Everyone Has a Big But

My rock star daughter who doesn't let a big BUT stand in her way. She rode her bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Now she's in Hawaii twirling fire.

My rock star daughter who doesn’t let a big BUT stand in her way. She rode her bike from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Now she’s in Hawaii twirling fire.

Everyone has a great idea.

For a business ~ mine is to open a laundromat/coffee shop/book store/movie theater or a tea shop complete with wacky hats and glitter on the floor.

Or an amazing book, a vacation, a career, or even a great idea on how to improve the internet. It might even be as simple as making a garden with the limited space you have in your backyard. Everyone has a great idea.

And everyone has a big but.

It’s that part of your idea when you start to say, ‘I want to write this book, but I don’t know how…’ or, ‘I want to lose weight, but I love cupcakes…’

Because, you know, doing something for real is hard. You have to sit your ass in the chair and write the damn book. You have to look at the cupcake, enjoy the smell of it, but not eat the damn thing. AND you have to learn the craft as well as the business of writing. It also wouldn’t hurt if you got your ass out of the chair to do some cardio and weights.

We can talk ourselves out of anything. That insidious BUT can kill a dream quicker than Roundup on weeds in summer.

The next time you start to tell yourself BUT stop. Rephrase what you were about to say. Replace your but with something empowering. Instead of, “I wrote a book, but the agent said no.” Try, “Hot damn! I wrote a book! I’ll find the right agent for this book and for me.” Or, “I’m eating right, but I’m not losing weight.” Try, “Damn, girl. You look fine! And your body is loving all the healthy food you’re putting into it. Keep up the good work.”

I know, it sounds a little silly, but you might be surprised at how it changes the dynamic of your inner monologue. Also, did you notice that little ‘but’ in there? Sometimes a little but is good. Just don’t get carried away with them. Keep the talk positive and motivating, that’s the goal.

Speaking of empowering ourselves, right now there is a huge shift happening in the publishing industry. Self-publishing is stepping out from the shadows of New York and taking its (rightful) place on the literary stage with the big guns.

It’s an exciting time to be an artist, especially a writer, and I wanted to share with you something I read yesterday. It comes from Seth Godin’s blog, in which he was expounding upon the idea that an artist doesn’t have to wait to be ‘picked’.

The artist who struggles in obscurity, unfairly ignored because he hasn’t been picked–that’s a poignant sight. But at some point, the artist has the obligation to seek a different path, one that isn’t dependent on a system that doesn’t deserve him.

Seth always has thought-provoking posts that are concise little nuggets of brilliance. If you aren’t reading his blog, check it out.

As you head out today to do whatever your heart desires, I want you to think of that last line. Yes, it starts with a BUT. A very good and big BUT. It gives you permission, no ~ validation, to do what feels best for you.

Don’t let your BUT stand in your way, work it to your advantage. Go out there with your big BUT and be amazing.

I’ll be in Dallas this weekend for the DFW Writers’ Conference where I’ll be hanging out with my WANA pals. We’re going to be a little bit crazy (here’s a teaser to the weekend on Jenny Hansen’s blog). I promise lots of photos next week and a complete recap of the hilarity!

What’s your big BUT? What keeps you from living your dream? More importantly, how do you overcome your big but? We’d love to know! 


33 thoughts on “Everyone Has a Big But

  1. ERK! I mean Hooray! You covered most of my major ones. Yippee! I get to explore new options for my flawed plot, and I get to do it while walking the brand new walking path that runs through our tree-hugging bucolic town.

    I LOVE of Seth Godin’s blog. There are times I feel as if he’s got my number. But, And, he never calls to interrupt my whack-a-doodle day.

    • I love that word ~ bucolic. Isn’t Seth great? I totally agree that he seems to be in my head half the time. It’s creepy and cool. Love the replacement of AND in there! That’s a great fix.

      Can’t wait to see you in a few days!

  2. One of the more interesting things I learned about BUT from a leadership course is that it negates (in the human mind) the phrase in front of it. When someone says, “I liked your book BUT it has some holes in the plot,” all you hear is the plot holes. Your ears don’t even pause on the fact that they liked your book. The other thing I learned is that “however” is just a big BUT.

    So I’m going to get the next book written. Period. No BUTs about time and scheduling and obligations. I’m also going to think about Seth’s point of being picked or picking a different path (I follow his blog, too). If I don’t want to be at the whim of the masses of readers who MIGHT pick my book… what’s my alternative?

