Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Survivor: Unpubbed Island

Do you have what it takes for Survivor: Unpubbed Island?

Sure everyone wants off the island but the reality is this:

You have to make it on the island
before you get to leave the island.

Tips for your time on Unpubbed Island:

1. Get in shape. Writing shape that is. This time on Unpubbed Island isn't only about getting a golden tan or perfecting your sand volleyball technique. It's really about getting your writing muscles in shape.

If you can't meet a self imposed deadline now, then how are you going to meet an editor's deadline? Enter BIAW's, NaNoWriMo and Finish The Book-or write a book for The Golden Heart, the Genesis, or any other writing competition that pits you against you.

How fast can you write? How fast can you edit?

Now is the time to discover your personal best.

2. No excuses. There's a saying that if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

Busy is an excuse, not a reason. Sure, you're busy. So am I and so is everyone else around this island. We have water to boil, fires to start, shelters to maintain and coconut daiquiri's to make.

Writers write, even if it means getting up at 2 am and hiding in the abandoned hut on the north corner of the island. No excuses.

3. Get tough. Entering contests is the first step in surrendering your ego and developing a thick hide. The next step is submitting.

We have a motto around Seekerville. Don't Diva. (or Divo) If a revision is suggested, do what is requested to the best of your ability. If you think the world revolves around you and your characters you are in for a long stay on the island.

Getting tough can also mean overcoming your fears.

Fear of failure: A basic fear of rejection.
Fear of success: Fear of your ability to handle situations that may arise if you do succeed.

Now is the time to explore these fears; while you are living in the relatively safe island environment. Approach your fears with a worst-case-scenario mentality and think about how you will deal with the outcome.

Leaving the island may be our goal, but make no mistake, the waters are shark infested and the mainland is a scary place.

4. Act like a winner.

  • Winners see an answer for every problem.
  • Winners say what they mean and mean what they say.
  • Winners accept responsibility instead of placing blame.
  • A winner's attitude is the ability to focus on long- term goals even though short-term results are not on track (-Kelley Robertson)
  • Winners act. They don't react. (7 Habits of Highly Effective People-Franklin Covey)

5. Prepare. Surviving Unpubbed Island means planning.

What's your plan A? Your Plan B?

Writing is a business. Do you have a documented business plan? Have you outlined the steps to your writing success? What's your writing mission statement?

Or are you just stumbling through, hoping to survive?

What's your strategy when you meet with rejection, or low contest scores? Do you have a strategy or do you allow yourself to wallow in self pity and defeat?

One of the biggest mistakes inhabitants of the island make is failing to plan.

6. Small wins towards the big prize. Surviving the island means putting one foot in front of the other, and taking baby steps toward your goal.

The Theory of Small Wins, stipulates that people overlook small successes when they are overwhelmed by and preoccupied with large projects and goals. Instead of looking at how far you have to go, focus on how far you have come.

Another way to look at small wins: "The principle of using small wins to build psychological momentum was presented in a Ph.D. dissertation at Stanford University in 1977. The theory: It works because it’s a truly brain-friendly concept.

When someone praises you, you feel good because your brain produces a chemical called dopamine. When you praise yourself by checking off a completed action step, you get the same physiological result. As you achieve one small win after another, you find it easier and easier to take the action steps that generate the wins. "

-Why Small Bites Trump Multi-Tasking by Matt White

In the end it isn't just about getting off the island; it really is all about how you play the game. Winners stay on top by continuing to cultivate the same steps that got them off the island once they reach the mainland.

Don't be in such a rush to leave paradise that you fail to use your time here wisely or appreciate all the good things about Unpubbed Island.


Helen Gray said...


Those are strong words, the kind we need.



Jessica said...

Coconut daiquiris??? No wonder I'm still here. *snort*

Seriously! Great advice. Thank you.

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Tina, I'm so with you.

Like that's a surprise.

And I love the 'small bites'. I've used that idea for-like-ever and it works so well for me.

Tiny rewards for a job well done. A little bar of chocolate. A chance to watch NCIS. An hour to read.

And even just the checking off the list FEELS SO GOOD, a little goal accomplished. It's so easy to get swamped by the big picture that the little bites make all the difference to me.

Great words of wisdom.

Hey, I made coffee. There's a big, ol' pot of regular and a carafe of pumpkin spice...

