Revision: 5 Tips

“If the path be beautiful, let us not ask where it leads.”
― Anatole France

Now that the first draft of the second book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secret in the Mist, is done, I can get to work. As author Michael Crichton has said, “writing is all about rewriting, which can be depressing, especially when after the seventh rewrite you find that’s still not working.” In other words, “books aren’t written, they’re re-written.”

Most helpful is a study of the charts that Kate Messner has created to use in her revision process. Before I studied Messner's charts, I relied on lists, which is what I’m using for Mist. When I begin the third and last book in the Abi Wunder Mystery series, Secrets of the Heart, I plan to switch over to my own version of Messner’s chart system.

Get the First Draft Down

When I wrote the first book, Secret in the Stars, I spent too much time writing and editing what I wrote, all the way through the manuscript. That process turned out to be extremely inefficient. It made the book take a long time to write. This is what I advise after writing Mist:

  • Leave your editor’s cap at the door and write your book straight through without any interruptions. 
  • Let the draft sit at least five days.
  • Do a read-through or general revision, editing for word choice, obvious additions and deletions; in short, anything you see that needs improving.
  • Let the draft sit.

Analyze your Story: Make a List

  • Get Organized: First on the list is to take stock of ideas that occur to you while writing the first draft.  I wish I could say I made a neat list of my ideas. I didn't. The ideas appeared on whatever paper was available at the time the idea struck. Still, after sifting through the piles of papers in my office, I’m glad I saved them. Examples: Abi hears a faint whistle every time the ghost appears. This "aha" moment came to me while watching a movie on TV and hearing that whistle. I put to use that terrific little scrap of paper.
  • Another example is my note: “Keep personal stakes high,” a reminder I had heard at an SCBWI Zoom meeting. I began a revision with this in mind, and that pass turned out to be the second major revision.

Create Arcs for each Character

Making character arcs are not only fun and informative, but necessary. I like to make diagrams with brief descriptions of how the characters have progressed and grown through the story. The example I like to use is the thirty-five pages in Book 1 where the dog Star was missing. It was a noticeable gap, which I filled in. In Book 2, I've completed the arc for Angel, an antagonist, who doesn't appear in Book 3.

List the scenes

It is, of course, important to make sure the scenes are varied and interesting. Also, keeping track of the scenes helps you make sure the story is moving forward and doesn't contain any "dead" spots. When Chris Eboch, a professional editor and prolific author who happily belongs to my SCBWI-NM chapter, edited Book 1, she came to a lovely chapter near the end about kittens that the two main characters were given. Here is an excerpt from that chapter. Maybe you can see why I wanted to keep it:

        Hidden among the cucumber vines and tomatoes, four kittens of different colors snuggled against 

their mother. Bell gave her visitors a warning look as if to say, Shh, don't wake my babies. Can't you 

see? They’re sleeping. When she moved her head, the bell around her neck made a soft tinkling sound.

Star sniffed at the kittens and lowered his head, his ears down.

    “Bell!” Abi said. Dee gave her a quizzical look. Abi explained, “I didn’t know your cat’s name, so I

called her Bell.”

    Dee chuckled. “You’re right, Bell fits.”

    “Can I hold one?” Abi asked her.

    Dee’s face lit up. “You can have one, each of you. It's my way of saying thank you.” Ryan's bony

 shoulders fell to a slouch. “You too, Ryan.”

    He shook his head. “Nah, my parents would never let me and Jess both have a kitten.”

    A wide smile rippled across Pop's leathery cheeks. “Oh yes they will. Signed, sealed, and parent-

approved. And yes, Abi, your new apartment building allows cats.”

    “Oh Pop, really?” Abi rose to the tips of her toes and hugged his neck.

    A black and beige kitten with a pink nose stirred. Dee handed the kitten to her. She hugged the tiny 

ball of fur to her cheek and felt the kitten’s silky coat. “Oh Pop, she’s beautiful.” She held the kitten out 

and Star licked the side of its head.

