The PBS Blog Podcast Ep 5 – Freedom and Responsibility

In today’s episode, we are talking about the responsibility end of freedom.

Freedom has been turned into a scapegoat that many of us have used to justify our beef with structure. Anything that requires us to act in a way that is disciplined, civil or logical we stray from under the guise of having the freedom to choose.

But choices are not without consequences.

We are adults and have long had the freedom to do as we choose. But as there’s a lot going on in the world today, we must remember that our actions and thoughts are not without a certain level of responsibility. Whether we are talking about writing and books or life in general, our freedom is not as free as it seems on the surface.

Today, I want to encourage you to be more disciplined in all areas of your life. More disciplined spiritually, mentally, and physically. Let’s take responsibility for the lives we live.

Don’t forget to subscribe for notification of future episodes.

Ep 5 – Freedom and Responsibility

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No Whining Wednesday – Control Your Thoughts

Welcome back to another edition of No Whining Wednesday where you do not get to whine, criticize, or complain for this entire day. If you are new to this blog or new to this segment, please go HERE to learn more about what this is all about.

 

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

It’s been a while since I’ve done an NWW so although I am traveling this week and preparing to release Renaissance (where did the time go?), I thought it would be nice if we can be reminded not to whine. OK, that’s not entirely true. I also need this! I want to whine about so much today that I decided that if I need a reminder, so do you for we rarely endure different struggles. In essence, we go through the same things, packaged differently. That said, I have the perfect quote for us. It’s something that has been on my mind a lot:

As those of you who have been following this blog for awhile already know (or my email list for that mater) I am big on discipline. I believe it is deeper than inspiration and motivation. I believe that it is deeper because inspiration only lasts a moment. It takes discipline to stretch it and to will ourselves to the next step. It takes discipline to forcefully pull ourselves up. Discipline begins in our thoughts and this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Not just thinking about but striving to put it into practice. How do I control the things I think about? How do we transform the ways in which we think? More so than the act of complaining is the act of thinking about complaining. If we can stop thinking about certain things, then we can stop stressing over certain things. The discipline to stop making temporary situations a permanent part of our lives by ceasing from making them a part of our thoughts. If we can’t control what we think about, then we can’t control what we do. Today, let us focus less on our actions and more on the thoughts that influence them.

No Whining Wednesday – What this is Really About

The No Whining Wednesday Badge

I wasn’t going to post anything today but I thought it would be the perfect time to explain what this segment is really about for those who don’t already know.

Although inspired by Iyanla Vanzant (learn more HERE) this is deeper than her quote. But before talking about what this is about, let’s talk about what this is not about.

This is not about being happy-go-lucky 24/7. That’s not what this is about. It is not about not stressing because stress is a part of life. It’s natural. This is not about not being at war because sometimes you must be. Trying to give people hugs in the time of war is just as dangerous as chopping someone’s head off at a time where all they really need is love.

Now, what is this about? What is ‘No Whining Wednesday’ really about?

This segment is all about control. Every single person has both good and evil inside themselves, and if you think that you don’t then you are just naive.

The evil inside of us however, must be contained. The evil that would rather blow up and pop off to someone, the evil that would rather curse you out, the evil that wants to repay evil for evil, the evil that takes it upon his or herself to exact vengeance, the evil that is without compassion, mercy, and love, we all know this evil and it must be controlled. This evil must be contained. Otherwise, these demons will corrupt your life.

We all have feelings and these feelings get hurt. That’s life. But we have a responsibility to stay committed to being the people we are. The good people we are because everyone has good inside them. For some it’s buried deeper than others but the light is there.

What I am saying is that we have to learn to control those negative emotions even when we feel that it is warranted. I know because I was that uncontrolled person. Cursing like a sailor, fighting and popping off. I was her. So I’m not telling you something I heard or looked up from some motivational speech because motivation is temporary. Inspiration and motivation is fleeting. It’s like the wind. It comes and then it goes and then it is back again. It is great to be inspired but inspiration does not last. Not without discipline. I can only speak for myself when I say that discipline is the most important thing. Discipline and self-control.

Sometimes you are not going to feel like being kind but if you can force yourself to think about the feelings of others before your own then you can will yourself to be kind. Sometimes people will hurt you and you won’t feel like doing nothing. Doing nothing feels weak, fragile, vulnerable, and exposed. But you will also soon realize that this is the strongest person. Sometimes you won’t feel like smiling and nobody’s asking you to do so all the time. I know I don’t. But, if we can forcefully drag ourselves to do it, we’ll be better for it.

