Write the Damn Book Already

Ep 66: Reigniting Your Writing Passion: Strategies for Discipline, Inspiration, and Accountability

December 05, 2023 Elizabeth Lyons Episode 66
Write the Damn Book Already
Ep 66: Reigniting Your Writing Passion: Strategies for Discipline, Inspiration, and Accountability
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Struggling to keep the creative flame burning? I hear it a lot: "Elizabeth, where do YOU get accountability? How can I get back to this being fun? I’ve lost the joy."

In this episode, I'm sharing four personal strategies that have kept me disciplined and accountable as an author.

But make no mistake, it's not just about discipline and accountability. It's also about inspiration, which can make a surprise appearance in the most unexpected places. We'll explore the significance of taking breaks to recharge and ignite new ideas, and how surrounding yourself with inspiring influences can be incredibly helpful.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

- Explore the intriguing concept of the 'third layer why' and how it can guide you when the going gets tough. 
- The common yearning for accountability
- The notion that a need for accountability might stem from a lack of clarity on what you want to achieve through writing a book (or on your book's direction).

RESOURCES MENTIONED

All of the instant-access workshops (pay-what-you-can starting at $10)

Episode 13: Deep dive into the "3rd-layer why"


Join the Write the Damn Book Already Facebook group!


K.M. Weiland on Instagram


Join the Book Writers Collective

Guygiene lets you equip your young guy with a monthly box of confidence that introduces cool personal hygiene swag from top brands,  developed just for teen and 'tween boys.  

Get 15% off your first box by visiting GoodGuygiene.com and using code writethedamnbook at checkout. 

Write the Damn Book Already is a weekly podcast featuring interviews with authors as well as updates and insights on writing craft and the publishing industry.

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Email the show: elizabeth [at] elizabethlyons [dot] com

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To see all the ways we can work together to get your book written and published, visit publishaprofitablebook.com/work-with-elizabeth

Speaker 1:

Hi everybody. Before we launch into this next episode, I wanted to let you know that the replays of every single publish a profitable book workshop that I have conducted to date are now available. Pay what you can, starting at just $10, over on the work with me page of publishaprofitablebookcom. So that's publishaprofitablebookcom forward slash work dash with dash Elizabeth. I will also include the link in the episode notes below. But we have everything from email marketing for authors, social media for authors, pre-orders and swag packages, audiobook creation, how to start a podcast and more, and they're all available. Pay what you can over at publishaprofitablebookcom. Forward slash work dash with dash Elizabeth. Welcome to the write the damn book already podcast.

Speaker 1:

My name is Elizabeth Lyons. I'm a six time author and book editor and I help people write and publish powerful, thought provoking, wildly entertaining books without any more overthinking, second guessing or overwhelm than absolutely necessary. Because, let's face it, some overthinking, second guessing and overwhelm is gonna come with the territory. If you're anything like me, I believe that story and shared perspective are two of the most potent ways we connect with people and the most potent ways we connect with one another, and that your story, perspective and insights are destined to become someone else's favorite resource or pastime. For more book writing and publishing tips and solutions, oh and plenty of free and low cost resources, visit publishaprofitablebookcom and for recommendations of fabulous books. You've possibly never heard of book writing inspiration and the occasional meme so relatable as created with you in mind. Follow me on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons.

Speaker 1:

Author. Hello, hello and welcome to episode 66. I don't love that, by the way, but at least it's not 666. What do people do when they get to that number? Do they skip it? Is it like floor 13 in casinos, where you just don't have it? When I get there, I'll poll you and find out what I should do. So one of the things that I am starting now and will continue through 2024, is these are the solo Q&A episodes, where I take the questions that you send me and I answer them here because I know you're not the only one who has them, and I know this because I hear them and have them over and over again over the years. So if you have a question that you would like for me to tackle on this podcast, please email it to me at elizabethatelizabethlionscom, or you can DM me over on Instagram at Elizabeth Lyons author and just hit me with it. If you wanna remain anonymous, you can say please keep my name anonymous and I will not mention it this week.

