The day-to-day grind of completing a book can sometimes leave me little time or energy for seeking inspiration. That sounds counterintuitive, but that's just the sad way my process works. But now, in the lovely lull between books, finding and absorbing inspiration is an imperative -- especially as my brain turns from "creating" to "marketing", which can be such an oppressive process.
Here are some of the recent books and articles I've discovered to me keep focused on how lucky I am to be a writer -- and away from such words as "grind," "sad," and "oppressive."
"Reaching the Next Rung," Romance Writers Report, Jan. 2018
Several authors are quoted in this article from the January 2018 issue of the Romance Writers of America magazine, but my favorite advice came from bestselling author Joan Johnston. Joan offers great actionable advice for a long-term career:
Schedule your time so writing is a priority.
Make personal contacts with agents and editors who attend conferences.
Form a review crew to post digital reviews of your novel. (I'd never heard of his before. Contact me if you're interested.)
Do a newsletter at least once a month to stay in touch with readers.
She also says:
"You must give yourself the opportunity to fill the well so you have something to write about."
This is so obvious, but with demands of writing, marketing, working, and taking care of the family and the house, so easily forgotten. It reminded me to embrace the fun in my life as necessary. #Fillthewell is my new favorite social media hashtag.
I'm a longtime fan of author coach Dan Blank, who's great at offering advice that's tough yet caring for the creative spirit. This book about marketing for creative professionals blew my mind.
"Be the gateway. ... Instead of selling a product in a marketplace, you become the gateway for how your work can shape the world the world for others and inspire them."
The thesis of this book is that rather than focusing on the sell of your creative work, focus on sharing the messages that are important to you. Dan points out that, through our creative efforts, we've created this amazing conduit for sharing the beliefs that shape us. Don't waste that conduit on screaming about the 99-cent sale. Instead, share what you're passionate about. By framing the world for others in ways they can identify with or find value in, we create advocates. People don't want "deals;" they want to believe in something.
Dan puts it simply:
"Tell me about the conversations you would love to be having with others."
Mind blown. I could suddenly see my social media, marketing, newsletters, etc., as an opportunity instead of a burden. I made a list of the themes that are important to me: strong women and the confident men who love them that way, discovering your integral self, enthusiasm and compassion for a diverse world, the grandeur and value of healthy romantic partnerships, the value of filling the well... The list goes on
With Dan's practical tips on how to implement his mind-blowing ideas, I look forward to indoctrinating all of you.
Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of National Novel Writing Month, helps support the dreams and energies of almost 400,000 writers who participate in November's writing sprint. So he knows a lot about pep talks.
He's a dedicated writer himself; we worked at the same newspaper in our 20s and when my husband and I invited him out for a weekend brunch, he said no because he had to stay home and write. In Pep Talk's 52 short and inspiring chapters with titles like "Make Your Creativity into a Routine," "Fail Often...Fail Better," and "Persisting Through Rejection," he's able to pair his passion and skill for writing with practical, soul-enriching advice.
"Approaching the world with a creative mindset is wildly transforming--because suddenly you're not accepting the world as it's delivered to you, but living through your vision of life."
He's an advocate for the creator and speaks to the person who needs to keep their feet on the ground (or their ass in the seat) when their head is in the clouds. I love this paragraph about finding your own inspiration:
"...You are the all-powerful God that sends those words--those story-igniting lightning bolts--into a world that's coming to life before your own eyes. You are your own muse."
The Wise Heart, A Guide to the Universal Teaching of Buddhist Psychology by Jack Kornfield
After a tough second semester in college, my son came home early last spring. I desperately needed to get out of my head, out of my anxiety and worry, and a dear friend handed me this book.
The Wise Heart is a wonderful way to reset. Instead of thinking that we can control everything and that all of our beliefs are true, psychologist Jack Kornfield helps guide you through Buddhist teachings that help you think bigger, more holistically, and a little softer.
We think so many things horrible things about ourselves, and for authors, that can be especially true: We're not writing enough, we're not marketing enough, we're not getting any better, everything we do sucks. This book helps you to be kinder and more compassionate to yourself and the people around you. A phrase he asks you to recite, that I think can be especially effective for the author:
May I be held in compassion. May my pain and sorrow be eased. My I be at peace.