Nurturing the Creative Spirit
in a Numbers-crunching World
BY DEBRA MULLINS WELCH
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
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
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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