Speaker 1:

The question I'm gonna tackle is one that came up in our Facebook group right, the Dan book already and the question was what do I do when I need accountability? And how do you, elizabeth, find accountability? How do you hold yourself accountable? I just want this to get back to being fun. I've lost the joy Now. I've mentioned this before. A slight aside when people join the write the Dan book already Facebook group and if you're not a member, I'm gonna put the link down in the episode notes.

Speaker 1:

It's a free group. We have authors and writers, aspiring authors, in there at all stages of their writing. Some of them have written. They're working on their first book, some of them are working on their 10th book, some are self-published, some are traditionally published. And when people join, I ask a question what are you hoping to get here in this group that you aren't getting anywhere else? And the two answers I get most often are accountability and inspiration or motivation.

Speaker 1:

So this question didn't surprise me in the least, and I thought the mention of joy was really interesting because we wanna have fun doing this right Like why are we doing it if it's not fun? And of course, there are moments where it's not fun. There are moments when everything isn't fun, but at its core, we imagine it to be something that we will enjoy doing the vast majority of the time. So how do we get back to the joy when the joy hath left us? If you follow KM Weiland on Instagram and if you don't, I'll put her handle down in the links too, because she's absolutely wonderful.

Speaker 1:

She works more with, as I can tell, fiction authors than nonfiction, but she's a great storytelling guide and in a post at one point I wrote down this. She had put this in a post. I wrote it down and kept it in my notes because I thought it was so poignant. She said this is one of the deepest questions in life. Somebody had asked her a similar question. Her response was this is one of the deepest questions in life.

Speaker 1:

It's up there with do I leave this relationship? A job might be just a job, but writing is about opening up or shutting down part of yourself. You know, whenever we're working on something that is important to us, people will say that one of the first things that you need to do is figure out your why. I have absolutely said that as well, and yet there will be times when coming back to your why still doesn't quite do it and you can't figure out why. So what I thought I would do is put together my top four ways that I address my own accountability, or that I hold myself accountable, that I keep myself disciplined where I come back to when I need to find the joy and get out of compare and despair, get out of worry about what the future holds, get out of concern over whether or not anyone is going to read the thing or like the thing or review the thing or recommend the thing or keep going. So I'll start with the why, because the why is it's important and I find that when I come back to mine, it helps. But it's not just my top level why.

Speaker 1:

You may or may not have heard me speak of what I call the third layer, why I talk about it quite a bit in my latest book write the damn book already. I also have talked about it in multiple Instagram posts and I have an entire podcast dedicated to it actually an episode. So I will link that episode in the show notes as well. So if you want to get the full. If you haven't heard it before heard me speak of it before and you want to get the full version of it, you can just go back and listen to that podcast episode. If you're listening while you're driving and you think, gosh, I want to listen to that one. Next, elizabeth, what the heck number? It's number 13. It was episode 13. Apparently, we're doing weird numbers today 66 and 13.

Speaker 1:

But getting clear on your third layer, why which is like peeling back the layers of the onion, to say not just well, why do you want to do this? But to even go deeper, two levels deeper, to be exact, to really reignite what it is within you that gave you this idea in the first place. The third layer, why is a great place to start or to revisit if you've gotten away from it. I have a lot of clients who end up writing their third layer why down and putting it in a frame or otherwise on a post it note, but right next on their writing space, whatever their writing space is, or they keep it in their laptop. They keep it on there. So for some of them it's their screensaver on their phone so they can just quickly pull it back up and remember it and remind themselves of it and see if that's enough to get them back into the chair, because sometimes it's like I've had it with the why, liz, like can we have something else?

