writers will be like those guys.
Too tired to sleep
This is a post that probably no one will read, and that's a good thing.
Right now, it's 2:27 a.m. and I'm too tired to go to sleep.
That's the way it is lately. I'm too tired to do all of the things that lead up to sleep.
Cleaning up, taking the garbage out, taking my insulin, the list goes on...
So, what do I do instead?
I write, of course. I write stories that hardly anyone reads, and that are probably incredibly stupid because in addition to being a sucky writer, it's also 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. in the morning and I'm writing with either incredibly high or incredibly low blood sugar.
Also, there's COVID. Just had it, still feel like it's lingering.
And there's this new job I have, where even though I was literally delirious with a fever I didn't have any sick days, so I couldn't take any days off from work. So, I wrote news articles (none of which probably made any sense) from home while trying not to die from coughing and from freezing cold even though my apartment was like 100 degrees.
There are other problems too, which are too depressing to recount.
Essentially, 2022 has been another horrible year and I have a feeling 2023 will be even worse.
I wish I could jump into the books I read and write and live there for a while. In books, genuine kindness and love exist alongside happily ever afters. That's why I spend so much time writing (and reading). It's nice to be in a pleasant world, even if it's fictional and even if I can only be there for a few hours a day.
Well, guess I should bite the bullet and take the garbage out now.
When you're a writer who longs to share your stories with readers, there are few things better than seeing your novel in print.
That said, the road to becoming a published author is riddled with obstacles that can seem daunting. This is especially true when you don't have loads of money to spend on editors, graphic designers, book formatters, and marketing/advertising.
So, if you're on a strict budget and you want to become a self-published author, how can you navigate the challenges and achieve your publishing goals?
Listed below are seven basic steps that may help.
Write the first draft of your novel without criticism or excessive editing
When it comes to writing the first draft of your novel, the goal is to get it all down on paper.
Sometimes we may think that the goal is to write a nearly perfect book on the first try.
That's what I used to think. But I was so wrong!
Trying to perfect the first draft can lead to excessive editing, second-guessing our gut intuitions about the novel's plot, and basically wasting time that could be used completing the book.
So, the thing to keep in mind is that the first draft of your novel does not need to be perfect, it only needs to be completed. Just write the book!
After writing the second draft, reach out to A TON of critique partners
Here's the part where sticking to a budget comes into play.
After writing the second draft of your novel, if you have the money, it's a great idea to hire an editor to comb through your novel and point out plot holes, grammar errors, as well as adjustments that can be made to character development and world building.
But if you don't have the funds to spend on an editor, the next best thing is to join several Writing Critique Groups on Facebook and request in-depth critiques from at least five of your fellow writers in these groups.
Be honest, and let your colleagues know that you can't afford an editor and you need some assistance in getting your manuscript in shape. Many writers will be empathetic and kind enough to take your request seriously and provide you with an extensive critique.
To be kind in return, you might want to offer to critique their manuscripts- that's what I've done in the past and it's helped to establish years-long relationships with a number of amazing authors!
So, the point here is to find at least five Critique Partners and politely request that they edit your manuscript as thoroughly as they can.
Begin posting daily (or weekly) updates about your writing journey on social media
At this point, it's time to begin marketing/editing your novel, even though it is still a work-in-progress!
Instead of paying for commercials or hiring a marketing/advertising team to help you get the word out about your novel, you can begin advertising it right now by leveraging free social media platforms.
Every day (or every week if you're not all that crazy about social media), post some sort of update about the chapter you're editing or about why you've embarked on this writing journey, or about the challenges and joys you're encountering during your writing process.
These updates can be posted on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. Fortunately, each of these social media platforms have amazing writing communities! So, you may want to use that hashtag (#writingcommunity) on each post to get the attention of fellow writers.
Once other writers see your posts and feel a connection with you, they may reach out to commiserate with and encourage you during your journey. And, because writers also LOVE to read, it's likely that once your novel is published, they'll purchase it because they feel like they know you!