    Pop stroked the kitten with a pudgy finger and smiled. “What did I tell you? Something good turned

 up after all.”

But, and that’s a big but, the scene didn’t move the story forward. I had to take the entire chapter out, painful as it was after having a professional photographer take my picture with two kittens at a pet store. The good news is that the photo with the kittens is a fun one for my website, and the chapter can be used in my promo materials, hopefully to help touch children’s hearts.

List Plot Points

For this most important analysis, structure becomes important. I learned how to structure my stories in a fiction writing course I took, which followed Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey.”

  • Make a diagram of your plot points using Cambpell's diagram. Make sure your story has the structure it needs. 

Check for Accuracy

Any information included in your book can be true or close to the truth. I mention the Alleghany Mountains in both Book 1 and 2, and made sure the setting was oriented correctly with the mountains set to the west. Many parts of both books needed to be researched for authenticity, such as in Book 1, a sheriff’s and deputy’s uniforms, the color of hard hats worn by different types of contractors; and in Book 2, Quakers who moved from Pennsylvania and settled in Loudoun County, Virginia in the 1800s, studied in order to help shape the personality of the ghost.

Release your book to your beta readers and a professional editor only after it is as polished as you can get it, after you've gone through your checklist of edits. I wrote my December post, “A Story Revision Checklist,” while working on the first major revision of Mist. It is chock full of more comprehensive ways to revise. Today’s post fills in more points I feel are important and wasn’t able to cover in the earlier post. Here is the link to my December post: 


Flower photo by: Linda Wilson

Photo with kittens by: 

Linda Wilson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  She has two daughters, Kim and Tracy, who inspired her stories when they were younger. Linda is the editor of the New Mexico Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators newsletter, and has written posts for the Writers on the Move blog since 2013. She is a classical pianist and loves to go to the gym. But what Linda loves most is to make up stories and connect with her readers. Find out more by visiting Linda’s website at

Six Steps to Finding Writing Jobs and Building Your Business

If you want to actually make a living from your writing and become what I call a "working" freelance writer, you need to know what to do to create a constant flow of income.

Finding writing jobs usually requires several steps.

Here are six steps to try:

Step 1. Start networking with other writers.

Many times, other writers will lead you to writing opportunities that you did not even know existed.

Join a writing club, writer's association, or other organization for writers.

Get to know these other writers.

Also, once you join a writer's group or organization be willing to volunteer for various positions.

You just never know when a volunteer position will lead to a better opportunity that pays.

Step 2. Subscribe to a number of free ezines for writers that feature job ads.

You should be able to find a few opportunities in these ezines each week to get your business started and create some momentum.

After a while, you'll move up to better paying assignments and you won't need to rely on job ads to find new work.

Step 3. Be willing to take on many interesting new projects, even when some of these assignments are things you have never done before.

This is perhaps the most difficult step for most new writers to take.

All too often, they are not willing to step out of their comfort zones and try something new.] As a result, they lose out on better paying assignments that they are qualified to do.

Step 4. Learn to work effectively and comfortably with editors so they are willing to work with you again and again.

Editors can give you assignments on a regular basis once they get to know you, so it's well worth it to be easy to work with, even if you don't always completely agree with every editorial suggestion an editor might give you.

Step 5. Resist the temptation to take on too many low paying assignments because they will take up too much of your time. Time that you could use to find fewer, better paying assignments.

This is another step that many beginning writers have difficulty with.

They get too comfortable accepting low paying assignments and are afraid to go for better paying assignments.

As a result, they never earn a substantial income from their writing.

Step 6. Create your own writing opportunities.

Write proposals, create your own information products for a specific target market, submit queries to magazines and other publications.

The sky really is the limit to your writing business if you will get in the habit of creating your own opportunities.

This may be uncomfortable at first.

