“The problem is not the problem.
The problem is your attitude about the problem.”
Captain Jack Sparrow, Pirates of the Caribbean
(Official entry: Damn Fine Words Contest)
My life changed on April 4, 2014.
Correction: it didn’t change—it was transformed by two events.
The first event was the epiphany I gained by reading the following post by James Chartrand:
In this must-read post, James says that writing practice is essential but not enough to be a successful professional writer.
She goes on to define the Four Secret Keys of a Successful Writing Habit:
Key #1: Specific, writing-centric goals:
According to James, “If you want to make money with words, you need to constantly set, work towards and achieve specific writing goals.”
Repeatedly; day after day, week after week.
Key #2: Community
Spending time with other writers, exchanging notes and critiques and gaining mutual support is crucial for success as a writer. Most writers try to go it alone and wonder why it’s such an uphill struggle.
James echoes the words of the Buddha who taught that noble companionship is indispensable for spiritual progress.
Key #3: Accountability
All successful writers know that writing is hard work. To succeed as a writer, you need to be disciplined, diligent, patient and persistent.
However, you can’t do it alone. You need an accountability buddy.
But your accountability buddy should be someone who sets high standards for your success and makes sure you stick to them. Otherwise, it just won’t work.
If you want a top-notch professional accountability coach, check out this free video course – Commit Action.
(You have to opt in but it’s totally worth it.)
Key #4: a Mentor
Most writers (and that included me before I read this article) don’t realize that success is impossible without a mentor. You have to select your mentor with care. So how do you choose your mentor?
James says that a few minutes of conversation with your mentor should create more direction, clarity and progress for you than weeks of even the best comradeship with a mediocre teacher. (More on this, later.)
James stresses that all these four keys—specific goals, community, accountability and mentorship—are essential if you want to progress from a wannabe amateur to a successful professional writer. Miss one and you will probably find yourself forever in permanent aspiring writer hell.
The second life-transforming event:
This was great but the real game-changer happened because of an online conversation with James in the comments section of the above post.
It demonstrates the essence of effective mentorship.
Read it – her advice can be applied by any and all writers – it’s super-distilled wisdom. (I read it regularly.)
Free mentorship session with James:
In response to my initial comment about how I planned to implement the four success keys, James asked:
“If you could pick three long-term goals (6 months tops) right now, what three would they be?
And if you could break those long-term goals down into bite-sized, 15-minute actionable tasks… what would you choose to work on right now, today?”
I listed my three long-term goals for the next six months:
1. Publish six e-books on Kindle, Smashwords, etc. – one every month
2. Send 60 queries to blogs / publications – 10 every month
3. Develop my blog and email list – try to reach the magic figure of 1000 subscribers in six months.
(4. Join DFW.)
“Looking at that list of goals and thinking about a six-month period to accomplish all that within… well, if someone handed me that list and said, “Go, James!” I’d either cry or have to clear the decks of everything in my life to work 80-hour weeks. (And then I’d cry.)
I’m VERY big on SMART goals: specific, manageable, action-oriented, realistic and time-based – and I think the realistic one is falling a bit short.
But I know that if you were to break these tasks down into 15-minute action steps, you’d quickly see that for yourself – the list of ALL that you have to do to achieve this would show you right away that it’s not very feasible.
So were this ME, I’d try for this:
1) 1 ebook – drafted and edited, ready to publish by the six-month mark
2) Send 1 query a week for 6 months
3) Strategize a plan to add new subscribers to the blog
But that’s just me.”
Her reply made me realize that my goals were too ambitious.
So I decided to focus on publishing six Kindle books on Amazon.
Five months later, here they are:
- How Merry Jones Married Princess Mercy
- Prince Merrifix and the Two Wizards
- The Secret of the Black Knight
- Kosey and the Four Tigers
- The Secret of the King’s New Clothes
- How Lucky Max Defeated Two Giants and a Dragon
To understand the significance of this achievement, you have to know how much I have struggled to write and publish anything over the past few years.
One of my earlier posts written in 2012 describes how I almost gave up writing:
(It was also my first entry for the Damn Fine Words contest.) (:-)
To conclude, if a couple of short messages from James can make such a huge difference, you can imagine what I can achieve if I joined the Damn Fine Words course.
It is a 10-week online copywriting course with 6 modules and 20 lessons where I’ll learn specific writing techniques in a logical, progressive order—with a group of other highly motivated writers.
Most importantly, it includes mentorship from James, the founder, creator and course instructor of Damn Fine Words.
And life is going to be exceedingly sweet.
Thanks for reading, James.
Over to you:
Who is your mentor and what is the best advice you have ever received from her / him?
Let us know in the comments below.
The Damn Fine Words Writing Contest for the February session is now open.
First prize is a full scholarship to the February 2015 session of Damn Fine Words (retail value $1,599). The runner-up will win a 50% scholarship applicable to their registration for the February session. For more details, click here: Damn Fine Words Writing Contest.
(NB Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.)