Category Archives: Motivation

Your Precious Power of Enthusiasm #MFRW_author #IAN #Motivation

family diversity imageI began making presentations to writers many years ago. From the beginning, I had a mission, to share what I know about the publishing world and help writers navigate that world more effectively. The specifics of my message changed as own knowledge changed and grew.

At first, I talked about writing stories. How to create strong characters and put them in a fast-paced plot. How to make a story publishable and readable. Then I became a book editor for a traditional publisher. I learned how a publishing house really works and passed that on.

When I became a literary agent, maximizing manuscript marketability was my daily focus. I even wrote a book about it. No More Rejections: 50 Secrets to Writing a Manuscript that Sells (A revised version is now in progress.) Once again, I was passing on what I knew.

Eventually, I moved on from editing and agenting. I’d published several novels with traditional publishers by then, but indie publishing offered new challenges. I’ve brought out a memoir and four novels thus far so I blog about that experience and advise individual authors when I can.

Now, a new message is needed and, along with it, a new mission, to combat the discouragement I find rampant among too many writers these days. My message is one of encouragement for all of us to use our periods of challenge to grow our potential as authors.

As I’ve said many times before, you can and will make it through such periods because you have the skills and resources you need to do so. You can and will make it through because that is your only choice if your passion is to write and bring the gift of your writing to the world.

Talk yourself past the difficult, sometimes scary places. Say to yourself, “I will not be afraid today.” “I refuse to let anxiety infect my spirit today.” Most important of all, “I will not lose sight of my Power of Enthusiasm today.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Never relinquish your Powerful Enthusiasm.” I say, Enthusiasm is the energy you need to fuel yourself through testing moments. Enthusiasm puts your psyche on your side where you need it to be. Enthusiasm inspires you to think of each day as a jewel on the thread of your life. Never underestimate the worth of that gem or forget to admire its beauty.

Instead of giving in to doubt and fear, give yourself up to Enthusiasm for your work. Honor how wonderful it is to do something you love, to have discovered your passionate pursuit. Rejoice in the gift and blessing of that discovery as an occasion for Enthusiasm a thousand times over.

In addition to your Precious Power of Enthusiasm, loads of hard work and creativity will of course be required. A satisfying route to take, an adventure you can be proud to pursue, one enthusiastic day at a time.  Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

My latest novel A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE.

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Stay on Board or Tumble into a Wallow? #MondayMotivation #MFRW_author #IAN1

smooth-sailing-imageReturned to earth after annual orbit through the Thanksgiving galaxy. Food leftovers provisioned out to freezer or jury-rigged concoctions, some less savory than others. Guest leftovers packed up for mailing, especially the grandson’s electric toothbrush. Extra table leaves packed up also until next feast day.

Re-entry into my newest project also after two weeks’ hiatus and several hiatuses before that one. Lots of reading in between with the comparison bunny hard at work reminding me how far short I fall. My last post here was titled “Your Brain on Doubt.” We write what we need to read.

Prominent among those reading experiences, because of its potential to inspire me off my duff, On Writing by Stephen King. His basic advice vis-à-vis doubt and the comparison bunny et.al. Sit down every morning and do the work. Two-K words minimum. He actually advises more K’s but offers this fallback, perhaps because he is a compassionate man. Or not.

If he were truly compassionate he wouldn’t rob me of my most righteous rationale. The gods of the health glitch, each a miserable so-and-so, have rendered me pretty much housebound. When asked how my work is going I simply say that word, “housebound,” or maybe “shut-in” with the hardliners. Nobody questions me again. They’re too busy offering condolences.

In response to which Mr. King tells the story of his own home incarceration. Leg encased in a medieval-style torture device. Confined to a back hallway. Sweating out a heatwave record breaker with only a small oscillating fan, as opposed to legions of the life-sized variety, for relief. Meanwhile, he’d written the very book I held in my hands.

In my own meanwhile, I was back in Chapter Six. Amanda and Willow race across the countryside propelled by fear of a phantom biker who may or may not be on their trail. I’d lost enthusiasm for their story right up to the moment that same morning when I took the King’s advice and forged ahead, hampered by homebound-ness or not.

“Keep on writing whatever may occur.” I’d signed my own book with those words many times but I hadn’t really paid attention. The phrase was a PR ploy. The thing I should say to be admired or maybe even loved a little, especially by beginners who give love so generously. That morning, at long last, I followed my own admonition.

Afterward I felt good, maybe even fabulous. I contacted my editor to ask if Amanda and Willow can expect her to jump on board, as she has so effectively in the past. But the most crucial questions are these. Will I stay on board myself? OR Will I tumble off into a wallow, as I’ve too often done? Only time, and the status of my word count, will tell.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 is available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK HERE. All of Alice’s books are written while on board rather than wallowing.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

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Your Brain on Doubt & What to Do About It #MFRWAuthor #Inspiration

flat-tire-image“I’ve watched you grow smaller,” an observant friend once said to me. “as if you are deflating.”