So smooth and fall-flavored. Oh mylanta, it's like a little celebration in a cup, it's that good.

And I made practice pumpkin pies for breakfast. Eggs... Milk... Flour...

Really, no different from pancakes, ya' know?


Love this, Teenster.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Jess, coconut daiquiris are just part of what gets us through the day, sweetums.

And a little Barista Jack now and again.

Joanne Sher said...

Oh WOW - this is INCREDIBLY excellent! I, and everyone else on "the island," need this SOOO badly! Thank you, Tina!

Vonnie said...

Great advice! I think there is something here for all of us, one way or the other. My toes feel a little stepped on, but I must have needed it.
Thanks for this post.

sherrinda said...

Ooouuucchhh! It is way to early to be stepping on me toes like that! Great post and there were some things I definitely needed to hear!

Tina M. Russo said...

Good morning.

Strong words and strong coffee, Helen.

Now Vonnie we all need need a kick in the hammock on occasion. Especially, moi.

Morning, Jessica, Ruty.

Joanne Sher, where HAVE you been? Missed you.

Tina M. Russo said...

Sherrinda, you snuck in here.

Hey I am so impressed with your WW loss. I joined Curves. Yes, we have one on the island. Sandra Leesmith is in charge.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Tina. Full of wonderful wisdom. Your words are the pep talk I needed to get up, get dressed and head to the office for another day of writing.

And I'm so proud of myself--I entered the Golden Heart on Saturday and started NaNoWri on Sunday.

Instead of coconut, could I bring some strawberries for my daiquiri? I'd be willing to share. . .

Patty Hall

Tina M. Russo said...

Patty, you amazing woman. Good for you. Congratulations!! Way to go.

Strawberries it is!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Tina, What do you mean we aren't here for the suntan and sand volleyball??????? I mean can't we have SOME fun????

Oh that's right. We have work to do. Well its a good thing I love that work. But thanks for reminding me to get out of the hammock and get busy. smile

And yes, we have to exercise to work off those pumpkin pies I just smothered with whipped cream and honey. ymm.

Congrats all of you who are entering those contests. And the NaNoWriMo.

Tina Pinson said...


I'll be glad to kick your hammock for ya. LOL

Thanks for the post.

I've been trying to stick to the little steps, I find I keep pulling muscles on the big ones.

And darn if that don't hurt.

The Little step are so much easier on the mind, body and spirit.

Oh and I decided to stop being such a chicken and sent out for two contest this last week.

Tina M. Russo said...

Sandra, my favorite drill sarg. is here.

Tina!!!! way to go dudette!!!

Janet Dean said...

Tina, this is a fabulous post! I love how you tell it like it is. Small wins is a great way to deal with the pressures of Pubbled Mainland!

Ruthy, that slice of pumpkin pie has me raring to go! Thanks!

Congratulations Patty and Tina P on entering those contests! Pulling for you!

We're winners all!


Audra Harders said...

Small bites trump multi tasking.

I love it.

Some of us just aren't wired to do many tasks at the same time and do them all well. I need to pidgeon hole my tasks, complete one step of a project before taking another.

Love it, Tina.

You've got it so right, my friend. Learn how YOU write. Learn how to delegate (kids, clean your own bathroom). Learn how each cog fits into your own wheel.

Learn all this BEFORE you get published.

But it is all about the island, you know. Love this place. Very condusive to producing great litrary works...

...or just good, fun fiction.

Brought a plate of pumpkin bars to share. Eat'em quick. I'm making more...

Ann said...

Thanks, Tina, I needed that. I bookmarked the small steps site. Can apply that to other areas.

When we had horses, a Christian man named John Lyons was a well-known trainer. A couple of his points have stuck with me, even though the horses are gone. (Um ... for now, anyway. Can horses ever really be gone from someone's life? Can cattle and poultry truly replace horses in a girl's heart? Anyway ...)

With horses we were supposed to break down the training goal into as small of steps as possible. And not to mistake the goal itself for training ... (for instance, the goal is to get the horse on the trailer; throwing the horse into the trailer bodily is NOT training.)

I found that I can (um, should) apply that to other areas. Including writing.

PS ... Ruthy, I'm sorry ... pumkin IN coffee is just so wrong. The regular is great, though!

Melanie Dickerson said...

