Juggling Your Creative Life

34d4f71fc9ac164fd6af6bc5770ca7e4One of the hardest things about being a creative person/writer/artist etc. is balance. When you work from home sometimes family members don’t know your boundaries. When you love your job sometimes it’s hard to stop working when your desk is always in the other room. Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.

Tips for Juggling Your Creative Life

  • Give yourself a schedule. I always advise writers to treat writing like a job if they want it to be a career. If you want it to be a hobby (and in that case, an agent might not be right for you at this time) then you can treat it like a hobby. But the only way to get writing done is to do it.
  • But remember to define your work day by what feels right–beginnings and endings don’t always start at 9 and end at 5. In fact, it’s nearly impossibly to write that long every day.
  • So, what is your word count goal? 1000 words? If it’s done in 1 hour or 5 hours you can pat yourself on the back.
  • Have a defined space that your family and friends are aware of. Laptops are great for being able to pick up and go to the coffee shop, but they make it challenging for your family to understand the divide if you type from your lap in the living room. Try a desktop if you’re having trouble setting physical limits.
  • Remember: your book should always be your #1 priority if you’re writing fiction. Blogging and social media aren’t going to write your novel for you. (Non fiction writers, platform is equally important so you stick to that community building!)
  • Do yourself and favor and read BIG MAGIC by Elizabeth Gilbert. Her point of view on creativity and inspirational guidance is unparalleled and you won’t regret it. Even better: listen to her MAGIC LESSONS podcast too!
  • A book can be written in 10 years or in 1 month. It’s all about the time you give and that’s up to you. Remember that everyone is busy. Every. Single. Person. How do writers get books written? They simply make time and write. Sacrifices will be made and it’s up to you which those are–but in order to make a career of this priority has to be given to the craft.
  • Do you feel guilty when you work on your writing because you could be doing other things for your family/friends? Don’t. Your family and friends want you to be happy and they want to spend time with you when you’re at your best–which means: when you are living a fulfilled life creatively. If you are in your best place you’ll be more fun to hang out with anyway. (Resentment never looks good on anyone. It can build fast and take years to chip away.)

Don’t forget: Tell me in the comments what the hardest part of the “creative juggling balance” is for you.

 

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How To Be The Boss Of Your Creative Life

googleimages2Has everyone heard of impostor syndrome?

It’s that feeling we’ve all experienced where, despite our accomplishments, we’re unable to feel like we’ve earned our spot. Like we’re a creative imposter and someone is going to find out we don’t belong.

I don’t know any creative person who has never internalized this feeling.

But the truth is: we’ve all earned our spots, because the only opinion that matters is yours. So shake off those insecurities and learn to be the boss of your creative life.

Remember…

  • You are your harshest critic. Don’t beat yourself up. Treat yourself like you’d treat any other critique partner.
  • If you don’t respect your writing time, no one else will. Make those quiet moments count.
  • You decide what your idea of success is. Don’t let anyone tell you who you should be.
  • If you want to write for you, that’s okay. Getting published doesn’t define a writer. 
  • Give your life breathing room to allow creative thoughts to come in. When you schedule your day down to the minute where will inspiration come from?
  • If you want to be a writer you must do two things: call yourself a writer and write.
  • Imposter syndrome means that people overcompensate to outwardly show like they belong. But what matters most is quietly chipping away at your goals in a way that is meaningful to you.
  • It could take months, or it could take years. Don’t stop when the going gets tough. This isn’t a craft you learn quickly. Read this Writer’s Digest article by my author Karen Katchur.
  • We spend our lives writing, talking and also non-verbally communicating. Listen and look at what’s happening around you: those are the honest parts of life that need to make it into your writing to make it come alive. Desk time isn’t the only writing time. 
  • Give yourself permission to make mistakes. As long as you learn from them they’re all part of your process. And give yourself permission to break routine. As long as you know the difference between a routine that’s no longer working and taking a day off.
  • A “no” only gets you closer to the “yes” that matters. And all it takes is one yes.

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Looking to take the next step with your writing? Join my Sept 3 webinar with Writer’s Digest.

Why You Need A Creative Writing Mantra

I think everyone has an internal champion that pushes them on with colloquial phrases. Aside from the “you can do it” self encouragement I think it’s important to display your mantra in front of you at your work station. We all know we can do things if we dedicate time and attention to them; however, it’s easy to forget when inspiration isn’t coming or you’ve had a hard day.

Let me tell you about mine.

My creative mantra is “trust your future self.” In creative industries there are a lot of what ifs and uncertainties. It used to cause me lots of stress worrying about everything to come. In life, especially in a creative life, there are no guarantees so all we can do is work hard and prepare our unknown selves for what’s to come. And if we live with the awareness that each effort is better preparing us for future struggles we will be ready to tackle them with inspired fearlessness.

