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15: How do you deal with feeling as though you’re spinning your wheels?

This week, Crys Cain and J. Thorn discuss “The Dip.” That feeling everyone gets when they’ve been pushing long and hard, they know they’re doing the right things, the system is working, but it feels as though they’re churning and not going anywhere. How do you get out of that feeling?

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Transcription

Crys: Hello and welcome to the TASM podcast. I’m Crys Cain with my cohost, J. Thorn. How’s it going? 

J: How are you, Crys?

Crys:  Sweating. 

J: Yeah?  

Crys: A lot. But still working a little bit. Gotta keep trucking. 

J:  What do you do when it’s so hot you can’t think? Cause I know you don’t just stop working. So do you have a set of tasks you can do that, you can manage the heat in?

Crys: A lot of times I just try and leave my house and I’ll work somewhere else. Sometimes I just lay on the floor for 15 minutes in front of the fan. Sometimes I just take another shower for the fifth time that day. It just kinda depends on how much I have to do if I have to do, I will jump through a lot of hoops to keep working on the work.

If I don’t have to do a lot, then I will probably try and get away from my computer and do something that I can do on paper. Nice. 

J: Sounds cool. 

Crys: How was your writing week? 

J: Good. I’m in one of those phases where you get like a million ideas a day and you can never implement even a small percentage, but they just keep coming.

I just keep throwing them into receptacles and be like, I’ll come back to that. I’ll come back to that. It’s fun, but it can also be distracting because then you get one that you think it’s going to be really awesome. And if you start chasing it, then you’re not doing something else.

I have to remind myself that I do have some good ideas, but I also have some laundromat ideas. And I need to balance those out. 

Crys: I was going to ask, are these more writing ideas or more business ideas? 

J: Yeah, a little bit of both. Christine messaged me at one point and she’s like, “I love the laundromat idea. I’m going to use that.” 

I’m like, okay, that’s what it is then instead of a shiny squirrel, it’s a laundromat. 

Crys: No, you don’t want a laundromat. Throw that idea away. 

Our question this week… we’ve talked a bit before about like jumping on opportunity costs and what you do when new shiny ideas come along. But what happens when you feel like you’ve been doing the right thing, you’re keeping your system, you are producing new words, you’re learning your new business things. And yet it feels like the needle isn’t moving. How do you handle that? 

J: That is rough. That is that’s basically The Dip by Seth Goden. So you definitely want to read that book. 

The dip is the point in any project or initiative where you feel as though you’re not making any progress. And so you’re trying to decide if you should push through the dip and keep going or give up and work on something else. 

I don’t… I’m sort of in an eternal dip. I have a number of things happening and they’re not all moving forward all at the same time. So I feel like there’s always something in my life that’s in a dip and it’s hard. It’s really hard. 

One thing I have to remind myself is that progress isn’t always linear. We tend to think, ” if I just write every day for a year, I’ll make a year’s worth of progress.” And that’s just not how the universe works.

Sometimes it takes you four years to make a year’s worth of progress and then you make four years of progress in the next six months. 

It’s just how the universe is. It’s not strictly linear in that way. I recognize it’s a really hard place to be. What do you do when you’re approaching or you’re in the dip?

Crys: Oh. I think most of the time I tried to take the monetary focus off of whatever it is and lean into my other reasons for doing something. 

So for instance, not having the energy for so long to write on science fiction and fantasy, whenever I did have some energy, I tried to keep the financial focus off of it as much as possible. 

As much as I want to put the romance to the side and jump in full force with science fiction and fantasy, even once I publish, it will be nowhere near replacing any level of income that I get from the romance.  

I’ve had to really concentrate and be really aware of what benefits I get out of my tasks and my action items that are not like income focused. 

J: Yeah. Yeah, that can definitely distort your perspective if you’re doing something with some expectation of financial reward and it’s not coming, that can really cloud your ability to make good decisions on it. 

Crys: Yeah, one of the frustrations I had with The Dip and I think you’ve read it more than once? 

J: Yeah, I’ve read it a few times. 

Crys: Okay. So good, if I run this by you, you’ll be able to tell me if I’ve missed something, but I felt like Godin said, this happens with every idea, good, bad, success or failure. This is going to happen. 

But he didn’t really give any actionable steps other than if you want it, keep moving. 

J: Yeah. And that’s the frustrating part, right? Because everyone wants to know how do I get motivated to work out? How do I break writer’s block? How do I make more money? How do I get out of the dip? 

There’s not a simple… there’s no formula. There’s no recipe for that. 

I think one of the main takeaways from that book that  I have to remind myself is that… it’s not impossible. It’s a question of how much investment I want to make in it. 

So reasonably speaking in any of the initiatives I have that are in a dip, I know if I just put enough time and energy into it, I’ll get through the dip.

The question is, do I want to? 

Here’s a good example. I know for a fact that if I spent two to three hours a day studying, writing, and experimenting with Amazon ads, that I could make a positive ROI with Amazon. I pretty much know that. Other people have done it there are courses on it. But I don’t want to spend my time doing that. 

If I approach that dip and I’m, and I’m like, okay, I’m right up to the point where I’m going to have to make that investment or I quit. I’m going to quit. Not because I don’t think I can do it, but because I know what it’s going to take to do it.

I don’t know if that’s helpful, but that’s kinda, my frame of reference is like how bad do I want it? Yeah, I can make it through the dip, but what’s it gonna cost me to do that? 

Crys: Yeah that’s an interesting look at it for sure. 

I was having a conversation with another friend recently and they are very adamant in their belief that luck does not exist. And I am quite adamant in my belief that good luck does exist. Bad things just happen, and they always happen, so you always need to expect bad things. 

