My guest this week is Eric Twiggs, an indie author and motivational speaker who is an expert in procrastination. In fact, it took him a little while to figure out that was his calling, and then he held off on writing a book about it. Now, though, the author of The Discipline of Now and One Moment in Time has some advice all authors can use on the value of getting things done today rather than tomorrow. So, without further delay, here's Eric Twiggs.
Every week I interview a member of ALLi to talk about their writing and what inspires them, and why they are inspiring to other authors.
A couple of highlights from our interview:
On How the Death of a Friend Made Him Think About Time
I get a phone call from his mother informing me of the fact that he was tragically killed in a car accident. And that changed everything. That made me realize that we don't have the time we think to do what it is that we want to do.
On Getting Back on Track in 2020
So, a lot of people, they had these ambitions, these goals and things that they wanted to do accomplish for 2020, but then all of a sudden with the lockdown, they kind of lost track of it and started focusing on the world and negativity and some of these other things. So, the big advice I would have, it would be to refocus on what it is that you wanted to accomplish and just really focus on doing five different things per day to make that happen.
Listen to My Interview with Eric Twiggs
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About the Host
Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and has spent the last six years amplifying the voices of independent publishers and authors. He works with authors as a book editor to prepare their work to be published. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads. Find Howard at howardlovy.com, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Read the Transcript of my Interview with Eric Twiggs
Howard Lovy: I'm Howard Lovy, and you're listening to Inspirational Indie Authors. Every week, I feature a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors to find out what inspires them and how they are an inspiration to other authors.
My guest this week is Eric Twiggs, an indie author and motivational speaker, who is an expert in procrastination. In fact, it took him a little while to figure out that that was his calling, and then he held off on writing a book about it.
Now, though, the author of The Discipline of Now and One Moment in Time has some advice all authors can use on the value of getting things done today rather than tomorrow. So, without further delay, here's Eric Twiggs.
Eric Twiggs: Good morning, I am Eric Twiggs, I'm your procrastination prevention partner. I'm the author of The Discipline of Now: 12 Practical Principles to Overcome Procrastination. And I'm the host of the 30-Minute Hour podcast.
Now, I work with entrepreneurs and executive leaders. I help them to beat procrastination so that they can make more money, get more done and become aligned with their divine purpose.
Howard Lovy: As you can tell, Eric is very polished in the way he speaks and confident in his message, but it wasn't always that way.
Eric Twiggs: My journey started when I was in college, and I talk about this experience I had in the book. It was my senior year, I'm at Hampton university, and I have to confess that at that time I was more about partying. And I had a good friend of mine named Darnell. He was about his purpose and he was always getting on me about, Hey, Eric, you need to get serious and figure out what you need to do, what you want to do. And I'm like, man, Darnell. Ease up. We've got plenty of time for all of that. We're still young. We got everything in front of us. Are you going to the party with me or not?
So, we kind of laughed and several weeks went by and I hadn't seen him, and I get a phone call from his mother informing me of the fact that he was tragically killed in a car accident. And that changed everything. That made me realize that we don't have the time we think to do what it is that we want to do.
And literally, ever since, I've been thinking about time. And that, really, that was the starting point, and it's just evolved and morphed. Over the years, I've been a corporate leader where I've supervised as many as 500 people at one time, and I've noticed that if you have someone that's a good performer, you have someone that's a great performer.
A lot of times they know a lot of the same things. But the difference between good and great is that great performer, they can will themselves to do those things they need to do, whether they feel like it or not.
Howard Lovy: Eric Twiggs always knew that he wanted to make his mark in the business, and marketing definitely fits his outgoing personality and his talents.
Eric Twiggs: I grew up right in the city of Washington, DC. I wasn't really clear at the time of what I wanted to do, but I knew I would be involved in business at some level. When I got to college, I looked at marketing as kind of that. Key thing, that key skill, that's critical to your success in business. I think if you have a fundamental understanding of marketing, it impacts everything you do as you operate your business, you can get the word out and stay in contact. I think it's critical to your success.
So, that's really what led me to marketing. And the funny thing, you know, when I look back, there were clues that I was going to be a writer. Because no matter how much I struggled in school, I always got good grades in English and creative writing. For whatever reason, that always just came natural to me.
