I first met Samantha Bennett when she interviewed me for a MaestroPath seminar.
What struck me about Sam is how darn fun and funny she is, and her brilliant insights into getting things done–including completing a book. Time spent with Sam–whether reading an e-mail or listening to a call–is guaranteed to make you laugh, bring you joy, give you super-useful tools and tips, and inspire you to action from your toes to your tippy top!
Lisa: As an expert in getting unstuckified, what do you see as the main reasons people get stuck in writing their books or any other artistic process?
Sam: There are as many ways of getting stuck as there are people, but often the culprit is an old, dusty, diminishing thought pattern like:
- “It has to be perfect.”
- “I don’t know how to do this.”
- “It’s all been done before.”
- “Who do I think I am?”
- “Someone will steal my idea.”
These thoughts will turn a brilliant idea into a pair of cement shoes faster than you can say, “Pulitzer Prize.” The key is to recognize these paralyzing thoughts for what they are: a nasty trick to keep you stuck. Then turn the questions around a bit:
- “There’s no way to know what perfect is right now.”
- “I wonder how a person would go about figuring out how to do this?”
- “It’s all been done before…but not by me! My voice is unique!”
- “Who do I think I am? Well, I think I’m someone who wants to experiment…”
- “Ideas can’t be stolen, they can only be copied. Plus, I have a million great ideas.”
Lisa: It seems to me that sometimes writing a book is prone to bringing up people’s “stuff” and that part of what makes them successful is getting past any core beliefs or fears that are stopping them. Do you tend to focus on just toughing it out and developing habits to move forward or do you think it’s important to process the challenging beliefs and fears?
Sam: I think a two-pronged strategy is important. You need to keep working through your old, negative beliefs, anxieties and fears, but you also need to just do the work.
Don’t wait to feel ready.
Don’t wait to feel like a “real” writer.
Don’t wait for the right time.
Just start writing every day.
Lisa: So how do you help people do that?
Sam: I recommend “automating” your writing time so that you never have to wrestle with yourself. If you make the decision to write every day for 15 minutes before you check your email, then you never have to think about whether or not you’re writing, you just do it.
It’s sort of the same idea as having money automatically moved to a savings account – if you don’t have to think about it, you’ll end up with a fortune on your hands.
Lisa: A great tip. How did you get into helping creative people get organized and complete their projects?
Sam: Honestly, I was just trying to solve the problems I encountered in my own life as an actor, writer and improviser. It’s tough to know what to do next, what project to work on, how to market yourself…and it’s even hard just to keep going when, you know… there’s no quarterly review on your art. So I started devising these worksheets and exercises, and then sharing them.
I knew how great I felt when I was able to move past my insecurities and get big projects done, and I wanted other artists to enjoy that same feeling of joy and accomplishment.
After all, there’s no right way to be an artist– you just have to surf your life as best you can.
Lisa: Do you have a personal story about this?
Sam: One of the things I’ve learned is that sometimes you’re not moving forward on a project because it is, simply, not the right time.
I started writing my book proposal six years ago, and then stuck it in a drawer. I always knew I wanted to keep going on it, but it seemed like there was some invisible wall in between that darn proposal and me.
Eventually it occurred to me that I NEEDED to wait all that time, because I needed the time to grow my platform, I needed to learn more about marketing and, honestly, I needed the time to become a better writer.
When I finally sat down to complete my book proposal last year, it didn’t take me very long at all, and I was lucky enough to get a contract with New World Library – the first and only publishers to whom I submitted.
Lisa: Congratulations, Sam. That’s terrific news–let us know as soon as it’s out! Can you give our readers 3 tips for getting unstuckified?
1) Give your project a fun, sexy, silly name. Calling your project “revise manuscript” sounds like boring homework – no wonder you’re resisting it! But if you rename it, “polish the diamond of my book” or “eat the elephant one bite at a time” or “lipstick and moonbeams” or whatever — that might feel a little yummier.
2) Get a coach, teacher, mentor or buddy. Quit thinking you can do this by yourself. Investing in professional help is the smartest thing you can do. I myself have a coach, an accountability partner and I’m in two mastermind groups. Partnering with smart, loving people helps my art and my business prosper. (I realize this answer may seem a bit self-serving, but I’m not saying you need to work with me or even with Lisa –you just need to get consistent support from someone you respect.)
3) Be very careful about sharing your work and ideas and STOP going to the empty cookie jar. By which I mean, there are some people in your life who, no matter how much they love you, are not understanding or supportive of your work. So quit talking to them about it. Just keep your head down and your shields up. Especially in the early stages – your creative work needs your protection and it does not need the criticism of well-meaning people.
Lisa: I love these tips–and you are a master at “fun, sexy names.” You have an upcoming free teleseminar to help people get unstuckified–can you tell us what we’ll be learning on that call and why it’s not to be missed?
Sam: You’ll get Sam’s Slightly Scandalous Suggestions for Success (hint: it involves the same principles as having a hot sex life : )
We’ll also do some work that guarantees that you will have a breakthrough around finding the time and money you’ll need to get your project off the ground.
Finally, I have the secret to “decluttering for the creative person,” and I’ll share it with you.
If you can, do be there live – I always stay on the line to answer questions for as long as I can, so don’t miss this chance to get your stickiest problems unstuckified!
Register for Samantha’s free class: Get Unstuckified: Why You’re Procrastinating On the Important Stuff and What To Do About It
Monday, April 15th at 9:45am Pacific Time
Samantha Bennett: Originally from Chicago, Samantha Bennett is a writer, actor, teacher, creativity/productivity specialist who has counseled hundreds of artists on their way to success. The author of the surprisingly popular book of poems, “By The Way, You Look Really Great Today,” Samantha is currently writing “The Organized Artist Book: A Success Book For Creative People Who Want To Be More Organized And Organized People Who’d Like To Be More Creative.”
Note of full disclosure from Lisa: I am a proud affiliate of Sam’s and if you use this link and later sign up for her paid program, I will receive an affiliate commission. As you know, I’m picky about affiliate programs, only belong to a few and only share with you those I believe have the ability to help you tremendously as an author.