A Three-Step Remedy from Warren Buffett

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In his latest book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, author Daniel H. Pink devotes an entire chapter to Midpoints. At the end of the chapter, he shares several strategies and anecdotes from well-known high achievers. I was impressed by this advice from Warren Buffett:

One day Mr. Buffett was talking with his private pilot, who was frustrated that he hadn’t achieved all he’d hoped. Mr. Buffett prescribed the following three-step remedy.

First, he said, write down your top twenty-five goals for the rest of your life.

Second, look at the list and circle your top five goals, those that are unquestionably your highest priority. That will give you two lists–one with your top five goals, the other with the next twenty.

Third, immediately start planning how to achieve those top five goals. And the other twenty? Get rid of them. Avoid them at all costs. Don’t even look at them until you’ve achieved the top five, which might take a long time.

Doing a few important things well is far more likely to propel you out of the slump than a dozen half-finished projects.


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Inspired by the Real Rocky Story

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In mid January, it’s very easy to start feeling down and less productive. Whenever that happens, I turn to several real-life stories that inspire and motivate me to get back on track. Here’s one of my favorites:

In 1974, Sylvester Stallone was a broke, discouraged actor and screenwriter. While attending a boxing match, he became inspired by a “nobody” boxer who “went the distance” with the great Mohammed Ali.

Stallone rushed home and, in a three-day burst of creative output, produced the first draft of the screenplay entitled Rocky.

Down to his last $106, Stallone submitted his screenplay to his agent. A studio offered $20,000 with either Ryan O’Neal or Burt Reynolds playing the lead character. Stallone was excited by the offer but wanted to play the lead himself. He offered to act for free. He was told, “That’s not the way it works in Hollywood.” Stallone turned down the offer though he desperately needed the money.

Then they offered him $80,000 on the condition that he wouldn’t play the lead. He turned them down again.

They told him that Robert Redford was interested, in which case they’d pay him $200,000. He turned them down once more.

They upped their offer to $300,000 for his script. He told them he didn’t want to go through his whole life wondering “What if?”

They offered him $330,000. He told them he’d rather not see the movie made if he couldn’t play the lead.

They finally agreed to let him play the lead. He was paid $20,000 for the script plus $340 per week minimum actor’s scale. After expenses, agent fees, and taxes, he netted about $6,000 instead of $330,000.

In 1976, Stallone was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Actor. The movie Rocky won three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Film Editing. The Rocky series has since grossed almost $1 billion, making Sylvester Stallone an international movie star!

Source: The One Minute Millionaire by Mark Victor Hansen and Robert G. Allen (2002)


In the Final Stretch

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

Tomorrow is the last day of the NaNoWriMo challenge. While some of us have achieved (and maybe even surpassed 50K words), others are in the final stretch, working hard to reach that final goal. Wherever you are on the NaNoWriMo journey, take some time to have a three-minute laughter vacation.


More #NaNoWriMo Success Stories

Last week, I shared four spectacular NaNoWriMo successes on the Sisterhood of Suspense blog. With only three days left in the challenge, I thought I would boost everyone’s morale with these additional success stories. I was inspired and motivated by the advice and takeaways from their NaNoWriMo journeys.




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Alan Averill wrote the first chapter of The Beautiful Land several months before NaNoWriMo and then put aside the manuscript. When he learned that his friends were planning to participate in NaNoWriMo, he decided to join them. He wrote 60 percent of the novel and finished the rest in January. He credits the experience with helping him create a fast-paced book: “One of the great things about NaNo is that you don’t have time to think about what you’re doing. You’re basically a Writer Shark, and if you don’t keep swimming forward at all times, you’re going to die.”

In 2008, Marissa Meyer (author of Cinder) heard about a contest in which the Seattle-based writer who clocked in the most words during November would win a walk-on role in an upcoming episode of Star Trek. A chronic overachiever, Marissa took on the challenge and ended up writing three novels: Cinder (70,000), Scarlet (50,000), and Cress (30,000). Unfortunately, she didn’t place first but finished three novels that she polished over a two-year period. While much of the original material was scrapped, Marissa has no regrets: “I may not produce anything of quality during NaNoWriMo, but I always come away with a great road map.” She had offers of representation from three agents, and when the series went to auction, Macmillan’s Feiwel & Friends placed the winning bid.

