Targeting Your Tantrum

A few weeks ago, I found myself feeling some resentment towards writing, so I decided it was worthy of some deep thinking. These feelings were quite unexpected because I was approaching the end of a very creative and satisfying revision of a novel that I’m really enjoying writing. It is my first novel length story with a male protagonist, and the plot has a juicy time-loop which satisfies the Dr Who fan inside me.
I felt overworked and thought I’d had enough of writing? So I took some time and worked on identifying the source of the feelings. The real target turned out to be that I was resenting the time that the business side of indie-publishing was taking away from my writing time. I really just wanted to play inside story worlds with my imaginary friends — because I’m sometimes anti-social and just happy to be alone writing — but I needed to put on my business-author hat and talk to the world, place Face Book ads and do paperwork.
Abracadabra — I don’t resent writing at all. I was resenting the necessary non-writerly requirements that take me away from the creative peace I have during my writing time. And, when I reframed my ideas about social media, rather than being something irksome, I realised that I have made some amazing discoveries and connected with many insightful people by the cyber-serendipity of social media.
So it is valuable to spend the time and observe what is really behind the thing that appears to be irking you. If you don’t take the time to do this, you may be targeting your efforts in the wrong direction and not achieve a solution to the irksome feelings that will get in the way of being creative. Some useful ante-irk strategies include: walking, loud music and talking to your pet.
When you are irk-free, come back and do some task management, make a simple plan for the week that gives a little time for the business must-do items and schedules blocks of juicy writing time for you to look forward to.
If you feel a little planning voodoo could help your writer life, then take look at my writer mentoring services.

Don’t make work a swear word

Holidays are great. They give us writers the freedom of extra time to lose ourselves in our story worlds. But writing isn’t an easy way to get rich or even earn a regular wage, so the holidays will end and we will need to squeeze our writer life back into the time left after work commitments, and that feels very much like trying to get the genie to return to its bottle.

Our hourly rate is pretty low anyway. It takes a lot of writing to get a story finished: building worlds, creating character, writing plans and chapters, then editing and rewriting. It takes a huge amount of passion and drive—some might say obsession—to get a finished manuscript to send to a publisher or consider for indie-publishing, but writers would rather do these things than anything else.

How to get your head around returning to w#*k? It’s time to go back to work, here are a few different ways of looking at being ‘dragged’ away from your writing:

Firstly, you can’t eat paper and you don’t want to die of starvation waiting for your big publishing deal, so money for food is important.

Another thing to consider is your start-up capital; if you decide to independently publish your book, then that will take some funds, so you’re not really going to work, you’re building your new business.

A serious thing to think about is that we writers are inclined to lock ourselves away and be anti-social. Work encourages us to spend time with people—real people, not just the ones you invent inside your head.

One more, very cool thing; lots of stuff happens in workplaces and you never know when you might see something happen that ends up as the seed for your next story.

So smile, save your files and shut down your computer, grab a notebook and a pencil and get yourself back to work. You may have less time to write, but you will always be a writer. Things get in the way every now and then, but as long as you have stories in your head, you’re writing.

If you are wondering how to balance your work life and your writer life, then take look at my writer mentoring services.  http://www.martiimaclean.com/writer-mentoring/

Thinking globally in your pyjamas

It takes a long time to write a book and it can be an equally lengthy task to get it from manuscript to bookshop shelf. For me, as an indie-publisher, the journey to the bookshop is all on me. I get to drag myself away from my cosy writing room, put on my boss hat and organize every little step. I don’t do all the stuff. I have amazing, skilful people who do things like taking my random design ideas and turning them into very groovy book covers, and they artfully design to fonts and interior of my books.
All this takes time and I am not the only person my amazing skilful people work with, but that’s okay, I have my production timeline and I work through each step as it happens, working towards the goal of ‘book launch day’.
As the planned day drew closer with my latest book, I realised I was not going to make the date. Ouch! What to do now? First thing to do, is remind myself that I’m the boss. Second, is to remember that rushing will not get the best product on the self. Third, I redirect my time and energy away from fretting about stuff I can’t influence, and take the opportunity to reframe my thoughts and focus on things I do have influence over.
Had I been focusing too hard on the importance of my physical launch? Cake and kudos from your writer buddies and family is very cool, but at that one event I would be selling to a small group of people in one city. As the boss I needed to remind myself that I am a global .com, and that I should be thinking globally. So after a glass of wine and a big re-think, I focused on writing some catchy advertising copy and researching who I would land those ads on in the Face Book universe. All this big picture thinking can happen while you are in your pyjamas, which is very cool. Then when I have my global fans interested, they can buy my book online and I will have a delayed, but globally awesome book launch.
If more indie-pub thinking or writing support will help you make the most of your writer life, then take look at my writer mentoring services.

