“I never waited for my Irish Cream coffee to be the right temperature, with a storm happening outside and my fireplace crackling … I wrote every day, at home, in the office, whether I felt like it or not, I just did it.” ― Stephen J. Cannell
My goal is to produce good work, on a consistent and joyful basis. That’s right. I want to be happy. Yes, writers write – alone, but that doesn’t mean I have to be grumpy and undisciplined. I am equal parts cheerleader and drill sergeant. Here are a few more observations from my journey:
ACT LIKE A PRO
Show up daily. No whining. No one is forcing you to do this.
Produce and ship according to your plan. Give yourself bonus points for exceeding your goals.
Rejection comes with the territory. Not every editor and reader will like your work. Read some of the scathing reviews posted on Amazon for bestselling authors like Stephen King and J. K. Rowling. Snark happens to everyone. Take nothing personally.
LEAVE A TRAIL OF GENIUS (Hat tip: Marriott Hotel notepads)
Imagine your thoughts, words, and actions ripple out to leave a psychic trail or energetic wake. Does your trail look inviting or repulsive?
What sort of wakes left by others – inspiring or discouraging – has entangled you?
REFILL THE CREATIVE WELL
Recognize your creative needs. What inspires your imagination? Find places or activities which uplift and expand. Museums. Parks. Coffee shops. Libraries. Places of worship.
Be open to new experiences. Hang gliding might meet the criteria, but so might reading outside your usual genre.
Too much solitude stifles creativity. Same with interacting solely with other writers. Seek a variety of people.
Identify and treat burnout. Don’t let weariness escalate to disillusionment.
CREATE BETTER LUCK
A lucky break is an opportunity to get your foot in the door. What is your action plan once opportunity knocks?
Luck is a temporary phenomenon. Luck is not going to stand outside your door forever, begging you to come play.
MLB executive Branch Rickey, the man who signed Jackie Robinson with the Dodgers, said, “Luck is the residue of design.“ Those words dovetail nicely with Louis Pasteur’s observation that “Chance favors the prepared mind.
View yourself as a player in a game freely chosen. A game means it’s fun. You want to be here.
Learn the odds. View publication as a gamble and know your risk tolerance.
Study the rules of the game you agreed to play. Practice established techniques to build skills.
Memorize your personal stats. How many words-per-day do you consistently produce? How many hours to revise a 5,000 word chapter? Use those stats to set goals and measure improvement.
FAN YOUR PASSION
Be picky. You cannot be passionate about everything. Narrow your focus and specialize.
Know the difference between mere interests and true passions. Life is an endless loop of fleeting interests, but a true passion will linger to haunt and delight.
Check in with your gut and your heart. Passion is more about emotion than intellect.
Act now. Action trumps intention.
Make messes. Experiment. Writing is rewriting. It’s playing with a lump of clay, coaxing formlessness into usefulness.
Keep things simple: At the end of the day, you either wrote or you didn’t.
ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Honor all parts of the creative cycle, the moments of easy flow and the stubborn parts.
Celebrate completions. Acknowledge a project when finished and then clear the way for a brand new venture.
Your turn. What tricks have you collected along the way?
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