A lot of people have asked me to write up my experiences as my books keep gaining more traction, continually selling despite establishment publishing being vocally opposed to me, and my main novels being in a very niche genre (YA Steampunk). How does it all keep going and what do I do to make it work?
The answer is pretty complex, and something I spend hours every day working on in addition to writing, but the truth is, it starts with mindset.
Mindset Is Life
Mindset is the way you think about a circumstance, problem, even existing. Do you wake up in the morning energized, ready to tackle the day and accomplish or do you dread waking up, drag your feet for hours before ever getting to work? Most of us are somewhere in between, and we have good and bad days, but either way, our mindset is what makes our day and colors the outcome because we project what we expect the outcome to be on our situations.
My life changed when I started focusing on my mindset, because while I can’t control the outside world, I can control how I react to it to an extent. That’s not to say I don’t get depressed or down, but I do everything in my power to limit those times where I’m not as a productive in order to push myself ahead as an author and as a person.
You’re probably thinking: okay, how does this apply to writing and the writing business? It all interconnects. If we’re working out, eating right, feeling good and energetic about our lives, we’ll be able to produce more and better work. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Detractors From Healthy Mindset
The problem is, there’s always something we can focus on that’s “wrong” to eat up our focus and torpedo our efforts to stay in a good place. The world is an unhealthy place and there’s a lot of different things that can get in our way if we let them:
- The News
- The Internet
- Social Media
- Depressing Music
- Dark TV Shows and TV in General
- Fighting with a colleague
- Drinking too much
- Bad eating habits
- Sedentary lifestyle
The list can go on and on, but these are big ones I’ve noticed seem to impact the majority of people in their work and mindset, myself included. The News and Social Media I think are the primary downers for people today. Everything is an outrage in our culture, everything is something to be shocked about, be depressed about, and it’s all designed to say “you can’t make a difference.”
It’s all a lie. You can make a difference. Just working to better yourself means you’re making a difference in both your life, and the people around you who benefit from your better mindset.
Commitments vs. Distractions
I once was told that everything in life is either a commitment or a distraction, there’s no in between.
Commitments are things you do to benefit yourself and others, real work meant to accomplish something–and often you’ve got commitments that you don’t necessarily want to do or feel like doing all the time, but you do them because you know they’re the right things to do.
Contrast with distractions. A lot of them are already listed in the unhealthy mindset side of things, but we can distract ourselves with anything. Even reading a book can be a distraction from what we’re supposed to be doing.
The key to having a winning mindset is keep yourself committed, keep yourself working, and limit your distractions. If you can do these things, you’re on a big step to a mindset victory, and that will help color your writing career.
The Beginning Indie Author Mindset
Writers are all about getting distracted. How many of us do you see posting to Twitter and Facebook ALL DAY? I’m guilty of this from time to time, and the truth is, most of the time I’m just using it as I’m dragging my feet writing a scene or my words for the day because I’m not in the mood to be creative. At least that’s what I tell myself. It’s really because I’m being lazy and don’t want to put in work, but writing is work. If you want to succeed at this, you need to treat it like a real job just like anything else. You can’t just not show up day after day to your work and get things done (or still have the job), focus and commitment is everything.
The distractions never help us get ahead. And that’s why we have to make them go away.
It takes a lot of dedication and time to be able to force yourself into the proper author mindset. It’s not an overnight process, but it begins with making yourself a big commitment: write every day.
That means turn off the internet, maybe even set a timer for yourself, but make sure you write something every day. Do this for at least 21 consecutive days without taking a break and you’ll make a habit out of it. Once you’ve got in the habit, you’ll find it’s hard to not write every day. Just do it, as a certain sports brand says.
Don’t worry about what you write.
Don’t wait for an idea to be perfect or workshop the ideas with a lot of other writers.
Get in that mindset of writing every day as a habit first before anything else. It’s the most crucial piece of advice out there because if you’re not writing like a job, you can’t win at the job.
I’ll be back again tomorrow for part 2, but for now, if you’re interested in what I produce, go check out my fiction. I’ve got a lot to choose from but I’ve got a new release Make Science Fiction Fun Again which is a nice compilation of short stories that came from my ramping up my writing to where I’m doing a lot of work every day. Check it out here if you enjoy great science fiction.