Creativity & writing tips for bloggers

Writing does look easy!

But ask any writer – however much they love to write, it can be a bumpy journey.

And if you’re a blogger with a post (or 10) to write, the struggles can sometimes make you forget the Joy of Blogging.

So, in my role as Ambassador for Joy, Flow & Ease in the creative process, I’ve collated a few of my favourite creativity coaching techniques – especially for my fellow bloggers.

Enjoy!

MAKE-IT-EASY PREP WORK

Make notes

Keep a notebook or file of ideas.

Whenever ideas occur to you, write them down as soon as possible,

Inspiration often strikes at unusual times, so to make sure you don’t lose these gems, acquire the habit of making notes.

Use whatever you have to! (Napkins are a notorious favourite of millionaires… ;-))

If it’s inconvenient or feels like a chore, be motivated by how easy it will make your writing process.

I find the Notes app on my phone is usually the most convenient and close-to-hand, as well as a physical notebook and pencil at home. I then transfer my notes to the relevant homes in Evernote.

• • • 

Sow the seed
Give your blog post some calm, relaxed attention, as early as possible.

Just begin pondering it a few days before you plan to begin writing.

Jot the title or a few words down on the blank page a few days before you need to start, and pin it to your board or wall.

In the days before you plan to begin, write the blog title or idea on a sticky note and put it where you’ll see it before you go to sleep.

You could also keep a note on the dashboard of your car – driving is a great time to ponder new ideas.

(Just make sure you pull over safely if you need to write things down!)

If you’re heading out for a run/walk/workout etc – write down the blog title and keep it in your pocket.

Physical exercise can be very inspiring, so make you have your notebook ready for the downloads.

• • • 

GETTING STARTED

When you’re ready to sit down and begin writing…

Explore your notes

Hopefully, you’ve already got some notes and ideas to begin with. Just explore these to see which ones naturally grow and evolve. If any feel difficult or confusing, move onto the next.

Build on your notes, adding any new thoughts and developing your favourite ideas.

• • • 

Create a mind map

Mapping out key points or the intended structure of the blog can help you stay on track and keep your writing clear.

However, if you feel inspired to go off in another direction, go with it. If ever the words come pouring – don’t stop them!

Then afterwards, you can assess whether the new material is relevant, or perhaps for a different post.

Use your mind map to check back in to see if the new ideas fit with the original intention.

If they don’t add to the clarity or flow of the blog you’re working on, file them for later use. (You may have just written the next blog post instead!)

• • • 

First draft first

To get words onto a blank page – just focus on producing a first draft.

Aim to simply get the words out of your head onto the page – in any order.

Don’t worry about structure – that will emerge as you review your notes and ideas.

You can polish and edit and refine once the core material is in place.

• • • 

WRITER TIP:

Writing is essentially a two-part process of downloading ideas, then refining them.

It can feel like a struggle to do both tasks at once, but there are different techniques of switching between the two modes.

Writers vary – some like to do nothing but composition for a long time, then edit days later.

Others like to switch back and forth between the two modes as they go along.

Experiment with which method feels right for you.

• • • 

KEEP GOING

If you feel stuck or run out of ideas…

Use prompts

You can often bypass your resistance by using sentence prompts such as:

I want to write about…

Or:

If I knew what to write, I’d write about…

• • •

Move

Try changing your location, working in a different environment. If possible, choose somewhere inspiring, beautiful of refreshing.

Moving your body also helps to boost your creativity.

Can you take a break for a short walk or a few yoga poses?

• • •

Lights & sounds

To stay calm and inspired as you write, play some music designed to enhance the creative process. (Spotify is great for these kind of playlists.)

If you love candles, keep one on your desk and light it as a symbolic gesture that you are ready for some focused creative work.

It can also serve as a meditative focal point when you need to think through an idea or phrase. (Gazing out of the window is also great for this.)

 

Take a breath

If you feel yourself getting frustrated with your writing, just take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe deeply.

When you focus back on your work, you’ll have a clearer head and feel less of that creativity-sapping frustration.

• • •

Tidy up

Whenever you hit a block or feel confused about what you’re writing, a great trick is to stop for a few minutes and have a short tidy-up.

Clear the papers on your desk or tidy your workspace.

Doing a mundane task that you can do on auto-pilot gives your mind a chance to rest and percolate ideas.

And creating physical order can lead to clarity, helping you find more order in your writing.

• • •

Use your sleeping mind

If you can, review your notes/draft before you go to sleep, with the intention that your subconscious mind will take over and work on it.

You’ll be amazed by the new ideas that ‘mysteriously’ pop into your head the next day.

You may even wake up with the perfect phrase or structure – so make sure you have a notebook by your bed.

• • •

GETTING FINISHED

You’ve written your first draft, you’ve edited and polished – but it’s still not quite finished.

Here’s what to do to get that blog post ready for the world…

Leave & return

When you leave a piece of writing and return to it later, it’s much easier to see any muddled sections or clunky passages.

After working so closely and intently, we get word blind and don’t see inconsistencies or glaring errors.

So, your writing will always be better for a rest.

When possible, plan to finish at least the day before the deadline so you can sleep on it.

(This also trains you to not leave things to last-minute which is stressful and saps the joy from the creative process.

• • • 

Know when to stop

This is tricky! We naturally want to keep tinkering.

But there comes a point when we need to let the work go and do its work in the world.

Practice tuning into your intuition for help with this. Is that inner voice urging you to make some vital improvements? Or are you just resisting the decision to stop?

