10 Ways to Make It to the Fourth Act

I’m thrilled to welcome author D. J. Adamson to the Power of 10 series. Today, D.J. shares advice and insights gleaned from her life journey.

Here’s D.J.!

djadamsonI have passed my second act, and I am on to my fourth. The first act was merely an introduction to get to the twist. I graduated college and taught high school level English for five years. The second act offered momentum, building to the next twist. Moving to California from Oregon, I changed careers from teaching to business. I went into sales and marketing for a commercial publishing firm where I became Manager of Sales and Marketing. Success, however, doesn’t always offer satisfaction. Most audiences expect a resolution to come in the third act. In fact, I returned back to academia, leaving money for treasure, teaching writing to college students. It’s always been about writing, in all my career choices. And now, without the need for an intermission, I have taken the stage for a fourth act.

How grateful I am to get a fourth act. Looking back, the 10 Ways I got here was by:

1. Willing to change. I have found that I don’t control life, life controls me. My greatest successes have come when I let go and went with the flow.

2. Willing to risk. I leave the “What If?” for my protagonists, and instead, whenever I hear the whispered question, I take a breath and answer “Why not?” It’s the beautiful thing about becoming “older.” If not now, when?

3. Willing to set goals. With each book I write, I sit first and write the goals I want to see accomplished at its end. The sale is a minor objective. In fact, I never write the word. Instead, I think of four objectives I want to reach in writing the novel. Four experiences I want to have while writing it. What commitments I am willing to make to get it done. And, this is the most important of the goal writing, the guidelines I am willing to set in order to make sure all prior goals and commitments are reached.

4. Willing to “Act As If”. I never thought I was a good teacher. I never thought I was a good business woman. It didn’t matter whether I held a position or made money. It’s all stinkin’- thinkin’. So moving into this fourth act, I act as if I am a good writer. That I can tell a story. And more importantly for me, I will offer a reader something to relate to or think about that might impact their life. Even if my ultimate goal is to solve a mystery or catch a killer.

5. Willing to learn. I couldn’t be a writer without being a good reader. Stephen King says it best in his book On Writing. And I paraphrase: You need to read to find out what is good. More importantly, you need to read to know what isn’t good, doesn’t work, or left you feeling unsatisfied. Don’t just read a book, deconstruct it.

6. Take the Word TRY Out of Your Vocabulary. Try is really a child’s word. It psychologically gives you an out: But I tried. I’m trying. Either do it or don’t do it. If it wasn’t done well, do it again! Don’t say, I want to write my story or a book. DO IT!

7. Willing to Get Back Up: Many say they don’t like the F-word. I was a girl of the sixties, the F- word was part of my vocabulary. It still is, but I am talking now about a different word F-word: FEAR, FAILURE, FINAL. I needed to quit thinking I was so special, that only I was afraid. Everyone’s afraid of something. Failure has been one of the best steps to take me to success. And Final? Is anything ever really final? Someday, in a technological “salvage” bin, someone is going to find one of my digital books and consider reading it. Just like leaving children behind, my life continues.

8. Willing to stay out of expectations: Life moves toward me as I move into it. Meaning, I don’t want to miss out on the treasure/pleasure because I labeled it as being a bestseller, on television, made into a film, taught as one of the great American Novels. I teach literature and writing. I know most great novelists never thought they would become one…and many died before getting the accolade.

9. Willing to do it for love: Most writing doesn’t pay the bills. I am not saying you won’t make millions, miracles do happen, but again, it’s a long shot. So write because you love to write. Write to say something. Write to offer a new idea or perspective. Write because you love to read. Most importantly, write to be not just a writer, but a GOOD writer.

10. Just BE Willing: It all comes back to risk. Willing to do life differently. Willing to put yourself out there no matter the success or failure. Willing to write down goals, and if not met, critically asking why then writing new ones. Willing to act and say you are a writer, author, even if you still don’t feel like you are. Willing to learn, and learn and learn. Willing to get back up if you fall down. Willing to put yourself out there without expectations. Treasure gratifications. Willing to do what you love to do, and get a day job if needed. Just be willing.



“What did he want to know about me?” “If you were still alive.” Connivers, murder and the international shipment of drugs unites the local PDs and the Federal Government, and drags Lillian Dove into a hailstorm of manipulation and danger; whereby, she is given two choices: Join? Or die trying.



D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy. Suppose, the second in the Lillian series has just been released. She also teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges. And to keep busy when she is not writing or teaching, she is the Membership Director of the Los Angeles Sisters in Crime, Vice President of Central Coast Sisters in Crime and an active member of the Southern California Mystery Writers. Her books can be found and purchased in bookstores and on Amazon.

Where to find D.J.

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