Life begins at the end…

of your comfort zone.

Does what you’re about to do intimidate you?  Gives you apprehension? Second thoughts?

All the more reason to do it.

You staying comfortable is the easiest thing in the world, but it’s not what you want to do.  When you’re daydreaming about the things you wish you were doing or want to do or dream of doing – they’re not getting done because starting them makes you feel uncomfortable.

And in the end, the satisfaction of staying in your comfort zone isn’t really comfortable at all, it generates frustration that leads you to seek more comfort.

Leaving you with this… that which you seek comfort in is the greatest source of your frustration.

Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.



Making your own juice…

Where we are today with mobile devices pulling our attention has been written about extensively and I can’t add anything to the discussion except this…

Create your own distractions.

When you click on whatever and get pulled down the rabbit hole…you have made a choice to let someone else’s creation sway your brain cells.

In other words, they win.

How do you win instead?

Create more than you consume.

Whether it’s writing, building, volunteering or starting a vegetable garden or a new project… anything that you produce yourself as a creative outlet is a win for you.

If nobody else consumes it, big deal.  It’s your creation, create it for you and let the chips fall where they may.

Just know this…searching for “the juice” on your smartphone or on social media will have the opposite result: you will be drained.

The only way to get that “juice”…is from you.  Now go do it and see how it feels.



The only way you can stay on top of your story…

is to write consistently.  Whether it’s every day, every other day, Tuesdays and Fridays at noon…you must have a time and place to do this.

The experts say write every day…great if you can…sometimes us mere mortals aren’t up for that challenge, fine…

If you show up at a certain time and at a certain place…the muse will eventually know she has a job to do and will show up for work.

If you do this haphazardly…well then so will she.  Give your work and your muse the respect they deserve and treat this like a job.

A job has start times, end times, and location.  Make yours…

then show up for work.



Impossible isn’t a fact…

…it’s an opinion.  Thomas Edison

You know the type, the victims, the excuses coming a mile a minute, hopeless and everybody else’s fault.

You’re not one of those.

The ones who search out self improvement articles on higher possibilities, or random blog posts from strangers on the internet who might have a good idea…those are the ones who need it the least.

The ones who need it the most won’t show up here.  They’re looking for the next ear.

The ones who don’t need it are too busy doing things to even take the time to consider failure as an option.

Be the one too busy, moving forward, doing instead of excusing…and a funny thing happens…

Doors open, progress gets made, a little every day…on to the next mission.



Backstory… where does it belong?

In K.M. Weiland’s book Outlining Your Novel she covers this well.  The book is great in a lot of areas but regarding backstory I picked up these gems:

  • We must give our characters backstory.
  • Sometimes the most effective backstories are those that are hinted at rather than told outright.
  • No lengthy flashback scenes…present backstory with a powerful punch and few words.

In addition… backstory may be better off staying inside your head.  It may do the reader more benefit to have you use the backstory in order to drop into a fast paced read at just the right moment.

Do yourself a favor and read her book, especially if you have trouble with the outlining process…. and do your future self a favor by knowing ahead of time where this beast you’re creating is heading.



From a Navy Seal…Discipline equals


Yup, it’s human nature to think the other way around… “If I don’t have to do anything aren’t I free to do what I want?”

As Jocko Willink says in an interview about his book Extreme Ownership – How U.S. Navy Seals Lead and Win “What’s interesting is that the more strict we were with our standard operating procedures, the more freedom we actually had to operate faster and more efficiently because everyone knew what to do.”

So to look at this from a writer’s perspective (comparing sitting at a desk to what the Seals do is ludicrous, I know, but stay with me)… if you have the discipline to do what we all know we’re supposed to be doing:

  • Outline
  • Write every day
  • Set a goal of so many words a day
  • Build an increasing level of tension
  • Don’t take shortcuts
  • Edit, then edit again
  • Then edit some more…etc.

These are in all the books, they’re no secret.