So, advertise by building authentic connections with writers and potential readers on social media.
And start doing this before your novel is even completed!
After editing your manuscript based on notes from Critique Partners, seek out Beta Readers
This is a step I often skip, and it's exactly why many of my novels have spelling errors. So, don't be like me and please, please, please follow this advice!
To make sure you haven't missed any grammar/spelling mistakes and major plot holes, after you've re-edited your novel based on notes from your many Critique Partners, it's time to hand your manuscript over to Beta Readers for yet another critique.
Now, this will not be an in-depth critique, because Beta Readers are not typically experienced writers- they are people who love to read. Their job is to read your manuscript and let you know what they liked and didn't like about it.
One of the best places to find Beta Readers is in Facebook Groups. Just go to "search" and type in 'Beta Readers,' and you should see a list of Beta Reader groups to choose from.
After joining a few groups, it may be a good idea to find three to five Beta Readers for your book, and once you get their critiques back about your book, make adjustments to your novel as you see fit.
Look for cover art on sites like Pixabay and request feedback from fellow writers
Once your manuscript is complete, the next step would be to hire a graphic designer/illustrator to create your book's cover art.
But, if you're like me and you don't have the money for that at the moment, your next best bet is to go to sites that have royalty free art that anyone can use for anything without getting sued and choose a picture for your book cover.
Some of these sites are:
After finding a picture that you like, use either Photoshop or a free tool like Microsoft Paint to add the title and author's name (your name!) to the image so that it looks like a proper book cover. (Remember to save your image as a JPEG.)
If you're like me and you don't have access to Microsoft tools on your personal laptop or device, a public library typically has what you need.
Your next step is to return to your Writing Groups on Facebook and share a picture of the image you've created and ask for feedback.
It's likely that the image won't be perfect on your first try. That's totally fine, because that's what feedback is for!
So, take the suggestions you're offered and work to make the image as appealing as possible.
Use Microsoft Word to format your novel so that it meets up with Amazon's publishing standards
Now that your novel is nearly ready to meet the public, you have to make sure it's formatted in a way that will allow Amazon to publish it as an eBook and/or hard copy via the company's print-on-demand option.
One of the easiest ways to achieve this is to copy your manuscript into Microsoft Word and then follow Amazon's formatting instructions, which can be found at the links below.
Click here for Amazon's eBook formatting instructions
Click here for Amazon's formatting instructions for physical books
To be honest, this is one of the most difficult steps for me and it typically takes about four hours for me to format manuscripts for both the eBook and physical copy versions. I've found that the eBook is a bit easier to format than the physical copy version.
That said, you can do it! Just set aside plenty of time and follow Amazon's instructions as closely as possible. It's also helpful to refer to YouTube videos created by other authors who've successfully formatted their novels.
Once your novel is published, hold a book signing
Once your novel is published, ask a local bakery, coffee shop, or small book store if you can hold a brief book signing on their premises.
You will need to purchase some of your books so that you can sell them at the book signing. But, you don't have to break the bank to do this.
It may be helpful to purchase at least 15 copies of your book and then create several signs (by "signs" I mean regular, inexpensive printer paper) with QR codes that will lead people to your book on Amazon, where they can purchase it on their phones.
This way, you don't need very many books on hand, you just need to encourage people to scan the QR code with their phone and purchase your book that way.
It may be helpful to also have other things on your table to make readers feel appreciated. You can go to a Dollar Store and purchase mints, small notebooks that people can take for free, or even greeting cards that you can sign with personalized messages and give to readers who purchase your books using the QR code.
This book signing will take some planning and it will possibly cost about $200 to set up, including the cost of purchasing your books, a folding table, a tablecloth, printing out signs with QR codes, and purchasing trinkets to give out for free.
That said, if 15-20 people purchase your book, you just may rack up even more than $200 by the end of the book signing.
