Friday, July 17, 2015

To Be Successful You Have to Try New Things

"To be successful, you have to try new things," Ron Friedman, author of The Best Place to Work
I was driving to work, listening to one of my favorite podcasts, The Accidental Creative, when Ron Friedman said these words, and I couldn't help but repeat them over and over again. I found it to be so profoundly true. 

What does it mean to be successful? 

It means something different to everyone. Most likely, the goal is to find a measure of success in all areas of our lives. From our jobs to our relationships, to family, and even our hobbies. 

I experienced the most growth in the later years of my 20's. More than when I was in college and in the brief years following. Maybe because I didn't move away and live on my own, maybe it was because I didn't have kids or had to stress out about personal finances. There were few deaths in the family (which I am so grateful for), and few drastic, world-turned-upside-down events that really challenged how I perceived myself and the world as a whole. I saw things from a smaller bubble than how I see them now.  

(Waves hand dismissively) But that's a deeper conversation than I intended to go for on this post. 

What Ron Friedman had begun to discuss on the podcast was the value of failure. 

We experience phenomenal growth in times of failure and hardship. We should not be afraid of failing. But sometimes our circumstances, our jobs, our family, and our finances don't allow much room for grand experimentation. Life is short, and with each failure, it can quickly feel like it just got a whole lot shorter. 

My dream to become traditionally published is a couple years shy of reaching a decade. A near decade of writing, writing, and more writing. Lots of tears, lots of dizzying dreaming, the need for thicker skin, and learning exactly what the word grit means. I kept hitting a wall and every time I thought I reached the top of that mountainous blockade, there was yet another ridge to climb over

I've tried a lot of things. Some of them made me feel like I failed. (However, most have felt like successes.) But beyond that, failure is where I discovered the value of being resourceful

I'm reading more non-fiction than fiction these days. Listening to podcasts, watching more documentaries, and in 1:1 conversations, I'm doing a lot more listening than talking. Why is that important? 

I want to know what resources people used to get to where they are. Where have they gone to find information and inspiration, and did it help? Not everything I'm reading/watching/observing is directly related. From books on writing, to talks on architecture, memoir, motivational, and business books, Ted Talks, and even podcasts like the Gilmore Guys (no, that is not a misspelling). I am hungry for a wider array of knowledge than ever before. 

Knowledge is invigorating. It is an opening of doors to secret things and places in the world. 

And that's why the quote, "To be successful, you have to try new things," really struck a chord with me. You learn of new things by opening yourself up to knowledge of said new things. 

*Shrugs* Anyway, that's my spiel for the day. :)  

Happy Friday and go hug something cute and cuddly! Happy (the cat in the photo) would like you to know that he's available for bookings. 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

3 Tips to Work "With" Your Muse

Ask and you shall receive...more help.

That's right. In my last post, I talked about how hard it was for me to write in the summer. That hasn't changed. But hey, a girl can hope. Beg. Pray. Cry. To no avail.

I didn't have work this week (thanks to my really awesome day job, where we were given a holiday shut down--YASS!), so of course, I committed the time off to writing. There's been a decent amount of progress but not the I'm-kicking-mad-ass (what? you've never said that?) amount that I had prayed for. I realized that it was my own desperation that was hurting me.

I took stock of what I was doing in each aspect of my writing process and realized one key point: I had stopped listening to what my muse wanted to do. And instead, I was sort of bullying her...

I was rushing

So for anyone looking to find ways to coerce--I mean--encourage your muse to get sh*t done, hopefully one of these (or all) might inspire you.

1. Create a Story Board

I'm sure I've talked about this before, but I was probably laughing it off as some interesting idea that you should do if you had the time. Well, considering the lack of writing I had been doing...I apparently, had the time. So I created one using a large cork board, post cards, push-pins, and photos. (Picture to come)

I personally don't like to outline stories to the point where I know every minute twist and sub-plot. What I do know is the main plot, the main characters, and over-arching goal (you know...the basics). When you're a writer with a lot of time, this is a very fun process. But...when you're split in three, four, five different directions because life is life...this is more time-consuming and can prove to be a lot more work. Especially if you have a complex Sci-fi/Fantasy world where there are rules to abide by, coupled with a deadline. 

The solution? 

Know as much of your story as possible before writing. OR Take hard stock between beginning, middle, and end so you're certain of where you're heading and like/approve the course. The story board does this. It forced me to see where I had gaps between scenes, or lacking in scenes altogether. 

2. Your Distinct Creative Process

I read a tip from one of those Writer Digest Magazines, which said that a writer needed to learn to write in any situation: loud, quiet, spacious, closet-like, open, closed, tired, alert and awake, what have you. The goal was to train your muse to write anywhere and at anytime. Writing is all about showing up. It's a job. And like any job you have to show up, sit down, and get to work. It's linear and logical. But creative endeavors are far from linear let alone predictable. 

In my mind, I wasn't training my muse well because my life was filled with too many surprises. It wasn't until this break where I conceded that it was more than that. My muse simply worked best when I wasn't writing on a computer. I was my most productive when I was writing in a notebook. 

Seems like more work right? I thought so too. But there was no denying the fact that I was clearly writing more in my notebook, than when I tried to write on my computer. I think it's because there are no distractions. I'm completely absorbed in the scene and writing it all down as it unfolds. So that's my current process. Until my muse gets sick of it, or I injure my wrist from all the furious scribbling. 

Listen and do what works best for you, not how you think it should be for the sake of efficiency, or logic for that matter. 

3. Simple Goals

I won't spend too much time on this one, but one thing that's helped me is to go to bed with the goal of knowing what I want to write the next day. What are the aspects of the next (or current) scene? Who's in it? What are the stakes? I imagine as much of it as I can and then go to bed with it replaying in my mind. 

Make yourself accountable. I saw advertisements for Camp NaNoWriMo the day before it started (which was yesterday). I knew it was a sign. I hope to get a minimum of 50K words written in 31 days via my accountability to the virtual summer camp. Sounds simple right? :) 

With that, good luck my fellow creatives. And thanks for reading! 

P.s. I'm going camping this weekend. Woohoo! Not the virtual kind, the real kind...well sort's more like glamping because there are showers, and a house. Don't judge me! I hate bugs and dirt. >_<