No Whining Wednesday is not about being happy 24/7, otherwise there will be a No Whining Sunday through Saturday. What No Whining Wednesday is about is controlling yourself.

I dare you to forcefully drag yourself to do what is right today for no other reason except that it is right.

“That’s one of my principles. It’s another discipline that I encourage myself to employ – to, as much as possible, say the courteous thing, and then be it.”

– Maya Angelou


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3 Reasons Working for Yourself is Harder than Working for Someone Else

Book Signing at The Doubletree Hilton Hotel, downtown Chicago, circa 2014

It is more challenging to work for yourself in my opinion than someone else. My husband and I both run our own businesses. Here’s why it’s more of a challenge:

  • You Can’t Be Lazy

I know, you work for yourself, why can’t you? The truth is that though it’s more freedom, this freedom is a doubled edged sword. Having and running your own business is different than working a 9-5. When you work a 9-5 you’re expected to be there every day and on time and you can have paid times off or vacations or just decide not to come into work today. Pull that when you’re your own boss and it’s the difference between buying groceries and going hungry. The truth is that when you work for yourself you can’t be lazy. Instead of getting paid per hour, you’re getting paid per client and it is how you pay your bills and provide for your family. Not putting in work means to literally not get paid that day.

  • More Discipline

This goes hand in hand with not being lazy. Working for yourself requires more discipline. The reason is because when you work a 9-5 you have days off. When you work for yourself, however, you have to create those days and it’s tempting to procrastinate or put things off. Even though I work from home I still must discipline myself to get up early. There are only so many hours in a day and the earlier you get up the more you can get done. First of all, I need to get a good workout in to get the juices pumping and then I have to get to work which works well if I get up early enough. For my personal business, it’s more so building. Since I don’t have any “clients” yet what I don’t spend in money I spend in time. Researching, writing, blogging, sending off packages, marketing, promotion, and organizing.

However, since I am also the Vice President for my husband’s contracting business, I only have a certain amount of time to do certain things so I do not neglect any key responsibilities. My husband calls it “clocking in”. I call it walking into the office with a cup of coffee in my PJs. Though liberating, I have to constantly remind myself to take breaks and because I make my own schedule I have to incorporate my own vacations. This isn’t as easy as it sounds because when you work for yourself you’re never off. Your phone is constantly ringing from clients, your email and text messages are overflowing with new messages, and you’re just overall always locked in. My husband had to literally talk me into writing last weeks Black History Fun Fact Friday article. If it was not for him you all would not have had a BHFFF article for real. After grocery shopping, putting up food, and cleaning the kitchen I certainly didn’t feel like researching on the computer. But my husband’s work ethic is amazing and he does not let me slack off.  Truth is, people think that not having a “job” means you have all the time in the world and that you spend your days staring at the wall. In reality, I rarely have time to watch TV. (My version of TV is CNN as background noise). So, breaks such as movie night is something that we create.

  • Taking Breaks

10603772_720596317976228_4749338203801196478_nSince I mentioned breaks, I figured I should go ahead and list this one for the last bullet point. When you work for yourself you must schedule your own breaks. This sounds simple, but it’s not. Entrepreneurs are largely made up of what people call workaholics. The truth is not everyone is a workaholic, it’s just that when you make your own money you’re constantly working (as I’ve just mentioned) because nothing is guaranteed and every cent is earned. Therefore, business owners must create schedules to ensure they don’t lose their minds. We must create our own days off and vacations (mine is coming up, whoo hoo!) When we return, we’re reminded of why working for yourself is so much more mentally challenging. Everything we put off has piled up and so the grind continues but….

I would do it all again in another lifetime.

When you own your own business, you don’t just have more control but you gain so many more valuable skills, such as being more accountable for your actions and being more attentive to your surroundings and the behavior of people. You learn to do things like take the initiative (doing what needs to be done without being told) which is a great leadership skill. There’s something about doing the work yourself that gives you a different way of looking at the world, a new perspective, and a higher level of discipline and responsibility. In addition, the reward for all of this work is well worth it. The benefits of entrepreneurship certainly outweigh the challenges.