But once you get the hang of it, you'll constantly create new opportunities for expanding your business.

Follow these six steps and you'll be on your way to earning a substantial income from your freelance writing.

Try it!

For more writing tips, be sure to visit and get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge. Once you're a subscriber, you'll also have access to a Private Resource Library for Writers.

Suzanne Lieurance is the author of over 35 published books, a freelance writer, and a writing coach.

A Critical Piece for Every Writer

By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin

Last week I spoke with an author about her book. While she had written the manuscript, she didn't have a “working title.” Another time a writer refused to tell me her title because it was a “secret.” Both of these are extremes but it shows the variety of author responses in this critical area of titles. Whether you are writing a book, a magazine article or an online article, your title will draw readers in seconds. They will either be enticed to read it or move on to something else (not what you want). The words in your title are a critical piece for every writer.
As a book editor--for fiction and nonfiction, I've repeatedly seen the importance of titles to draw the reader to the book. Titles for the book often happen early in the path to publication or on the publisher’s production schedule. Most nonfiction books are contracted from a book proposal, so often the writer hasn’t completed their manuscript. Yet the title needs to be determined for the catalog and sales copy to be created and the cover to be designed.
Titles should be one to five words and draw the reader into your article (enticing). The word limit is particularly important for books because most books are spine out in the bookstore. Your title has to be readable and fit that spine (along with your last name).  A number of authors don't work hard on their titles because they believe their publisher will change them anyway. After writing more than 60 books for traditional publishers, I have a different perspective. If I create a terrific title for my book, I've seen it become the actual title for the book—even as it goes through the editorial process (different at every publishing house). My encouragement if for you to create a title along with a series of alternative titles for your book.
I've been involved in hours of title meetings where we have an entire white board filled with titles and are trying to select the right one for the book. What are we working with for this process? Often it's your original proposal. What have you provided the publishing house? Have you provided a single title or a title and a list of alternative titles? As the author, you know your book better than anyone else--and have the greatest passion for the topic. Make sure that passion shows up in your title and alternative titles. It will be significant. When I'm in a title meeting with my colleagues there is one critical person who is not in the room (the author).  In your pitch, I encourage you to seize your opportunity to give input with your title and alternative titles.
Publishers work hard at the title--but don't always get it right the first time--and some times they change it in the process. For example, years ago the nonfiction book from Frank Peretti was first released as The Wounded Spirit and the publisher changed the title to No More Bullies. This book has been repositioned in the market with the new title.
Titles can make or break a book or magazine piece. Draw the reader or make them pass on to the next possibility. Put lots of energy toward this detail. Your title might just be the tipping point which makes a difference whether your book idea or magazine article is published or whether it catches lots of attention.
Do you put effort into your titles? Let me know your insights in the comments below.


Whether you are writing a blog post, a magazine article or a book, there is a critical piece for every writer: the title. Get insights in this article from this prolific editor and author. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (
follow this link
).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers. His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. 
One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has  190,000 twitter followers

Tips for Promoting Your Articles


Keep building your inventory. Rewrite sections of your book as segment posts or short stories. Collect your old writing pieces and rewrite, modify or revised them. Write about new things you learn and ideas you explore. Use descriptive details to make stories & articles resonate, then promote, promote, promote.
Like Carolyn Howard-Johnson says in The Frugal Book Promoter: Recycle your Creative Work!

Marketing and promoting our work is simply sharing what we love and find important with the people who appreciate hearing about it. We’re after attracting like-minded people who need or would enjoy our stories, articles and books. Marketing is not force-feeding: it’s sharing with those interested.

Marketing is about the reader. We need to know to whom we are writing, and what they are looking for. How will our article or book benefit the reader? This guides and helps us deliver our best work.

As a caregiver, I write stories for caregivers that will resonate and help them meet the needs of the day.

