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Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

creativeliving_jump

Lovely Keris (check out her inspiring interview in episode #01 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with YA author Keris Stainton) recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s new podcast, ‘Magic Lessons’, to me and it’s excellent.

I’ve listened to the first two in which she (and her guest Cheryl Strayed) advise a writer who is struggling with procrastination and feelings of guilt.

The writer worries that spending time and energy on her creative work takes something away from her children, which is definitely something I identify with… Elizabeth Gilbert and Cheryl Strayed are incredibly encouraging and wise, and I’m really looking forward to the rest.


I’ve also pre-ordered Gilbert’s new book – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.

Here’s the blurb:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now, this beloved author shares her wisdom and unique understanding of creativity, shattering the perceptions of mystery and suffering that surround the process – and showing us all just how easy it can be.

By sharing stories from her own life, as well as those from her friends and the people that have inspired her, Elizabeth Gilbert challenges us to embrace our curiosity, tackle what we most love and face down what we most fear.

Whether you long to write a book, create art, cope with challenges at work, embark on a long-held dream, or simply to make your everyday life more vivid and rewarding, Big Magic will take you on a journey of exploration filled with wonder and unexpected joys.

Sounds good, right?

Episode #06 The Worried Writer: Lani Diane Rich ‘Claim Your Awesome!’

ww_ep6_lani_imageJoin me for an energising chat with New York Times and USA Today best-selling author, podcaster extraordinaire, and inspirational writing teacher, Lani Diane Rich.

Lani writes funny romantic books and, under the pen name Lucy March, magical contemporary fiction. She has eleven books published and runs a creative business helping other writers, Storywonk, with her husband Alastair Stephens.

forloveormoneyFind out more about Lani at www.lanidianerich.com or visit www.storywonk.com

Or, find Lani on Twitter: @LaniDianeRich or @storywonk

Lani’s next book (as Lucy March) is out in December 2015. It’s the third the Nodaway Falls series: For Love or Magic (Nodaway Falls)

Also, I highly recommend the Storywonk podcasts. Head here for the full list!

We discuss:

Lani’s process – she has periods of creation, editing and so on throughout the year, rather than focusing on a weekly or monthly schedule.

Lani writes in three basic phases: Discovery phase (soundtracks, staring out the window, collages etc), drafting phase – where she tries to write 2000 words a day, and revision.

Lani says the revision phase is where: ‘I take all my understanding of story and structure and apply it to the hot mess’.

We talk about how the process can vary from book to book. Lani says:

‘I do what the book asks of me, if I have to get up and write at midnight, I get up to write at midnight.’

Lani talks about the importance of giving yourself permission for a ‘full and rich discovery phase’.

To stay productive and creative over time, Lani suggests writing every day (something small and fun – something which reminds you what you love about writing), and engaging with narrative every day in a way which is enriching and inspiring to you (this can be good television or film, video games, graphic novels, as well as novels).

And don’t miss Lani’s brilliant ‘Claim Your Awesome’ speech!

Recommended:


In the first section of the show, I talk about how useful I’ve found keeping a simple and regular routine. I first heard about this concept (as it applies to creativity) in Murakami’s excellent book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

 

 

TheGardenOfMagicIn other news, I was thrilled to be listed as one of Jodi Gibson’s ‘Five Essential Podcasts for Writers’. Thanks, Jodi!

And, on a personal note, I shouted about my new novella The Garden of Magic, which is out on 14th August 2015, and my super-exciting (to me!) book deal news.

For more details, head to my author site.

 

 

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

Episode #05 The Worried Writer: Annie Lyons ‘You can lead me anywhere with a slanket!’

ww_episode5_annielyonsIn this episode I chat to bestselling author of romantic comedy, Annie Lyons. Annie and I signed with Carina at around the same time and her debut novel, Not Quite Perfect, came out a month after mine. We got chatting online and have shared the highs and lows of being newly-published authors. Not Quite Perfect became a bestseller and Annie followed it with Dear Lizzie and a novella, A Not Quite Perfect Christmas. Annie’s new novel, Life Or Something Like It, is published next week (on 13th July).

We talk about pre-publication nerves, dealing with criticism, writing routines and Annie’s slightly unconventional route to publication.

I had a stinking cold when this interview was recorded, so please excuse my sniffing/coughing/snot-choked voice.

Annie Lyons was a delight to chat with, though; you guys are in for a treat.

Books recommended by Annie:


A Novel In A Year by Louise Doughty


On Writing by Stephen King

What getsmeasuredGets done (1)

I give a small writing update and recommend using a planner or calendar to measure progress as ‘what gets measured gets done’. I use a Plannerisms Planner which you can see in action on my author blog.

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. I truly appreciate your support.

Thank you for listening!

Ann Patchett On Writing: Killing The Butterfly

Staff_Ann_FinalAnn Patchett is one of my favourite writers. If she’s not one of yours, you probably haven’t read her, yet… She won the Orange Prize with the (astounding) Bel Canto, but all of her books are brilliant.

In last week’s C.L. Taylor interview, I mangled a quote from Ann Patchett and it inspired me to re-read the essay I had half-remembered.