Slave to the Tech

I’ve spent too much time recently with my new phone: thinking about it, learning how it works, trying to figure out why it uses so much data, and it has felt like slavery. When I bought the new phone contact, I was offered unlimited this and that and a lifetime’s supply of some TV streaming or other, and all kinds of infinitesimal distractions goes with it. It reminded me of Heinlein’s soma.
Technology is supposed to be liberating and enlightening humans, but I did not feel either of those things. The promise of technology, to give me—us more time to pursue our passions, seems not to have been kept, or maybe we were too busy to notice the promise has been broken. Technology can add hours of tasks to our already busy lives, if we allow it.
Authors who want to let the world know what fantastic things they have to offer inside the covers of their books need to embrace the online world. As an indie-published author, I have to embrace the fact that my book shop is an online shop and that my customers can be anywhere, which is great because that’s a lot of potential customers … BUT…there can be loads of time spent tech-ing and checking, auditing and strategizing, reaching and networking.
Yes, authors need to have a professional online presence, but remember that your goal is to be creative.

Be your own fairy-god-mother

A few years ago, while travelling in Europe, I visited a very unusual place in Lithuania called The Hill of Crosses. The story about this place is that, once upon a time a father was desperate to save his sick daughter. He was told to place a cross on the hill and prayer for her. He did this  and she recovered and the belief in this place grew. It is an astounding sight, with thousands of crosses left as people prayed, wished and hoped for their lives to be better in some personally significant way. We all have a capacity for faith, whatever form it takes.
Is goal setting a contemporary equivalent to prayer or making three wishes when we want something? We’re no longer wishing to get a swish frock and go to the ball, or wanting to spin straw into gold. But humans are hard-wired for making wishes and waiting for dreams to come true. So why do we struggle to set goals and focus on them to get what we want?
Because the fairy-tale model has the wisher [us] making a statement of what we desire and then stepping back and letting our fairy-god-mother or some odd, magical little bloke do all the organising and heavy lifting for us. The result is that there ends up being a price to pay, like relinquishing first born children or unexpected dashes into the night that cause the loss a shoe and your dignity.
So where did the magical plan go wrong? We [the wisher] gave our power to set goals and work towards fulfilling them to a person who does not have personal stakes in how things would turn out for us in the long-run.
Stating long term and short term goals and developing the goal statements that will give your plan momentum is vital if you are to achieve what you desire.
Goals are the alchemy that allows us to make real change in our lives under our own terms, so be your own fairy-god-mother.

Let Your Creativity Sparkle

Recent experiences and conversations with creative colleagues have inspired me to get the blog going again to share ideas, challenges and inspirations about living a creative life.
People sometimes choose to question and judge creatives because we tend to think and do things differently, and we place value on different things. Though I don’t usually let these conversations affect me, I recently found myself buying into the rhetoric.
I was justifying my passion by doing a metal audit of my skills, the cost in time and dollars that I invest in my writing and most importantly, I had to figure out how I measure my success as a creative woman.
Many creative people find themselves justifying their passion to create.
The greatest justification for being creative is that you are creating something unique.
All the wonderful creatures on this planet have something to offer. We need to practice seeing what that something is.
It’s excellent to be filled with enthusiasm, to think differently, even be quirky and eccentric.
The world seems to be becoming such a homogeneous place and it’s really, really important that we don’t lose our uniqueness. There are eight or nine billion of us on the planet and it seems like we’re all acting like the same stupid sheep and that’s just not good for humanity. It’s not good for the planet if everyone feels that have to think the same and act the same. If that happens who would tell all the new stories, paint the new pictures, invent and build all the amazing things in the world.
If you are one of these excited, imaginative, thought-filled, risk taking creatives, consider yourself lucky. You will make the world better and different. So go ahead and sparkle.
PS: more thoughts on living a sparkling creative life next month. (It can’t be any sooner, I’m busy being creative.)