This is a difficult skill for all creatives, so go easy on yourself and be prepared to practice and gradually get to used to knowing what’s right for you.

• • • 

Get a second opinion

Ask someone else to take a look at your writing. They’ll spot things you’ve missed.

They may also have some suggestions that inspire you to make the post even better.

• • • 

Rescue your darlings

As you edit your posts, get in the habit of keeping any of the good writing that you cut.

It may not have been right for that particular blog post, but it could find a home elsewhere.

It may even spark a whole new post of its own. (I’ve written a blog post about this idea if you’d like to explore more.)

• • • 

Hopefully these tips will support and inspire you with your next blog post, as well as make it ever-easier to create further posts in future.

(Because relaxed, calm and happy bloggers make for better blogs. 😉 )

 

Happy blogging!

Danielle

 

PS I’ve got a whole series of these Make-It-Easy tips for the many aspects of the creative process.

So, if you’d like to find more joy, flow and ease in your creative adventures, sign up for my Tonics For the Creative Spirit email series.

Details below!

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The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

The All-Year Resolution: Intention vs Force

All Year resolution

 

It’s New Year time again.

I love the energy and optimism of this time of year. We’re so hopeful for the future, we’re determined to improve things, to live better, to be better, to finally do those things we’ve been saying we will do.

It’s the perfect time to resolve to actually make it happen this year.

And yet…

New Year Resolutions don’t have a great success rate.

Instead of an inspiring opportunity to harness the wonderful New Year energy, they’re more often associated with forced denial, failed attempts and fractured self-esteem.

But I don’t believe the New Year resolve is to blame for the high incidence of abandoned hopes and dreams. I believe there’s another culprit that can be an insidious saboteur of the human spirit:

The All-Or-Nothing mindset.

When our New Year Resolutions fail, often it’s not because we’re weak-willed, or ‘just not meant to do it’, but simply because we’re humans, not machines – when making powerful changes, it may take many, many attempts and re-attempts before these new practices become established.

What would happen to our success rate, if we removed the pressure to enforce our New Year changes without fail every day, from January 1st?

 

What if we accepted that it may take time to adjust to these changes, it may take weeks, perhaps months for new habits to form?

After all, humans have limited supplies of will-power, we have finite reserves of discipline. There’s only so much force and steely-willed determination we can summon before we become exhausted, disillusioned or unpleasant to be around.

Is this really the best way to craft our dream life?

If our New Year changes are meant to increase our success and happiness, how does being miserable and set up for failure support that goal?

And isn’t the quality of life en route to our goals just as precious and important as the (fleeting) moments at the Finish Line?

Whilst it’s true that 100% commitment can work brilliantly for some, (at least for a while), for the rest of us, there’s a more spirit-friendly alternative to the strait-jacket of All-or-Nothing Resolutions…

 

Christmas candles

The Power of Intention.

Intention is powerful.

Intention is a fuel that will never run out. No matter how many times we may lose our way, if we hold fast to our intention to get to where we want to be, the odds are good that we will get there. Eventually.

There may be detours, but if our intention is strong, we will soon recover our path.

There may be failures, but if we ditch the pesky and unhelpful All-Or-Nothing Mindset, we’ll find it so much easier to simply try again.

Intentions don’t require deadlines; they allow you time to just begin playing with these ideas, they allow you space to gradually incorporate these changes into your life.

Intentions are lighter and less demanding than the Must Do mentality, meaning you’re far more likely to shrug off any slips or blips and have another go.

So if a day or two or more goes by, and you’ve missed or forgotten your new practices – your intention is still there, as strong as ever, ready to shore up your resolve.

You can tap back into your intention, revisit your reasons for making these changes, and begin again.

This approach to creating anything will carry you much further toward your vision than any number of failed All-or-Nothing attempts.

New Year ‘Intentions’ are undoubtedly a less dramatic, less aggressive route to ‘getting results’, but for many of us, they can be so much more enjoyable, not to mention easier to stick with. And when the journey is easy and fun, that way success lies.


So this New Year, instead of giving up on resolutions altogether, perhaps try the gentler, subtler tactic of The All Year Resolution.

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Simply intend to create the fabulous New You that’s calling you.

No unrealistic deadlines. No forcing of will. Just an intention to devote this new year to working towards your vision.

And when you’re not chasing a fixed result by fixed time, there’s no failure. You’re just making changes, gathering feedback, adjusting and re-adjusting.

Less urgency = Less stress. (A significant health bonus even before you start.)

Even if it takes all year, you’ll still be closer to your vision than if you go all-out for a few miserable weeks in January, then abandon it for another year – or even worse, never attempt those life-enhancing changes at all.

And imagine how lovely life could be this time next year, if you make your resolutions an all-year focus.

 

Cambridge tree

 

So this year, why not play with the idea of The All-Year Resolution. It’s a kinder, more sustainable route to the improvement, success and happiness that you’d love to create in the year ahead.

As an added incentive, the more your reaffirm your intention to do something, the more you’ll find it ‘mysteriously’ popping into your head, or occurring at the perfect place or time. (This is the muse’s handiwork. 😉 )

It becomes ever-easier to live and act in line with your intended goals.

So I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the promise and potential of a fresh and sparkling New Year, with a yearlong intention to make the most of it.

No struggle. No force. Just a resolve to evolve.

Allow the phenomenal power of intention to fuel your hopes and dreams, and make this new year the magical success it’s waiting to be.

