Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR QUICK START GUIDE TO SELF-PUBLISHING and to be notified when the 3rd Edition of the Indie Author Survival Guide releases!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Guest Post: Change Begets Growth by Becca Puglisi

I'm lucky to have Becca Puglisi, co-author with Angela Ackerman of The Emotion Thesaurus, guest posting for me today. We've actually swapped guest posts, so I'm over on their awesomely helpful-for-writers blog, The Bookshelf Muse, with a post about how today is a Great Time to Be a Writer.

Don't forget to enter below to win a copy of The Emotion Thesaurus!



Change Begets Growth
by Becca Puglisi

My body recently informed me, via the bathroom scale, that it was no longer 20 years old. The message was relayed more harshly than needed, in my humble opinion. But I listened. I began monitoring my portions. I modified my snacks. I cut back on (gasp) Mountain Dew. And my body responded with a full-on belly laugh. A guffaw, if you will, at my attempts to thwart it.

Ok, so drastic nutritional changes weren’t enough. I took a good look at my exercise schedule. For almost 15 years, I’ve walked a mile and a half pretty much every day. I’ve been tempted to run a couple of times, but I’ve got a trick knee that sometimes gives me trouble. And the one time I tried running with my husband, it didn’t turn out well (see my future post on Ineffective Techniques For Strengthening Your Marriage). But I was down to three pairs of pants that fit, and I really didn’t want to buy new clothes. So I thought, What the heck. I’ll give it a shot. I started small: jog from this mailbox to that one, then walk. Repeat. My body tried to sneer, but it must’ve been difficult, what with the weight coming off, and all. And my knee hasn’t bothered me a bit.

Here’s the thing. Walking was good for me. I liked walking. But it wasn’t getting the results I wanted. So I took a risk. I did something I didn’t think I was capable of, something I’ve failed at in the past. And it totally paid off, in more ways than I thought possible. Not only am I nearing my weight loss goal, but I’m toner--a side effect I hadn’t considered. I have increased confidence; I’m proud of myself for trying something difficult and sticking to it.

I experienced the same thing a few months ago, when Angela and I started planning to publish The Emotion Thesaurus. One of us had to establish our business and take care of the finances, and neither of us felt exactly comfortable in that role. But for a variety of reasons, it made more sense to set up shop in the US. You have no idea how this terrified me. I’ve always sucked at math. The only class I ever dropped was accounting. I often tell my husband that I married him for many reasons, but the two most important were 1) so our kids could have tans, and 2) so I wouldn’t have to balance the checkbook. But the deed had to be done, so I gave a big gulp and jumped in, and I’m surprised to find myself actually doing a pretty good job. I think we sometimes focus so much on our weaknesses that they become bigger than they are, get blown all out of proportion. Sure, the math part is annoying, but I can’t tell you how excited I am to add up receipts and write checks, to make sure the monthly payments come in on time. Again, I’m doing something I didn’t think I was capable of, something that (according to my college checkbook) I’d failed at in the past.

In a nutshell, here’s what I’ve learned: everything plateaus. Without movement, healthy nothing-wrong-with-it water turns dull and stagnant, even toxic. Without change, business strategies that once were exhilarating and successful eventually become status quo and ho-hum. If we’re going to succeed in any area, we MUST push ourselves to do a little bit more, go a little bit farther.

So I’d like to offer up a writing-related challenge for us all. First, think of the last thing you did to push yourself in your writing. Then consider what good result came of that challenge. Maybe you met a new friend/mentor/influencer, or your writing improved in some way, or you made a leap in your career by taking on a new opportunity. Now, knowing that change begets growth, think of what your next challenge will be. It doesn’t have to be immediate; you might choose to implement a new technique on your next draft or register to attend your first conference. Just think about it, and determine that you will withstand the growing pains in order to achieve growth. And if you don’t mind sharing, I’d love to hear what you’ll be doing to challenge yourselves in the near future.

~*~
Becca Puglisi is one half of The Bookshelf Muse blogging duo, and co-author of The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression. Listing the body language, visceral reactions and thoughts associated with 75 different emotions, this brainstorming guide is a valuable tool for showing, not telling, emotion. The Emotion Thesaurus is available for purchase through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Smashwords, and the PDF can be purchased directly from her blog.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

33 comments:

  1. Congrats on reaching your weight goals! Aging has a way of slowing down the metabolism. Not fun!

    Trying new things and experimenting is not important for our writing but for most things! For me, it's trying new genres, even if it's just for me. Or writing in different styles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, this was not an easy lesson for me to learn. I'm a very laid back, take-it-easy kind of person. Pushing myself doesn't come naturally, but I'm so glad I'm learning to do it. And congrats on trying a new genre. Which new one are you working on now?

      Delete
  2. My goodness, things I have done to push myself... It would be easier to list the things I HAVEN'T done. Regardless, it's been difficult to share my work. I love writing/living inside my head, but have been petrified of people's response. I suppose for me pushing that limit means being able to exchange with critiquers at an earlier stage.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yikes. Sharing our work with others is nerve-wracking. I always think my stuff's better than it really is, lol. But I can't think of a better way to grow as a writer. Good for you, for putting yourself out there!

