Can you tell readers a little about who you are and your background?
I’ve had different career positions and entrepreneurial ventures over the years. Among them, I’ve been a marketer, filmmaker, business executive, attorney, hypnotist, handwriting analyst and coach. In my latest venture Impact, LLC, I’m a success strategist, author and speaker helping individuals and organizations achieve greater impact for themselves and others. Through conscious and subconscious strategies, I help them blast through confusion and resistance to achieve clarity and transformation in health and wellness, professional accomplishment, relationships and more. For creative professionals such as writers and performers I also help them access their deepest imaginations to eliminate creative blocks, uncover their unique voice, and accelerate their business success.
What can you tell us about “subconscious mastery” and how it can be applied to our creative careers?
Most people don’t realize that we use very little of our brain with purpose. Only 8% is what we call the conscious mind, the part of our mind that we control intentionally. It can only hold +/- 7 bits of information at a time. Another 4% is a critical filter that helps us decide what input to accept and what to reject. The other whopping 88% of our brain is our subconscious mind. This part holds 3 trillion bits of information and creates our programming or what some call our life script. It’s the part of our mind that explains why sometimes we want to act one way but end up acting another. If we can master the subconscious mind and get all 100% doing what we want to do, imagine how much easier it would be to accomplish our goals, whether to lose weight or to write the great American novel? Subconscious mastery is the key for every area of life, including overcoming obstacles to creativity, boosting self-esteem, eliminating fears and negative habits.
Can you share three of the most important legal aspects of contract negotiations that will provide us greater protection as freelance writers?
1. Remember that you always have the choice to walk away and say no. If a deal is so bad that you will damage your career, reputation, integrity or something so significant to you that you will not be able to recover from it, then don’t do the deal.
2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep. A contract is a set of promises by each party. It’s not going to help anyone if you accept unrealistic deadlines you can’t meet or agree to perform tasks you are not going to complete. Be honest about what is and is not possible, not what is ideal.
3. Know what you’re signing. It may sound strange, but people sometimes get so excited to have a contract they sign it without even really reading it, much less understanding it. If it’s a more complex or larger deal, hire an attorney. It’s better to know what you’re agreeing to before you sign so you understand what trade-offs you’re making. I provide low, predictable cost contract review just for this purpose. You can see more about it at http://yourcontractslawyer.com
You seem to “juggle” and balance so many roles and responsibilities. Do you believe that women can truly “have it all?” Or is it at great sacrifice of other important things?
I’m not sure what “it all” is, to be honest. I think you have to have a vision of what you want your life to be and then you do what it takes to bring that vision to reality. So many people dream big dreams, but you can’t make them real until you take action. Writing is like that. Jodi Picoult said, “Writing is total grunt work. A lot of people think it’s all about sitting and waiting for the muse. I don’t buy that. It’s a job. There are days when I really want to write, days when I don’t. Every day I sit down and write.” I totally agree. But I’ve learned that there are mental tools to make it easier and more fun. I’m sharing those tools with creative people now.
Did you always want to be a writer…how did you know for sure?
Yep. I kept a notebook with me from the time I was very young, pretty much as soon as I could write. I wrote poetry, song lyrics, stories, plays, just about everything. I had some poetry published in my tweens and plays produced in my later teens. My high school English teacher entered an essay of mine into a competition I knew nothing about until she told me I won. I was always writing somewhere, even on the proverbial back of napkins.
What book title or song would best describe your approach to life or your writing philosophy?
Hahaha. That’s a good one. So many would work. I’ll go with Aerosmith’s
“Dream On.” The lyrics work too. I think most writers can relate to wanting to get some recognition to “Dream until your dreams come true.” And everyone can relate to life passing quickly. I recently heard Storm Large sing it at an open rehearsal and she was awesome. It made me realize how transcendent and universal that song is, what art in any form or medium can be.
What would it surprise others to know about you?
I cry at the drop of a hat when it comes to ANYTHING to do with animals or nature getting damaged. I have a party every quarter where I ask people to bring donations for the animal shelter instead of wine or hostess gifts. They’re so generous that also makes me cry!
What’s your social media approach to building your platform?
Pick something and stick with it. You don’t have to be on every platform. Find one you like and that your audience is on and be consistent. Be real. Be yourself. If you want people to connect with you, they need to know who you are. And don’t forget that everything you put out there is out there forever. Make sure it’s what you really want people to find about you.
Any advice to freelancers on common mistakes made on the path to success?
Don’t let anyone discourage you from writing. Work on your craft relentlessly and don’t stop. There’s a story called “Three Feet From Gold” in Napoleon Hill’s classic book Think and Grow Rich about a guy who caught gold fever in the early days of the gold rush out west and invested in staking his claim. He drilled and drilled but the vein of gold he was digging in disappeared. He gave up and sold his equipment for junk. The buyer started digging and found the vein of gold ore again after only 3 feet of digging. The first man had given up too soon. He was almost there, but he quit. Writing has many rewards beyond money. Enjoy those along the way.
When you have time to curl up to a good read, who are some of your favorite authors?
I tend to read eclectically, several different books at a time. I like great poetry and works by Marlowe and Shakespeare, ancient wisdom from Marcus Aurelius and Lao Tzu and modern thinkers like Daniel Pink and Seth Godin. For fun I enjoy cybertech, legal suspense and fantasy from William Gibson, Ernest Cline, Scott Turow and others. My latest passion is biography put into culinary context like Thomas Jefferson’s Crème Brulee by Thomas Craughwell and several books on Julia Child’s time in the OSS.
What’s your favorite creative, but non-writing activity?
I love to travel, eat and cook. I encourage others to explore the world through food through http://foodtravelist.com. When I learn a new dish, I love to try it out at home. Cooking is one of the great ways you can express yourself creatively with very little criticism – everyone loves to eat!
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
It’s funny how you’ve asked that now and I think of CWA (Chicago Writers Association). I founded it when I moved to Chicago and wanted people with a serious interest in writing at a professional level – whether they had achieved it yet or not – to have a community of like minds. I originally started it as an email group. It grew quite large and the members wanted to advance by forming a not-for-profit corporation. I remember a group of us sitting in my living room making that decision. I’m proud to have been a catalyst for that and also for knowing when to hand it off to those far more capable of making it grow into the amazing organization it has become.
How do you feel about blogging? Do you believe that all writers should?
Blogging is the most democratizing development to come along since the printing press. With access to a computer and an Internet connection, anyone can get their thoughts, ideas and creativity into the world. Some may think that’s a bad thing, but I say that if you’re not interested just move along. No one forces you to read anything. The challenge with blogging is to do it consistently. Even if you blog about something you love, it can be a challenge to continually refresh your content. But that’s what you have to do if you want to keep your audience engaged. I don’t know if I believe that all writers should blog, but for a dynamic exchange with your readers or with others interested in the same topics you are, then it’s a great way to do that.
How is the writing industry different than when you first embarked upon your journey?
There are lots of ways to get your words and ideas in front of people. If you don’t want to deal with mainstream publishers or agents you really don’t have to at this point. But you do have to be a smart and tireless marketer. The opportunities to publish digital books are endless. I’m just finishing a workbook for people considering what to do next in their careers and the biggest decision I have is whether to create a hard copy version at all or just the digital workbook. That’s way different than when I started. And while branding you and your work was always important, it’s now essential. That’s exciting whether you’re new to writing or have been at it for some time. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” What could be more liberating?
Thank you for your time and willingness to share, Diana.
You can learn more at http://dianalaskaris.com
Your turn readers. Thoughts? Questions? Anything here that resonates with you?