I was stuck in a period of deep doubt about almost everything. I didn’t know what to do with my life or my work or me. “I’m between things,” I’d say to anyone who appeared to care. Actually, I wasn’t anywhere. My friend was right. I’d deflated and needed desperately to pump up again.

Unfortunately, a deflated spirit lacks not only air to breathe but the will and stamina to refill its lungs in the first place. Doubt had taken those good things from me. I was a flat tire. More to the point, my brain was a flat tire, and flat tires don’t get us anywhere.

We all end up in the hardly-moving lane now and then, and doubt is often the vehicle that takes us there. Especially doubt about ourselves. Doubting seems to be an inevitable consequence of living. The trouble is it can zap the will to live, and the joy of that life, flat out of us.

I’m re-inflated at the moment. The last thing I want is another blowout, or even a slow leak into a bad-year tire again. How did I get from flaccid to full-up? What can I do next time I misplace my air lock valve? Here are five specific remedies for my self-doubt days and yours.

Specific #1. Get out from under the comforter. My comforter is blue, the color of melancholy. I hide there and bring other comforts with me – unhealthy food, binge TV and the occasional bourbon coke with a splash of lime. I must drag my bemoaning behind from under all of that.

Specific #2. Cut the to-do list to size. Nothing lengthens a ride in the doubt mobile as fast as piled-on expectations. What needs to be done feels like being expected to prepare a holiday feast by suppertime. How about toast instead? I think I can manage a slice, maybe even multi-grain.

Specific #3. Create a feel-good list instead. What makes me feel better? What ACTivities? I must stand up, get dressed and move. Yoga on the purple mat I bought myself last Christmas. Or a walk around a block or two without my comforter, like Linus’s blanket, trailing behind.

Progress Report. I’m out of the bedroom (#1). I’ve been to the kitchen where I consumed some multi-grain nutrition (#2) and came up with a feel-better action plan (#3). Time to suit up, but first a stop in front of the bathroom sink.

Specific #4. Stare straight ahead. What do I see? I see the hero in my mirror. I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t already survived many comforter-craving moments. I chose the choices and did the work that got me to this place, which makes me the hero of my own life story.

Specific #5. Produce a memory of the hero in the mirror. Deep breathing in a yoga pose or puffing down the street, I recall a time I lifted myself toward where I needed to be. I watch, hear and, most important, feel the moment. “I did that,” I say, because I did. No doubt about it.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HEREA Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there also.

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Got Stress? Grab a Post It. @AliceOrrBooks #WednesdayMotivation #WritersLife

stress-imageI encounter a lot of exhausted people these days. Once upon a time, I prided myself on not being among them but, as we all know, pride is what we exhibit before a fall. That fall did inevitably happen to me, and since then I’ve learned to admit my Energy Bunny is sometimes a lop-eared, droop-tailed mess.

“What’s the matter with me?” I used to ask, while my stamina trickled away. “You’re not as young as you used to be,” my husband would often respond. This, of course, is hardly the smart thing for a man to say to his wife. If you run into him, feel free to mention that. The fact is, I didn’t feel old. I felt tired, but I didn’t know why.

When well-meaning folks suggested my condition was stress-related, my eyes would roll. “Stress schmess,” I’d say to my pompous-ass self. Until the scales were ripped from my bloodshot eyes and I was forced to recognize stress as a buzz killer on several levels, pressing a dead weight on the psyche and the rest of our faculties too.

This revelation occurred during my maximum (to date) stress experience, the struggle with my now long-gone (I hope) cancer. Let me tell you a small story about that period and one of its many disturbing manifestations of stress. Bouts of spontaneous weeping which, for some reason, often occurred in parking lots.

We were living on Vashon Island in Washington State, a generally peaceful place. I suffered tearful breakdowns in just about every parking area of that tranquil town. In front of the Thriftway supermarket. Next to the library. Outside church. In the gravel space south of the arts center after dropping my granddaughter off for ballet class.

Without warning, I’d begin to sob, though inaudibly. My shoulders might tremble, but other than that and my wet cheeks, you could have walked straight past me and not noticed a thing. “Get a grip,” I’d whisper. “You’re weeping in the Thriftway parking lot.” Meanwhile, my fingers did my bidding and gripped the steering wheel in a stranglehold.

Thus attached to my automobile, I would drive slowly home, reminded of a phrase in the Washington State Drivers’ Manual that cautions against operating a vehicle when emotionally upset. Unfortunately, I wasn’t comfortable with calling someone up to say, “I just fell to pieces in the parking lot. Could you please rescue me?”

I’ve held myself back from writing here about this phase of my history. “Why should anybody be subjected to my whining?” I asked. Until I recalled Vanessa Redgrave, a personal icon of mine, speaking of a realization she had while acting in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” a play adapted from Joan Didion’s marvelous memoir.