Speaker 1:

I have three other things tools, if you will that I utilize when I am needing to get myself back into accountability. Now, one of them is discipline, and I know everyone just like groaned I heard it and I do too. I can't stand the word. I feel so called out. When people say you just need to have more discipline, or when someone says I have so much self discipline, I'm like, yay for you. I don't now what. So I word this differently. I don't refer to it as a discipline for me. I think of it as a commitment to the shit. Make it a technical term, I don't know, but I have. I just have a commitment to writing shit when I take and I hope this will work for you, but if not, don't worry, I have two more, but let's try this on.

Speaker 1:

If I take away the pressure of I have to sit down and write well, number one X number of words. That doesn't work for me. It works for a lot of people and the key really is figuring out what works for you and then employing that. And more often than not it's figuring out three or four things that work for you and then rotating them, because the same thing likely won't work day in and day out, but for me having a word count just doesn't work. That does not mean it's wrong, because it's not. There are so many people who will not get up from the desk or the chair or both, until they've written a certain number of words. If I put that pressure on myself, for whatever reason, it is immediate. It's like putting a cork in a bottle it just stops everything.

Speaker 1:

The other thing is, if I'm not careful, I will sit down to write with the. It's like a subconscious belief that everything I've got to write something good and if it's not good, then it wasn't worth my time to sit down and do that writing. I might as well have been watching the ending of season six of Virgin River. That would have been a better use of my time than sitting down and writing. So I have to really change it up, and my way of changing it up is saying I'm just committed to writing shit, because the truth for me is that that has to come out first. In most cases I have to write something really bad to get to what I'm even really trying to say.

Speaker 1:

I think this is a little bit personality-based. Sometimes people talk through their answers. If someone asks you a question, you know the answer. In other cases, perhaps someone asks you a question and you think I need to think about that for a minute. But then there's a third category of people and I'm in this category where someone will ask me a question. I don't know immediately what the answer is and I also don't say let me think about it. What I do is I think about it while talking it through, which often drives the other person I think mad, because they're like what's happening right now, like it doesn't sound, like you know what the answer is, but you're. So I have to clarify. I'm trying to get to the answer and that's what writing is for me. That's how I get to what it is I'm trying to say, or what the characters are trying to do, or how they're trying to work things through, and so inevitably a lot of that will not stay, but without it I won't ever get to what will stay. So that's my second suggestion is have a commitment to write shit.

Speaker 1:

My third suggestion is be around other writers. This is different Like we live in. I mean, I work from home. I'm not in a co-working space. I leave my house, honestly, as infrequently as humanly possible because, like people, I just don't feel like peopleing most days and even if you're writing around other people, it's a silent thing. If you're writing, you're writing, you're not chatting. However, for whatever reason, being around other people, either when I'm writing or when I'm not writing, just being around other authors and talking about their process, it reminds me that there's nothing wrong with my process. It's, in great part, why I do this podcast, because I get to talk with other authors, many of whom have sold thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of books, and they are honest enough to say, yeah, I get really stuck. Or there was this period of time when I didn't write for four and a half months. Or the night before I launched the not launched the book, but sent the final draft to my editor. I changed half of it, and having those conversations with other people who are doing the thing, it helps you to make you feel more normal in whatever process you are employing, and that sometimes is enough. Motivation, inspiration, accountability, you know you can set up accountability with some of those people if you so choose.

Speaker 1:

Join the book writers collective. Like completely shameless plug for that, because we come together every week and write via zoom and all of our monitors are often we're all muted, we say hello and whatnot before we get going, but for all intents and purposes we're not together, but we're together. I can look at my screen and see the names of everyone else who's there and know that they're doing the thing too. We're all there doing the thing and it is so rewarding, in just kind of maybe an odd way, to watch everyone else virtually go through this process, because when their books all come out, I remember watching them come to be through these hour, an hour at a time, and it doesn't mean that that's the only hour or the only time, because sometimes people will step in 30 in, 30 minutes in and they'll write for 15 minutes and then they'll duck out because they have a client meeting or they have to go pick up a kid or something's burning on the stove, and that's okay too. But books typically come together 15, 30, 60 minutes at a time, not in eight hour stints. So be around other writers.

