Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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January 19, 2024

6-Step Success Blueprint for a Great Writing Year

by Jenny Hansen

In my "day job life," I draw a lot of wisdom from entrepreneurial, marketing, and motivation experts. People like Tony Robbins and Dean Graziosi, Lisa Nichols and Og Mandino, Trent Shelton and Brené Brown. Just like writing advice, I take what resonates and make it work for me and my own Success Blueprint. And of course, when I hear really great stuff, I want to share it with all my friends here at WITS.

2024 is a big exciting year for me, for a lot of reasons. I am in the middle of writing two books I'm excited about -- one fiction, and one non-fiction. My family is moving to the East Coast this summer to start some new adventures over there. I won my dogfight with cancer and I'm excited to be alive.

I'm also excited about the wisdom, so here it goes, in no particular order...

1. Audit your inner circle

"We are the sum total of the five people we hang with the most." - Dean Graziosi and Tony Robbins

Every year, Dean does an event in January where he shares his own blueprint, and this one stood out to me. He said, "Don’t hang out with the people who you make excuses with about your dreams." I LOVE that.

I encourage you to try this little exercise.

(p.s. While I hope you relate to nothing on the list below, I suspect that some of it will sound familiar.)

Take a second to think about how many times you've:

  • Minimized your goals and dreams around someone because they think (or have told you) you can't do it.
  • Made yourself smaller to make someone else feel bigger, or better.
  • Not tried to create something because you were afraid you'd fail.
  • Been told in a loving tone that "you are reaching too high" or that your loved one "just doesn't want you to be disappointed if this [fill in the blank] doesn't work out."

If you nodded your head 'yes' to any of these, I see you. I hear you. I get you.

And I hope you kick the crap out of that thought pattern.

Think about the fact that one of the people you hang out with the most is yourself. Some of those messages are coming from you.

It's a new year and a new day, and we are better than that. We don't need to hide our spectacular selves away. Spread out. Live large. Shine bright. Allow yourself to be excited about the glorious stories you want to tell.

If it's a close friend or family member who isn't excited about your goals and dreams, simply have different conversations with them. But find a writing and/or mentoring circle that is excited about you and your endeavors. Your people are out there. Some of them might even hang out here at WITS.

Find your people -- those two to ten who light you on fire -- and hang out with them more. Your own inspiration will grow when you surround yourself with people who feed your creative soul.

2. Decide who’s steering the ship.

Who is steering the trajectory of your life? Who is steering your goals to completion? Is it the siren call of your dreams, or the dark whisper of your fears?

This is an important question for every person at every age and stage of life. Sometimes this is harder for creatives to answer because there's such a long runway spent honing our craft. We spend weeks months and years learning from those who have gone before us, and from our own successes and failures.

I prize the people I can trust to give me good advice. Bad advice is the most costly advice in the world, especially if it is allowed to dictate your dreams. Failures and regrets and imposter syndrome are the most unreliable of navigators. You don't want those bozos steering your career.

In the end, YOU need to be the one in charge of the steering wheel.

Brené Brown has said in numerous talks that she carries a list in her wallet with the names of people whose opinions matter to her. What a smart and tangible way to stay grounded! That means if a person isn't on that list, then their opinion is their own problem, and not hers.

3. Meet each story with love.

“Your transparency will lead to other people's transformation.” -- Trent Shelton

Our story might not be for every reader, but if we bring love and truth to our stories, readers will feel it. This is how we serve our readers and our characters. This is how we can treat them with the utmost love.

Many years ago, I heard an agent talk about writing voice. She believed that every time a writer puts words on the page, they are shouting out, "this is who I am." I think that is both true and false. We aren't our characters and our characters are not us, but pieces of them are. I know writers who struggle with being seen so clearly by their readers. I know writers who are afraid to be seen at all.

Trent Shelton has wisdom here too: “We are all a little broken. But last time I checked, broken crayons still color the same.”

Sometimes those broken bits of us are the exact puzzle piece a reader needs to feel alive and whole.

4. Be bold.

“Everything you've ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear.” -- George Addair

That quote tells us to be bold. To hang in there. To keep doing the work, even when we're failing or frightened. I think of Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 speech, excerpted by Brené Brown more than a century later in her book, “Daring Greatly.”

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Brené, through the words of Teddy Roosevelt and through her own, helps me remember to Be Bold.

5. Small Changes Can Transform Your Life.

“Big doors swing on little hinges.” --W. Clement Stone

Small changes will transform your life. Journaling for ten minutes each morning. Stretching before your morning coffee. Stating your goals out loud while you look in the mirror. All of these have been proven to be life-changing over time, even though they are somewhat tiny in the moment.