But good luck occasionally happens all over the world. You may just be the one that it strikes. Because I think I was very lucky in the romance.

I did not study the genre. I did not have any expectations for success and good luck struck. And I’ve had people argue with me like, no, you must have studied. You must have done all this thing to prepare. And I’m like, I’m the one who did it. I know that I did not do those things. 

But what I do believe about good luck is this: is that it only shortens the amount of time to success.

Success will come to the people who work for it regardless. As long as, like you said, they want to put in the effort that it will take to get to success. Success will come. Luck may shorten the ramp. 

J: Yeah, I like that. I believe in it. I’m in agreement with you on that. 

I do believe in luck. I think it does exist and sometimes it’s completely out of your control. As to where it shows up or how and yeah, it does, it does shorten that path. But I can think of several things. 

TASM itself is a good example. I was in the dip with TASM when I reached out to you and at that point I was like, I’m going to shut this thing down. I know I can make it successful, but doing it on my own and knowing what that would take. I was like, I don’t want to do that. I just don’t have it in me to do that. 

And so bringing you on as a partner and realizing that we could share that burden and move it forward together, that’s what got me through the dip and now I feel like we’re on the other side and, we have a vibrant community and we have a lot of people engaging and it’s slowly growing in a very natural and nice way. 

But I was very much at a point where I was like, yeah, I don’t think I want to put the time and investment into this by myself.

So that’s an example. I think. If someone is thinking, “Wow, I just keep investing time into this, whatever this is and nothing’s happening,” I guess the question is like how much more do you want to invest in it? Is it that important to you? And not everything is equally as important.

Writing projects, books, partnerships; things come and go. We prioritize different things in different phases of our life and things that really important to me in 2012 and 2013 are not now. There are things I didn’t even know about that are really important to me now.

You just have to have this understanding that everyone is in some form of the dip, in multiple times in their life and it’s not an impossibility, it’s just, how much are you willing to invest in it? 

Crys: You saying that,   I was in a very similar position with the Write Away Podcast in that I knew that I couldn’t continue on my own and I brought JP in.

So that actually does bring up an actual item, something that you and I have successfully done, is that when we are in that dip, and we know that we don’t want to put in the energy that would require of going alone and that’s reaching out and building a connection and, generally with someone you trust, and leaning on your community, for sure.

J: Yeah. Yeah. 

Crys: Bring some energy from the exchange of ideas or just talking and sharing your feelings about the frustration, knowing you’re not alone. 

J: There’s no question that sort of loan wolf persona is just, it just doesn’t work very well for many things. Whether it’s pride or you’re just stubborn, or you’re worried about the complications. 

Both of us, over and over, again throughout our careers in writing and otherwise have had partners and collaborations and that’s a great way to make sure that you have the ability to get through the dip if you want to. 

Crys: And you also referenced, what is it? Rocket Fuel? What it, what was the book? There’s another book, Rocket Fuel that talks about the power that the complimentary relationships have specifically.

What is it? Visionary and… 

J: Reactionary? 

Crys: No, but it’s the administrative person and the idea person. 

J: It’s like the doer and the thinker and there’s different roles at different times. And the book goes into like the mechanics of how that partnership works really well. You can’t have two of the same type of people. You need one of each of those basically. 

Crys: And I think how that can play out in like a writing and publishing relationship is if you are in the dip, if it’s with a book and you’re in the dip of the book and you’re having trouble getting much further, and you could write the words if you could just come up with the ideas… then reach out to a friend who is a world builder, is an idea person. Somebody who can help stir up ideas, who also won’t be really mad when you don’t take any of their ideas, because you’re probably not going to take any of their ideas. They’re going to stir up ideas for you.

And then on the publishing side, if you feel like you’re stuck in the paths that you’re and aren’t working? And you’re looking for something to give you a little energy, a little new bit of project, like trying something you haven’t done of, whether it’s serial publishing, which is really popular a topic right now, or doing your own audio, talking to someone who’s an idea person who could be like, “Here are these different things that are available that you might not even know about.”

J: Yes, I think too the one last thing I want to mention on this, because I think it’s relevant is sometimes we forget about the Pareto Principle and I’m so guilty of this. Something new will come out, I’ll try it one time. I won’t see any results. I go that didn’t work. 

I tried one thing one time. And statistically speaking I’d have to be really lucky.

You got really lucky, right? You were that 1 in 10 with romance that worked. Most authors, whether it’s 10 different genres or 10 different books, or widgets whatever it is.  1 or 2 out of 10 is going to work and the others aren’t. 

If you’re only trying one or two or three, you probably haven’t given yourself enough of an opportunity to let that happen.

Crys: For like kind of that 10x element. And one of the things I love about Andy publishing is that we can absolutely survive without that 10x element. If you keep publishing books and they just all earn a very low, even amount, over time that really builds up. But those 10x elements are amazing to have in your pocket when they do hit.

J: Yeah. Even if you have four or five books published, that’s not a big enough data set to say… I could see someone being like, oh my gosh, I  published five books and I sell one book a month. 

You might not have enough. You might need to write 10 more before you can then make that decision.

Crys: So to anyone who is feeling discouraged, cause I know that this is a really common feeling, especially for indie writers, because a lot of times we feel like we’re going it alone. 

You are not alone. 

All of us have been there at some point or another in our lives. It is a normal part, but hopefully we’ve given you some tools to deal with it. 

What question shall we leave our listeners with? 

J: What do you do when you face a dip? 

Crys:  All right, friends, thanks for joining us once again. If you would like to be part of the conversations in real time, you can join us at The Author Success Mastermind.

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