Speaker 1:

I went out to dinner this past weekend with three other local authors Neely Alexander, crystal Luyan and Jill Bysel and it was so fun and I realized I've been doing what I do for so long and I've been writing for so long, but I've never had a local group of women who are also writers, who have a lot of experience in the space and we can go out and chat about a lot of things, but including writing. So for us to all sit together and talk about our processes and our perspectives on publishing and on writing and on marketing and on the industry as a whole was awesome. And the reason it was awesome was because all four of us have different experiences and in many ways and in many instances we have different perspectives, but we all still left as friends and there's something really nice about being able to be amidst other people where you can say, yeah, I don't agree with that, or that has not been my experience, or I would never do that, but still respect that person and they still respect you and you're like, but it's working for them. There's just something opening about that because for creative people, it reminds us that there is no right way, there's just your right way, which, by the way might change from book to book or hour to hour. So somehow find a way, if you can, if it feels exciting to you, to just find a group of people, like their meetups, you can go to whatever it's meetupcom or their writing groups. In almost every city in this country there are now these silent book clubs, which I think this is the most phenomenal idea. Everyone just comes together with their book and reads silently, but you're doing it with other people who are also reading and there's just something really lovely about that. It's like the New Age library. But maybe it's just me. I just think it's a very cool thing and we have one here in Phoenix and I absolutely intend to show up at one point soon because I think it's the coolest idea.

Speaker 1:

And the fourth and final point is knowing I know it inspires me. And this can be a tricky one, because you can say well, I know it inspires me, it's certain music or it's certain movies or it's going out and about. But whenever you do any of those things with the intention of, okay, inspiration, let's go now. It probably won't. So you kind of have to trick it a little bit and go, do the thing whatever the thing is, but without expectation. You just know that when you're doing that thing you feel great, and when you feel great you're more likely to be inspired. You might not be, but, worst case scenario, you won't get inspired, but you will have had fun doing whatever it is you were doing.

Speaker 1:

So on Friday night I had my annual Christmas viewing of Love Actually with my two daughters and I noticed how much the soundtrack was. It was affecting me. I mean, I've seen this movie a million times. I have the DVD of it. I no longer have a DVD player, but I have the DVD. So I've loved this movie forever and I know I love the soundtrack, but I can't say why. For whatever reason, the instrumental portion of the soundtrack was really grabbing me on Friday night. So I immediately went to iTunes and downloaded the soundtrack into my writing playlist.

Speaker 1:

If I go to salvage I've talked about my fascination with salvaged furniture and salvage things for a long time. If I go to sweet salvage in downtown Phoenix once a month, when they have it because it's only once a month, which is horrible and yet probably very, very good, I know I know bare minimum I'm going to have fun, but I also know there's a possibility that I'm going to overhear a really fun conversation, I'm going to see something, I'm going to discover something that reminds me of something and then that like perks up a story in my head or something I want to explore more, and inevitably I come home with ideas. I can go drive in my car and put on a podcast or listen to an audio book and almost surely come away with an idea. I can go for a walk and inevitably come, but if I do any of those things and I don't come back with an idea, I've still done something that was enjoyable and that benefited me in some way. So that's the key for me is know what inspires you, but don't have an expectation that every single time you do it, something magnificent is going to hit. That is, you're going to come home and just can't wait to get your butt in the seat and write.

Speaker 1:

I will say that 70% of the time that happens to me, and maybe I don't get my butt in the seat, but I definitely have something that I know I want to explore the next time that I do, and it happens so often that every time it does, it's you've probably heard the phrase you know God winks or whatever higher power. You believe in winks. The universe winks, source winks, and I get this smile on my face when I'm experiencing it because I'm like it's happening again. And I think it's just because whenever I'm doing something that I enjoy, I'm open. And when you're open and you're in a good, we can take this to a woo-woo space. But like you're vibing high, you know, when you're open and your energy is in a space of receivership, like you're open to receive things, then things show up. It makes sense. It's just when you go out and you're like let's go, let's go, let's go, let's go, come on, show up.

