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Ninc Newsletter

Ninc 2012 Conference

NINCThink Roundtable:
Nurturing the Creative Spirit
in a Numbers-crunching World


Industry Guests: Jane Dystel, Leah Hultenschmidt, Melissa Rosati, Lou Aronica
NINC authors: Barbara Keiler, Alicia Rasley, Alisa Kwitney, Patricia Knoll, Kathryn Shay
NOTE: Questions were submitted by NINC members before the session.

I have more responsibilities than ever, and I can’t seem to find the time or emotion to be creative. How can we write through the bad times, and more important, have creating be something sustaining and fun again, not just another task?

Train yourself to write through bad times until it becomes a habit.

Fitting non-writing rituals, such as exercise, into your day can help to empty the brain, making it more receptive to creative juices later on.

If you manage to write through a block, celebrate it.

Try something completely fresh, like watching a movie or trying a different genre, to reinvigorate the muse.

Give yourself permission to be stuck—sometimes part of the process is being dry for a week or so.

The discussion also touched on brand. Authors are constantly being told by industry insiders not to change their brand, and this can lead to creativity drying up. An author’s brand used to be a distribution concern, but now 50 percent of books are sold online, so brand is not as relevant anymore. The most liberating thing about most books being sold online is that smart publishers are starting to think about how many different ways they can go after a particular market for a particular book besides the author fan base. We can reach more readers now than when brick-and-mortar stores were the norm. Your brand is not necessarily your category. Learn what your true brand is.

How is burnout different from frustration?

Frustration is a specific obstacle that will keep you from moving forward. Look at the problem from different perspectives. A new way to see the problem will occur to you, and you will get around the obstacle.

Burnout is a dry well. There is simply no more to give. Take a specific amount of time off to refill the well. Turn off the TV, unplug from Internet, and/or go on an artist's date. Let yourself go a week or so without writing. Longer than that, you might have a more serious issue, such as depression, and you might want to talk to someone about it.

Communication is the key when an author is struggling creatively. What information does the rest of the team need to know, and then how do you respond?

All writing involves a team. The sooner you let the editor know you are stuck, the better he or she can help you. No writer should go this alone.

You can’t have any secrets from your agent, because there are editors who are less tolerant when an author is having a crisis and may be pressured to cancel contracts. You need someone to fight for you.

Writing is a very isolated business. For the indie author who does not have an agent or editor, you can create a support team of your own. In times of trouble, call these teammates to help you get through.

Creativity may or may not be an infinite resource, but time and energy are not infinite resources. How can authors find the time and energy to create when we’re spending so much time and energy publishing, promoting, and making our presence felt in the social media?    

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