 

Wishing you health, wealth, peace and joy – in the New Year and beyond,

Danielle

 

 

• • • 

 

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Resilience – A Creative Superpower

Resilience – A Creative Superpower

Resilience A Creative Super-power - Danielle Raine Creativity Coaching

#33 in my Tonics for Your Creative Spirit email series: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

• • •

A little (big) magical something for you this week!

I’ve got another dose of soul-soothing creative goodness, and for one lucky winner, I’ve also got a copy of the book where I found it.

And that’s especially good news because this week’s featured read is…

Big Magic Elizabeth GilbertBig Magic

by Elizabeth Gilbert

Now, even though Big Magic promises inspiration and comfort for anyone on the creative path, I actually resisted it for a while, for many of the reasons Liz explores in the book.

(It’s always heartening to learn you’re not alone in your worries…)

For example, I’m currently writing a book about the creative process, and so I was a little nervous in case I found that my ideas had already ‘been done’.

This is apparently a very valid fear, and actually happened to Liz herself, when her book idea was created by another author before she could write it.

Also, since I’m still shaping and forming some of the theories for my book, I worried about being influenced, both consciously and unconsciously.

(We creatives can be unwitting magpies, merrily adopting any shiny gems we discover along our path.)

However, despite my resistance (or maybe because of it…), those book angels were covering all their bases and I actually ended up with 2 copies for my birthday.

Naturally my first reaction was to give the extra copy to one of my lovely blog readers, so, I have a beautiful hardback copy of Big Magic to give away. (Details below.)

But first, this week’s words of wisdom from the creative trenches;

Liz Gilbert creativity quote

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Of the many snippets of wisdom that I jotted down from Big Magic, this is the one I love the most.

In these words, Liz sums up an idea that has been gradually dawning on me over the last few years, particularly this last year as my study of the creative process has deepened.

It’s the idea of resilience. Or, as success coach Lisa Nicholls joyfully calls it; bounce-backability.

Admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous aspect of the creative process.

It doesn’t have the sense of mystery and miracles that accompanies Inspiration.

It doesn’t have the sparkling buzz of Creation, when the work pours forth effortlessly in a rapture of creative bliss.

It doesn’t even have the smart and savvy air of confidence that Productivity delivers.

It’s much more subtle. It’s quiet and unassuming.

It’s barely even noticeable during much of the process, yet it’s the quality that will make a crucial difference when you come up against the inevitable creative challenges.

• • • 

When everything’s going wrong, when it feels too hard, when you’ve had enough and you want to give up – it’s Resilience that whispers, Let’s try again.

• • • 

It’s a tenacity, an imperceptible core of strength, that enables you to redouble your efforts in the face of overwhelming obstacles.

It may be born of resolve or will, or it could be sparked by an innate purpose.

It can appear as sheer bloody-minded determination. Or it can simply be a calm refusal of defeat.

(It’s summed up perfectly in the clichéd-yet-profound wisdom of Keep Calm & Carry On.)

But for all its low-key subtlety, there is a quiet fierceness to resilience – and it’s a true creative superpower.

In one of my favourite films, Tristan & Isolde, there’s a scene featuring King Marke, (played by the rather lovely Rufus Sewell).

The scene shows King Marke returning to his medieval village which has been attacked and destroyed in his absence.

His people turn to him, asking him what they should do. He surveys the smouldering remains, sighs sadly and offers one word in response. “Rebuild.”

That’s resilience.

And cultivating that inner steeliness, as Liz Gilbert so beautifully describes in her book, is very often the real work of creativity.

So I hope this idea of resilience will inspire you to hang in there, whenever you’re feeling bruised by the creative process.

Because mastering, instilling, even faking resilience strengthens your creative courage – making you an unstoppable force in the direction of your creative dreams.

And that way, magic lies.

Danielle

PS Also in my birthday book haul was Rising Strong by Brene Brown which also focuses on the superpower of resilience – so stay tuned for more on this important topic.

• • •

: : :  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED  : : : 

Liz Gilbert Big Magic giveaway cropWin a hardback copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic

To enter:

1  Leave a comment below describing either your Big Creative Dream, or your idea of Creative Heaven.

2  Make sure you’re on my magic list, as I’ll be notifying the winner via email.

3  If you’d like to spread the magic, please share this post with any friends who could a boost to their creative superpowers. (Buttons below.)

I’ll select the winner at random on Monday 14th December.

Good luck! May the Big Magic be with you. 😉

: : :  GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED  : : : 

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Is there a book in you that’s trying to get out?

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• get clear

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• get inspired

>>> CLICK FOR DETAILS

 

Creativity Lessons from Life : The Power of Whim & Fancy

This week, I’d like to share with you a lesson I learned from my recent month of non-stop decorating. 

(We’re finally selling our house, after buying it as a 2-year renovation project. In 2002. So much for the best laid plans…)

Although I had a huge amount of work to do over the last month, I was actually a very happy bunny because I had complete and utter freedom with my timetable. 

This really suits how I love to work; Planning, organising and creating a comprehensive To Do list – then doing whatever I feel like, without pressure or urgency. 

And boy, did I get stuff done!

(Here’s a little evidence of my labours….

Dining room

I was a Decorating Dynamo! 

Armed with my vision of the end result, I harnessed what I’ve come to call; 

The Power of Whim & Fancy.