Ways to publish:
• Traditional publishing for books, in magazines and periodicals
• On Line opportunities range from Blogging, Websites, Facebook Pages and Videos, YouTube, etc.
   - The best advice I can give is to own your blog and website. Things change. You don’t want your hard work controlled by someone else. Owning essentially means paying for hosting
   - Plus, if you have an email list of readers, you want control of that information
   - If you choose to go the free route, there are several opportunities for websites and blogs available

Metadata is also a vehicle for promoting your work. Metadata is information about your book, the title, sub-title, sales description, categories and author bio. It helps bookstores and online retailers list your work in the best area(s) for visibility per your description. Metadata can also help optimize your website and blog SEO for readers searching for your work.

Find the perfect promo fit for you and your work. That way it will work for you.
To get online attention for your stories, articles and books consider using:
•    Posts on your own Blog Site, your LinkedIn page, Facebook page, or Medium
•    Posts, images and videos on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and more
•    Podcasts on iTunes, Sound Cloud and various audio platforms
•    Free webinars or collaborative summits
•    Newsletters and email blasts

Readers want personable, well-written works they can relate to, and find beneficial.
Write from the heart first, then polish for publication.

Book List:
*Successful Self-Publishing—How to Self-Publish and Market Your Book, by Joanna Penn
*The Frugal Book Promoter—How to Get Nearly Free Publicity on Your Own… by Carolyn Howard-Johnson


Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts.
Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   
Visit her caregiver’s website:
Mom & Me: A Story of Dementia and the Power of God’s Love -- on Amazon

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer



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Gary S. Roen Book Critic Welcomes Books to Review

  Gary S. Roen, Nationally Syndicated Book Critic Welcomes Books to Review

Roen is a book reviewer with 47 years of experience in the publishing world. He began by working for a family-owned publishing company. He is an author of several books, including Cats Cats and More CatsJourneySlotski’s World, The Forgotten Father Coping with Grief, and Look at Me World. He writes short stories of science fiction that are receiving very positive feedback. He is always working on some new writing pieces and having fun with them. He has spoken at author and science fiction groups and conventions. He teaches authors as a consultant.

Be Professional Always: Roen’s General Advice for Working with Publishers and Reviewers

What is essential for authors to know when corresponding with publishers and reviewers?

How should a press person, an agent, bookseller, or anyone else you contact your book, no matter what genre, be approached? Roen states that often the writer does not treat this as a business and is too casual in email. He says several blunders can have an author’s email tossed into delete. Let’s say this is an article, book, or book review you are pitching to an editor, so use their name and their title. Then proceed with the body of your message. It amazes him that people do not take a second or two more to do this carefully. Writing is a profession that warrants that it be treated as such.

Each book shared with the press should also have press a release included. Contact information or a letter from someone representing the title introducing the media to someone affiliated with the sent material is required.

Self-published Books Should Appear Professional

Roen has witnessed many well-done self-published titles that were hard to tell if they were professional or not. Unfortunately, recently, others submitted to him he has deemed not worthy of his time because of their poor presentation.

Let’s begin with the cover. It has to grab your attention front, side and back. One book had a title almost the same color as the background, making it difficult to read. The side binding had no identification and was just black and, on the back, a confusing picture. It is annoying for any press person to have to figure out the price of the book if one is not displayed.

On the copyright page, the year of the work should be listed. Sometimes a book has no about the author page. There may be no contact information. People forget the press person has to have some way to let the person know there has been attention for the work in question. Be sure to include front and back matter pages if self-publishing.

What to Do When Asking Gary Roen for a Book Review (Please follow directions)

Roen does welcome authors to connect and submit books for his free reviews. He accepts all genres from publishers, authors, and PR firms. Meeting authors at events like Fandom Kissimmee, Oasis, and Necronomicon Science Fiction conventions, or library events to promote reading and authors are a few of the things he enjoys. He prefers not to review romance or religious books. He reviews most but not all of the books he receives. There may be a time lag, so be patient, and also realize he writes for newspapers and magazines. He does not review books on Amazon due to their continually changing rules.

