All Posts, Monday Mantra

Monday Mantra

I stumbled upon a quote yesterday and it really resonated with me and my current writing headspace:

“I don_t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.”

There is so much truth packed into this small collection of sentences. ❤

I am learning to stop waiting for the “right” mood or “right” time because I get far more accomplished when I just put butt to chair and pen to paper.

So, in an incredibly short post, I share with you my mantra for today: get down to work.

More to come tomorrow — stay tuned.

 

 

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Why I’m Letting Balance Take a Back Seat

I’m starting to really dislike the word balance. Anytime I log onto social media or turn on the TV, I’m slammed with this message of maintaining steadiness within my life in all areas.

Whether it’s work/life, work/family, or just an overall sense of balance, I feel like we are being inundated with the urge to find and sustain equilibrium in order to achieve stability and happiness in our lives. And it’s starting to place a typically positive idea in the shadow of a concept we are told to avoid: perfection.

I’m not saying they are synonymous, but this strive for balance I see so frequently is beginning to remind me of the painful strive for perfection that robs so many people of the joy and contentment they are working so hard to attain.

What happens when we aim for perfection and fall short? Many people crumble under the idea that they are failing, or push themselves harder at greater personal cost to try and avoid said failure.

So what happens, then, when we also aim for balance? Better question — what happens when we aim for balance, maybe not 100%, but close, and then spend our days battling to hit this goal? Do we feel better? Like we are settling for a more realistic version of perfection? Or are we just placing more stress on ourselves when that balance is thrown off? I know that when any one area in my life loses balance, it’s like a domino effect: the rest goes catawampus with it. And then chaos ensues…

The only saving grace is that balance for me looks different than balance does for you, or Jim, Jon, or Sally, but if we are trying to get to a comfortable sense of the word, we surely aren’t half-assing it, right? We are still working toward a goal and we know what the outcome needs to look like in order to feel accomplished.

I know that if I want balance, there is a mile-long list of tasks I need to complete each and every day and things that need to be a certain way (aka, my way). But as a natural perfectionist who doubles equally as a hardcore procrastinator, I can get pretty wound up when I have a lot to do and can’t get it all done. I’ve learned to show myself compassion and to be proud of what I can get done while saving the rest for the next day if need be, but I still aim high. And that can make balance just as nerve-racking for me as aiming for perfection would be.

Granted, balance does mean acknowledging the ebbs and flows and understanding that when one side of the scale lists, it’s possible to work back to a more even level. I just don’t like feeling like I have to keep up balance for appearance’s sake.

My life is a shit-show right now and I will admit that openly. Perhaps that’s why I’m a bit cynical about such an innocent word that is supposed to have a positive connotation. Do I want balance back? Of course. But I also know why I don’t have it and that it will take a long time to get there again given my current circumstances. The real “balance” for me right now is understanding that the scale will even out eventually, even if it’s dragging its ass on the ground presently.

I guess the moral of my rant here is to remind anyone who is struggling to meet some personal or force-fed standard that it’s okay to stumble — to have an off day, week, or entire season of life — but don’t for a second buy into some limiting idea that constant balance is what is going to give you a great life or that you’re failing if you don’t have balance in your life at all times, or even most of the time.

If you’re unhappy with how things are going or with what you are doing, change it. You have that power. But don’t give an outside source, whether it’s another person or society in general, the power to tell you how to do things. Don’t let them tell you that if you don’t have balance that you’re doing something wrong. We don’t have to be perfect or balanced to be living well or achieving great things.

Besides, what’s life without a little whimsy, eh? 😉

What do you think? Is “balance” starting to feel like the new “perfect?” Or is it just me…? Leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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My Top 10 Tips for an Author Platform

Though I’m still building my author platform and my experience pales in comparison to most, I have learned a lot in the last year that I have been able to pass on to fellow authors and those who are hoping to set up their own site.

I actually didn’t realize how much I really knew until I started helping others, and it surprised me a little. It has all begun to feel so second nature, so I never gave it much thought on the actual amount of information and skills I had acquired.

That said, I thought it would be fun to give you guys a list of tips that I think are important, or I have found incredibly helpful throughout my journey. Some of these are pretty simple, but I think they serve as a good set of reminders of how to get started, or how to continue to build on what you have.

