My newest workbook, The 7 Day Creativity Jumpstart Workbook, is now out on Amazon and Smashwords, AND with the following coupon (type in WJ29E) you can get it for 50% off at Smashwords from now until December 8th, 2014. Which means only 2 dollars!
Despite the joy and fulfillment we receive from living a life with creativity in it, few of us allow ourselves the right to create. Instead we allow outside pressure to stop us from what we consider an indulgence rather than a right. We force ourselves to do things we don’t love and deny that which we do. We let the everyday overwhelm us and always assume that some day we will finally do that which we love, all the while never appreciating that we need to actively create a space to practice our creativity. In the words of Andy Warhol “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
This workbook is about helping you identify where you need to make changes in your life in order to allow creativity to come in. It aims to be a jump start to reconnecting with your creative self, finding the blocks and getting past them to do whatever creative art it is that you love. What it is not is a book of creative prompts.
If you want you can compare it to financial problems. A person who needs money can borrow it and be temporarily cured of a financial crunch. However, that is not going to remove the deeper problem of that person’s relationship to money. The 7 Day Creativity Jumpstart looks at fixing the real reasons you are not creating and not just addressing a lack of ideas you may have.
You may have noticed the blog went quiet again. (And then again maybe not, as nothing kills off a readership like never updating.) I have periods of activity where I can work on my writing projects and post regularly. Sometimes I need to choose between the two and I choose my writing projects over the blog. And sometimes life spins out of control and I get nothing done on either of those two fronts. Sometimes this is in the form of something out of my control (an exploding toddler, first trimester daze etc). And sometimes it is a direct result of laziness that gets coupled with apathy that then spins out of control. You know the drill.
I am not alone here. Something happens to throw you off your writing routine. A friend has a crisis and knows you work from home or you have a blue day that turns into a blue week. Much like a gym routine, once you have broken from your writing it is so difficult to return to it.
Something you loved has become something to be squeezed in. And this despite the fact that not only do you feel better for having done it, you KNOW you feel better when you do it.
And yet you avoid it like you would rather have pencils driven into your eyes. You may even find yourself being snappish and irritable and have no idea why. Although you may strongly suspect that it could be because you are neglecting that part of you that needs to create. That part that shrivels up when it is bound and gagged and takes you down with it. Yet we choose not to act upon it.
Why are human being like this? Creativity is like our muscles. When we use it regularly it becomes strong and easy to use. It makes the rest of your body and soul feel great. Using it is a joy.
And just like your muscles, when you stop using creativity on a regular basis it loses its power. And it requires effort to get back into shape. Effort that is fuelled by energy that needs to come from other areas of your life. And we often feel like we just do not have it in us to do so.
When I find myself in this situation I start to beat myself up. And then I forgive myself. Admit that I have gotten off track. But I do not need to stay there. Instead I need to forgive myself for the past and use my butt kicking for the present. As a tool to move forward, not a way to continue to be unproductive while taking potshots at my self esteem.
It helps no one and allows me to continue to be unproductive and is a pretty crappy way of assuming accountability while still doing nothing about it.
And just because my first day back is not as good as it was before, I do not allow myself to quit. Just like I would not expect myself to run a marathon after 6 months of not even lacing up my sneakers, neither do I expect to be able to just pick up where I left off with my writing. That is not to say that I allow myself to slack off at first sign of trouble. But I take note of it and like I would with my toddler, I guide myself back to where I want to be. Maybe its just morning pages over coffee for the first week. Or a slotted hour in at the cafe near my daughters daycare. But it is something manageable and I do it.
I start practising setting my boundaries again, as I have come to accept that this is also something that requires constant practice. I set my priorities and I say no to friends who want to meet for coffee during my set writing time. If I would not cancel a class to go for coffee why would I cancel my writing time to do it? And I find that a little self love and acceptance with some boundary control has me back writing again. (And in this case I expect to have another handbook out by early next week.)
Finally, when I feel myself starting to stray, I remind myself that even if I am not as productive as I want, I am still writing and publishing, something that 4 years ago I was not. Then it was just a pipe dream. Now it is a reality.
And better to be doing something rather than nothing. And that normally gets me back on track as well.
And yes, I do need to revisit and go through the exercises I established in my Unleash Your Writer Workbook. Life is a constant cycle of learning.
Good news! We successfully ran a crowdfunding project to get Iceland: A Stormy Motorcycle Adventure translated from English into German. I do believe it was more out of luck, rather than a well thought out and successful campaign. So if you are thinking about crowdfunding your own book or creative project, read on for some of my thoughts on the entire project as well as some lessons learned.
Some Background To The Project
Our translator is a new translator looking to build his body of work. As such he quoted us a low price on the cost of the translation. When we compared his work to the other samples we received from other more established translators we found he was almost as good and way cheaper. He would do the entire work for 600 Euro. As we (myself and my partner Patrick, who helps out in someway on every book and at times co-authors them), wanted to make sure that we reached our goal we thought a low price for the same quality meant a much higher chance of reaching our goal. So we posted our project on Startnext (a German crowdfunding platform) and left the amount needed at 600. Any amount we made over the 600 we would use for professional editors/giving the extra profits direct to Robert, as he was doing the work for a rock bottom fee.
