Writing a Bestseller

23 04 2010

by Darvin Atkeson

All speeches need an inspirational takeaway. So I asked my Muse for something eternal, unique, and beautiful. In what way could my life or my words be inspiring?

One of the greatest inspirations is hearing how others overcame the odds to reach success. That’s why author talks are so successful (and why people clap even if you mess up–most attendees have always dreamed of being a famous author). But that success is ordinary, although it may not seem so.

Anyone can become an author if they study hard, learn the craft, put hours of sitting in a chair and spilling their guts, keeping submitting in the face of rejection, and never, ever give up. But that’s so NOT what people want to hear. They already know that. And many of them have given it a shot. They want a magic pill they can take that transforms their idea into a runaway bestseller.

And so what do I, an author who has written for 20 some years have to share that will inspire the audience eager for pearls of wisdom? Persistence and perseverance are the keys? Never giving up? OK, let’s be honest: maybe published authors are more stubborn or perhaps more thickheaded?

So that won’t make my speech inspiring. What will? I decided to talk about how I overcame obstacles in my path and went on to conquer them. Some seemed insurmountable at the time, but I have a secret that keeps me on track. I’ll share that secret and the source of my inspiration in Friday’s post.

Advertisements




I Survived… I Think

21 04 2010

So, one day after the event, I can look back with equanamity. If you read my public speaking post, you might have gotten the impression I don’t like to speak in front of groups.

That’s partially true. And I’m a procrastinator who avoids thinking about the presentation until the last minute, then…gulp!…realizes that it’s time to go out the door, and I have no time left to prepare. Why do I do that? It means I panic as I rush to pull some thoughts together as I drive to my destination and pray that I’ll come up with an interesting and inspirational topic. Yes, I was asked to talk about myself, but every talk should be structured like a story, with a beginning (inciting incident), middle (rising action), and ending (dramatic conclusion).

Luckily for me, my muse works well under pressure. I came up with several exciting (at least I hoped they were) events in my life and made them steppingstones, using an underlying theme of how I jump into careers, then learn on the job, often after I being forced to change directions by a tragedy or a roadblock. That helped me choose my anecdotes.

But I also like to give each audience a takeaway, something meaningful that they can apply to their own lives. My muse, my creative mind, my subconscious didn’t fail me. It dredged up a wonderful idea–one I’d heard years ago in someone else’s speech that had a powerful effect on my life…

Stay tuned for: Seeing the Other Side





I’m Off…

13 07 2009

My itinerary has changed, so I’m off to San Francisco much sooner than I’d planned. Now I must rush around and get ready to take off early Tues. morning. I thought I’d have a lot more time to get things done. Instead, I’ll need to squeeze a ton of chores into a short time span.

Whenever I have lots of time, I get little done. Conversely, when I’m pressed for time, I usually manage to accomplish an almost superhuman amount of work. Hmmm… If there were a way to put myself under practically impossible deadlines every day, would I get all those tasks on my to-do list done? Or would I collapse with a heart attack or stroke?

My procrastination stems from a habit I developed in school. I hated homework, so I avoided it until the last minute. I often did it in the class before it was due. And I never started term papers until after midnight when they were due that morning. I usually studied for tests by going to class a few minutes early and asking one of the studious early birds what questions they thought would be on the test. They were almost always right. And I’d had a refresher on the answers shortly before the test started so I generally aced the exam.

Now that I’m older, you’d think I’d have learned to use time more wisely. My freelance writing life has become rather predictable. I know, for example, that from mid-December to early February, things are slow. But from May to August, it’s hectic. So why did I ignore my own writing during the winter months and plan an extended trip during the busiest months of the year?? And why did I decide to start a new business at the same time? Am I crazy? A glutton for punishment? Or is this my subconscious’s attempt to force me to get a lot of work done? Hmmm… that subconscious may be much trickier than what I thought.