Ann Patchett has many useful things to say about writing in her new essay collection, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, and in particular about the core creative challenge of surviving the fatal moment when, having finally summoned the courage to bring your vision to life, it immediately disappoints:
"Only a few of us are going to be willing to break our own hearts by trading in the living beauty of imagination for the stark disappointment of words. This is why we type a line or two and then hit the delete button or crumple up … [Read More...]
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. I had to learn to aggressively get rid of unimportant and even semi-important activities to clear lots of time for writing and my indie publishing business.
Nowadays, I'm not very perfectionist, and I also have more time. But … [Read More...]
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 good fiction.”) and other famous writers on the importance of disconnecting. Then I urge students to disconnect by having two computers:
a stripped down, "vanilla" one without any … [Read More...]
“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 = an easy opportunity to do a bit of writing, editing, outlining, planning, telephoning, or other work.) And then you:
2) “Sting like a bee.” Go right for it; do the work as much and as well as you are able. … [Read More...]
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 have been an interesting short story based on a somewhat interesting conceit has been puffed out to novel length and suffers hugely from the increased exposure. Don’t waste your time or … [Read More...]
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 (b) grind down and start reworking the cartoon to death, probably bringing all his other work (not to mention, his life) to a standstill.
Instead, he simply set the cartoon aside and moved on to other projects. He did … [Read More...]
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 devoted to humorously locating all the disempowering forces which prevent from accomplishing a written product. And a joyful life as well.
The secrets anticipated in the title are revealed as the table of … [Read More...]
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. … [Read More...]
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! … [Read More...]
Greeting from Hillary
Welcome! You're probably here because you'd like to get more productive, finish projects more easily, and reclaim the joy you once had in your work. Or, perhaps you'd like to find a new job or make another important life change. You've come to the right place! All my work is devoted to helping people recognize and overcome the disempowering forces in their work and lives so that they can reconnect to their power and reclaim their joyful productivity. Join me for a workshop, get coaching, or read my books.