Tina, you are a great motivator. I recognized your voice right away. I'm reminded of that character in The Incredibles, I forget her name, the little woman who designs the Supers' costumes, when she slaps Elasti-girl and then tells her "Go! Fight! Win! And then call me. I enjoy our little chats."

Or something like that.

That's you, Tina. :-)

I had a long talk with myself yesterday and this morning when I was lying in bed because of the stupid time change and couldn't sleep. I decided to focus on how far I've come, and I remembered so many things from the past, ways I used to think, and how I've come a long way since then. Not only am I a better writer, but I think I'm a better person for having gone through the fire, so to speak. All the painful rejections and waiting really do make you a better person.

Rose said...


Great advice and motivation for writer's in any stage of their career!


Sarah Forgrave said...

Tina, Thanks for the tips and the kick in the pants to stay motivated and disciplined. That's a toughie for me right now!

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Great points, Tina!! It's definitely all about how you play the game. I'm hoping I'm playing it to God's liking.

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks for the words of encouragement, Tina. That one foot in front of the other get tough sometimes...does crawling count as moving forward too ;-)

Since I've been sick, I've only been consistent at getting my blog updated and a few pages of ms here and there, but it's those 'little bites', like you said.

Oh, and what a better descriptor is there?

Little bites...yum...

or big bites, especially chocolate

Better go practice my volleyball swing some more before I attack the chocolate again.

Thanks again, Tina.

Myra Johnson said...

I ALWAYS love your posts, Tina--direct, sharp, witty, inspiring, all at the same time. Every word you wrote is so true. If we don't hone our survival skills while doing our time on Unpubbed Island, we will NEVER be ready when our ship comes in!

Erica Vetsch said...

Wonderfully said, Tina.

Missy Tippens said...

Excellent advice, Tina! I totally agree.

And how did I know it was your post?? I always know when it's your posts!! You've definitely got a strong voice--a very good thing. :)

Vince said...

You plot, you plan
Everything twice
You must escape
From Paradise
But the Island
It’s just too nice

Eden without
Eviction, Why
Even Satan
is missing

Duty should not
Be a cutie
The medium
Is the message.


Jenny said...

Great post Tina! Thank you!

Tina Pinson said...


See what happens, get up early. (I'm not Ruthy so 5:30 is too early for me.)

Plug in my comment and return four hours later to find a few more people have arrived and left their verbage too.


Tina, the dudette is the house, till she leaves again in a few minutes for work.

(own business, past banker's hours gotta love it.)

Janet, thanks for pulling as much as Tina seems to push.

Tina M. Russo said...

Vince, great little poem.

I'm thinking I should have stayed in the Army and become a drill sargent.

I'm with you Ann. Coffe strong with half and half. NO FLAVORS. Pumpkin pie is my favorite veggie dish, that and Audra's pumpkin bars.

Okay, troops--

Yer left.
Yer right.
Yer left, yer right, yer left.

Tina M. Russo said...

Okay now I will fess up.

I have that phrase, slightly different penned in the back of my 30 some year old NKJ bible.

"Satan will have you look at how far you have to go, but turn around, because God wants you to see how far you've come."

Tina M. Russo said...

Morning, Jenny dear!

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, gosh, Tina, these survivor points are NOT just for Unpubbed Island -- they're boot-camp points that we ALL need, pubbed or unpubbed, so THANK YOU, Sarge.

Excellent post, as ALWAYS.


Edwina said...


What a great post! I'm printing it out and posting it just above my computer!


Patty Wysong said...

Wowzers! What a post! =)

Just what the doctor ordered. I even read part of it to my fam while they fixed their sandwiches. =) (Three of them are NaNoing this month!!)

Leigh said...

Great post, Tina -- as always. And I love the quote you shared from your Bible. That one's a keeper too.


Ruth Logan Herne said...


So we have a few coffee purists among us.

That's cool.


Lovin' the pumpkin spice stuff.

With real cream. Like pie in a cup. With an M&M chaser. :)

I sent out for sandwiches. Deli...

DiBella's. They make the greatest hoagies. Subs. Whatever. So yum. I ordered a variety tray.

Dig in guys.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks, ladies.

Patty W, your family is doing NaNoWriMo?? I love that. Brilliant!!! What do they write?

Audra Harders said...

Oh Vince, Tina! Great thoughts of bringing everything into perspective.

I've got chocolate chip cookies left over from lunch (daughter at home baking) I've added them to the pumpkin buffet of Ruthy's.