But it wasn't until later in life that I really pursued writing seriously.
Howard Lovy: But before he discovered his writing voice, he pursued business as a district manager for an automotive service company.
Eric Twiggs: So, here's the thing. So, I thought my plan would be to succeed, make as much money as I could, you know, with this sense of urgency, right? So, I get to a point where I'm a district manager, I’ve got 17 locations, I'm in the automotive field, we're having all this success, were winning awards, driving my BMW. Everything's going great.
But then, I remember this clearly, I talk about this in the book, I look in the mirror, I'm just driving in my car and I look in my rear-view mirror. I could see my eyes and the reflection looking back at me was that of someone who hated what he was doing. So, it was like, I had reached this point where I felt like I was successful, but I wasn't significant.
Yes, I had this sense of urgency to succeed and to move forward, but I really didn't feel like I was being significant and just through years of self-discovery and reflection, I realized that I really needed to be doing what I'm doing now.
So, it was interesting. It didn't come to me right away and I really had to think, and there's a quote and it came from one of Steve Jobs’ commencement speeches at Stanford University, where he says that sometimes the dots only connect in retrospect, meaning you have to look back. And so that's what I did.
I started to look back, you know, when did I feel fulfilled? And when I looked back, I started to realize that it was when I was speaking in front of a group. Like when I was a corporate trainer, when I would deliver a class, I remember I would think to myself, man, you know what? I could just do this all the time. Man, this is great. And all the dots connected to me presenting to people and communicating to groups. And so, I just got to a point where I joined Toastmasters. So, what happened, and this is a lesson for the listeners, I was literally talking myself out of it for three years.
I got to a point where I said, you know what, I'm going to be a speaker, I'm going to write a book. And then I started hearing these voices within my own head saying, okay, Eric, what are you going to say that hasn't been said already? Who's going to pay you to come in and talk to their organization?
But finally, I took the first step of going to Toastmasters. I went to Toastmasters International and I met someone who trained professional speakers. I took that step. And then from there I joined the National Speakers Association. And then it just evolved from there, and here we are.
Howard Lovy: Eric loves the give and take, the immediate satisfaction that comes with a live audience. But he doesn't go up to the podium and brag about his successes, he also talks about his failures.
Eric Twiggs: Well, I mean, I talk about the fact that I'm the procrastination guy. Right, I've got the air quotes up, I'm the procrastination guy. But it literally took me three years to get started. I was literally procrastinating because I get all of those doubts. So, the big takeaway is that, you know, if I can do it, the listener can do it.
And the reason I titled the book, The Discipline of Now, because I think discipline is the key. And discipline is a skill that you can acquire. It's a skill that you can develop. It's a skill that you can get better at, no matter who you are.
Time management was so important to me after that experience. And so, when I would initially like, for example, when I was in Toastmasters, I found a lot of my presentation, it's always centered around time management. And then whenever I talked about procrastination, for whatever reason, that's when I got the most reaction from people.
If I did something on procrastination, that's really when people would come to me afterwards, or I remember I created an audio CD and I had some other CDs, but the procrastination CD was the one that just, I couldn't keep in stock. And so that was kind of a message that this is the lane that I need to be on.
And just in all of my dealings with people, I think if you can get to a point where you consistently keep your promises that you make to yourself, you just build your confidence and you just set up for success. It gives you that edge.
Howard Lovy: So, the next step was to take his public speaking success and turn it into a book.
Eric Twiggs: So, I wanted to create a book that was a practical tool that I can put it in people's hands. And I've read a lot of books on the topic of procrastination, overcoming procrastination, time management, what have you. I found that a lot of what I was reading was like one size fits all answers.
Oh, you have to wake up early. The early bird gets the worm. Don't check your email before this time. It was just kind of can cliché answers. So, I wanted to create a tool that was practical no matter what your genetics, no matter if you're a night owl, you'll benefit from it. So, just really, I wanted to create a practical tool.
So, the book, The Discipline of Now, it's 100 pages. There's a lot of exercises throughout the book. So, because I want you to be able to interact with the content. So, before you go to a section, you actually go and complete the exercise. So, for example, I've got a section about clarity. Because I think that's critical, and a lot of times you procrastinate because you're really not clear on what it is that you want to accomplish.