To ensure as much success as possible, it would be a good idea to advertise the book signing on social media in the two weeks leading up to the event.
On the day of, you can even live stream the event on Facebook or YouTube to turn it into a hybrid virtual event for those who can't attend in person. These individuals can still participate by posting a quick "Hello" and purchasing your books online.
Those are a few tips that have helped me while self-publishing on a strict budget.
If you have any other suggestions, they are more than welcome! So, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below!
Thanks so much for stopping by to read my ramblings!
For nearly 25 years, I've been in a wide variety of work environments, some excellent and some less than stellar.
Many of the people and companies that I've worked for have been amazing. But there were other experiences that left me contemplating the merits of starting my own business and never working for a "supervisor" ever again- which is actually something I'm still considering, to be honest.
In any case, because of those experiences, I thought it might be healthy to highlight five symptoms of a work environment that is unhealthy and should be left in the dust as quickly as possible.
So, five of those symptoms are listed below. If there are others that I've failed to include, please feel free to leave them in the comments section!
A BOSS WHO VERBALLY ABUSES & DOWNGRADES EMPLOYEES
When you see your supervisor shout at, name-call, or snidely hurl disparaging remarks at co-workers, this is called verbal abuse.
Verbal abuse is never appropriate. Not at home, not at school, and most definitely not in the workplace.
I once worked in a place where our supervisor frequently singled out Black women like myself, openly referring to us and our work as, "lazy" and "stupid." He never did that to our male colleagues or to people of other races. Just the Black women, who were honestly incredibly hard-working despite the fact that we often had to also work two or three additional part-time jobs just to get by because we were often paid less than our colleagues of other races/genders.
In situations like that, where you or your co-workers are singled out and screamed at/targeted with obscene language and harassing remarks it can deal a huge blow to your self-esteem. It can make you question your value and worth.
That's what happened to me and to my other Black colleagues who I frequently found crying in the bathroom after they'd been belittled.
So, you have to protect yourself. That means, even if the job has a nice title or the pay is okay, it isn't worth the damage to your self-esteem. You can find "okay" pay at a place where you're valued. And you can start your own company and voila, your title becomes "CEO."
Some experts also suggest that if the verbal abuse or harassment persists, even after complaining to the HR department, it's best to contact a lawyer and discuss the possibility of suing your employer for failure to take reasonable measures to stop the abuse in the workplace.
But my suggestion, which may be less expensive/time-consuming, is to look for another job and get out of dodge.
The point is, if your supervisor screams at you, insults your intelligence, your looks, your race/gender, or work ethic, then it is time to GET OUT. The place is reeking of toxins.
Great communication means you know what your company's goal is and what you must do, step-by-step, to contribute to achieving this goal. It also means you feel free to contribute ideas to help facilitate such growth and the feedback you receive in relation to your suggestions is clear and understandable.
Working in a place like that leaves you with a good feeling! You usually know what your next step is, and when you don't it's no problem to simply ask because you know you'll receive reliable information that will point you in the right direction.
On the other hand, poor communication often involves leadership that does not define clear goals for the company. So, you're not quite sure what the company's long-term and short-term goals are.
In addition to this, your role and daily responsibilities are not clearly defined. You may have a title, but you soon realize that "Executive Assistant" at this particular job doesn't mean the same thing as "Executive Assistant" at most of the other companies where you've worked. So, every day, you find yourself wondering what you're supposed to be doing.
Poor communication can also be the result of leadership that initially provides a wealth of information about the company's goals and your role, but soon after changes its goals and the meaning of your role and then fails to inform you of the changes.
In such situations, you'll often find yourself working on projects that you were once advised to complete, but upon presenting the material, you're embarrassed to hear your supervisor ask, "Why did you work on this? This isn't what we asked for." When you, red-faced and ashamed, tell her that five days ago, you were asked to do exactly this, she says, "Well, that's not what we need because we actually need yada yada..." And "yada yada" is a brand new goal that is very different from the one you were initially given.