It’s the best, most truthful description of the writing process that I have ever read.

Patchett spends months thinking about her novel before she starts writing. She doesn’t make notes or an outline, she figures things out in her mind and says that this is her favourite part of the process.

‘This book I haven not yet written one word of is a thing of undescribable beauty, unpredictable in its patterns, piercing in its colour, so wild and loyal in its nature that my love for this book, and my faith in it as I track its lazy flight, is the single perfect joy in my life… 

When I can’t think of another stall, when putting it off has actually become more painful than doing it, I reach up and pluck the butterfly from the air. I take it from the region of my head and I press it down against my desk, and there, with my own hand, I kill it. It’s not that I want to kill it, but it’s the only way I can get something that is so three-dimensional onto the flat page. Just to make sure the job is done I stick it into place with a pin. Imagine running over a butterfly with an SUV. Everything that was beautiful about this living thing – all the colour, the light and movement – is gone. What I’m left with is the dry husk of my friend, the broken body chipped, dismantled, and poorly reassembled. Dead. That’s my book.’

The whole essay is wonderful. You can purchase it as a standalone:

The Getaway Car: A Practical Memoir About Writing and Life

Or, along with lots of other great essays, in

This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

What do you think? Does this description of the process ring true for you? Let me know if you have a different take (or favourite writing quote – I love a good writing quote!). 

Episode #04 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with thriller author C.L. Taylor

ww_ep4_imageIn this episode I chat with Cally Taylor about hopping genre, developing craft through short stories, getting the writing bug, and typing while walking on a treadmill.

Cally Taylor wrote two sparkling romantic comedies, Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas, before turning to dark psychological suspense under the name C.L. Taylor. The first of these, The Accident, was hugely successful, shooting up the Kindle charts and selling over 150,000 copies in the UK alone. Last year, Home For Christmas was made into a film by JumpStart Productions and, since this interview was recorded, Cally’s second thriller, The Lie, has shot up the bestseller charts.

For more on Cally and her books, visit her website CLTaylorauthor.com or follow her on Twitter @callytaylor

Books recommended by Cally:

Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them by John Yorke

The Story Book: A Writer’s Guide to Story Development, Principles, Problem-solving and Marketing by David Baboulene

Cally mentions the importance of taking ‘artist dates’ as recommended by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity

Also, I mention that my debut novel, The Language of Spells is now available in paperback (meep!)


and I recommend a book I’ve been enjoying this week: The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer

 

Listener question:

This episode’s listener question comes from Maggie Jones – thanks, Maggie!

‘How ‘sucky’ can a book be when you send it in?!’

‘This question is definitely something I struggle with as I have very little confidence in my own work and never feel that something is good enough or even safely passed the ‘it sucks’ stage.

And therein lies the problem. We are probably not the best people to judge the suckiness or otherwise of our work.

Also, it’s worth remembering that ‘sucky’ is a subjective term. I think it might have been Jenny Crusie who said ‘your book is not a $100 bill, not everyone is going to like it’ and that is so true.

There may be published books that you don’t like, that other people love.

So, a book’s merit is a subjective thing. There is no opposite to ‘sucky’ which is ‘perfect’, only opinion on what is good or bad or fun to read or boring.

Once you’ve accepted that there isn’t an ideal you can achieve before sending your work out, you only have to ensure that it’s as good as you can make it.

Whether you’re sending your book to an agent, an editor or hitting ‘publish’ yourself to put it into the Amazon store, there are steps you can take to make sure that it’s ready.

Things like finishing it first, and rewriting it as much as you can stand to get it into the best possible shape. You can also get perspective through feedback from critique partners or by letting it rest before you edit for a final time. Four to six weeks is a good amount of time to leave it, so that when you come back to it you can see it anew. When I do this, I find I can detach my writer self from the reader, and I often find there are plenty of things I like – and have forgotten writing. It’s like magic. It also makes the dull or awkward or confusing parts glaringly obvious.

I hope that helps, Maggie. Thanks again for the great question.’

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a rating for the show on iTunes. It would really help me!

Thank you for listening!

 

Episode #03 The Worried Writer: A Conversation with Julie Cohen

ww_episode3_shownotesimageThis episode includes a conversation with Julie Cohen, creative writing tutor and author of twenty books including Dear Thing and Where Love Lies.

For more information on Julie and her books, head to

www.julie-cohen.com  or follow her on Twitter @julie_cohen

I had so much fun chatting to Julie and we cover knitted owls, suckage, staying creative over the long-term and the importance of failure.

Books recommended:

Julie and I both love The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes

Software/tools recommended:

A kitchen timer. Any type will do! You can use the timer function on your phone, of course, but that’s more likely to lead to distraction…

Freedom I’ve been using this internet-blocking software for ages and it’s great! It’s only $10 and comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Got a question about writing or creativity?

If you’ve got a writing-related question that you’d like featured on the show, please don’t hesitate to ask.

I’ll answer it on the show and credit you (unless, of course, you ask to remain anonymous).

Please spread the word and, if you can spare the time, leave a review on iTunes.

Thank you for listening!