Author Archives: clancy

Forming the Fictorians

The first Superstars of Writing Seminar
The first Superstars of Writing Seminar

When I went to the first Superstars Writing Seminar in Pasadena back in March of 2010, I thought I was going to get some sound business advice from successful writers – and I did. In spades. I had many expectations which were all exceeded by lengths of football fields. I also thought I’d meet people and make some nice acquaintances – wrong. So very wrong. I made friends. Lifelong friends and writing peers and a writing family we now call The Fictorians.

I remember clearly one night in Pasadena, we were walking back to the hotel after a night of food and beer at a local pub. I was talking with Kevin J. Anderson and I was saying that the group of him, Rebecca Moesta, Dave Farland/Wolverton, Brandon Sanderson and Eric Flint reminded me of the Oxford group that met regularly to talk writing which included C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. I asked how a group like that formed because it seemed to enhance everyone’s writing and careers.

Kevin said, “Look around.”

I did and what I saw were all the people who I’d been hanging with at every break and meal. The ones who’d gravitated together and felt a connection. I saw people I liked, respected and thought had awesome ideas they were working on in their writing. I saw people like me. People who wanted to be writers, took their writing seriously and were taking steps to succeed in this cool and difficult profession.

When I looked back at him, he said (and I paraphrase), “You’re doing it. Right now. With these people. This is how groups like that are formed.”

We left that seminar, with emails in hand and a goal to stay connected. We live all over the world. We write in different genres. Some of us have met in person again in Las Vegas for one of ours to renew her vows to her lovely husband. We’ve seen each other at other Superstar Seminars since the first one. We have conference calls and stay connected via email and social media. We have areas of expertise that the others can tap into with a simple request. We’re friends and peers.

I have one other writing group that I feel this way about, and I value those friends as well.

So, when someone asks me what is a moment that makes me love being a writer, I think of my friends and fellow writers. The people who support me and keep me motivated. Who inspire me. Who share a dream with me. These are people who keep me going when times are hard.

Because I’m a romance writer, I use the ‘L’ word a lot and I’m going to use it now. These are people I love for all they give me and pull out of me and share with me.

It’s four years later, and Kevin was right. We’ve become one of those groups. We’ve been through bumps and growing pains. People leave the core but remain on the peripheral, some return, some never left, but we’re still together, doing what we love and supporting each other. We are the Fictorians. And I think we’re Fictorious!

Wrapping Up June and Our Summer Sanity

checklistDid we make it? Did we survive the June heat and the mid-year failures or successes? I learned a lot and got reminded of more. So for me, this was a good month… on the Fictorians and in achieving my personal goals. If you missed anything, here’s a quick summary with links.

Evan discussed health and writing and finding a balance between the two which I am always in need of rem
inders about since staying healthy for me usually means trying to avoid the potato chips.  Guy showed how to take our writing with us when we’re out enjoying the summer. As he said, not typing doesn’t mean you’re not working. Creativity takes a lot of thinking and observing life around us.  I reminded us all that sometimes we have to say No to other things so we can achieve success in writing and in life. Being stressed out about being over-committed is no one’s friend.  Nancy shared some tools for organizing our complicated and busy lives.  And who can’t use better ways not to drop all those balls we’re juggling.

Sherry gave us insight into her thought process on deciding to self-publish and then how she succeeded at it.  I know I’m reading her book on Silencing Your Inner Saboteur and getting a lot out of it.  I loved Frank’s Go Big or Go Home post.  We have to take big risks  to get the big rewards. And Brandon’s discussion on how your environment can impact your productivity resonated as I have been displaced from my office for weeks during some construction work being done on my house. I liked Mary’s take on how despite having health challenges, we can be productive if we play to our strengths when we ‘re strong.

Ace gave us some ideas on ways we sabotage our goals and ways we can score with them.   Quincy’s post on sacrifice and being in writing for the long haul reminded me that if we just keep at it, we can be a success. And it is a grind, but a worthy one. I found Lou’s post funny and true.  Focus, discipline and being consistent are key. Colette reminded us that we can get away from the summer heat by attending a cool Con.  James showed how tricky setting reasonable and attainable goals can be.  Jace showed how recalibration is just needed sometimes to get going again.