Speaker 1:

You know it feels like that needy, grabby thing, like when you know, when you have anxious attachment and you're dating, and it's like why aren't you calling me? Why aren't you calling me? Why aren't you calling me? Well, it's, you know that's annoying, so kind of the same thing. The universe is like you're annoying me. I'm not going to show up for you right now. You're annoying me. But as much as I talk about the energetic side of it, because I believe in it, I also there's a tactical side that is possibly I don't want to say it's more important because I don't know but it's definitely equally as important. You cannot just sit anywhere and and own it out and hope that this stuff is going to show up.

Speaker 1:

But when people are saying in the Facebook group or anywhere else, I need accountability. What we have to do, what's what's important to do, is to assess what are you really saying? Because with writing, with anything creative, no one is going to come and force you into a chair. If you need accountability in terms of your workouts, right, you can hire someone who won't let you sit down, who, like physically holds you upright, makes you, like, does whatever he or she has to do to make you do a squat or lift a weight or pull on a bungee cord or whatever they do. You bring a snake to my training event and I'm going to run as long and as fast as you want me to run, but when it comes to creativity, whether you're writing music or books or you're painting, no one's going to put the. I mean, people can only take you so far. Like. You can push me into my seat, you can duct tape me into my chair, you can duct tape a pen into my hand or you force me to be typing or something, but you can't force what's going to come out and when and how.

Speaker 1:

So when people say they need accountability, what I really hear them saying is kind of like I don't know how to get clear on what I want to do so that the accountability comes naturally. I don't need accountability Now. We all need it some days. So this notion of oh my God, every time I sit down to write, it's pure joy. I haven't met anybody yet who will say that, but what I know is that every time most of us sit down, we get something. We might wait for 30 minutes and get one sentence that we think that's a keeper, but hey, that's a win in my book.

Speaker 1:

So I think saying that we need accountability it's not accounting for the fact that this isn't just a miracle that shows up without us having to meet it at least halfway. It's not the easy road. Creativity is not the easy road. So I understand accountability when people are talking about things like exercise, but sometimes I think it's just a bit of a fallback word that we all myself included utilize and the question really becomes why aren't you sitting down every day to write? Because there are certain things beyond the cliche. You brush your teeth every day. You take a shower every day. You put on your shoes every day Okay, I get it. But there are other things that we do, often without even having to think about it, that we truly enjoy. We do it every day or very frequently because we absolutely enjoy it and we're not saying I need accountability for that.

Speaker 1:

I don't say I need someone to hold me accountable for going to sweet salvage or I need someone to hold me accountable for taking a walk Some days I do, but I don't need someone to hold me accountable for taking a walk most days. I don't need someone to hold me accountable for redoing my bedroom. I just like dive into that. I don't know what I'm doing most of the time, but I just dive in and figure it out as I go. Writing is no different Dive in and figure it out as you go. So we have to go deeper than I need accountability. It's a surface level problem that sounds good. I need inspiration, I need motivation, I need accountability, but we've got to go deeper than that, and so these are what I've just outlined here the four ways that work for me and have worked for me, and several of them work because I've adopted them from other people. I've borrowed them and then adopted them from other people because that's what works for them and I think, oh, that's interesting, I'm going to give that a shot and it's stuck.

Speaker 1:

So if accountability is the issue with which you are presently struggling, give one or all of these a try and let me know how it goes. And if you have a different approach to this, reach out and let me know, because I would be more than happy to share it with everyone else. We are all I mean, we're all just walking each other home in this book writing thing and in everything else. So I hope this has been helpful and I will talk to you again next week. Thank you so much for tuning in. If you enjoyed this episode, this is your friendly reminder to follow or subscribe, leave a quick review and share it with someone you know has a great story or message but isn't sure what to do next. Also, remember to check out publishaprofitablebookcom for book writing resources and tips and to see all the ways we can work together to get your book out into the world. Again, thanks so much for listening and I'll talk with you again soon.

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