      Delete
  3. It's a great point. The only constant is change. Thanks, Becca and Susan!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love your revelation about how everything plateaus. It sounds simple enough, but I've never thought of it that way. And congrats on meeting your goals! I've always looked at my weight as health and not a number. Numbers really do suck.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a great way to look at it, Sheri. Mostly, I just despise buying clothes in the next size up. Eventually, I'll have no choice, but until then, I'm fighting tooth and nail ;).

      Delete
  5. Fantastic guest post, I cracked up when you listed your reasons for being with your husband. You're right, you have to take risks to get results. It can be scary, but rewarding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My husband's a rock star. Both my kids seem to have an aptitude for math, my daughter has a great tan, and my son at least doesn't fry and peel like an onion. So he did his job ;)

      Delete
  6. Awesome post! Love the exercise analogy.

    This is a good reminder why it's good to take risks. We can't grow if we don't. It's those little things that can make the difference, like sharing your writing to get feedback. Some risks don't amount to much (as the eating example showed). You just have find what does work.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's exhausting, the constant process of self-evaluation in every area of life. But it really is totally necessary if you want to improve.

      Delete
  7. What a fantastic post, Becca! My body is sending the same message and laughing just as hard. You've inspired me. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why must they be so mean? After all we've done for them!!

      Delete
  8. Ooh, you've inspired me to try running/walking. I've wanted to do this for ages, and now that the evenings are finally cooler, I think I may try. It's annoying that the body revolts into the thirties, eh? ;) Congrats on making changes that were uncomfortable, and yet, needed! Inspiring post.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent post, Becca! And I am so proud of you, because every challenge that has come your way regarding our crazy writing adventure you've taken in stride, dealt with and grown as a result. :) And woo-hoo for weight loss--this is my 'NEXT BIG GOAL'. (Well, that and that other crazy thing we're attempting to do.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw shucks ;). It's easy to take things in stride when you're not doing them ALONE.

      Delete
  10. Inspiring post! I also joined a gym for the first time ever in July because my daughter was eager to have access to the waterpark. I find I'm sleeping better and just more generally focused because of regular exercise (looser clothes is another bonus!).

    I had a lot of naysayers telling me self-publishing is for hacks, and my own fears of having to establish a business entity scaring me off, but I took the plunge recently. Mastering new skills is empowering!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Congrats, Laurel! Succeeding where you never thought you could is a total confidence booster. When I'm confronted with a scary new idea now, I think, "C'mon. I'm running a business. Surely I could do THAT." Good for you!

      Delete
  11. You have a trick knee; I have a trick back. I used to be in the doctor's office weekly to get relief. Then a small bell rang inside my head . . . a voice with a bullhorn actually. "If you'd strengthen those stomach muscles, you might not have so much trouble with that back." That was twenty years ago. Still today, I can't imagine not working out. It's a part of my life, just like writing. So I suppose the challenge I have is to maintain the workout/writing schedule that's kept me pain free for all these years and produced three books. Now if only I could get the writing books part to be pain free as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ugh. Balance. Such a struggle for me right now, too. And if you figure out the pain-free book-writing part, please do a post on it ;).

      Delete
  12. I recently attempted a brand new genre for me, learned a lot, and hopefully grew as a writer. Now, I see all kinds of posts on the blogs about sticking to one genre for purposes of "branding" -- but to me, that sounds like advice meant to be helpful, but isn't. To me, it sounds like hitting that plateau and possibly stagnating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Awesome, Dianne! You know, I hear the branding advice and I have to wonder about it, too. I mean, it's great for people who truly love to write just the one genre, but it seems like it would be stifling for people who like to branch out.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I did the same thing with running this summer. It's definitely a good exercise over walking. :)

    I'm planning to write a screenplay this month, which I've never done before; I think it will be an interesting challenge.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooooh! A screenplay. How cool. Let us know how it goes :).

      Delete
  15. Running will never be my thing. I do enjoy walking though. And I love your writing challenge!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Very cool, Becca! I would've been nervous about taking on the business end as well. My challenge was taking the big gulp and going indie w/my latest book. How scary, but it's been so fun. I agree--we have to keep doing things that scare us. Often they pay off! Best to you! *waves* to Susan! <3

    ReplyDelete
  17. Lynda, I love walking, too. At times, I miss walking, lol.

    LTM, Congrats on taking the plunge! Scary, but so worthwhile, right?

    ReplyDelete
  18. That's me! Kriston J! Thank you for hosting the giveaway and thank you Becca. I am off to use my "prize" right now.
    Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  19. When I saw the title I thought you were going to go a whole different direction and talk about characters, and how their change and growth are related in a novel. But I like where you went with it better. Great analogy, though I think your bathroom scale (judging from your photo) might need some recalibration.

    My last writing risk... hmm. Most recently, sending out a book for an online review. Before that, actually holding an author reading. I've also tried a couple of other things that didn't work out, and I've learned a lot from those.

    What will I do next? Hard to say. Let me get past this insane period at work and release my second book, then I'll tell you...

    ReplyDelete