Usually, in such a work environment, where final decisions are never really "final" and tweaks/changes to goals are not communicated effectively to every member of the team- a situation like the one above will happen frequently.
And, sadly, it's likely that the employee who wasn't communicated to will get the brunt of the blame, even though the fault actually rests on the shoulders of those in leadership positions who didn't properly communicate their wishes.
When this frequently happens, it's a sign that the organization you're working for is disorganized. Unfortunately, this may indicate that the company's future is in jeopardy and to save yourself, you may need to jump ship.
Once you leave, you'll probably be amazed to find that the knot in your stomach that formed every time you presented the "wrong" material or wondered what on earth you were supposed to be doing is finally gone.
So, for the sake of your stomach- find a new job!
A SUPERVISOR WHO MICROMANAGES
Some of the most famous supervisors are known for having a vision of their own and being very hands-on leaders, but when it comes to hiring people, they only hire people who they respect and believe will be much better at their particular job than they themselves could ever be.
This trust that these great leaders have in their colleagues (because great leaders view employees, not as inferiors to be "managed," but as colleagues with whom they work alongside) fosters a mutual respect between the two individuals.
The person who's been hired to fulfill a role is eager to please their supervisor by doing what's asked of them and just as eager to share ideas that might contribute to their supervisor's vision.
Meanwhile, the person in the leadership role is just as happy to take these suggestions into serious consideration, and because they trust the person they've hired, more often than not, they give this individual the go-ahead when it comes to implementing new ideas.
Now, the opposite of this is a micromanaging boss. This person may struggle with anxiety and deep-seated feelings of insecurity which lead them to try to control everything around them, because control engenders a feeling of security that soothes their anxiety.
These feelings also cause them to worry about maintaining their position as "The Leader," which becomes increasingly important to them and often causes them to treat employees as inferiors, which is a way of boosting their own waning ego. Basically, they become workplace bullies.
Does the micromanager realize that their behavior has become similar to that of a bully? Usually, they don't, and usually it's all subconscious.
But their employees see it all. They often feel like there's no point in bringing new ideas to their supervisor, because their ideas will not really be considered.
On a good day, they might get an, "Oh, how interesting. Thank you," followed by radio silence, meaning the idea will never be brought up again.
Or, they'll get a long email/message indicating that they've overstepped by presenting an idea and that they should, "Stick to the plan" and "Stay in their place."
In addition to this, daily updates on simple tasks will be demanded and their work will be criticized with the diligence of an English teacher who hates children and has demanded that said children turn in a 20-paged essay on all of Charlotte Brontë's works. He's only assigned the paper so he can gleefully fill it with red marks, and similarly, the supervisor takes pleasure in highlighting every error in their employee's hard work.
Working for someone like this is soul-crushing. It makes you feel like no matter what you do or say, you'll never measure up.
This is the sort of job to immediately leave. No one should have to work for someone like this.
A LOT OF TIME IS WASTED
In a healthy workplace, meetings are frequent but typically brief, motivating, and straight-to-the-point. There may be the occasional meeting that runs long, but most of the time meetings are no more than thirty minutes to an hour and they end with the group feeling ready to take on their next task.
One sign that a workplace may be unhealthy is when meetings are frequently two hours or longer and they're full of arguments and off-topic conversations.
I was once in a meeting with a supervisor who had, on many occasions, slammed my ideas and told me to simply, "Do as I was told."
So, I shut down and during the meeting, I simply nodded and took some notes here and there, and just stayed quiet. I didn't want to cause any problems. And honestly, I was scared.
This same supervisor had also recently screamed at me and insulted my intelligence. I didn't have the energy to deal with round two, so I just wanted to shut up and get out of the meeting unscathed.
Well, that didn't happen.
During the meeting the supervisor began arguing with another employee. I just sat there while the argument went on and on. At one point, the supervisor turned to me and pointedly said something like, "I want EVERYONE to contribute. If you have something to say, please contribute."
