The Mind-set of Successful Writers By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

Hello dear writer!

If this is the year you’ve decided to make it big out here as a writer, then what better way than to get the right (write) mind-set to help you win! Having the right mind-set on this journey of being a writer is critical to your survival and better yet, to your thriving. So a few tips on mind-set that have helped me thrive in this Industry for over 12 years now.

  1. This journey is a marathon, not a sprint: I have taken my writing journey as a marathon and not a sprint, I know I will not learn everything I need to learn over- night, I will make some mistakes along the way, but I will not drop out of the race, I will keep running, slowly but surely, I will get there. This kind of mind-set allows me to enjoy the writing process that entails writing and rewriting as I learn and unlearn, it helps me learn from my mistakes and allows me to experiment. It helps me to endure when challenges come my way because I know, if I keep at it, steadily enough, I will get to the finish line a winner.
  2. Run your own race, not your friends or neighbours:

Sometimes we think it’s only teens who fall for peer pressure, but peer pressure is more prevalent in adults than we imagine. How does it make you feel when your friend releases their film that becomes a hit? Or when they land an awesome deal? Don’t compare yourself to others. You are running your own race, you’ve been gifted differently, accept what you’re made of and run your own race. It is not a competition.  A few months after my maternity leave, I went back to the tracking field near my home, and I attempted to run, I thought I was running, until an old man in his probably 80’s overlapped me, I could not take it, I tried to run faster and got injuries. I was trying to run this guys’ race, a guy who had been running all the months I was on maternity leave. The only thing that competing did for me was to give me an injury that slowed me down and I didn’t run for another 2 months. So ignore those ones running alongside you who seem to be overlapping you, run your race and you should be okay.

3. No one is perfect:  Perfectionism can cripple you. I take comfort in knowing that even the big shots do it afraid, no one knows that what they’re working on will work for sure, they just do it afraid, why then should you cripple yourself with perfectionism? Just do it.

4. Quit the blame game: The moment you turned 18 you became responsible for your life. I know when Lupita Ny’ongo won the Oscar for best supporting actress, some of my acquaintances in the Kenyan Film scene started talking of the unfair advantage, saying her parents were able to educate her in one of the best acting colleges in the world yadadadaa…Well, there are so many actors who’ve been through Yale and don’t have an Oscar, and there are so many others who haven’t been to Yale and have Oscars. Let’s not blame life circumstances for our failures in life. As long as you are breathing, alive and kicking, go after your dreams with zeal and know that you are fully responsible for what you can change. For what you can’t change, pray for God’s grace to accept it. Take personal initiative for your life and quit the blame game.

5. Quit the entitlement: I notice with concern that a lot of upcoming artists walk around feeling that the world owes them. I’m sorry to burst that bubble. No one owes you anything, the world has so many gifted writers and artists, all with great amazing projects and ideas. If you keep that in mind, it will help you stay humble and work harder at your projects, it will help you get the right attitude when your pitch is rejected and you will know it’s not a personal attack but just business. When you understand that no one owes you anything, then you will work on networking and creating relationships that can propel your idea to the next level.

6. Be productive not busy: There’s a huge difference between busy people and productive people. Productive people get things done, use their time wisely and finish up projects. Busy people are not in control of their time, are overwhelmed and have a lot of half- done projects. Where do you fall? Are you productive or just busy? Take a close look at your life and know the difference is what will get you further in your career, don’t be busy with nothing to show for all the time you claim you spend writing and researching.  

7. Banish the word Impossible from your vocabulary:  The word Impossible could make or break your writing career, you might be thinking of this really cool story idea, then immediately pour water on it with the words Impossible. I honestly don’t believe things are impossible until I have tried and tried, if I had believed in the words impossible I would not have found myself pitching inside Harpo Studio’s through skype right from the comfort of my home here in Kenya, I’ll be sharing on my podcast and blog soon about my experience pitching at Harpo Studios, but the point is, don’t’ let the word ‘Impossible stop you from reaching for the sky.

8. Believe in yourself: If you don’t remember anything else about what I’ve written on mind-set, please make sure you remember this point and have it close to your heart. You are your own best cheerleader. No one else will cheer you and nudge you on, you have to do this yourself and for yourself. The world around us can be cruel and fill us with self- doubt about our capabilities. There’s a wise saying that reads ‘ If you don’t believe in something you will fall for anything’. Meaning if you don’t believe in your God given gift/talent of writing, if you don’t believe you have it, then when your work is negatively criticized, the blow might be too hard to recover from, but when you believe in yourself, then criticism will help you become a better, tougher writer and your light will shine on this earth. So no matter what, always believe in yourself and your gift and work hard to make sure you don’t do a disservice to your God given gift.

Happy Creating and Writing!

And please share this article with your writer friends! TIA

INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES FROM A MARATHON RUNNER THAT APPLY TO WRITERS By Damaris Irungu Ochieng’

Happy New 3rd Month of the year!

I am a writer from the land of marathoners, so I see it perfectly fit that my first Blog is using inspirational quotes from the world’s greatest marathoner, Kenya’s, Eliud Kipchoge.