Please do not go to Roen’s house and hand him a book. That gets an instant rejection. Surprisingly people have done so. Contact him and ask where to send a book for review. 

One particular thing to know if contacting Roen for a book review is that he loves the smell of a new book. Only hardcopies, meaning paperback or hardcover books, will do. He does not read on e-readers, so no PDFs or eBooks at all. They do not pass the new book “sniff” test! 

Where Are Some of Your Book Reviews Published?

“My reviews have been running for a long time in different publications throughout the nation, that includes, bUnike Magazine, Lake Legal NewsHernando StarVeterans Voice and Bivouac Magazine to name a few.”

Why Do You Review Books?

“I love reading and fell into it many years ago when I was on WPRK in Winter Park, Florida. I did the show with Patty Flanigan of WDBO. To expand the listenership, we branched out to include print as a way to promote the show. Later we dissolved everything, but I kept doing print reviews that have continued to this day.”

He may be contacted through Twitter at @bearbeatle or LinkedIn accounts or 

Gary Roen’s books may be found at:


Barnes and Noble

Thank you for reading, and we hope you find many reviewers for your books!

Carolyn Wilhelm, Wise Owl Factory

Gary S. Roen, Nationally Syndicated Book Critic Welcomes Books to Review



5 Items for #GoalTopia Inspiration

To get what you want, you need to know what you want. That's truly the first step in setting effective goals and, as a result, setting yourself up for success.

So, what do you want? To get your book published? Have a syndicated column? Be a very busy - and financially stable - writer? Whatever your goal, think a little bigger. 

Do you want to be a best-selling author? Be the go-to expert on a certain subject that your column is known around the world? Write novels that get turned into films and, every time a sequel comes out, your books find a brand new audience?

What is your Goaltopia? GoalTopia is your ideal destination. It's that magical place where you are achieving your goals and living the life you want. 

Can you see it? Excellent!

Now that you know what you want, let's solidify those plans. Gather a few items to keep at your desk/in your workspace that will keep you focused as you work toward that ideal life. 

Call it a vision board, motivator, or compass, here are five things that will help you keep an eye on the GoalTopia.
1. Visual Representation. You know what you want, but what does that look like? Create some form of visualization to keep on or near your desk. For instance, want to be an award-winning screenwriter? Get an award statue or certificate, and add your name and screenplay title. Working on becoming a bestselling author? Print out a copy of the New York Times Bestseller List, and write your name and title at number 1.

2. Your Future Bio. Write a bio of you living your ideal future life. List out your credits and accomplishments. It can be a few lines, a paragraph, or a page. Just remember to write it in the third person ... and in the present tense.

3. Your Mission. Your mission statement encompasses who you are - your background and what makes you unique, as well as what you want and how you help others. Help can take the form of informing, educating, and entertaining those around you or who can learn from your expertise. The point is this: when you are working toward your goals, and helping others in the process, there is fuel behind you ... pushing you to succeed. 

4. Your Motto. Once you know your mission, shorten it into a catchy three- to five-word that encompasses the spirit of who you are, what you are doing, and why. "Inspire and inform." "Just write." "Go for it." Whatever your mission and motto, refer to them whenever new opportunities come your way. This will help you make informed decisions, so that all your activities are in alignment with you and your goals.  

5. Your Goals. Keep your top five goals in your line of sight whenever possible in order to keep you focused. 

As you strive toward achieving your goals, you want to keep an eye on the prize. When you know what you want - and surround yourself with reminders - you will stay motivated, inspired, and constantly in motion!  

Read more about where to keep your goals... and where not to!

* * *

So, where do you keep your items of inspiration? Please share your thoughts and experience in the comments.