For me, it was stretching for a few minutes before I got out of bed. I had to do it for OT and PT after my surgery last October, but I've been astonished by the results. Not only do I have far less neck pain, but those few minutes have given me back half an inch of height over the last six weeks!

What routine could you shift without very much trouble? What small daily something might make a dramatic shift for you in the long run? Reading? Stretching? Meditating? Journaling? It might be fun to pick one and try it for 5-10 minutes a day or 15 minutes a week and see what happens.

6. Don't Dim Your Glow

"Don’t you dare dim your glow to make the people around you feel better." - Lisa Nichols

I'm circling back to this point again, because it's so important. And if you've never heard of Lisa Nichols, I promise you will want more of her. In fact, I think experiencing this three-and-a-half minute video with her might be one of the most inspiring things you do today.

She makes me grin so hard my cheeks hurt.

Final Thoughts

Just to sum up that Success Blueprint again:

  1. Audit your inner circle. Spend time with people who stoke the fire of your dreams.
  2. Decide who is steering the ship. Work to make sure that it's the right person
  3. Meet each story with love. Heck, meet each day with love if you've got it in you. Love is the shizz.
  4. Be bold. Get in the game and dare greatly.
  5. Small changes can transform your life. Even 15 minutes a week can astonish you.
  6. Don't dim your glow. (And definitely get more Lisa Nichols in your life.)

Also, for all of you who had trouble getting into the link to Angela Ackerman's post on Monday, we didn't want you to miss it. It is stellar! -- Increasing the Emotional Impact of Your Story.

Here's one last quote.

"I will persist until I succeed. The prizes of life are at the end of each journey, not near the beginning; and it is not given to me to know how many steps are necessary to reach my goal. Failure I may still encounter at the thousandth step, yet success hides behind the next bend in the road." -- Og Mandino

* * * * * *

About Jenny

By day, Jenny Hansen provides brand storytelling, LinkedIn coaching, and copywriting for accountants and financial services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction, and short stories. After 20 years as a corporate trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

Find Jenny here at Writers In the Storm, or online on Facebook or Instagram.

All article photos from Depositphotos.

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20 comments on “6-Step Success Blueprint for a Great Writing Year”

  1. Your post was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thank you so much.! Thank you too for the Lisa Nichols video.

    You are an important light. Keep shining!

  2. OMG, Jenny. This is one of the most empowering posts I've read in a very long time. I love every quote and every point. Most of all, I LOVE Lisa Nichols. She said several things I needed to hear.

  3. Super powerful message and super-duper powerful video. "Don't put a period where God put a comma." True, true, true. Thank you for this kick in the ass today...to sit up, push my shoulders back and press on....oh, and SHINE, SPARKLE and SHIMMER!!!

  4. Oh, Jenny - I laughed so much at that video. I adore it. Thank you so much for this stunningly motivational post. I've been struggling to find my joy in a world where I'm not spending enough time on my own writing to stay out of the "gonna kill someone" headspace. I needed this.

    1. The solution there seems like it might be "putting on your own mask before assisting others." We all do this...put others before ourselves...and then we get that "wanna kill someone" feeling. It's frustrating.

      Your writing is beautiful and special and important. I believe that, and I hope you do too.

  5. Wow, well, there was a lot of glow-dimming for my first 35 or so years. In order to regain my light I had to audit my inner circle several times. It was painful but necessary.

    And Lisa Nichols, on my goodness! She is incredible.

    Thank you for this marvelous post, Jenny!

    1. You are very very welcome, Ellen. And good for you...auditing your circle is really hard the first several times. I'm so sorry anyone dimmed your glow. You sure did get it back!

  6. I had to go beyond believing in myself and to believe what is possible. Shut out the naysayers. And then just do it.

    I know it sounds cliche`, but it can be that simple. No tricks. Dream, Believe, Achieve.

  7. Just got to this post today! Wow! Awesome! The tough days seem to outnumber the others in recent months, but I'm still here with a desire to write, especially about the things that keep me awake at night. Your heart-felt words are balm for the soul and a giant dose of encouragement. Thank you.

    1. You have made my day, Micky. I'm sorry the tough days are plentiful right now. It's very hard to write during those times. Sometimes the answer is not to force the writing. Maybe instead, you can do something writing-related. After I had a baby and was experiencing some solid post-partum depression, I couldn't imagine how I would get back to the page.

      The answer for me was reading Julia Cameron's "The Sound of Paper" for 20 minutes every day. I read for my 20 minutes for weeks, and one day I wanted to do an exercise. A month later, I wanted to write for 20 minutes. It was a slow unfurling of my creativity and joy with my stories, but eventually it came back. Yours will too.

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