I noticed that I was far more productive, efficient and happy, when I did whichever tasks felt the most appealing or inspiring.

The work just flowed. Things went my way. People and events ‘mysteriously’ lined up to meet my plans. 

Even though I was busy, the work felt effortless. So I was able to do far more than if I’d forced myself to stick to an uninspiring schedule, which can be so draining and depressing.  

 

So, here’s my tip for happier productivity; 

If you have a major project that you’d like to get moving on, and you also want to actually enjoy the process: 

Can you harness The Power of Whim & Fancy? 

Can you create a degree of freedom to do whichever tasks appeal the most? 

Can you spend some time on general planning and organising and envisioning, but without setting concrete deadlines and schedules? 

This leaves room for you to tune into whatever you feel inspired to do, helping you enjoy the work and build momentum, making you far more likely to complete more and more of the required tasks. 

There’s less need for discipline and will power when you feel naturally inspired to do a task.Twitter icon

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(I believe the carrot is far more powerful than the stick. 😉 )

So, if you have a project in mind that you long to do but can’t seem to get moving with, I invite you to play with the fun and freedom of just going with the flow, indulging in whims and following whatever task takes your fancy. 

I realise this kind of freedom is not always an option. But the more you explore this approach, the more you’ll see areas where you are free to tap into your natural tendencies – which makes any task so much more enjoyable. 

 

So there you have it – my tip from the decorating trenches. 

I hope you find this helpful, and if you’re tempted to try it, I’d love to hear your results. 

Wishing you a lovely week of whatever takes your whim and fancy. 

Danielle

• • •

PS Speaking of fanciful whims, I’m planning another writing retreat to work on my next book. (Bliss!) 

But if you’d like some help in finding your own creative bliss, my Creative Thriving programme is still available for a short time, before I disappear to my creative cave. 

I’d love to support you in finding more flow and fulfilment in the creative projects that are close to your heart. 

Because life gets really magical when you do. 😉

• • •

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Creative Faith: How to Dodge that Pesky Demon of Doubt.

Creative Faith: How to Dodge that Pesky Demon of Doubt.

Creative faith blog Danielle Raine Creativity Coaching

#29 in my Tonics For Your Creative Spirit email series: Sharon Salzberg

 • • • 

Have you ever been surprised? 

I’m going to guess you answered yes, maybe even that question was a little out of the blue.

So you know things can happen that you weren’t expecting, or could never have imagined in your wildest dreams.

In fact, how often does anything ever go exactly according plan?

This is the nature of life; unpredictable.

And unexpected twists and turns are also a feature of the creative process. In fact, they’re sometimes part of the fun.

This is the realm of serendipity, strokes of luck and flashes of inspiration.

So the uncertain and unpredictable nature of creativity can be a good thing; leading to happy accidents and pleasant surprises.

And yet….

Most of us creatives are more familiar with the darker side of uncertainty; The Pesky Demon of Doubt

We let fear of the unknown stop us in our creative tracks, scuppering our goals and dreams.

Or we cling to the idea that we must know how things will happen before we allow ourselves to believe that they will.

Admittedly, it’s much easier to believe in something if we can see a clear and smooth path to a successful outcome.

But what if we can’t see a sure way, or we have no guarantee that things will work out as expected and make our precious efforts worthwhile?

This is where faith comes in.

 

Faith is the powerful force that leads us to act in spite of uncertainty. It’s the key difference between those who keep striving towards their goals and dreams, and those who give up – or never even begin.

Many of the world’s great creations, achievements, advances and successes only occurred because someone took a leap of faith.

Whole belief systems have been built on the idea and power of faith – trusting and believing when there is no certainty or proof.

It’s powerful stuff. Strong enough to move mountains.

But…

It’s not easy!

At least in creative terms, building and trusting faith can often be the hardest part of the creative process.

To invest time, energy, passion, heart and soul into a project – with no guarantee that it will be worth it – that’s the risk of any new venture.

There always comes a point where you just have to trust.

And since this can be incredibly difficult, it can be a real stumbling block for many brilliant and talented creatives.

• • • 
 

So, given that faith is an inescapable part of the creative mix…
are there any ways to make ‘keeping the faith’ a little bit easier? 

 

Happily, I believe there are.

I’ve been exploring the idea of faith for the last couple of  years. (I’m convinced it’s the secret to great and wonderful things.)

And in my mission to support you in your Great Work, I’d like to share my findings so far…

• • • 
5 ways to make keeping the faith easier

  

1. Become more comfortable with risk

Get used to moving forward without any guarantees of success.

Practice with small things, where the stakes aren’t too high.

And realise that much of life involves risk – and you’ve survived so far! Each day has its own risks, however small, and yet how often do you get through the day safely?

When you get comfortable with an element of risk, you feel less need to be certain of things.

So, a) you’ll relax more, and enjoy life with less worry – not a bad side effect.

And b) you’ll be less likely to dismiss things just because they have no guaranteed outcome. (I.e. all the amazing adventures that live on the other side of risk).

• • •

2. Build up your Surrender-&-Trust muscle

Practice trusting your gut, your intuition, the universe, the Divine, or whatever you call the invisible force that supports you. (I refer to all my spiritual support as ‘my muse’).

When you learn to trust in positive outcomes, it becomes easier to surrender, to let go of your vice grip on the need to be certain.

Again, start small. Experiment and play with minor outcomes.

Retrain any control freakery to allow for more chance, luck, and going with the flow.

• • •

3. Tune in

Check in with how you feel.