Choosing a small financial goal seemed like a good idea at the time. After all a small amount of money must be easier to raise than a large amount – right?
As we learned, not necessarily.
To run a successful campaign requires a large amount of effort. Ideally you have the idea and begin to promote and develop interest in your project months before you go live with the actual crowdfunding campaign.
To me, the amount of 600 Euro seems so low that it did not require the extra effort. We were so wrong. Asking people to part with their hard earned money is asking them to part with it. No matter if you are asking 300 people for 2 Euro or 3000. They want to know that the money is going to something they feel is worth it.
The other obstacle faced with such a low goal was one I had not anticipated. Due to the fact that 600 seemed like a low goal, I did not feel like it was worth the effort of putting a lot of promotional effort in. It was a combination of feeling it should not be too hard to hit 600 and that there were so many other things I could be doing with my time. Things like writing or promoting books that were ready for purchase right away. Things that might result in the 600 anyway. Or even if not, if I made 300 that month I got to keep it, whereas with a crowdfunding project I would only see the payout if we made our goal. Anything less is returned to the supporters.
That I had not anticipated.
In the end, the fact that we got funded was more a fluke. Right up until the last minute we only had 50 Euro of our total goal of 600. The weekend before the campaign was due to close Patrick had a radio interview to promote his book Fernweh and talk about travelling the world by motorcycle. Happily, the interviewer was just as happy to devote part of the program to our journey through Iceland and the campaign to get our book translated.
Iceland was never an easy ride
But it was always an amazing one!
Did the radio plug make that big of a difference? We have no idea.
One donor swooped in last minute and donated 600 Euro, pushing our final total up to 650 Euro. The book would be translated! (And Robert is about halfway through it at the moment). We still do not know who this person is. They never requested a single one of the thank you incentives. We wrote them to thank them and never heard a thing back. Not a request for a package or why they wanted to give us the 600 Euro. Was it because they heard it on the radio? We do not know. We just know that neither of the 3 of us know the donor in question. No family or friend who wanted the project to go ahead.
The main thing is we were successful, but it may have had a lot more to do with luck!
So would I do it again?
Absolutely. We are looking into crowdfunding the documentary of our trip through Iceland.
Some key things we will be implementing this time around:
We are working with someone we know and trust and has a solid reputation as a graphic designer and film editor.
We are already planning the campaign that will be launched on a crowdfunding platform in 3 – 4 months time. AFTER we have done the building of a community to support the project and to build awareness around it. And since this one will be a highly professional project we are going to be looking for thousands of dollars rather than hundreds. And this is not to suggest that the Iceland book was never meant to be a professional product. But the price was one based on a new translator and no extra funds for professional formatting. The content might be solid, but the book was still one done by an individual rather than a publishing house. The sale price will reflect that. Under 5 dollars as opposed to 10 or more for an e-book. The work on the Iceland documentary is with an individual who does this for a living. This is not a building of his brand. He will do the work for a fair price, but not a low price. And that is ok as the end result will reflect that.
A teaser video from Andi when we first thought we would be doing the project. Then we realized how much time it would require and in fairness, Andi needed to be paid to finish such a large project. That is why now we are back to trying crowdfunding.
Also, somehow aiming for thousands and failing does not seem like the same waste of time that trying for 600 and potentially failing did.
And I think that is where I fell short in the Iceland translation campaign. I didn’t feel like the effort required to reach out and do the promotion required would be worth it no matter what the outcome of the campaign. And that was not something I had anticipated as a potential problem. Promoting would still get my name and my books out there, I really thought I was ready to do it. But with my daughter under a year and a half and not in daycare at the time, combined with no family living in the country let alone the city, my time was precious. I had two days a week where the babysitter came for 3 hours.Those 6 hours encompassed all the time I was to have to myself for the week. To do all my writing, book promoting and self care. Somehow each time the babysitter arrived, doing the promotion required for the Iceland campaign seemed like more effort than it was worth. I wanted to spend that time writing new things.
And in the end, for my sanity, that really was more important. I needed that time to write. I was a happier mother and partner for getting it. To have spent it otherwise was not a good idea. Perhaps now that she is in daycare it would be different. But at the time it was not. I needed to write and not promote.
So am I suggesting that you should only crowdfund if you’re looking for big money?
I am saying that you should set a financial goal that is not only achievable but makes the entire venture worth it no matter what the final outcome will be. And assess the time you have to devote to making the project worth it beforehand.
This is a really great and inspirational video from Raw Story Life and Joanna Penn. Worth the listen and the reminder that even if success seems to come with ease or overnight it so rarely does. Or that overnight bit was actually the result of a number of years finally snowballing into an avalanche!
For any other author out there wondering if crowdfunding a book is right for you or not, check out this interview where Amanda Barbara of Pubslush shares her crowdfunding tips with Writer.ly CEO Kelsye Nelson. (We went with a German bilingual crowdfunding platform, but if I was to crowdfund an English book I would go with Pubslush.) No matter the platform you choose, it is a good video that covers the basics and some great tips on how to succed in crowdfunding your book.