Afraid and feeling very low, I just nodded.
But he kept pressing. So, finally I did contribute an idea.
After I said my piece, there was a solid eight seconds of silence and then he changed the subject as if I'd said nothing at all.
I felt like an idiot.
That meeting went on for at least two hours and it left me drained, with deflated self-esteem, and in need of chocolate and a nap. It was one of many similar meetings at that particular job.
A workplace that frequently holds long meetings that are full of arguments and off-subject topics is probably not the kind of place that truly fosters growth. It's likely an unhealthy environment that should be avoided at all costs.
FREQUENT LOW MORALE
If your workplace is the kind of environment where everyone seriously and deeply hates their job, then it may be time to get out of dodge.
A healthy workplace engenders enthusiasm and gratefulness.
I briefly experienced these positive vibes when I took a temporary job at an amazing company called CAA. One thing I'll always remember about that place is how happy we all were to be there!
The company took great care of all of us (even peons like me!) and made us feel appreciated. So, the feeling was mutual and nearly every week I'd hear someone say how lucky they felt to work at CAA.
That was years ago, and to this day I still miss that place.
That's the way a healthy company operates, and there are plenty of great organizations like that out there!
So, if you work in an office where there is no enthusiasm and high turn-over due to people hating the job and leaving it, maybe it's time for you to take the leap too!
Find something better, a place that'll make you say, "I'm so glad I work here!"
So, after being in the workforce for over 20 years those are five of the signs I've learned to look for that tell me I'm in a bad place and it's time to sneak out.
What about you? What kind of work experiences have you had, both good and bad?
When we invite readers into the worlds of our creation, we want them to become so engaged that they want nothing more but to keep turning page after page to see what happens next.
For that to happen, the main characters in our stories need to be realistic and relatable.
How can we achieve that?
There are many ways to accomplish this, but today we'll focus on two.
Write a backstory that's for your eyes only
One great way to create an engaging and realistic main character is to first of all, get to know them really well. I usually do this by creating a document that's separate from my manuscript and outline and is simply devoted to the main character's background. It involves details regarding:
And as a side note, I don't usually do this until after I've completed the first draft of my manuscript. I choose to do this because if I interrupt the writing of my first draft to do this, I'll become hyper-focused on the character's backstory and the manuscript will be left, untouched.
So, I prefer to get the first draft done, and then create the MC's backstory before jumping into edits of that manuscript. The fleshed out backstory will help me to edit the MC's reactions and behavior appropriately as I comb through the manuscript for aspects that need to be refined, completely rewritten, deleted, or added.
There may be temptation to add a lot of the backstory to the manuscript itself, but I'd advise against that as it can become a bit too much and weigh your book down with TMI. That's why I create a separate document for the MC's background and just keep it for myself as a reference guide.
Clarify and highlight the main character's motivation
The second step to ensuring that a main character is realistic and relatable is to highlight what they want.
When readers know exactly what a main character wants, this increases the reader's desire to stay with the story and find out whether or not the main character eventually gets what they want.
And, when it comes to highlighting the MC's motivation, sometimes we think we're highlighting it or that it's obvious to readers when in reality, their utmost goal is hidden behind lots of twists and turns within the plot. There's nothing wrong with twists and turns in a plot- in fact that's a very good thing!
But we writers need to make sure that the MC's motivation doesn't get lost amid the adventure.
How do we do this?
Well-known screenwriter, Shonda Rhimes, has a great trick at doing this.
In the thick of action, she always, always, always adds a scene in which one character approaches the MC and demands, "What do you want? Why are you doing this? What is it that you want?"
And then, there is a beautiful moment where the MC flat out says what their motivation is.
Sometimes they scream it in frustration, sometimes they say it while crying, or sometimes they whisper it.
But it's always a dramatic moment that pulls the viewer in and reminds them who this MC is at their very core and what it is that they ultimately want.