My dear friend Kelli Ann gave some concrete tools for taking any derail and getting the train back on the tracks. I loved Kristin’s post on how we all fail, but that doesn’t have to define our success.  Kim talks about using good planning skills and realistic expectations to keep us productive and sane.  Nathan makes a great point in that what we choose to do with our time is a statement of value. As I’m heading off to a four day writing retreat, this was an affirmation of what I’m doing with my life and career.  And after watching the video of Jim Carrey’s speech (all 28 minutes), feed your soul , folks! It was completely worth it. I found Tristan’s post on reassessing goals refreshing. He had a lot of goodl ideas on looking at goals that were helpful. And finally, John’s post on consistency speaks to a variety of types of consistency, all of which are important.

I hope you enjoyed the month and got as much out of it as I did.

Learning to Say No

Yes No Maybe We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again because it’s a truth. We can’t do it all and sometimes we just need to say No.

I was reminded of this when a writer friend sent a link to this blog and the last line of what Seth Godin says is “No is the foundation that we can build our yes on.” I think that’s brilliant.

And a reminder I obviously need tattooed on my forehead.  No matter how many times I remember this, it’s usually after I’ve over committed myself – again – and I’m stressed out about having too much to do. Like right now.

We all have families, friends, organizations, careers, and so on that we need to do things for on the occasion. The trick is balancing it, prioritizing it, and keeping what’s important always in mind. And sadly, sometimes that means we just can’t do it all and stay sane. I know I feel crazy more often than I should.

For me, it’s a circular snowball effect. Let me explain the cycle:  I feel good, so I say Yes to too many things. When I don’t have enough time to get all of said commitments done, I start to stress. Stress impacts my depression. My depression makes it harder to be productive for even the important stuff so now everything is harder. I realize I’m a dope and try to wrap up or shed the commitments I can as soon as possible so I can focus on the ones that are super important. I push through and say No to a lot of things. Commitments ease up so I can be productive where I need. I feel better. I feel good….. and it begins again. Hence the tattooed reminder.

The friend who sent out the link was one of the people I asked to guest blog for this month. When I did a follow-up to see if she was going to or not, she said, “You know, at this point, I’m going to have to say no. Does that screw you over? I don’t want to screw you over.” And I thought, Smart Woman! I told her I completely understood. And I do.

It isn’t even just the special projects we should be saying No to… like the class I’m teaching that I haven’t written yet, or the motorcycle riding class I’m taking over four days, or the offer to help an elderly friend run errands. It’s the daily grind stuff that keeps my calendar looking like a multi-headed hydra on steroids has planned a host of events for each damn head for each damn day of the week. Ridiculous. And I have no one to blame but myself!

Who else is suffering from the dreaded Yes-itis Over-committus disease?  Raise your hands. Now commit with me to this instead – I will say No. Repeat it with me, now. I WILL SAY NO.

When asked to XXX, I will say No.

We can find a cure together, people. I believe this. 🙂

I read a book recently, “18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done” by Peter Bregman. One of the things he says to do is come up with a list of the five most important goals for your year, like spend time with family, focus on career, and so forth. And then whenever a request is made, assess whether that request falls squarely inside one of your target goals or whether it is a distraction away from it. Say yes or no accordingly.

I’m trying to do that…. And as I say ‘try’ I hear Yoda in the back of my brain, saying, “Try not. Do, or do not.”

I know what I need to do.

Summer Sanity

Lost Yet This month, we’re looking at ways to meet goals, manage time and distractions, stay on task and stay sane during the crazy summer months. With school out and vacations luring us away from work, it’s easy to set our goals aside and find our way off the path. Or maybe we set goals in January and need to assess whether we’re still on course.

No matter the specifics, we should be reassessing where we’re at more often than once a year, so here’s to June and accomplishing that task.

Grab cool drink, a cool head, and dive on into some self-assessment. The water’s fine!