Historians are Getting Less Blame-y and You Should, Too!

sleepwalkers

So privileged, last night, to hear a lecture at Kalamazoo College by Christopher Clark, one of the world’s leading historians. His recent book on the causes of World War I is called The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914; and please note the interesting “How” in the subtitle. Clark says he used “how” […]

Why Tough-Guy Metaphors About Creativity Don’t Work

Tortured artist at work!

Ta-Nehisi Coates is one of the best writers on the web right now, using his Atlantic.com blog and other venues to discuss race, culture, history, and a myriad of other topics. He writes long, thoughtful pieces, and even his commenters can be dauntingly erudite. He’s currently debating New York Magazine writer Jonathan Chait on whether […]

Do You Suffer From Marketer’s Block?

meaneditor

Recently, I’ve noticed an interesting evolution in the writing productivity classes I teach. Up until a few years ago, writers almost always took one of my classes because they were procrastinating or blocked on a book or other work. These days, however, many who take my classes have finished their book: it’s their marketing they’re […]

Sorry, Kurt Vonnegut, You’re “Not Compelling Enough”

kurtvonnegutrejection

Everyone gets rejected. Even Kurt Vonnegut, Madonna, Andy Warhol, and others who went on to be luminaries in their field. If you get rejected, don’t take it to heart. Learn from the experience and move on. Mostly, rejection is simply proof that you haven’t given up–which is a great thing.

What is the biggest barrier standing between you and greater productivity?

In my case, it used to be perfectionism that shut down the creative process before it started. I spent nearly five years writing and rewriting the same novel chapter because I was terrified of having others see it and judge it. Then – as I got less perfectionist – my biggest barrier became time management. […]

10 Ways to Seduce a Writer

10waystoseduceawriter

No, not that way, silly!           They’re all fine suggestions, but they missed the best one of all: Buy his/her book!

On The Importance of Going OFF the Internet

I recently rewatched the movie The Hours, and found the many scenes of Virginia Woolf (portrayed by Nicole Kidman) sitting and thinking in her beautiful, quiet study inspirational.

Going off the Internet seems a radical act, but for most people it’s essential for creativity. The Internet is inherently and continuously interruptive, and that’s not a good mix with creative work, or productivity in general. In classes, I quote Jonathan Franzen (“It’s doubtful that anyone with an Internet connection at his workplace is writing […]

What Muhammad Ali Can Teach You About Getting More Work Done

Muhammad Ali plus guy with Float Like a Butterfly shirt

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” That famous quote from Muhammad Ali really does captures the spirit and essence of productive, joyful work. Let’s break it down: 1) “Float like a butterfly.” You move lightly and freely around and through your work until you see an aspect of it that inspires you. (Inspiration […]

John Scalzi on Why You Should Never Let Your Reviewers Get You Down

John Scalzi. Reading his reviews?

The Inimitable One offers a list of one-star reviews of books that later went on to win science fiction’s celebrated Hugo award. My favorite is this review of Scalzi’s own novel Red Shirts, which actually uses the word “onanistic”: This is an onanistic shallow and very disappointing book. Little or no character development. What should […]

New Yorker Cartoonist Shows What to do When You’re Stuck on a Piece

This is the rejected cartoon! Click over to Dernavich's article to see the final version! (Used with kind permission.)

Please check out this wonderful piece by New Yorker cartoonist Drew Dernavich, in which he discusses his creative process for a cartoon. He submitted it in 2007, but it was rejected. At that point, he did NOT do what many perfectionists would do, which is to either: (a) despair, and maybe give up cartooning, or […]

“Essential Guide to a Better Authorship”

A fantastic review of The 7 Secrets of the Prolific from The Metapsychology Online Reviews: The book constantly reminds the reader that moralistic labels are useless and poisonous. Lightened up by the witty illustrations by Barry Deutsch (just to quote one: the monolith a la 2001: A Space Odyssey vs. a spaghetti snarl) it is […]

Hello Crewel World!

decoupage_can_be_deadly_cover_ebookx1000

And knitting world, scrapbooking world, decoupage world, etc.! Check out my post on How to Get More Crafting Done in 2014. Many thanks to Lois Winston, author of the fun Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, for the opportunity to guest blog at Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers.

Check out my BoomerCafe piece!

boomercafe-logo

For BoomerCafe I wrote a piece on how, in my fifties, and in the face of a growing realization of my mortality, I’m finally learning to play defense in terms of my ambitions. All this would be a bummer if I didn’t have so much to be grateful for and defend. Check it out!

Homage to Rosie and Cinnamon

Rosie

One of the events that most moved me over the past year was the tragic and joyful life and death of Rosie the Chihuahua. Rosie was the victim of a backyard breeder/hoarder who made money selling puppies, including from fashionable “designer” breeds. In their quest to create “teacups,” “merles,” and other designer dogs, many such […]

Recognizing and Valuing Your Successes. Part II: Character and Moral Successes

In my last newsletter, I discussed the importance of not undervaluing your work successes. Perfectionists tend to ignore or devalue all accomplishments other than “the big score,” which is a very demoralizing and demotivating mindset.) But it’s also important to recognize your “character successes,” and I list some types of those below. I decided to […]