Debra Eckerling is the author of Your Goal Guide: A Roadmap for Setting, Planning and Achieving Your Goals. A writer, editor, and project catalyst, as well as founder of the D*E*B METHOD and Write On Online, Deb works with individuals and businesses to set goals and manage their projects through one-on-one coaching, workshops, and online support. She is also the author of Write On Blogging: 51 Tips to Create, Write & Promote Your Blog and Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages, host of the #GoalChat Twitter Chat and #GoalChatLive on Facebook, and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.

Book Review || Persistence by Jordan Rosenfeld

Jordan Rosenfeld is the author of –  A Writer’s Guide To Persistence: How to Create a Lasting and Productive Writing Practice,   Reviewed by Deborah Lyn Stanley

I bought Jordan Rosenfeld’s Persistence book a couple of years ago and it has had a significant influence on my writing practice. I kept a notebook to record the volume of important points that caught my attention in each chapter. The book builds strategically from Chapter 1 through Chapter 25. The journey changed and strengthened my practice.

I particularly enjoyed the process of defining “Why I Write” then developing “My Writer’s Code Agreement”. The closing message is worth keeping; Persistence means you don’t ever give up, you consider no effort wasted, you keep writing, and you go on resolutely.

The Goal of the book is to impress writers with the importance of creating a productive writing practice that will last. It’s a strategic plan that’s consistent, unlocks your direction, and authenticity, for your essential pathway.

I whole-heartedly recommend this book. It’s unique, it’s complete, and it will inspire you no matter what your experience level is.

Thank you Jordan Rosenfeld, much appreciated!


Other books by Jordan Rosenfeld:
•    Writing the Intimate Character: Create Unique, Compelling Characters Through Mastery of Point of View by Jordan Rosenfeld
•    How To Write A Page-Turner: Craft a Story Your Readers Can’t Put Down by Jordan Rosenfeld
•    Make a Scene Revised and Expanded Edition: Writing a Powerful Story One Scene at a Time by Jordan Rosenfeld
•    Writing Deep Scenes: Plotting Your Story Through Action, Emotion, and Theme by Martha Alderson and Jordan Rosenfeld

Deborah Lyn Stanley is an author of Creative Non-Fiction. She writes articles, essays and stories. She is passionate about caring for the mentally impaired through creative arts. 

Visit her My Writer’s Life website at:   

Visit her caregiver’s website:

Facebook: Deborah Lyn Stanley, Writer



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Writing Through 2020, Or Not with Terry Whalin

In light of the unprecedented and scary year we've had, we thought it'd be a good idea to share our 2020 in regard to how the year affected our writing and our lives.

Today, Terry Whalin shares his experience:
By Terry Whalin @terrywhalin
As we end this strange year of 2020, I've turned to my writing more than ever.
I began the year with lots of conferences on my schedule and travel plans. As an editor, I find many authors at these events and they are productive for my career in publishing. In February I spent five intense days at a Book Funnel Bootcamp and learned a great deal plus built this site for my 10 Publishing Myths book.
In March, I traveled to Nashville for a red carpet event with my Morgan James authors and colleagues. The worldwide pandemic was just beginning and my wife questionned whether I should attend—but I did. It marked my last time to travel for the year since my other events were cancelled. On the way home, my plane backed up from the gate and the pilot announced they were closing all of the ski resorts in Colorado. They gave the passengers one opportunity to get off and stay in Nashville. My plane was loaded with parents and children headed to ski and about half of my airplane left the flight and stayed in Nashville—and the airline would have to straighten out their baggage later.
Throughout the months that followed, I continue to find new authors and sign them at Morgan James but I was less active than in years past because of the pandemic. With the additional free time, I turned to my writing and producing books for others. One of those books has been completed and a second one is nearing completion. These books are ones I write for others (and my name may or may not appear on the printed book). It's just one of the pivots that I've experienced during this “different” 2020.
My Writing Tip:
Publishing is still active and books are selling. At Morgan James we published and launched over 200 new titles this year. Editors and agents may be working at home but they are still actively reading and responding to pitches and proposals. I encourage each of us to keep our fingers on the keyboard and keep pitching our projects. The more you knock on the doors, the more they will open for you. There are many opportunities but these opportunities will not come to you. You have to be actively looking for them.