1) Domain. This is numero uno, most important. If you want an author platform, you need to scoop up a domain as soon as possible. There are people who will buy domains and then try to mark up the price, and that is a battle you don’t want to engage in. I struggled when I was deciding whether to use my full, legal name or a pen name, but when the domain with my full name was already taken, I realized I had to go with the latter. It wasn’t too bad, though, and since there is already an author of children’s books who shares my same legal name, I knew a pen name was the best choice for the sake of differentiation. That and the gal in Scotland who owns my original domain preference never emailed me back. 😛

You’ll also want to snag up Twitter and Facebook (and/or other social media accounts if you use those, too) handles and if you can’t use your name, make sure they are the same across social media pages or similar. Mine are all different, but they are similar and I make sure my cover and profile images are the same to pull it together.

2) Search Engine Optimization, better known in the tech world as SEO, is something that is important to put on your radar. SEO affects the visibility of a website in a search engine’s results and is a tool that will help to get more people on your page. I haven’t found it to be absolutely necessary at this early point in my journey, but I figure once I hit a certain number of followers (1000 or so) and Dreamweaver is finally published, I will delve more into learning about SEO.

3) Facebook Groups! These have been wonderful resources for me and I attribute a lot of my success to the information and advice I have received by being a member. I currently follow Jeff Goins and his group called Art of Work, Kate McKibbin in her Secret Blogger’s Society group, and I’m also a part of Where Authors Begin and Writers Unite. There are tons of groups to join and they have invaluable information from their creators and members. Not to mention the amazing networking! I have made a lot of great contacts that I wouldn’t have made if not for joining these groups.

4) I also think it is incredibly helpful to find at least three successful blogs in your same niche to follow. Not only will you find great ideas, techniques, and tools to implement on your own site, but the networking potential also increases. You may even end up in a position to guest post or be included in round-ups, which are great ways to get your name out there further. Mentor blogs are an invaluable resource.

5) PICTURES. This should probably be higher in the list because I think the use of images and graphics is so important. Most of what a mobile/web user reads is only in small snippets that are easy to skim, so attention-grabbing, sleek, and memorable graphics help draw the reader in and keep their attention. Canva is a great resource for a variety of graphics and images, both free and paid, and I use it on a daily basis.
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6) Another aspect of an author platform that I believe is key is a blog page. This is where your readers and potential audience learn more about you not only as an author, but as a relatable human being. Sharing your interests, your writing process, things you feel passionately about, and whatever your heart desires to share helps them to connect with you. It also hones your writing skills, contributes to your portfolio, and it can be a valuable way to help you find and develop your voice. I know blogging has done all of these for me!

7) Interacting with your followers is important as well. I try to make it a point to interact with each and every person who reaches out to me so that they know I see and appreciate them. My numbers are still such that I can do this, but even if I gained another two thousand followers, I’d still carve out time to comment and tweet to the people who reach out to me. I obviously couldn’t get to them all, but I’d make a dent. 😉 I know I smile when I get feedback from those I’ve reached out to, and I always want my followers to know how grateful I am to have them in my corner.

8) Investment. Again, this should probably be closer to the top, especially since this is something I have sadly seen a lot of people forget to do. I know that it’s hard to invest money into something you might not be seeing a return on, but if you take your work seriously enough to create an author platform for it, you need to be willing to spend the time and the money to spruce it up. I pay yearly for my domain and though I find great free resources, I do spend here and there when I can to improve my site. And if you’re in it to make a living, it will pay for itself in the long run.

9) Twitter hashtags seem like a funny thing to have on the list, right? I don’t think so, and here’s why. In the last two months, I have seen my list grow from 70 or so followers to 270 just by attaching hashtags like #writerslife and #amwriting to my tweets along with some of the trending ones. These work as searchable tools on Twitter, and if someone searches the hashtag you used, there’s a chance they’ll see your tweet. And if they are intrigued by you, they just might follow you. Boom – networking! I have been followed by other authors, agents, actors, producers, directors, publishing houses, and so many others and all of this new interaction is due, in part, to utilizing hashtags to increase my reach.

10) Finally, and I can’t stress this enough, return the love. I’m not just talking about interacting with your followers when they comment on your posts or social media, but engaging with fellow authors, bloggers, and other individuals or organizations within your niche. I have a small group of loyal bloggers and authors who constantly “like” my posts, “favorite” my tweets, and engage with me on my site and connected pages. So, I try to do the same for them! This is how little tribes are built, and it just strengthens that connection and networking amongst your fellow peers.

So, there it is, friends. Ten of my top to-do’s and pieces of advice for setting up, establishing, or running an author platform. I hope you’ve found it helpful!

Please feel free to leave any extra tips you feel are important in the comments! 🙂