We fiction writers would do well to imitate this excellent writing habit of Ms. Rhimes' as we craft our own novels.
I hope those two writing tips come in handy and if you have any other suggestions on creating realistic and relatable main characters, please feel free to share in the comments section below!
When an author's self-publishing journey begins, they typically realize that they will face challenges.
But the thrill of sharing their imagination with the world far surpasses any trepidation they feel.
That's how I felt as I embarked on the self-publishing journey back in 2011.
Ten books later, there are two tips I would've given my younger writerly self back in 2011.
So, I'll share them here and hopefully some new writers will find them a bit helpful!
The Details Really Do Matter
If I'm writing a fantasy novel with an incredible plot that all my friends love, I might start to think, "I need to get this written and published SUPER fast so I can get it into the hands of readers! They're going to love it!"
While it's true that many readers love a great plot, it's also true that readers may get so annoyed by missteps in the details of the book's publication that they might refuse to even read it.
What are those overlooked details that might irritate would-be fans?
They may include:
1. Grammar and spelling mistakes in the book
2. Poorly designed cover art
3. Small plot holes that the author overlooked
As an easily distracted and highly impatient person, my first self-published book had a couple of the problems listed above, and I admit that even now I still struggle with the issues above because I get in too much of a rush to publish.
But rushing through a creative project is silly.
It's much more important to slow down, work with Critique Partners and/or Editors to comb through the book for spelling/grammar mistakes and plot holes, and to work with a talented graphic designer to create the book's cover art.
This takes time, meaning your book may take nine months or more to publish. But it'll be well worth the wait if it's in tip-top shape!
As previously mentioned, my first self-published book was a tragedy of a mess called, Finding Stories in The Rain (the book trailer is below).
Part of the problem with the book was that I was in such a rush to get it in print that I put the production of the book trailer ahead of actually sitting down and really combing through the manuscript for plot holes and grammar mistakes.
So, unfortunately, not only is Finding Stories in The Rain full of ridiculous storylines, but its spelling mistakes and grammar errors are absolutely horrific.
While I don't regret writing the book and working with a great crew to make the book trailer, I do regret my impatience throughout the process.
My impatience led to a shoddy final product.
That should NOT happen to you.
So, please don't make the same mistake I did. Instead, carefully edit your book and take your time in selecting cover art with an experienced graphic designer!
You Should Start Advertising Both Online & IRL Before Your Book Is Completed
Advertising doesn't have to cost money and it doesn't have to wait until a product is available.
In fact, because the market is saturated with authors hoping to get readers to purchase their books, one way to stand out is to begin making some noise online while you're in the thick of the writing process and as you're taking steps to edit, and then publish your book.
When I say that it's difficult to find readers, I'm not exaggerating. It's almost impossible.
But it doesn't have to be, if you leverage your Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter to find readers even before your book is published.
By providing weekly or even daily posts/video updates on how your writing/publishing process is coming along.
People who are on social media enjoy seeing what other real people are doing with their lives and how these projects make them feel.
So, take advantage of this and become a friend to the online community by inviting them into your writing process. Before you know it, you may have 1,000 YouTube subscribers and half of them may be eager to purchase your book on the very day that you publish it!
So, go ahead and use your online platforms to tell people all about the book you're in the process of writing!
In addition to becoming a writerly friend to the online community, it's also helpful to tell people in real life about your writing plans. This can be accomplished by joining a local writing group and sharing your progress with fellow writers. You may also want to attend and even volunteer to speak at local writing conferences.
Use these platforms to share your experiences as a new writer and what you're learning along the way, and to meet other writers who may be able to give you suggestions/tips, and who may want to purchase your book when it's completed.
And of course, telling friends and selected family members about your writing plans can also be beneficial when it comes to building readers and getting feedback on your ideas as you write.
So, as an author who has made far too many writing and publishing mistakes (and who will likely continue to make many more), I hope that sharing my stumbles with you will help you to avoid the same pitfalls!