I think we underestimate our future selves because we only have our current capacity for understanding. But what if you thought about your future self as separate from your current self. All the wisdom you believe yourself to have in the present would only be multiplied in the future, right? So why don’t we give our future selves more credit to adapt and be even stronger than we are today? Everyone thinks they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders, so believe that your future self has already carried these burdens and survived to become the person you want to be. I think we owe it to our growth.

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Whether you need to overcome rejection, find your tribe, or feel the strength to write the most honest parts of you, there is a mantra you can find to bolster your journey.

Personally, I’m looking forward to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. It’s her new book about creativity and it’s out this fall.

If you don’t have your creative mantra yet, here are some other favorites of mine you can borrow: 9e4073d6863e21b9a5b923c3e62390af 64dc2842e4f64e924cff62860a37cbe3 854bdb9922cae40934cf19855987807c c960caaf15c4d669ae4b735e37709d8f 6db4b3782b555876f83e4d5f7ebddcd0 56742506bd278f91f9bf7a557dd13802 34d4f71fc9ac164fd6af6bc5770ca7e4 Q: I’m excited for Elizabeth Gilbert’s BIG MAGIC to come out this September. Are you?

4 Reasons Agents Want to Work With Storytellers

1_50e07351ddf2b32d2600b4e8Author is the name that everyone throws around. But what about storytellers? Storytelling is also known as a verbal art, but storytelling in terms of the words on a page is what agents are looking for in the slush pile. In the slush we know that writers are just beginning their journey so we’re looking for a glimmer of the future. So what that means is that we’re looking for writers who know how to craft curiously.

We are looking for interesting characters, smart but ambitious plots, hidden turns of events, and larger than life settings. Life is all in the details, are so are storytellers.

4 Reasons Agents Want To Work With Storytellers

1. Storytelling transcends the page. — Crafting a tale that is big, real, honest, curious and insightful is something that doesn’t just live in books. It can become a part of our culture that is so much bigger than that. Good storytellers write books that are cinematic, great for TV series, or live on in their fans’ minds for years to come. Good writers know how to make the details of their story the way to their readers’ hearts. If you can write rich detail, we can follow you to visit the Roman Empire, the Romanov Family, an Australian lighthouse, or 1800s Iceland. And readers will follow you anywhere you go. Details are what make settings come alive whether we’ve been there or not.

2. Storytelling is about telling the right story the right way. — There are pantsers and there are plotters, we all know. I am in awe of plotters who have their outlines down to a science–it’s an amazing thing to watch someone execute that! I’m also curious about pansters and how their stories come full circle after they’re not sure where it’s going to go. First person or third? 1 POV or 4 POVs? How do you know what you’ll need to write your novel the best way? Often you don’t at the beginning. Especially writers who are just starting out in their careers–they don’t have enough novels under their belts to best know how to craft for different tales. When you think about organization from a storytelling point of view, you’ll start to ask yourself if you’re telling the story the best way. When things don’t work–holes in your plot, characters not feeling real, a mystery that is not so secret–it’s usually because you’re not telling it the right way. Are you in the right head at the right time? Did you start in the right place? Remember to be curious about the way you tell your story and always ask if it’s the right way.

3. Storytelling is what will get you out of funks and writer’s block. — The perfect way to tell a story is to start with a question or character. What do you want to say? Who do you want to say it? What conflict is going to come into their life? Creative people are always living their lives with open ears and open notebooks. Go back to your frenetic notebooks from years past: Is there a character in there whose story needs telling? A question that needs answering? A thought that needs exploring? The truth of novels is meeting a character at an interesting point in their lives so can you do that for us?

4. Storytelling is the fabric of our lives. — Gossip about friends. That podcast you listen to. The story you make up in your head about the person in front of you at the grocery store. The song you’re listening to right now. Great storytellers are the ones who can listen to the world and boil thoughts down to complex characters and external drama. We are all multi-faceted people. We are all living dramatic lives. To simplify our existence to characters that live in boxes is inauthentic and where agents and editors lose interest in projects. All readers know that 1D characters are a lie. All readers know that obvious plotting is going to bore us. When novels come to life is when characters don’t fit a label because we, as people and readers, get curious about the unknown. Write your stories like we live our lives, sometimes messy, but in retrospect we can always see the threads. Don’t write in themes, write in stories.

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Instead of staying in your “gotta get published, gotta follow structure” mind-set, why not come back to your creative roots and think about what the story is and the best ways of telling it. When you come back to that place of being curious about your character’s secret and stories the heart and honesty of your truthful writing will prevail.

[I wish I knew where that graphic quote came from, but I don’t. Sending good vibes to the creator out there on the web.]