It has been a busy couple of weeks for me. In addition to getting Unleash Your Writer finished and out, I have also been working on getting a crowdfunding project together to get Iceland: A Stormy Motorcycle Journey translated into German. Toss in there my little girl starting walking and you have a woman who loves to see her babysitter coming. Although I would be lying if I said I did not love getting back into the full swing of writing and publishing again. For the first six months of my daughter’s life it was like I had blinders on. Nothing existed for me outside of her. As she began to wake up to the rest of the world I found myself doing the same. And that itch to write began a full fledged burn. There was definitely a learning curve, which is why I stressed in the parenthood section of Unleash Your Writer to be gentle with yourself dear new mama or papa. But practice makes perfect, or Übung macht den Meister as the Germans say. And just as she is getting her feet under control and every day she is steadier and more confident, so am I!
Translating our books is something I have wanted to do for a long time. Although I was able and confident in translating Fernweh from German into English, translating from English into German is not remotely feasible for me. And although The German is all too happy to help me out with formatting issues or cover design, writing is not his calling. He is happy with his one book. Even if he was not, GoEuro is his current baby. He has no time to translate and he likes it that way. However, we thought why not experiment with crowdfunding as a low risk way to get the book translated. If there is not enough interest we have only spent our time. Which in and of itself is very precious as new parents and our professional roles as a writer and CTO of a start up. (I assume if you read this far you know which one of us is which.)
And so the idea to crowdfund the project was born. I will keep you posted on the progress and if you want to support it by either buying our book in English or reserving the future German copy please do so by clicking on the following link!
It’s Finished! Unleash Your Writer: A Workbook To Help You Start & Finish Your Writing Projects is complete and on Smashwords and Amazon! I am quite proud of this one. I love workbooks but I never though that I myself could ever write one. However, since becoming a mama myself I find that a lot of the soul searching that I have done over the years (as well as some of the pressure and pointed excuse deflating questions from my most loved but very dedicated and achievement orientated German) have come into play into getting myself writing. When I first started writing publishing 2 years ago it was both thrilling as well as terrifying. This is the girl who wrote her first book in grade 5 and then promptly destroyed it because too many of her classmates were talking about it.
That pretty much set the tone for my writing for the next 20 odd years – scribbling in corners that was quickly hid if someone asked me what I was doing. In fact, slammed shut and hidden faster than most people would if you found their porn collection. I wasn’t happy not writing, but I was unable to lay claim to the title of writer. That word loomed large and impossible. Writers were gods to this reader. This is the girl whose most treasured possessions are her signed copies of Anil’s Ghost and Coraline. I almost passed out when Neil Gaiman posed with me for a photo and I am pretty sure a local writer was convinced I was slightly demented as I would shake if I walked into the bar and he was sitting there drinking a beer. I never spoke to him because I knew a restrainer order would be laid against me the next day. How could I possibly ever even DREAM of associating myself with these people? I couldn’t. So I didn’t. I never stopped writing. I just hid it like others do their coke habit. Or a penchant for Chris De Burgh. I knew these people existed. We just don’t confess to being one ourselves.
And then enter The German. He who taught me that you don’t have to work and travel. You could just save enough up before hand and just travel. For months or years at a time. And then he pointed out if I wanted to write I should, well, (let the earth crack open in revelation), but maybe I should actually write. And even more so now that there was this self-publishing revolution going on. No gatekeepers, just you, your work and your readers. And if they like it you make money from it. And if they don’t you don’t. But at least you’re out there trying. And if you succeed or fail you did it ol’ Frankie’s way. And doing it your own way is somehow more satisfying. And you don’t die when a bad review comes in. And it makes it easy to whisper to some people that sometimes you might write. And eventually you tell people that you are in fact actually writing at this very moment. And eventually the day comes when telling people you are a writer is easier if not easy. And one day you just are one. And maybe you are not a booker prize writer and no one goes into spasms because you are in their presence (other than your dog, but he or she would have done that regardless of if you write or not) but you’re happier. And you have such a sense of satisfaction. And it is true some people hate what you wrote but you get others who write you and tell you thank you, they loved it, or that you inspired them to go take their own journey. Which is more than you ever thought you would ever achieve. And it makes writing the next one easier.
And then you have a baby and you’re back to scratch. As I sat there wondering how I will ever write again, I remembered all the work I did to get to where I was. And lo and behold I started writing again. And there was one project that kept crowding out the fiction book I’m writing as well as the Turkey Unleashed book. It was Unleash Your Writer. And trust me, when you get any amount of writing time with a baby in a city without grandparents or other sources of free babysitting you use it. And when a project keeps insisting you write it you let it flow in. Especially when writing time is rare.
And so I did and it is finally out today! It is a workbook that aims at asking the questions needed to get you to step back, look at what you need to do to get writing and then actually get writing. Because just like motorcycling in Iceland, Mongolia or South East Asia, if I can do it, trust me, ANYONE can.