But the secret is… when you develop a structure in any aspect of your life, it opens doors that wouldn’t otherwise be there.

So go build your day… and let yourself run wild in it.  For more, read his book.









To outline or not isn’t what you should be asking yourself…

We all know the downside to outlining, right?  Constraints, boundaries, hinders creativity, it’s boring…etc.

We all know the downside to not outlining…what am I writing about? Where does this story go? How does it end?  What if a later scene means an entire 10,000 words needs to be rewritten?

Here’s my take on this.  If you don’t outline and just plug along and write an 80,000 word thriller…you’ve written an outline.  It’s detailed, it was hard work, you worked within the constraints of the genre, and just maybe there are no inconsistencies or wrong turns you took by not using a map before heading out.

If you do outline, taking that thriller and writing it in 4 pages or 1,000 words or whatever short form works for you before you start, you still have the creative flow, the flashes of insight, the plot twists that come  to you mid-sentence…and it’s still in a manageable format.

New sub plot comes up?  (And they always do).  Plug it into the 2nd page of the 4 page outline.  A twist at the end you didn’t see coming yourself?  Rewrite the first 3 pages of the outline, not the first 50,000 words.

I guess there are people who can write an 80,000 word piece of fiction without some kind of mapping of the territory beforehand.  If you’re one of them….count your blessings.  For the rest of us mere mortals… get out the map, plan a route…take it.

In my first book I had written 50,000 words and told a writing coach it was “…like The Sting meets Wall Street.”

His response, “Great, when does the crime take place?”

My answer, “About half way through.”

“It should happen on page 2.”

First 25,000 pages a waste?  Nope, just very detailed back story that led me to what the story was really about.  A very detailed outline of events leading up to the beginning of the story.  Could they have been done in 3-4 pages instead?  Definitely.

So what is the question you should be asking?  It’s the same question all writers of fiction should ask before they even start…

“Who wants what, and why can’t they get it?”




Our lust for future comfort…

…is the biggest thief of life.  We waste so many days waiting for the weekend, so many nights wanting morning,

Not sure who said it, but it rings true.

Another way to look at it is asking yourself…

What gives me juice?  

What kicks me in the butt and gets me moving?  

What is my source of energy for that extra mile?

I have my own feeling about this.  If you look outside of you for juice, inspiration, the extra breath…you will always be looking outside yourself.  Instead…

create your own juice.  

You have everything inside you now to begin… it’s in your hands.

Now go create something and make yourself feel like nothing on the outside has the power to.



It’s a mess, and it should be…

The creation of a story from start to finish isn’t some clean, linear process that moves along like a train.  If you write you already know this.

If you’re going to write, you will learn it.

What’s my point?  The mess is not just part of the process, it is the process.  The only way you’re going to flesh out the thread of the story and make it interesting to others is to create chaos, wreak havoc, have papers with notes in the margins all over the desk, quick memos on your phone app, and a few hastily written chapters on your PC that end up being a montage of scenes with no coherent thread.

It is only by entering this realm will you find what’s been there all along…the story.

The muse shows up when and only when you sit down to write.  Wait for her and never write a word…start creating chaos and a mess, she’ll feel welcome and teach you a thing or two.

So get your mess started, it’s the only way, we all do it, and really…isn’t this why you write in the first place?  To create madness?



Ignore the 3 act structure…

…at your peril.

When you first come across it in your aspiration to write, it sounds like a rule, a boundary, chains meant to be broken.

It’s all of those, yet it still exists.

Whether non-fiction or a story made up in your head… we have an opening, a journey taken by a hero, and a climax…oh, and along the way…obstacles, conflict, hurdles, twists, setbacks.

Sounds like life doesn’t it?

It is.

So make sure you are aware of how this structure works, what each act has in it, how each act sets up the next one.  If you do this, the inherent structure gives you all the freedom you need to break all the rules.  If you ignore it, you have scene after scene after scene leading to…what?

Reinvent the wheel?  Or build something on a solid foundation that has lasted centuries.