You know Satan can try and make the future look distant and beyond our reach, but I just got bifocals. Brings the whole world up close and personal.

Gotta love optics : )

Mary Connealy said...

We use the pretty picture of palm trees and beaches and sea and sky...it might make you forget for a time that we want OFF Unpubbed Island.

Off, sand volleyball? Forget it! I've still got sand in unmentionable places from the time I spent on that stupid island.

Stinging jelly fish in the surf. Coconuts falling on your head.
Smelly monkeys in the trees.

And NOTHING To eat but raw fish! Morning noon and night for TEN YEARS I spend eating raw fishy, tending cuts on my feet from broken shards of seas shells and that sand, sand, sand, sand, sand.

And I look AWFUL in a bikini. God have mercy on the eyeballs of everyone else stuck on that blasted island.


Patty Wysong said...

NaNo is GREAT for homeschool!! =]

We're ALL avid readers here and because I KNOW several of my kids amuse themselves by telling themselves stories, I encouraged them to sign up. My two girls are going for the 50k (one has 5967 currently!!) and my two boys are going for 5k and even my 8 y/o is in pecking out stories!

We're having a month long creative writing unit at the Wysong household--just today we talked about POV, deep POV, and 1st person vs. 3rd person. =]

They're NaNoing, I'm editing the 1st 15 pages of my ms for a contest, and my husband is editing a chapter of his book, so your post today was perfect for the whole family! =]

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks for the visual, Connealy. I needed that. LOL.

There is a reason we wear grass skirts on the island now.

Mary apparently ticked off the monkeys. They haven't tossed coconuts on our heads since she left.

Tina M. Russo said...

Patty, that is just too cool, really. Way to go Wysong's!!!

Anne Barton said...

Tina, the way you customized the Survivor logo is awesome. Do you think I could get that on a coffee mug or T-shirt?

You give such fabulous advice in the most entertaining way. Thanks.

ps - really, no flavored coffee? Not even when Starbucks brings back the gingerbread lattes? :)

Marilyn Brant said...

Tina, this is such a tremendously wise and accurate post--fantastic job!

I've talked with several multipublished writers about the before/after experience this fall, and so often aspiring writers don't realize what a gift that time before publication really is. Having the freedom to try out a variety of writing styles. Being able to think through that business plan you mentioned. Being given the opportunity to learn how to juggle deadlines before you have a contract legally binding you to finish a book. Learning that there are *so many* responsibilities (besides the actual writing) that a newly published author has to manage, and being able to get some of the detail work set up for these things (like blogs and websites) before you absolutely need them.

I was surprised to discover that "Unpubbed Island" is a time many published writers look back on with longing... Just this week alone, 2 multipubbed, award-winning novelists told me they were happier before selling. I'm not sure either would give up their sales and go back--but this does say something to me about the stresses we feel once the book is out there. I wouldn't say I was happier before selling, but I would definitely say I was under far less stress than I am now...

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

Mary expresses my philosophy exactly.

I think the fear of success is really the fear that success will not be as pleasant as what we have now. Not only is the devil we know preferable to the devil we don’t, he’s actually a pretty nice guy. NOT!

Don’t go back in the Army. Use those DI skills to shape up the troops in your WIPs. Whip those paragraphs into parade ground champions and in every competition, take home the unit citations.


Connie Marquise said...

Timely post for me, Tina. Thanks.


Tina M. Russo said...

Anne, lattes are different. They aren't coffee. They are a coffee beverage. Dessert. I like soy pumpkin and gingerbread lattes.

But my coffee. Venti with room for cream. Period.

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks Marilyn,

I agree. Use your time wisely and later you won't have regrets.

Debby Giusti said...

Love the Theory of Small Wins!!! Great. I'm writing it down and making a list of everything I may have done right recently. Then I'll read it over every morning and start the day feeling like I can do anything.

Thanks for the tips!

Project Journal said...

LOVE the Survivor theme : ) Very cool, girl!

I have to say, even to someone who's not really a writer, your words were very inspiring. It made me want to get up and write! But then I realized what time it was and how tired I am and decided that it would have to wait! : P
Great job, Tina!

Gail Fuller said...

Tina, I loved this post!! Thank you! :)

Gail, an island inhabitant

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks Gail (of NWIB fame ) he he he

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