“We’re all more traumatized than we think,” Vanessa said. By that measure, my parking lot story is appropriate to share because it could be someone else’s story, too. The specifics may vary. A shadowy corner rather than a parking lot. Dulled-out staring into space instead of weeping. The essence of the episode is the same.

Which means I need to come up with an insight, as posts like this one are supposed to do. Whining will not suffice. I must suggest an approach to the problem, an antidote to the syndrome. I suggest Post-It notes. Here’s what I did with them, or what they did for me, during the most stressed-out and exhausted days of my cancer challenge.

Each morning, on a single two-by-two-inch sticky note, I’d write down something specific I could do that day to feel less undone by my situation. A larger surface would have been unrealistic. In my opinion, four square inches of healing at a time is enough to expect of oneself when traumatized.

Some days I did what I had written down, some days not. Still, I persisted, and my psyche was the better for it. If you suspect that we, yourself included, may all be more shaken up by life than we care to admit, you might want to acquire some sticky notes of your own. They come in cheerful colors these days, even day-glow. Cheerful is good.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and Alice Orr’s other books are available from Amazon HERE. A Wrong Way Home – Riverton Road Romantic Suspense Book 1 is a FREE EBOOK there.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

 http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/

http://facebook.com/aliceorrwriter/

http://twitter.com/AliceOrrBooks/

http://goodreads.com/aliceorr/

http://pinterest.com/aliceorrwriter/

 

 

The I Can and I Will Path @aliceorrbooks #success #motivation #asmsg

Struggling for Success image“Is it impossible to be successful AND happy?” Author Mona Risk asked that question in a post about competitiveness and set my mind moving. She’d inspired me to think about Success. What is Success? How do we measure it in our own lives?

I searched for answers in the motivational talks I used to give. I remember those experiences fondly. Words flew out of my mouth, with a laugh line thrown in every now and then. I confess to possessing a well-developed hambone gene. But as I revisit my workshop notes now, I’m not looking for laugh lines. I never wrote those down anyway. They simply emerged.

What I’m doing now is listening for words I’ve spoken before and need to speak again. I’m listening for what I’ve said about success. This is what I hear. “The strongest strategy for success in pretty much anything is to get yourself on an I-Can and I-Will Path. And the first thing you must do on that path is fight back fear.”

I certainly said a mouthful there, and as usual I said it to a group of writers. BUT the advice applies to everybody on every path. The group that day was romance writers like myself. Our stories are mostly about women who behave heroically. Not because they aren’t afraid, but because they do what has to be done despite their fear. We need to do the same in our real-life stories.

We can’t escape the scary things in life. They are always going to be with us. Just like they are always going to be in our stories. Otherwise, our stories won’t be very interesting. Who wants to read about characters whose lives run smooth as glass all the time? Readers want to see the glass shatter and hear it crash to the ground. Most of all, they want to feel chaos erupt.

We want our stories to be littered with sharp shards at every turn because sharp shards make a page-turner read. But we don’t want that in our real lives. We pray the shattered edges we encounter will be dull and we’ll slip past them unscathed. But this isn’t how life generally goes, including the writer’s life for sure.

We must struggle against fear of the sharp, shattering places as relentlessly as our story heroines struggle against the obstacles in their paths. One way to fight back that fear is to change the way we think about the goals we set for ourselves. We must stop thinking of our goals as far away. We must stop thinking of our progress toward those goals as painfully slow.

Thinking of success as far away and painfully slow to reach is discouraging. It drains us. We lose what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the Power of Enthusiasm. He said we must never relinquish our Powerful Enthusiasm. It is the energy we need to fuel us through testing times.

Let’s talk about you, specifically, for a moment. You need to see your goal as right here, right now. You need to know what you want to accomplish today and make sure you are being realistic about that goal, not defeating yourself before your start by piling your plate impossibly high.

Next, you must see yourself as progressing toward that goal today. At the end of today, if you don’t think you’ve reached your goal, look again. What did you actually achieve? How are you not at the same place you were yesterday? Measure that achievement by asking yourself this question. “Have I done what I undertook today as well as I could manage to do it?” Be sure to factor in the obstacles you had to cope with today.

If you can say, “I’ve done what I could as well as I could manage to do it today,” then you have succeeded. If you’ve made even a single step forward, despite the obstacles you faced, you are doubly successful today. Think of each of these days as a jewel on the thread of your life, a jewel on the thread of your career. Never underestimate its worth or forget to admire its beauty.

This smells like sweet success to me and feels like happiness too. So I say to Mona Risk. “It is definitely possible to be successful AND happy.” Now all I have to do is remember those words myself. I wish I didn’t have so much trouble with that sometimes. Oh, rats. I must be human.

RR

A Villain for Vanessa – Riverton Romantic Suspense Book 4 and my other books are available from Amazon HERE and from most other online book retailers at their websites.

Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com/

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