On Writing, Thoughts & Ramblings

Focusing on the long term

At the end of last year, I gave this year two priorities: production and publicity. As the year progressed, the strength of my focus on these priorities started to fade, and I believe this is what caused me to start feeling disillusioned about a writing career.

Production is important because I want to put my work out into the world – this is why I am publishing my work. Publicity, or ‘getting my name out there’, is equally important if anyone is going to hear about my work. I enjoy connecting with readers and other creatives, going to craft markets, and sharing my ‘writerly life’ with children. So what got me off track?

I had sales goals and social media goals that were supposed to be subsidiary to my priorities, but they became my focus. The fact that I was actually reaching my sales goals got me all excited – I had set them higher than I really thought I could reach, so it was a thrill to see it happen.

But I got *too* caught up in them, for several reasons. One was, as I said, that it was exciting to see them climb. The other was that my self-worth was a bit low, and so seeing numbers, and support, and lovely people being lovely became coping strategies.

When I was focused on my long term goals, building the base for a career, and actually producing creative work, I was happier than I am now, and the business side of things flourished naturally. Art-making comes first, sharing my work comes second, and everything else builds organically from there.

On Writing, Thoughts & Ramblings

Abundance Mentality: BOLO

I first came across the term ‘abundance mentality’, which is essentially a positive mindset, after seeing an infographic on Facebook, and it’s come up today in an interview with Honoree Corder by Joanna Penn.

The main thing that resonated with me is ‘BOLO’, which means to ‘be on the lookout‘ – for evidence of abundance (of anything), and for people who are doing what you want to be doing. So for me, that’s BOLO for people who are making a full-time living from their writing. For you, it might be something different. As Corder says,”if it’s possible for someone, it’s possible for you”.

The other point is to decide what you’re going to focus on in order to reach your goals – what can you commit to every day – and then actually focus on it. This might be two things. While I was working on the colouring book, I had two daily tasks: draw, and edit. Now, it’s edit Beyond the End of the World, and write my non-fiction book (working title still to come… oops!). What are one or two things that you can commit to every day, that will help you reach your goals?

But enough from me, this is a fantastic interview (and not just for writers). Grab a cuppa, a notebook and a pen – and enjoy ☕

On Writing, Thoughts & Ramblings

Imperfection

Like a lot of artists, I’m a perfectionist at heart. I can look at any work, by any person, and pull it completely to pieces. I tend not to, though – unless it’s my own work.

That’s one reason why it took me a while to turn to creative writing. I knew that nothing I wrote could ever meet my own expectations of literary goodness.

I painted, though. And I drew. I wasn’t good to begin with, but I got better over time. There’s still significant room for improvement but over the years I’ve been able to accept artworks as ‘done’ when they’re not perfect – but they were good enough.

With painting, as soon as I sign a work it is considered ‘done’ and I’m not allowed to tweak it. It may not be a masterpiece, but it’s told the story I wanted to tell. With my writing, as soon as it is published, that’s me signing it and saying, “It’s not perfect, but it’s the best I can do right now, and the story is told.”

Besides perfection being impossible, I believe it’s our imperfections that bring something unique to the table. Tight writing is great, perfect drawing is admirable, but to make something interesting we have to do something interesting; we have to explore the unknown and tell our own, imperfect story in our own, imperfect way.

And that’s all I have to say for today. Lofty goals are fantastic to aspire to, but we’re only human (unless you’re not, in which case perfection may be attainable) and all we can do is our imperfect best.

On Writing

Building a creative business: The Secret Ingredients (part four)

This is the third installment of a four-part series on building a creative business and lifestyle, based on my experiences, what I’ve learnt from others and my plans for the future.

So what do I think the ‘secret ingredients’ are? Well, like most things that people sell as ‘secrets’ to success, they really aren’t that secret: perseverance, and people.

People

There are so many times I have felt like giving up. I don’t want to admit it and I don’t want to count the number of times, but it’s people that have got me through. Friends who ask me how my writing is going, friends and fellow writers who tell me I’m good enough to keep going, editors and writers who give me critical feedback to improve, readers who tell me how much they enjoy my stories, students who listen to my story and say, “I want to be an author when I grow up,” and artists who are a little bit ahead of me and generously show me the way forward.

Perseverance

There’s a lot I could say on perseverance. No one could ever have got to where they are without it – I wouldn’t be teaching if I hadn’t persevered through a degree (and I would still be teaching if I had persevered through my first few years as a classroom teacher). And of course, there are the much-used examples of people like JK Rowling and Oprah.

Instead, here’s a video by an artist I discovered recently. She says it all, and she says it with a smile and sunshine. You can find her on YouTube under thefrugalcrafter Lindsay Weirich.

Do you agree, or disagree? What would you add to these ideas?