Are your doubts laced with nervous excitement? (Keep going.)

Or do you know, deep down, that you’re off track? (Re-assess.)

Learn to recognise which are intuitive nudges and which are fearful ego voices.

You learn best through the trials and errors of your own experience, being aware and keeping track of your results – but there are also resources to help you master this skill. (This one has some rave reviews… 😉 )

If something just feels good – despite a lack of logic or evidence that it will work – this is an internal force that can power you through any doubts and dilemmas.

• • •

4. Brainstorm all the possible routes to your goal

Make a list or mind map of any ways or steps to your outcome – however outlandish, wild or unlikely.

In fact, the more obscure and fanciful the better, as this sharpens your ability to imagine. (Which Einstein claimed was more powerful than knowledge.)

Once you can see a single possible way, the goal can no longer be classified as impossible – which is a huge boost to your ability to believe in it. (Which is a huge boost to the likelihood that you’ll pursue it.)

You don’t need to know which of these routes will be your path, possibly none of them or a combination.

What matters is that you’ve now shown your brain that it is possible.

It may seem a subtle detail, but the subconscious mind speaks in subtlety and is hugely influential in inspiring you to keep taking action.

• • •

5. Keep a Success Diary

It takes courage and confidence to take leaps of faith.

So a strong and secure self-image will support you in taking risks and trusting your ability to make things turn out well – or survive and bounce back if they don’t.

Keeping a log of all your wins, triumphs and successes – large and small – will do three things:

• It will provide proof of your ability to succeed, which creates a powerful and positive sense of self.

• It will boost flagging spirits during the inevitable wobbles, shoring up your self-belief when you need it most.

• It will train your brain to look for more evidence of you as an achiever, a success – which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as you take actions aligned with that self-image.

When you build up your faith in your own power and ability, you naturally expect more successful outcomes in your endeavours – both in creativity and in life.

• • •

So I hope these steps will help you find more fun and less anxiety in the creative process, as well as some enjoyable side effects in the rest of your life.

Because when you strengthen your faith-muscles, an exciting world of possibility opens up to you.  twitter aqua

You’ll see new opportunities and take new actions – which are proven strategies for increased good luck and the likelihood of success.

You may even discover that magic and miracles happen when you start to believe everything will turn out for the best.

And even if they don’t, take heart that optimists live longer – and have more fun along the way. 😉

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Danielle

Faith Sharon Salzberg

PS If you’re as fascinated as I am by this whole concept of faith, I highly recommend this beautiful book by Sharon Salzberg, which is the source of this week’s quote.

PPS If you would like some expert support and guidance in strengthening your intuition, boosting your confidence and relaxing into the flow of life, my new Muse Spa programme is designed to do precisely that.

I’d love to support you in keeping the faith and making your creative dreams a reality.

More details here, if this sounds like bliss for you.

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Old year lessons for a happier new you.

to-your-wishes-hopes-dreams-2017

• • • 

It’s New Year time again, a time for that lovely reflective vibe that seems to hit as soon as Christmas is over.

I love this time of year – it seems to demand a welcome pause in the busy mayhem of life, as we transition from one year to the next.

I’m a big fan of reviewing and recalibrating, and this phase is the perfect time to look back over the previous year – for successes to celebrate and lessons to learn.

Doing this can help us face the shiny new year before us with more confidence, clarity and excitement – 3 things that will supercharge our success and happiness in the future.

 

And if you can also review the last year with an attitude of gratitude – counting all the blessings (even the ones in disguise) – you’ll be rewarded with more peace, understanding and life-enhancing optimism for the year ahead.

So, if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join me in taking some time to acknowledge your gifts, achievements and challenges over the last year.

Indulge in a beneficial spell of healthy and productive reminiscing, as well as some big dreaming and scheming for happy times ahead.

Here’s to the trials that shape us and make us who are.

And to the victories that show us glimpses of who we can be.

Wishing you so much happiness and success in the New Year – and beyond.

Danielle

 

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3 meaningful reasons marketing is good for creativity

3 meaningful reasons marketing is good for creativity

#26 in my Tonics For Your Creative Spirit email series: Marc Zegans

3 meaningful reasons PIN

 

{NOTE: this post is a little longer than the rest of the series, but I think it can really help solve a dilemma that runs deep through many a creative heart. So I hope you’ll feel it’s worth taking a little time out to make peace with any marketing demons…}

 

It’s time for another pearl of inspired wisdom from my creativity quotes series.

But before we get to it, I have a question for you…

Have you ever read something that made you sigh with relief? 

(Or, if you’re a bit of a softie like me, burst into spontaneous tears of happy realisation.)

Have you ever been jolted awake by a line in a book, hit by a deep recognition that you feel the same way?

This is what happened to me when I read the source of this week’s quote – a short but powerful book by fellow creativity coach, Marc Zegans;

Marc Zegans Intentional Practice book

Intentional Practice & the Art of Finding Natural Audience

 

In the book, Marc helps us to find our ‘natural audience’ and to:

“communicate with it in perfect accord with your artistic vision and with your professional integrity.”

Can you imagine that – marketing you can feel good about?!

(Cue a collective sigh of relief from commercially-torn creatives the world over.)

If you’re like many (most/all) artists or creatives, the prospect of marketing induces a slew of uncomfortable feelings, ranging from lethargy, repulsion, fear and dread, to an overwhelming desire to hide under the duvet.