Even with a worldwide pandemic, publishing is still active. Get ideas here for your writing from this prolific editor and writer. (ClickToTweet)

W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. His work contact information is on the bottom of the second page (follow this link).  He has written for over 50 magazines and more than 60 books with traditional publishers. His latest book for writers is 10 Publishing Myths, Insights Every Author Needs to Succeed. Get this book for only $10 + free shipping and over $200 in bonuses. One of Terry's most popular free ebooks is Straight Talk From the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. He lives in Colorado and has  190,000 twitter followers



Five Ways to Let Words Influence Your Writing Career


By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the
multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
Where is your talent? Pinpoint it and let it shine.
Today we’re going to give ourselves a little gift for the New Year. We’re going to talk about how habits increase our chance at success--or not. Habits are influenced by thought patterns which are in turn influenced by the seeds of our subconscious. Those seeds are words. So reaching for success by changing how we think about words as they relate to our progress in life are often espoused by leaders like psychologists and business leaders like Elle Kaplan, CEO and founder of Lexion Capital, an investment management firm.
To use our talents more effectively we want habits that nurture our better selves. We want our best habits to dominate our world view, but we can also turn habits we consider destructive into positives. We can do that with the power of words; we substitute words that influence us negatively for those that move us forward. It occurs to me that the process may be easier for writers who already aware of and accept the power of words in our lives. We can make a few words (and habits!) that work against us into words (and habits) that work for us—both consciously and subconsciously.
Defensiveness can become curiosity. Curiosity nurtures new ideas, new successes. Curiosity helps in our endeavors to observe details more creatively. Generally speaking, writers have already honed that skill. But curious people also listen more acutely. The asking of questions and the listening to answers are important skills for authors who do public speaking or teaching. Asking questions can get you out of a whole lot of hot water. You may even discover that you have common ground with a heckler!
Envy or jealousy are similar to admiration. When we use the “a” word—admire—instead of letting the little green monster take control of our thought patterns, we begin to see how we easy it is to emulate what we admire. That simple change is a positive pattern for growth.
Turn procrastination into achievement. Tasks, jobs, assignments sometimes feel like burdens. When you focus on hating them, they are destructive. Instead, rearrange your thinking. Think of them as opportunities for learning. Maybe for learning another skill. Maybe that skill will be organizing our time better. You’ll think of others that might be particularly useful to you as you tackle each of your projects with a different attitude.
Turn gut or knee-jerk reactions into level-headed thinking. One way to do this is to avoid making decisions when you are upset, disgruntled, feeling jealous, angry, sad . . . or even overly excited or enthusiastic. This rule has been with most of us since our parents told us not to act until after we have counted to ten. When we substitute the new term for the old, it becomes easier to do. Besides, we now have maturity on our side.
Here’s the most important change. And perhaps the most difficult. How many celebrities have we seen get themselves into trouble because they haven’t turned their success into humility? Success follows as your life-skills improve. Why not tape the word “humility” to your bathroom mirror as a reminder of how to handle success. It will happen. Success fosters more success. And you have the power of words on your side.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson brings her experience as a publicist, journalist, marketer, and retailer to the advice she gives in her HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers and the many classes she taught for nearly a decade as instructor for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program. The books in her HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers includes the third edition of The Frugal Book Promoter and from Modern History Press, The Frugal Editor, which won awards from USA Book News, Readers’ Views Literary Award, the marketing award from Next Generation Indie Books and the coveted Irwin award, and How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically.
The author loves to travel. She visited ninety-one countries before the Year of Covid and has studied writing at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom; Herzen University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and Charles University, Prague. She admits to carrying a pen and journal wherever she goes. Her Web site is

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