And I say in the book, and I just believe this, it’s in chapter two, I talk about clarity as the starting point of success. So, if you go toward the end, there are exercises where you write out what your vision statement is, what’s your mission statement, what are your core values?
There's another section where, I have you write out your vision as far as, where do you see yourself in 20 years? If you take your ideal scenario and you say, Hey, I'm 20 years in the future and this is exactly what my life looks like, writing that out. So, those are just some of the examples that are in the book.
Howard Lovy: A writer’s biggest enemy, Eric says, is perfectionism. It doesn't matter if it's perfect the first time around, just sit down and write it and write it down now, don't procrastinate.
Eric Twiggs: So, one of the big things, and I can really relate to this because I went through this in my writing process, is perfectionism, right?
It's easy to feel like I need to have it all figured out before I move forward. And one of the big things I talk about in the book is that you can't allow perfect to become the enemy of progress. How that plays out is, I know for me I got to this thing where I would try to write and edit at the same time.
I just got to a point where I put all my ideas on paper, right. Just get it out of my head and just write, no matter how crazy it sounded. Get it on paper, and then go back and edit. And one of the reasons that people say they get writer's block is because again, you're writing and editing at the same time, as opposed to just getting the ideas out. That's really, from a writing standpoint, I think that's the most helpful tip.
Howard Lovy: A big factor in procrastination, whether you're a writer or not, is fear, especially these days, fear could paralyze you.
Eric Twiggs: The root cause, believe it or not, is fear or anxiety, right? So, you have that feeling of fear because it's easy to focus on the outcome. Like, okay, who's going to buy my book? Am I going to be able to meet the deadline? Is it going to sell? So, you think about that. So, you start feeling anxiety and you start looking for relief, and the relief is going to social media or going, checking your email, checking your text messages.
So, one of the things I do recommend is getting rid of all those notifications that let you know when you've got an email when you've got a new social media update or when you're getting a text message. Yeah, I mean, I've talked to people, I've given them that advice and they've told me how that just that in and of itself has helped them become more productive and feel less distracted.
So, one of the things I do is I like to give myself artificial deadlines. So, especially with like the writing project, you know how people say you work best under pressure? I think it helps to give yourself an artificial deadline. So, if I've got a big writing project that I'm working on, I will block off time.
So, I'll say, you know, Tuesday for a half hour is going to be my writing time. Two o'clock to two thirty. And then when I get in there, I'm going to turn off. I'm not going to have my cell phone. I'm not going to have email access. I'm not going to have social media access, and then I'm going to get a kitchen timer, and I'm going to set the clock.
And just knowing that, you know, the clock is ticking it just motivates me to make the most of that time. And then I would say, for people that are listening, if you're in an office environment, you know, let people know for that window, that you're not going to be available and to take messages for you. And that really helps to make a better use of your time.
I would say the big thing is to not lose connection with your goal. So, a lot of people, they had these ambitions, these goals and things that they wanted to do accomplish for 2020, but then all of a sudden with the lockdown, they kind of lost track of it and started focusing on the world and negativity and some of these other things.
So, the big advice I would have, it would be to refocus on what it is that you wanted to accomplish and just really focus on doing five different things per day to make that happen.
Howard Lovy: So, Eric Twiggs has gone from that initial wakeup call in college to building a career out of helping others feel that same sense of urgency about their work. What's next?
He and some partners are taking this new reality that we're in and helping clients get things done even during an economic recession and a global pandemic. After all, there's not a moment to lose.
Eric Twiggs: So, right now we’ve founded a movement. It's called the What Now? movement, and it's for entrepreneurs, authors and career professionals. And really, you mentioned this whole lockdown and shutdown, so really, the question is, okay, so this happened, what now?
So, maybe you've gotten furloughed. What now? You know, maybe you're a speaker and you used to speak to a thousand people in a room. You can't do that anymore. What now?
So, the point is helping people to become more resilient. So, we've got a Facebook group it's called the What Now movement and you can join the group and we do monthly summits. So, I'll be speaking on five steps to overcome procrastination this coming Saturday at 10 o'clock on June the 20th.
So, that's really the next thing on the horizon, is really engaging with the members of this What Now? movement. And to answer your other question, yes, I do see myself writing other books as we move forward.