The issue of marketing, income and commercial pressure in creative work is an age-old dilemma.

Do we compromise our artistic integrity by pandering to market forces? Or commit to heart and soul driven creativity, even if it means a life of poverty?

With the recent rise of Creative Entrepreneurs, this debate is as alive and relevant as ever. 

 

But what if….

What if there was a third alternative, a happy middle ground?

Thankfully, this is the essence of Marc’s book.

It explores the roles that selling and marketing play in successfully earning a living from your craft, and how to embrace them with your soul intact. (And, breathe….) 

It also makes a compelling argument as to why you should still aim to reach your right audience, irrespective of those pesky financial pressures.

Marc argues that there’s an aspect of creativity that involves getting the work out there, to be seen and enjoyed by other people – and that this appreciation is an essential ingredient of the work’s place in the world.

Whether people pay for it or enjoy it another way, the ‘being seen’ aspect plays a crucial role in the life of the work and the creator.

Or as Marc puts it:

 

Marc Zegans creativity quote

 

 

Of course it can be possible and enjoyable to create purely for the thrill of self-expression, and I’m all for that.

But in showing our work, in sharing it with the world, we elevate the whole experience and enrich it with aspects of meaning and purpose and the unique impact that we can make with our talents and time on this planet.

It’s an inspiring approach to marketing; that connecting with your right audience is a vital part of creating impactful, meaningful work – not an act of selling out.

And if reaching the people who will love our work is part of the game – why not embrace it as just another stage of the work? A stage that, done well, can support future work and the creative lifestyle we love. (And what creative would say no to that?)

If we can embrace this idea – that part of our creative brief is to find our audience – it makes marketing (or Reach, as I prefer to call it) so much more palatable for us artistic types.

We don’t need to feel we’re selling our soul by bowing to commercial pressure, we’re simply completing the cycle of the work, helping it find its home in the world.

So if you’ve ever felt torn as to whether to create from the heart or compromise to meet market forces, I hope Marc’s idea will ease the agonies of that particular dilemma.

Even if you create from the heart, you still need to seek an audience for your work if you want to reach the ultimate level of fulfilment.

 

So we can wave goodbye to the old either/or dilemma.

A thriving creative life needn’t be a case of: Joyful Expression vs What People Want.

It could be: Joyful Expression + Attention to finding the people who want that.

Or even: Joyful Expression + Consideration of what you know is well received.

Personally, being one for unrestricted creative expression, I’ve ‘had issues’ with many of the conventional marketing theories. However, the more I embrace this final step of my creative work – this completion of the creative cycle – the more satisfying the work becomes.

This connection stage can actually make the work more enjoyable!

Not only that, the prospect of considering others’ opinions can help to shape the work in a positive way.

For example, if I get stuck in a creative dilemma, considering potential customers (aka Raving Fans) helps me to make decisions that I feel good about AND allow my work to be more valuable in the market place. It’s a happy, creative and lucrative win-win.

Of course, there will always be tension between opposing forces of freedom and limitation – but isn’t that what creativity is all about? Finding new solutions to the ways things are.

And it may well be that no limits, no expectations and no intended audience can actually be paralysing – too much possibility, making it hard to know where to start and in which direction to go.

As ever, it appears that balance is the most productive route. Happily this balance can also lead us to making a viable living from our art. 

So a huge, HUGE thank you to Marc for his inspiring words, not only showing us exactly how we can find our right audience – but also why we ought to embrace that idea; for reasons of our own stability, satisfaction and fulfilment.

 

This feels like the final piece of the Marketing For Soulful Creatives puzzle that I’ve wrestled with for some time.

Marc’s book, along with Deepak Chopra’s Spiritual Law of Dharma, Marianne Williamson’s idea of Business as Ministry, and Marie Forleo’s Sweet Spot theory, have all helped me come to the following realisation :

 

There are 3 meaningful reasons why marketing is good for creativity.

#1 The Creative Reason: To complete the cycle of our work

(See Above)

 

#2 The Spiritual Reason: We can only effect the lives we reach

Our creations can’t influence or help or entertain anyone that doesn’t discover them.

So it’s part of our role as creatives to help the right people to find us, to reach the ones who can enjoy and benefit from our work.

And when we do this, we find that all-important meaning that makes life worthwhile. We’re living our unique purpose, making the difference we’re here to make.

This is living in ‘flow’, and it’s a powerful way to connect to the source of all creativity and inspiration.

When we become aligned with purpose and meaning, our creativity flows more easily, spontaneously and joyfully.

And, as a bonus side-effect, life gets much easier too. (There’s more about how this happy upward spiral works here.)

Plus, when marketing become less about ‘How can I sell more units?’, and more about ‘How can I touch more lives?’, we lose the ‘ickiness’ and self consciousness that make us want to run screaming from self-promotion. 

 

#3 The Financial Reason: Let your creativity support you

One of the best ways to continue to do the creative work we love, is to find a way to get paid to do it.

If we can find the sweet spot – where our unique expression finds our right audience – we can find success in the marketplace.

Marketing, or Reach, is the key to this happy mix of integrity and commerce. Or as Deepak Chopra puts it; when unique needs are matched with the creative expression of your unique talent, that is the spark that creates affluence. 

And even if money is not your driving force, earning a living from your work just makes it possible or easier to spend more time doing it.

 

In other words:

1. To do justice to your work, get it out there.

2. To live aligned with your purpose, find your right audience.

3. To fund a life of joyful creative expression, master the skill of reaching the people who will value your work.

 

I find these ideas help to soothe the marketing demons in my creative soul, and I hope they will do the same for you – so you can make peace with the commercial aspect of the creative process, and devote more of your life to the bliss of joyful expression.

And if you ever feel torn between your creative calling and your need to pay the bills, I highly recommend Marc’s wonderful book.

And of course, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the marketplace vs freedom issue.

Do you long to create purely as inspired? Or do you find the commercial aspect actually adds to the process?

If you’ve found a compromise or solution that works for you – we’d love to hear it!

 

Till next week, 

Danielle

 • • •

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My self-publishing adventures: Q+A

When I launched my ebook From Wannabe to Writer earlier this year, I held a Facebook Q&A event and I thought it would be helpful to compile the answers from that, as well as answers to reader questions I’ve received over the last few months.

Hopefully it will shed some light on the self-publishing processes and options – and show how even a naive little wannabe (like me) can navigate them…

• • •

Q + A

 

What was your original plan for your first book, Housework Blues

I wish I could say I was as organised as that. My ‘plans’ tend to evolve. (I call it The Creative Way…)

To begin with, all I intended was to jot down my thoughts and maybe shape them into an ebook.

The whole publishing journey took off from there, but it was a gradual process – maybe a couple of years from the first Word document to holding the book in my hands.

(That last bit made the rollercoaster ride worthwhile!)

 

 

Did you ever consider traditional publishing?

About 10 years ago, I tried approaching publishers and agents with my children’s books – to no avail. But with my housework book, it kind of evolved from an ebook, to a Kindle book, to a paperback. Only after I’d launched it and it had been selling for a while did I think a publisher might be interested. 

At that point I began contacting agents again. Happily, the one I signed with had seen coverage of my book in the national press.

So, ironically, my self-publishing efforts resulted in getting an agent. In fact, many new authors are using self-publishing to get the attention of agents and publishers – it demonstrates their reach/platform and proves their ability to finish and market a book.

I wasn’t that intentional (savvy!) at the time, but it seems it can be one way of avoiding the dreaded Slush Pile. 

 

 

Did you release both ebook and paperback versions of your first book?

Yes, I was selling both ebooks and paperback online.

The digital versions I sold through the usual channels (Kindle, iBooks, Kobo, B&N, etc) as well as from my website.

The paperback version was available from online retailers (Amazon, WHSmith, Waterstones etc) and to order from bricks-and-mortar bookshops.

The printing (On-Demand) and fulfilment was handled by Lightning Source, so I didn’t need to hold any stock.

 

 

Did you have any marketing experience?

I had no clue about marketing initially but with the internet  – and a book budget –  it’s all learnable. (There’s a Recommended Reading list enclosed with the ebook).

I admit that, for a total newbie, it could get a bit overwhelming at first – but there’s usually no need to rush.

Plus, I’m finding that it’s an ongoing learning process. There’s always something new to discover about human behaviour and the way technology influences readers and how best to reach them. 

 

 

Can you share a little about your approach to marketing your book and growing your list?
Do you recommend blogging, speaking, free content? 

Giving away sample chapters has worked really well for me, as has blogging.

I haven’t tried speaking – though I know many authors find that it really helps with back-of-the-room sales.

The internet is FANTASTIC for establishing your platform and profile. There are so many ways to do it; social media, email marketing, blogging, video, podcasts etc.

I’d say choose the one you find the most fun and go with that. 

 

 

Do you expand on these topics in your ebook? For example, for someone who knows nothing about PR?

Like me! Yes, I have chapters devoted to building a list, getting the media coverage, hitting the bestseller lists, getting an agent and a big section on all my marketing efforts.

 

 

Any advice for rising the ranks on Amazon?  

My quick tip for Amazon rank success: encourage sales in a small time frame.

This pushes the book up the ranks more than the same number of sales spread out over time. Many authors are using free promotion periods to do this – with outstanding success. (My lovely Twitter friend and fellow indie author, Rachael Lucas, for example.)

PR can also create a quick rise up the rankings. This is what happened when my book was featured in the national press and again when I was interviewed on Woman’s Hour (BBC Radio 4).

The great thing about hitting the Amazon bestseller lists is that even when the promo period is over, the book can still sell well, thanks to Amazon’s promotion loop. (Ie, Customers Also Bought, You Might Also Like… etc.)

Having the Mighty Amazon behind your book can be a powerful strategy.

 

 

How do you recommend getting round ‘The Knowledge Curse’, ie believing all the things I know are so obvious to me, what’s the point putting them in a book? Why would anyone bother reading a book I write?

I can absolutely relate to this issue.

We do undervalue what we know – thinking it’s common knowledge. But we all know things others don’t! I agree it can be hard to feel total confidence in the value of our experience. When/if I master it – I’ll let you know!

But one book that changed everything for me was The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard. (Or any of his videos on YouTube).

Also, I try to remember this advice;

twitter aquaYou don’t need to know everything,
you just need to be a few steps ahead of your target reader.

They can benefit from your experience and will appreciate you sharing it.

 

 

Which parts of the self-publishing process would you recommend outsourcing to an expert? 

Given that freelance help is so easy to find online, and there are so many self-publishing specialists, I would outsource anything that makes you want to avoid your project!

Anything technical that gives you a headache (eg, Kindle conversion!), if you can, hand it over to the experts.

I find sites like elance or People Per Hour are great for this kind of work. Or ask for recommendations in the many Indie Author forums. 

 

 

Are there process components that you’re hiring out for From Wannabe to Writer?

I hired an editor, which I would always recommend. They spot so many things that writers miss, being so close to our own words.

My editor for this project was Kris Emery, who is an absolute gem. I was so grateful for her eagle eye – even though I’d quadruple checked my manuscript, Kris found all the little errors that I’d missed, and some I didn’t even know were wrong.

I felt much more confident releasing it to the world, knowing that she’d rounded up all those niggly typos and mistakes that can really irritate readers. 

But not only can a good editor improve the calibre of your book, she can also be a vital supporter and champion of your project. 

Being an indie author can be a scary and lonely journey, so having an encouraging third party in your corner can be very reassuring. (Especially during those eleventh hour wobbles…)

 

 

Are you completely self-publishing From Wannabe to Writer? And what about future books?

There are no plans to pursue a conventional deal for Wannabe, it was only meant to be a small, personal project. I just wanted to sum up what I went through in the hope that it might be helpful to others just beginning the self-publishing journey.

My next project, The Muse Spa, I’m planning as an online course but I’m also tempted to create a book proposal for it. I’ll use Danielle LaPorte’s Big Beautiful Book Plan as my guide (can’t wait to play with that!)

I’ll see how it develops and also see what my agent thinks about it working as a ‘real’ book. Watch this space!

 

 

You mentioned having more targeted PR in the future….could you expand a bit on what you meant and what you’d do differently?

More targeted PR for me means not just trying to get any publicity in any channel.

I’ll be selective about whether or not the audience is likely to be interested. I know the old maxim; any publicity is good publicity, but I plan to spare myself the heartache and tears of being rejected and criticised by people who I’m not right for.

I think the most successful marketing is simply finding where your right people will be, and then connecting with them.

I’m learning fast that focused efforts in the right places are so much more effective than scattershot publicity, ie just trying to reach everyone and anyone – regardless of whether or not they want what you’ve got.

 

 

How many blogs do you write and maintain at this point?

In a bid to simplify, I’ve recently moved all my blogging antics to danielleraine.com – though I do keep having ideas about starting new ones…

 

 

How many websites do you have and maintain at this point?

I’ve got about 5 or 6 websites at the moment. Some need some regular attention, whilst others are ticking along quite nicely on autopilot.

I manage them myself using WordPress, which I found quite easy to use (eventually).

 

 

What is your writing schedule like?

Lately it’s great – I’m now doing a mix of ‘my stuff’ and freelance design/copywriting work which leaves me quite a bit of breathing room.

I try to stick to the school hours/days (my boys can get a bit boisterous!), but I do a lot of reading/note-taking/scraps-organising during evenings, weekends etc.

So these days, it’s a happy balance of family, writing and design work. It’s taken me over a decade to find this groove though!

 

 

How do you juggle writing life with family commitments, especially children?

It can be a juggling act but I find the more I make the time to write, the more I find the time to write.

The hardest part is when you slip out of the habit…. Getting back into the flow can be tough. (But it’s always worth the effort.)

 

 

When will your ebook for introvert writers be ready?

My next ebook An Introvert’s Guide to Book Promotion is bursting to be created and will hopefully be ready before the end of the year.

If you’d like to stay in the loop, you can sign up for updates here. (And you’ll also get my weekly Beautiful & Inspiring Creativity Quotes.)

 

 

And finally… can you tell us a bit about the book deals you turned down? And why!

The two book deals I walked away from were both housework-related books.

They required cleaning tips and housework advice – not my specialty at all, I’m afraid. There are far more qualified domestic goddesses out there. Plus, I feel I’ve said all I can about housework blues and I’m over the worst of that particular challenge.

So, for now, I’m turning my attention to my next challenges; unravelling the mysteries of inspiration and the creative process!

 

• • • 

 

 

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For the full scoop of my writing,

self-publishing and book-promotion journey…

• • •

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My rollercoaster ride to becoming a writer.

The highs. The lows. The short-cuts.  

• • •

If you’ve ever wanted to write a book….

If you’d like to shortcut your learning curve….

If you want to truly believe that it’s possible to go from wannabe to successful writer…

This is for you. 

• • • 

>>> Click here for details

 

 

” Smart people learn from their own mistakes.

The really smart people learn from the mistakes of others.”

                             ~ Brandon Mull

 

Celebrate: A habit for life…not just for Christmas.

Celebrate success habit for life

twitter aqua CLICK TO TWEET

Tis the season, once again. Christmas.

Whether you celebrate the religious feast, or the culinary feast – or both (like me) – this time of year is dedicated to all things merry and bright.

It’s a time for focussing on the joyful, turning our attention to the wonderful and celebrating all that’s good.

Depending on your spiritual persuasion, the actual reasons for celebration may vary.

Perhaps you are honouring the arrival of a Saviour.

Or maybe your revelling is a bid to get through the long dark days before the welcome return of Spring.

Or perhaps you just enjoy the carolling and carousing and goodwill to all men.

Either way, the shift of our day-to-day perspective towards the fun stuff is not only a joy, it actually has beneficial effects.

Positivity, generosity, kindness, forgiveness, charity – all these things are good for our own health and happiness.

Whilst the act of celebration has powerful effects on our  psychology – it can influence our future mindset.

Celebrating causes us to become primed toward….causes for celebration!

In other words, The Good Life.

The benefits of celebration apply to increased success, too. (more…)

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