    • That’s very interesting. I’m going to have to be very careful what I say now. I don’t want to discount a compliment by having a but muddling my words.

      I’ve been thinking of your conundrum of the readers and I don’t know. I wish Seth had the answer for that! I’m sure if we got creative we can figure something out. Your books are too awesome for readers not to pick.

  3. Great post Tameri! My BUT is… I love to write and live my stories, BUT I’m terrified I’ll be successful and crack under the pressure. Scary! But, I have my awesome RWA peeps to encourage me. And with their support I’m pushing myself through my fears so I can be successful :). Have fun at the conf.

    • Isn’t that a weird BUT. I have it, too. I love, love, love my RWA peeps. Best darn decision I ever made was joining RWA. When you’re super successful, we’ll be there supporting you and cheering for you. We’ll totally have your back and won’t let you crack, it’ll be fabulous, you’ll see! Huge hugs, my friend!

  4. I have so many Buts I don’t know where to begin. But – I do know that ass in chair is the only way to get a book finished. 🙂

    Have a fab time in Dallas.

  5. LOVE this post, Tameri. For me, overcoming a but usually happens when I’m feeling stuck, maybe at crossroads, and needing some forward motion. I like to be able to keep moving, even if it’s baby steps. 🙂 Not that it’s easy. It took me forever to decide to go the indie way with my book! And I love the brilliance you quoted from Seth! Rings so true for me.
    I hope you have an AWESOME time at DFW!!

    • Thank you so much, Coleen! Seth is amazing. The way he picks my brain at just the right time is eerie, though.

      Interesting about your buts… I never thought about them like that, but now you’ve got me thinking in a whole new direction and yeah, I can see that. The thing about buts, they can so easily be turned into ands. More empowering that word, and.

  6. Tameri, I’m excited you’re coming to DFW. We’ve got to meet! But you won’t be in dallas. You’ll head toward FORT WORTH from the airport, and the conference is in TARRANT COUNTY, not dallas county. Looking forward to Friday.

    • Oh, you and your COUNTIES. I’m in the damn state, isn’t that good enough. And I get to see you tomorrow! I’m super excited to meet you, finally.

      We rented a car and you’re right ~ we’re very close to the airport. I think we’re going to drive in to Dallas today. The actual Dallas, not the county or precinct, or tarrif, or whatever you strange folks call it. The city. But then again, we might not because Trixie, the rental call, has a funny way with her GPS, so we might end up in Kansas.

      See you soon!

  7. Such an insightful and spot-on post, Tameri. For some reason, I recall Dr. Phil talking on the Oprah show about “buts.” He said that “but” cancels out the first part of your sentence. I think of that often when I find myself discounting a hope or achievement—a lot of power in words.

    Have the best time at DFW! I’ll miss you all, and can’t wait to hear all of the groovy details. 🙂

    • I hope you have fun at OFWI (I think I have that right). I can’t believe we’re so close and yet so far away!

      I’ve heard that before, too. So for that reason, I’m going to try to stop using ‘but’ in my sentences. I’d had to give a compliment only to then turn around and negate it with a but. Thanks for stopping by, August!

  8. I’ve always wanted a little but and now I know how to get one instead of this BIG but I actually have. I love that you’re telling us to re-think how we think. Great advice!

    I hope you have a super fun, wonderful time at your writing conference. This weekend I get to go to our local RWA chapter’s retreat in Tahoe and I am psyched!!!! Can’t wait.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

    • Lake Tahoe? I love that area, like ridiculously love it and wanted to buy property there (still do). Have fun at your retreat. Are you focusing on any one aspect of writing, or just having a great time all weekend? In October the Orange County chapter has a pajama party meeting that’s a lot of fun. We should have it in Tahoe. With your chapter!

      • Our guest speaker was Margie Lawson and we focused primarily on editing a first draft into a NYT draft. I’ve done this workshop before with Margie and it’s pretty good.

        I’d love to have a pajama party with your chapter in Tahoe. We could join our chapters for a really fun retreat.


      • Nice! A joint meeting/pajama party would be fabulous. I’ll put out some feelers and see what kind of response I get. Tahoe is one of my favorite places on Earth.

  9. Hi, Tameri. My big but is the 11-12 hr day job. For the most part I’m hanging in there, but it isn’t easy. It is very easy to start thinking about quitting. One day I may decide it is finally time…but in the mean time, I’m still pushing myself.


    • 11-12 hour work day? How many days a week? Yikes. I think that’s a huge but. And not really one you can control. Good job on hanging in there, though. Keep doing that, and one day you won’t need that day job. You’re amazing. No buts about it.