Carrie Ryan started writing The Forest of Hands and Teeth during NaNo 2006. During that month, Carrie wrote between 20,000 and 30,000 words and then kept on writing afterward, finishing the first draft in April 2007. Later in 2007, Carrie sold the rights. The first of a trilogy, the book became a New York Times best-seller, and the film rights have been optioned by Seven Star Pictures. Carrie’s advice: “If you want to sell a book, you have to write a book. And if NaNo is what it takes to motivate you, then jump in with both feet. If you fail, the key is not to give up—the key is to keep writing.”

Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen wrote the first draft of The Compound during NaNo 2005. It then took six months to edit and polish the manuscript. The book sold to Feiwel and Friends in July 2006 and then went through another fourteen months of editorial revisions before final publication in late 2007. A long journey, filled with ups and downs, but definitely worth the wait. Seven more Young Adult books followed. Stephanie’s take-away: “This book is a symbol of how never giving up helped me realize a dream.”

ONWARD ♦ AVANTI ♦ EN AVANT ♦ WEITER ♦ ADELANTE


More #NaNoWriMo Tips

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

In last Wednesday’s post, I shared five tips that helped me survive and thrive during NaNoWriMo 2016.

Here are five more tips:

1. Relax and TELL. For years, I’ve heard editors and workshop facilitators repeat the mantra: SHOW DON’T TELL. What a relief to focus on getting the scene on paper in any form and then prettying it up later.

2. Leave notes in the text. Plot and dialogue are my strengths while descriptive detail is one of my weaknesses. Instead of belaboring the setting and other details, leave notes about what’s missing. i.e. Description of waterfront or restaurant. Don’t stop to check the internet for anything.

3. Journal when stuck. Author and course facilitator, Catherine Chant recommends journaling about our character’s feelings to elicit more details and move the storyline along. The character could write her response stream-of-conscious style or write a letter describing a problem. Even if the journal entry is edited out of the story, the words still count.

4. Stop before the ideas run out. At the end of each day’s stint, write a sentence or two about what happens next. This will provide a starting point for the following day.

5. Turn off the internal editor. I need to keep in mind Anne Lamott’s advice and “write a crappy first draft.” Forget about spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Don’t delete anything. In short, give myself permission to write badly.


Starting #NaNoWriMo

On Wednesdays, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.

One year ago, I began my first NaNoWriMo journey. At first apprehensive, I slowly built up confidence and achieved a final goal of 50,940 words. During the winter and spring months, I edited and polished the manuscript that was later accepted for publication. In the spring of 2018, The Wild Rose Press will release A Different Kind of Reunion.

Today, I’m starting my second NaNoWriMo journey. Still apprehensive but much more confident. Here are five tips that helped me survive and thrive during NaNoWriMo 2016.

1. Announce your plans. At first, I wanted to keep my involvement secret, but after reading about the positive reinforcement that a support group can provide, I decided to share the news with everyone in my circle. In addition to other writers—online and offline—I also told the non-writers. I was looking for encouragement, not advice. Simply asking: “How’s that novel coming along?” will help keep me on track.

2.Write at peak times. To find a routine that works consistently, I need to write when the muse strikes. I have discovered that the following times yield the most creative results: 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

3. Work ahead. Sneaking in an extra 300 words (or more) early in the month can build up word counts and compensate for missed days when illness and other commitments affect the quality and quantity of the writing.

4. Turn off the television and all electronic gadgets during peak creative times to ensure there are no distractions.

5. Embrace both linear and non-linear paths. While I prefer to write linearly—one chapter at a time—skipping over to a more interesting scene can help stimulate right-brain thinking.


Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

Welcome to the G.O.T.H. Series!

Each Wednesday, I share posts, fables, songs, poems, quotations, TEDx Talks, cartoons, and books that have inspired and motivated me on my writing journey. I hope these posts will give writers, artists, and other creatives a mid-week boost.


Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Rising Strong by Dr. Brené Brown, I find myself rereading several passages, including the poem by Nayyirah Waheed that inspired the book’s title.

My favorite lines…We are the authors of our lives/We write our own daring endings.


Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers
Than those of us who are willing to fall
Because we have learned how to rise

With skinned knees and bruised hearts;
We choose owning our stories of struggle,
Over hiding, over hustling, over pretending.

When we deny our stories, they define us.
When we run from struggle, we are never free.
So we turn toward truth and look it in the eye.

We will not be characters in our stories.
Not villains, not victims, not even heroes.

We are the authors of our lives.
We write our own daring endings.

We craft love from heartbreak,
Compassion from shame,
Grace from disappointment,
Courage from failure.

Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home.
Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
We are rising strong.