A writers’ life is not a sprint, it is a Marathon, and since it’s a marathon we need to know just how exactly to run and finish well as we get on with the year and what better way than with 10 Inspirational Quotes from the one and only,  Eliud Kipchoge, The worlds’ greatest Marathoner, who broke  the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, running 42km in under 2 Hours. Let’s dive in and get some wisdom on how to run this writers’ race.

10 INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES FROM ELIUD KIPCHOGE

  1. To be successful in sports is not a chance. It is a choice. If you want to be successful, you need to choose. But to choose well, you must know who you are and what you stand for, where you want to go and why you want to go there.

 Have you made a deliberate choice to be a writer? Do you know who you are and what you stand for as a writer? What topics interest you? What kind of writer do you want to be? Where do you see yourself as a writer in the next five years? Why exactly do you want to go there? To be a successful writer is not a chance, but a choice. If you’ve made the deliberate choice, then you have to follow through if you want success to come your way.

2. Success comes with more sacrifice. You sacrifice more, you get more success, you sacrifice little, you get little success.

I absolutely love this quote from Eliud Kipchoge.  It is a reminder for us writers that nothing comes easy, you have to put in the hours, you have to hone your craft by writing every day, reading every day, watching TV and Films to analyse and see what works and what doesn’t work, the harder you work, the luckier you become, the more sleep you sacrifice, the better your craft. So just how badly do you want to succeed as a writer? What are the sacrifices you are willing to make to get there?

3. Life is like climbing a tree. You hold one branch and aim for the next one. You have to forget the last branch and focus your thoughts and mind on the next one for you to make progress.

This quote speaks to me for various reasons. As a writer you have to remember that you are as good as your last work, so don’t bask in the glory of the past and forget to keep writing fresh stuff, forget that branch and move to the next branch. Also if you are trying to get that particular project financed and you’ve been getting rejections, don’t mop around, move on to the next branch. That is the only way to get to where you’re going, if you stay on one branch then you won’t get to your God chosen destination.

4. 1% of the whole team is more important than 100% of yourself, without teamwork you cannot go anywhere.

I know writing is said to be a lonely career, where you write with your doors closed, but it is important to belong to a community where you can bounce off ideas, a community that can give important input into your work. Also a TV or film’s success is a combination of many people working together. The writer listens to thoughts from the Director and Producers, the Producers listen to professional actors’ concerns, editors and so forth and all that input contributes to the success of the writer. If it is a novel, then you have trusted story editors, proof readers, or beta readers who read your work and give you constructive criticism to move your story to be the best it can be.

5. You live simple, you train hard, you live an honest life. Then you are free.

If you are a writer, spend your time writing, not talking about being an aspiring writer. A lot of wanna be writers spend a lot of time talking instead of writing.  Look deeper into your own writing life and judge for yourself if you are indeed training hard, if you are living an honest writers’ life of writing, rewriting, relearning the craft. You are the only one who knows your truth.

6. Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your emotions and your passions.

What’s your reaction when your alarm goes off in the morning? Are you a disciplined writer with time set aside for your writing career? Or are you undisciplined and your writing time is eaten up by Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other time stealers? Are you so passionate about writing that you spend more time watching other people’s writing? Binge watching other people’s shows while postponing your own writing? You know yourself better. So take a long hard look at this quote number six from Eliud Kipchoge and decide if you are undisciplined or not, and how will you move forward to favour your writing?

7. Focus and determination and also hope can take you somewhere. You can go beyond any limit.

Do you have laser focus when it comes to your writing? Are you determined? Do your everyday actions towards your writing show just how determined to succeed as a writer you are? Or have you given up hope of ever making it? I hope this quote challenges you out of your rut, because as Eliud says, Focus and determination and also Hope can take you somewhere. Let that be your truth this year and in others to come.

8. It is not about the legs. It is about the heart and mind.

In our case as writers it is not about the typing or dictation but about the heart of the story you are working on. Have you pinned down what the heart of your story is? Why do you want to tell that particular story? The motivation for why you are telling that particular story or why you want to be a writer in the first place is what will keep you going, when the going gets tough. What is your mind set? Do you have a positive outlook towards life and to your career as a writer and how it ties to your purpose? Look long and hard, not at your hands, but into your heart and mind. The right heart and mind will get you to the finish line.

9. Only the disciplined ones in life are free.

You envy that writer who seems to be making it and getting all the gigs, you wish you could be like them, making a steady income from writing from home and being free and in control of your time and career. Well, the only way that writer you admire got there is by being disciplined, they beat their deadlines, they honed their craft, they put in the hours and I guarantee you they continue doing that. Try the daily discipline of writing, beating deadlines even those you have set for yourself, the discipline of learning the craft and in no time you will be there, free! I’m there and I endorse this message.  Stay disciplined, the rest will follow.

10. Don’t be the fastest runner in the world, be the fastest in history.

Run your own race, you have your special gifts and talent, you are not competing with other writers, you have your DNA and your finger print which make you uniquely you, why then do you feel like you’re in a competition with your fellow writers? The only way to leave a legacy is by knowing why you want to write, what do you have to say to the world? Once you know this then nothing else matters, you will not be running to be the fastest in the world, but will be running to contribute to history.

I hope the ten great quotes from Eliud Kipchoge have inspired you and set a fire in your writing career. I’d love to hear your thoughts below so please leave a comment on the comment section below.

And if it isn’t too much to ask, would you share this article with your networks or point them to my site.  TIA!