  10. Yep, I’m in possession of plenty of big ol’ buts…I fight with them a LOT. However, the best thing I’ve ever heard: “Everytime you say ‘but’ in a sentence, you negate everything that came before it.” I try to remember that and leave my buts alone. 🙂

    Thanks tons for the linkage — I get to see you in FOUR days!! Squeeeee!!!!!!!

    • Getting past those buts… I’ve heard that too and am working on changing my ‘but’s into something else. Perhaps ‘and’ would work. Or, just put a period there. Make it a declaration.

      I can’t believe I get to see you in ONE day!

  11. Oh man! Hurry up and to to the DFW conference so we can hear all about it! You are going to have a blast. As for the big ‘buts’ (LOVE your clever title!) … I just don’t have time for those at my age!

    • I’m here now, so the fun can begin! I’ve heard great things about this conference, so I’m looking forward to all the fabulous knowledge I’ll be soaking up. That, and getting to hang out with other writers, of course. Hopefully, I’ll have the post up on Tuesday, if I’m not too wiped out!

  12. My biggest BUT is I’ll never learn Japanese. That’s what I got my initial degree in (though the way they taught us I was never very conversational). It’s my passion. It’s what keeps me up at night. The sound of the language is better than good wine on my tongue. BUT Japanese is really freaking difficult. And there’s so many other things I should be doing…

    So I’m signing up to take the JLPT, a proficiency test, this December. If I have to drive out-of-state and pay money for the thing… I don’t want to waste the effort so I’m MAKING myself study. It’s not that I don’t like studying, it’s that I get discouraged. And it’s so, so easy to get discouraged.

    So now I have to remind myself that I’m NOT starting from scratch and that I CAN do this. I’m not struggling to write the alphabet like I once was. I can do it all from memory pretty easily. My ability to read the alphabet is slow, but strong, so I just need to practice, practice, and practice to increase my speed. My pronunciation is good: I had 3 women FROM Japan who raised me to speak properly. I am finding I do remember a lot more vocabulary than I thought I did. And that at least a handful of the grammar rules didn’t completely escape me.

    This is going to be hard. I’m going to get discouraged. I’m going to cry over it. I’m going to get upset. I’m going to feel stupid. It’s going to take YEARS….. BUT I am going to do it. There are no more excuses holding me back but me. And why should I let me hold me back from one of the greatest passions I’ve ever had?

    • Right. ON! I love this, Lissa. If it’s your passion, you absolutely have to do it. You can and you will. You got this.

      I totally wish I knew Japanese, then we could correspond and have phone calls in Japanese to keep both of us fluent in it, but I only partly know French and badly at that. Still, I’m rooting for you!

    • Thanks Laura! it was great meeting you in Dallas! I hope our paths cross again someday soon. Definitely stay in touch here, on FB, and Twitter. The world is a very small place and you just never know where we’ll turn up. That’s what I love about this gig. We get to meet the greatest people.

  13. But I like big buts… Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Friends fan here and that’s one of my favorite scenes. Someone else probably said it first, I just didn’t have time to go through all the comments right now. 🙂

    I love this post. It’s so true. Too many times we allow those big buts sit on our chests trying to make us cry uncle, to get us to throw in the towel and give up on our dreams. Fortunately we don’t…but it sure does throw us off the path for a while.

    My biggest but is…”what if I can’t.” Yeah, I’ve written all of these books, BUT what if I can’t finish the next one? Or the one after that? What if that was it for me? My second biggest but it…”Well, I know I tell a decent story, but I’m not at good as (fill in the blank), therefore I’ll never be successful.”

    I’m mostly past the ‘not as good as’ part of it. I don’t really care anymore. I actually have fans who love what I write. I’ve sold thousands of books, so it doesn’t really matter…except (which is another word for but and however), I’d like to be rich and I’m not there yet. But (this is a little but) I’m working on that.

    BUT the other fear is a little harder to get past, especially when you’re in the middle of a series, not even ten thousand words into the fourth book and you’re….stuck. The buts start hammering at the door then…but (another little but)…I’ll beat them back.

    And I’ll do it again the next time they start trying to make me doubt myself. And every time after that because I know they’ll always be there, lurking in the back of my mind. Writing is what I do…and I’ll always do it. 🙂

  14. Pingback: Tracey’s Seal of Approval: Big Buts and Sperm! – Mimosas @ Midnight

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