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Need a Creative Holiday?

I’ve not long finished running a course in writing your own novel and amongst all the advice about planning, writing and editing a novel, I also spoke a bit about when things go pear shaped and then adapting. Currently I have quite a number of projects on the go, including making a zombie card game, oddly enough, and this week our plans were thrown to the wind by the unfortunate illness of a family member.

Without going into any personal details, it has caused me to take on board the words of advice I gave out during the course, namely that writing is there to support life and not the other way round. Not my original words either but a paraphrase of Stephen King. One of the difficult issues when you take on a love of your own such as writing, crafting or even zombie card games, and make it into a business, it is easy to find things becoming a slog or taking such importance that you can end up hating them for how they dominate your life.

I told my writing course that one of the most important processes to master is to separate your business self and your creative self, maintaining a tension between them. Your business head will always look for the money but it’s too easy for the writer to get forced out, become less creative, or to get stressed at producing stories they never wanted to in the first place.

From normal work we always take a holiday during the year to let ourselves recharge and wander off to new things. Sometimes I think we need to do this with our creative selves, let our imaginative processes just happen with no goals in mind for a while. While it might not produce something we can sell or market, it gives the creative a holiday when they can simply indulge in the joy of creating. For a writer, this can be the short story that’s been kicking at you over the weeks, or that character you wish to create that you don’t know if anyone will like, and frankly you don’t care!

Take a creative holiday when it all gets too much and let your art support life before it crushes it.

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Pressure! – Deep in the Self-publishing Groove

Fitting writing in is hard enough at the best of time with a busy family, a normal job and all the other things life throws at you. Hence I write during my lunch break. Edit in the wee hours of the morning. Grab a moment while the kids are at a club and I’m sat in the cafe outside or even at a table.

In earlier days I would have taken my pencil and pad and wrote from the top of my head. Today is similar, except that I use a tablet, with a Bluetooth keyboard and it comes with thesaurus, dictionary and encyclopedia. My work can sit on a cloud or a card that is smaller than my thumbnail. Looking with truthful eyes, I find technology helping me achieve my end, assisting in cutting out extra work.wpid-received_10204171658434333.jpeg

And yet, while I love the fact that I can control so much of my own work, there comes a pressure. Everything seems to need completed at the same time and with the obligatory professional edge. But I am just a writer. Sit me in front of a keyboard or give me a pencil and I’ll knock out a story, without hesitation. It’s in-built. I didn’t become a writer, I was born one. Albeit, I had to learn our code for transmitting the stories first. Not saying I can’t improve because I can, but I am a writer.

But I wasn’t born a publisher. Visual art can be a strange experience. And the nuances of formatting, well let’s say, I am new to them. These things that don’t come naturally add pressure because I feel out of my depth. Even with hired help, I feel exposed. And these extras, these important items, become precious to me because they show off my writing. They help people connect with my core, my work. And hence the pressure comes and I become scared that I am not doing my writing justice with these other items.

But there is a revelation. I can only improve if I first try. “Better to burn out than to fade away,” was said in “Highlander”, the eighties film. Don’t bury your talents to be more biblical. And so one must take the pain to receive the gain as the fitness gurus tell us.

It helps when reading about other authors who had to fight their way to publication. Stephen King comes to mind. I read “About Writing” and initially wondered why there was so much about his own life and not about the writing process. But now, having leapt into the same passion, I get it. The man said it himself.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well. It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over. Getting happy, okay? Getting happy. …this book…is a permission slip: you can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will. Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”
― Stephen KingOn Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

So no matter the pressure, I’ll keep drinking!


G R Jordan author, poet, and top Dad apparently!