As you may know by now, every month or so, we love to interview authors. These are people with published books on Amazon and/or bookstores, who have something to share with their readers. It could be valuable stories that help writers grow, or it could be some simple, much-needed advice. Because we all know being an author isn’t for the faint of heart.
This month, we had the pleasure of interviewing Vaughn J McNeill, best known for being a sort of self-help guru. Like it or not, everyone needs a bit of a boost every so often and McNeill knows just what to say and how to say it, to really get people back on track. The author of Respect Your Choices: Finding Balance in Success, McNeill opened up to us about what it means to be a happy, successful writer.
Check it out.
You’ve been through quite a bit—being adopted, divorced, bankrupt, homeless, and you add biracial to the list. Has being biracial made it more difficult to pursue writing?
Being biracial has in fact made my writing easier. My writings are inspired by my experiences. I feel that being biracial gives me the opportunity to look at me for me and not look to a culture or groups of people to forge my identity. I feel we are all biracial at our core, and with understanding and accepting that fact, we may be able to create a society that embraces differences.
Without the experience of being biracial I don’t know if I would have had the desire to write. Without desire, I may have traveled a different road that may have confined me, my thoughts, and experiences to that of just one group.
What were the top 3 things that helped you change your life? Mindset, connections, timing, etc.?
The top 3 things that helped me change my life are balance, choice, and perceptions. Life is controlled by choice, and those choices are normally influenced by perception. My perceptions of me, my life, and my surroundings needed to be more positive if I had hopes of creating the life I desired. Looking at perceptions only worked if I made and continue to make choices that benefit me more than costing me. The second is choosing to consistently look at my life and the path I’m following. I then ask is it a path that I choose freely because I understand that I alone control the direction of my life regardless of all of the outside influences, or is this choice for someone other than me? When making a choice to view my life as a competition with myself, I thereby make it a race I can guarantee winning! Lastly, balancing both my choices and my perceptions are key. Choosing to view life with balance, accepting and understanding that life cannot always be one of roses and kittens, and simply realizing sometimes things happen. Therefore, if I perceived me and my surroundings better, I by default made choices that benefitted me more than I made choices that hindered me.
You talk a lot about changing perception. Changing perception leads to a different outlook (POV) and then ultimately, a different outcome. Is there a way for writers to change their perception about their careers?
I feel changing of ones’ perceptions is all based on the individual and their driving factor for change. Understanding what and who they desire the change for is vital. Is it for them because they’re growing or do they feel stagnant? Is it because they want to increase sales or desire to bring information to the reader? What do they truly hope to gain from the change of their perception? I’ve mentioned that perception is one of the biggest drivers of choice. Is it the perception of feeling stuck in their career because they lack material, or no longer have the desire? Is it because they feel fantastic about the direction they have chosen for themselves, or are they feeling burnt out? Each of these scenarios would bring its own reason for changing one’s perceptions. I would say once a writer understands the reason they choose to write, it will put into perspective why they desire a change in their perception.
You emphasize that defining a purpose in your life is of the utmost importance. What would you suggest to a struggling writer/author? Any guidance?
Defining a purpose in your life gives guidance but at the same time can be a very freeing experience. This comes from appreciating the fact that you alone control the purpose and direction of your life. With this appreciation you can then choose what makes you happy with life. It’s hard to write or be creative when you feel trapped in a box. Many times when we feel trapped it’s because of the pursuit of a purpose that we feel is provided by others. For instance, an author may have the perception that they must sell a million copies to be viewed as a successful writer. A successful writer is one that is passionate about their pursuit, writes because they desire to, and has no expectations that everyone will either love or hate their writings. My guidance is to do what you enjoy because you enjoy it, until you no longer enjoy doing it. Then make a choice to do something else that brings you joy.
You’re the author of Respect Your Choices: Finding Balance in Success. Who would you say you wrote the book for? What was your inspiration/motivation?
Honestly, I wrote my book for me. I saw it as a positive way of leaving a lasting impact and a positive impact on society. I wanted to do my part in making a positive place for all people to coexist, and I felt that writing a book would be a great way of accomplishing multiple goals, with minimal effort.
My desire to help people see a different path in life is what motivated/inspired me to write a book. I know a lot of people that are unhappy and stuck in many aspects of life. But when I would talk to each of them about the issues, they all had a common theme. That theme was they felt powerless in life and they saw life as whatever it currently was, versus choosing to view their life and their situations in a different light. I have a different thought process than many of those people. I felt that writing a book on what has helped me reach a point of understanding, acceptance, balance, peace, and happiness, would be one of the most productive and hopefully positive things I could do with my time and thoughts.
How has writing helped you increase your success, or guide your career path?
Writing has helped guide my career path by giving me a clear picture of what I would like my “career” to be like. It has allowed me to see that I and I alone have the power to define what success means to me. I have the power to make my career what I desire at any given moment which presents me with nothing but opportunities. The opportunity and confidence to try different paths in life because to me a life devoted to a singular path deprives me of a lifestyle I feel is best suited for me, regardless of the views of others.
What would you suggest as a starting point for those unhappy with their life, including career, interpersonal relationships, and level of success? People know they need to change, but…how do they start?
I would say that is one of the most challenging places a person can find themselves in life; wanting or needing to change aspects of their lives’, but feeling like they do not know where to start. What has worked for me was, identifying what parts of my life do I feel I want or need to change and why? Asking the questions; Why do I desire change; what do I hope to gain from the change; and, who do I truly desire the change for? All of these questions allow for processing of information in a different context. If by asking those questions you discover your desired change is to win the admiration of others, you might find that a much more difficult task than winning your own. If you discover you’ve been making those choices with the hope of society recognizing your greatness, you may find that just as difficult a process. In essence, what I’m getting at is, we have to first define who we are, what we stand for, and make choices that coincides with the life we choose to create. If you are unclear in who you are as a person, trying to resolve any of those above issues and finding a way to get started on the change, becomes that much more an insurmountable task.
Would you say that being an author, that your writing, helps you portray your positivity with the world, and help others?
Yes, I would say my writing helps portray my message of positivity with the world, and I truly hope that it helps others. I try to provide help and assistance to anyone I can, and my intent is to try and create as much positivity I can in the world. To me, I can best reach not just those suffering with the issues I speak about now, but those that may struggle with these issues long in the future. It is my hopes my writings, ideas, and philosophies, all get to exist and last long after I no longer do.
To purchase McNeill’s work check out the links below:
For autographed copies and bulk orders, Visit:
Or follow him on social media: