Some of the best advice I ever got

 

BetterGetWriting

No one gets where they are by themselves. Positive or otherwise, we’re all shaped by the advice we choose to take or ignore.

These are some of the best bits of advice I’ve gotten over the years. When I follow it, I do better or at least feel better. Hopefully, you’ll find a bit or two that speaks to you.

Words of wisdom and stuff

Say it straight, then say it great.

Don’t depend on anyone else to inspire you. You have to inspire yourself.

Always go to the bathroom before you go into a meeting.

Have confidence in yourself. If you don’t, then don’t expect anyone else too. Know your worth.

Be your own creative director. Push yourself. Push your work. Push yourself as much as you want. Your director and partners can’t do it for you.

If something doesn’t sell the first time, keep it in your pocket. It might work next time.

Understand how you work. Know your own process. Be your own advocate.

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Creativity gone zombie?

CreativityGoneZombie

(Photo credit: AMC, The Walking Dead, Pilot)

Ever feel like your creative cup has run dry? Like the Sahara Desert, only without the beauty and mystery?

We’ve all been there.

For the past few weeks, I’ve had zero energy, inspiration or give-a-cares to devote to any creative pursuits outside of the fourteen marketing campaigns that are on my To Do List at any given moment. (I’m a copywriter; it’s my job.)

Until recently, I’ve felt pretty crappy about how uninspired I’ve been.

I mean, shouldn’t real writers be writing? Don’t we put a ton of pressure on ourselves to follow our creative passion at all times? I do. I also have a serious case of Imposter Syndrome, so when I’m not writing, I’m even more terrified of being discovered as a total fake.

Worse, if I’m not working on my creative or personal writing, does that mean I’ve turned into one of those ‘writers’ who call themselves writers but don’t actually write and instead just walk around wearing puffy shirts and correcting people’s grammar and wax mysterious when asked about their latest work? (That stereotype came from somewhere and whoever did it, sucks.)

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The day the prompt prompted anger

judgemental-cat-isjudging-lolcatI was stuck. Horribly stuck. For two hours, I tried. But nothing. No words. So I turned to Writers Digest for a creative writing prompt. The day’s prompt: Hello! I’m Captain Jiggles by Brian Clems in honor of Chuck Sambuchino’s new humor book, When Clowns Attack.

At first, I figured why not? I’m as stuck as a constipated slug crawling over tar; this is no time to be picky.

I skimmed the page. “Huh,” I thought. “He also wrote When Garden Gnomes Attack.” I just finished that book. It was cute. I was intrigued about this new offering.

Then I saw it. The dangling carrot of a free book for commenting on the prompt. And I could get a second entry if I tweeted about it? Sign me up!

Only I couldn’t.

I couldn’t comment.

I hadn’t logged in to the site.

Okay, I can roll with that. Pretty standard.

Hey, wait. I don’t already have an account? I’ve been visiting this site for years. I’m a magazine subscriber. Am I really that behind?

Okay, I’ll just create an online account.

Wait a minute. Why won’t it create my account? I just registered. I should be able to comment. Wait! Stop taking me back to your stupid Create an Account page! I just did that! Like five times already! You’re killing me, Smalls!

I JUST WANT A CHANCE AT A FREE BOOK!!!!!!

Oh. I’m already logged in. When did that happen?! AND WHY DID YOU KEEP TAKING ME BACK TO YOUR STUPID “CREATE AN ACCOUNT PAGE”?!?!

Okay, I’m back on the right page. I’m logged in. Here we go.

Wait, why is everyone posting their output from the writing prompt? Am I supposed to do that? What if I don’t want to? What am I supposed to post? Theirs are so good. I’ll look like an idiot.

I don’t want to look like an idiot. I already feel stupid and all I did was register! What the hell? WHAT THE FREAKING HELL?

Long story short, I managed to tweet but not comment. If you can, though, you might be randomly selected to receive one of three free books.

Here’s the link again: Hello, I’m Captain Jiggles

Yes, arguably, I shouldn’t even feel like giving this some free press, but it’s not Chuck’s fault that the Writer’s Digest user experience sometimes sucks. (Or maybe it’s just me but right now my right eye is twitching and quite frankly I think I’ve taken enough abuse for one morning.)

Also, I liked Chuck’s book, When Garden Gnomes Attack. Also-also, this blog is about what happens in the life of a writer, and I’m fairly certain that I’m not the only one who’s suffered deep emotional scars at the hands of confusing UX.

So there’s my altruism for the day.

(Looks up “altruism” to make sure I used it correctly. Yup, we’re good.)

Tip 1: Make sure you’re signed in.

Tip 2: Don’t try this at work. It’ll only confuse your fellow cube dwellers.

What a fellow writer and better novelist just taught me

I'd better get writingLast week a fellow copywriter accidentally sent me his first draft of his work in progress.

(Note to those of you who are new to Apple Air Drop: make sure you know where you’re sending your stuff. And don’t send sensitive materials if you’re practicing.)

We commonly share all kinds of writing and such with each other so of course, I cracked it open and read it. (I didn’t know he didn’t mean to share. Otherwise I would have respected his privacy.)

Reading his work was a wake-up call for me. In many ways. First, he had almost 36,000 words down. That made 99 pages. I still haven’t hit 10,000 words.

This is a man with a full-time job, a wife and a three-year-old. Way busier than I am. They recently found mushrooms growing in their basement. His hands are full.

Yet he still managed to get down half a novel.

Where’s my excuse?

The cat’s looking at me funny.

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5 Creative Myths, Busted

unrealistic idealsI’ll be the first to admit that I’m sometimes insecure as a writer. But lately, I’ve had some eye-opening conversations with my fellow creatives.

Guess what I kept hearing…

Everyone else seems so calm, cool and collected. I’m always so nervous.

How do people come up with this stuff? They’re so creative.

I thought I was the only one who said dumb things.

Everyone else is so interesting. I’m so boring.

These are all educated, experienced professionals. Top-notch professionals whom I greatly admire. So it was a bit of a shocker to hear them express these insecurities.

One even said she admires how well I take care of myself. A surprising statement made more surprising by the fact that I was eating a bacon breakfast muffin at the time.

It’s one thing to read about the struggles of professional creatives online. There’s a separation that somehow makes them seem almost “more than” normal people like us. Even when occasional flying sandbag hits them, still they stand on a bit of a pedestal.

But hearing these insecurities from people I work with and admire makes me realize something — there are some serious myths about creatives going around.

And it’s time to bust a few of ‘em wide open. Continue reading