Yecheilyah Ysrayl is the YA, Historical Fiction author of The Stella Trilogy. She is currently working on her next book series “The Nora White Story” about a young black woman writer who dreams of taking part in The Harlem Renaissance movement and her parents struggle to accept their traumatic past in the Jim Crow south. “Renaissance: The Nora White Story (Book One)” is due for release summer, 2017. For updates on this project, sneak peek of chapters and the pending book cover release (coming soon) for this project, be sure to follow this blog and to subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list HERE.

Confidence and Writing Discipline

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The most important factor in a writer’s life, at least in my opinion, is not mere talent. Neither is it some mysterious entity floating in the air called luck. It is not how much you blog or how less you blog. It is not how much money you spend or how little money you spend. It is not even your profound research and marketing skills. These elements surely help, but the greatest difference and perhaps the most unique too, between writing and other careers is a writer’s level of discipline and confidence. To keep writing, I often find that I must maintain a proper balance of each of them. Believing enough in your ability to write and having a consistent writing practice is often the difference between aspiring authors and published authors. Of course, it does not stop here but it is a step in the right direction.

The advice we hear from like-minded bloggers, agents, editors, or just authors, in general, have always, and perhaps will continue to be, our focus on writing. Because engaging in any activity of whatever sort on a daily basis naturally makes one more familiar with it, we will always hear how important it is to write and to keep writing. While this is good advice, I think that for many writers finding the time to write and sketching out a daily routine is not always easy and this is often underestimated  by those who are not writers or those who consider writing to involve less work than other careers.

“Self-discipline, what many call will-power, refers to the ability to persist at difficult or unpleasant tasks until they are completed. People who possess high self-discipline are able to overcome reluctance to begin tasks and stay on track despite distractions. Those with low self-discipline procrastinate and show poor follow-through, often failing to complete tasks even tasks they want very much to complete.” – Wikipedia

When a writer transitions from the workplace to fulfill a writing career, his initial challenge will be to maintain a certain level of self-discipline. For years he has not had to create his own time sheets, develop his own projects, and schedule his own lunch breaks. All of this has been done for him by the corporation in which he has worked for. It is now that, as a full-time writer, he must put in the necessary time to ensure a proper work day, rest, and vacation time.

He must dig deep into his resourceful mind and find the inspiration to write, in some way, daily. If he is not writing, then he must attempt to focus that energy in the direction of reading, social media marketing, offline marketing, and public speaking events to keep in line with the workflow. As we can see, the full-time writer has a lot to do and it is not always easy finding the discipline to get it done.

Sometimes it is just so hard finding the time. What I have come to invest in, however, is my purpose. As long as I remember my purpose and invest in that it is usually enough to keep me moving. This is because discipline works hand in hand with motivation and drive. It is that ingrained, determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need. It is the answer to the question, “Why do you write?” This answer is different for each of us but the result is the same. If every full-time writer kept his primary goal, the answer to the question of why he or she must write, always at the forefront of his mind it can undoubtedly become the catalyst to a more disciplined writing life and as a result more material.

Yet, in all of this, a writer must still believe in his ability to write and speak this into existence.

There’s a lot of criticism out there for writers. It is enough to keep us full for a lifetime. Not only in its relation to the backlash geared at Self-Publishers, but many people also do not see entrepreneurship, specifically writing, as being a “real job”. For this reason, confidence is necessary to be an apart of this movement. It is not to think more highly of yourself than you should think, (*caution: recipe for disaster*) since there is a power greater than you. But confidence is the state of feeling certain about something.

Working for you can feel like a blessing and a curse. There is so much to do, so much to strive for and (wait for it) so much failure. But if you believe in that aged old saying, “hard work pays off”, you will allow self-discipline and experience to train you into the professional you need to become.

One of the greatest ways to maintain just enough confidence to get the work done but  at the same time maintain just enough humility is to be of help to others as best and as often as you can. What you do always comes back. How you treat others will almost certainly reflect how you yourself are treated. It’s not always about you, and yet your personal goals are still important.

So there’s a balance between our level of discipline–which will get the work done–and our level of confidence, which will keep us going when a project has failed to meet the goal. In the words of Kevin Nance, “failure curdles into something else… I go down into that failed place, and I think, ‘I’m going to take a look at that failure and make something of it”.

Writing Tips For Self-Discipline, Motivation, Confidence

This is a continuation of the post I just posted. I split them up because I did not want to make the previous post too long (yea, I know about your attention spans). Below are some tips from Jennifer Blanchard to help Writer’s to stay disciplined, stay motivated, and hopefully, to also help to keep us confident in the areas we need it most:

Planning

When You Can’t Write, Think!

If all you can manage is semi-coherent babble on a page, it’s best to stop and think. Dream up suitable ideas and titles for projects you have to complete.

When you do some research and come up with key points, you may find that the topic invigorates you, thus providing you with additional motivation to write. Sometimes, the research is the most rewarding part of writing.

There is nothing like immersing yourself in a topic to spike productivity.

Embrace A New Environment

Good luck trying to be creative in a family environment! If you have children running around, a nagging spouse or the incessant noise of traffic to deal with, it won’t take long for motivation to dwindle.

If it’s at all possible, rent out a small office space where you can have complete control over your work environment. When you’re content, words flow far more easily on to a page.

Alternately, you could try writing at a public library or a coffee shop, where the environments are a little more controlled. Or if you have to write at home, invest in some noise-canceling headphones.

Set Your Own Deadlines

While many writers may curse a demanding client, the majority of freelancers are secretly delighted. Having someone give you a definitive deadline is an excellent way to keep you motivated.

You know that failure to finish the work on time loses you a client and brings you one step closer to that dreaded 9-5 job you left behind.

If you have relaxed clients, don’t allow yourself to slip into the comfort zone. Set yourself daily targets and meet them consistently. High quality work and productivity equals happy clients!

Rest When You Need To

This may seem counter-productive in a discussion about motivation, but working when you’re exhausted never ends well. You normally see a drop in quality and have to incur the wrath of your clients.

This in turn demotivates you as all you can think about is the hard work you put in which was not recognized.

When working on a computer, you need to take small breaks every couple of hours. Go outside and take in some fresh air for a minute or have a cup of tea/coffee and just relax. You’ll find that you return to work fresh and motivated.

Exercise Regularly

This almost seems to be a clichéd tip, but exercise releases feel-good endorphins and bumps up your energy level.

If you have a long day of work planned, break it up with some exercise. It doesn’t even have to be strenuous; a brisk 20-30 minute walk is just fine.

When your job involves sitting down all day, lack of exercise can cause severe health problems. Combine this with a propensity to feast on convenience foods all day long and you have potential issues.

Be Accountable

You need to confess your lack of productivity to a friend or partner. This isn’t as much about cleansing your soul as it is about getting a kick in the rear!

If you spent the day watching soap operas instead of earning money, you need to be held accountable. As there is no boss or co-workers to tattle on you, an accountability partner is the next best thing.

Hopefully, this person can chastise you when necessary and help you with motivation.

Join A Writing Class

Perhaps you lack the motivation because you don’t have belief in your own writing ability. One of the quickest ways to lose interest in something is the realization that you’re not good enough.

But you love writing don’t you?

If so, take a writing class and become an expert at something you love doing. There is a litany of scientific studies available which prove that people have the ability to learn anything in rapid time as long as they have a genuine interest in it.

Think of taking a class as an investment in yourself.

Get Off Your Backside!

A comfortable chair is necessary when you’re working long hours as a writer, but it can also be the very thing to stop you being productive. When you lack motivation to write, a nice soft seat is the last thing you need.

Invest in a standing desk and do some of the work standing up. Medical studies have shown that sitting down all day is very bad for your health and that standing burns far more calories.

Working from a standing desk is not easy, but it takes you out of that comfort zone and motivates you to work rather than waste time.

Set yourself targets: For example, you can’t sit down until you have completed five articles.

Also, be sure to stretch every day, which will help with the tightness in your lower back and hips from long periods of sitting.

Maintain A Laser-Like Focus

While multitasking seems to be a fantastic way to get things done, it isn’t a useful tool for writers seeking motivation. Avoiding the practice of writing by checking email and using social networking sites at the same time is only harming your work.

When you focus on a single task and follow through until it is completed, you will be infinitely more productive. When you try to work on several things at once, you’ll often find that ideas are lost along with motivation for the task.

While all of the above tips will not work for everyone because we are all unique, it’s virtually certain that at least a couple will prove useful to you. Keep motivation high and consistent top quality work and the accompanying plaudits will follow.