5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now

And sadly, no, tackling isn’t a football reference in this instance. And y’all, I miss football. I know there’s the draft and pro days and the combine and so on and so forth, but I miss GameDay on Saturdays and a full slate of football games from noon until midnight. At the same time, I’m getting a shit ton done in my creative life right now so I can’t complain too much … Football will be back soon enough! 148 days, 18 hours, and 58 minutes …

Okay, now that I’ve gathered myself together …

I’m working and creating and dreaming and putting into place and changing how I play the game. I’m doing a lot more embracing of change this year, facing my fears than I have in a very long time. (Then again, I got new computer glasses that I’m in love with I can’t wait to put them on). So, I thought I’d share with you 5 Things I’m Tackling In My Creative Life Right Now …

Creative means, according to Merriam-Webster, marked by the ability or power to create … As indie authors, blog writers, indie publishers, content creators, etc … We have an immense amount of power in our collective voices and at our fingertips. We’re limited only by our imagination. I was HUGE limited by my mindset for a long ass time. That’s no longer the case as I continue to learn just how much power creatives do have. Facing the fears, accepting them, and leaning into them to come out on the other side, that definitely takes creative courage and an open mindset. I’m still fighting against my limiting thoughts and I’m making progress every day, often, multiple times a day.

Approval from people who don’t matter … I fight this a lot. I tackle this issue day in and day out. Some voices are louder than others. I do a much better job now of surrounding myself and reaching out to people who have my back, who support me, who let me bounce ideas off them without judgment, who pull me out of my funks, who are constructive and creative in their criticism and not out to see me fall and fail. Seeking approval and advice from some people can and will kill creativity faster than you can say, well, anything. And this is not about competition and outside validation. This is simply about seeking creative guidance and sometimes, there are people, who you and I need to steer clear of or our creative desires and willpower will fly right out the window.

Comfort Zone … Boy. Howdy. I am tackling the creative comfort zone every second it seems. I am facing things that are pushing me out of where I am and where I’ve been. They’re affecting the bottom line and the momentum I had going when I started 2018 with a plan. But I also get stronger each time I take a leap. I believe more in myself when I put myself out there in ways I never thought I would. And sometimes it definitely takes having your hand forced before you’re even remotely ready in order to do the things. Don’t get me wrong here. The fear never goes away, but it when we lean into it, push through it, drown out the negativity of our own minds and that of other’s words, we gain power over it and we’re able to say ‘Bring It On’ even louder the next time.

Using multiple parts of my creative brain … At all times. All day. I’m changing how I approach Lissa Matthews, some from my own desires, and some from outside sources. A new pen name that I’m really excited to play with. She’s going to be a lot of fun when I get a point I can dedicate several hours a day to her. Some creative online business courses. Some of the information isn’t anything new to me, but the ways it’s presented is different and it’s allowing me to push against the frame of mind and limits I’d imposed on myself for years as a writer and creative. And a new venture about helping creatives see their to-do lists in a new light. (I’ll be telling you more about it later). The more I use these creative brain waves, the more creativity I’m dealt and that’s just fine with me.

Falling back into old habits of procrastination … So, yes, on the heels of a lot creativity flowing through me and facing fears, I still have to deal with old habits creeping in. I haven’t been watching television much. Sports, yes. March Madness. Golf next weekend, etc … But television shows? I’ve pretty much ditched them. I still catch a 30min one once or twice a week, but that’s it. I haven’t watched a Hallmark movie in months. Or binged on Netflix. (Though I do have it in my planner that I’m allowed to binge watch Bosch when it returns in April). But television doesn’t serve my business or me. Yes, one could get ideas from it every so often, but not enough to waste valuable time. And I’ll occasionally find myself playing Candy Crush and have to force myself to walk away. I don’t do Facebook much. I’m there only for specific things (a few groups and my Page). Instead, I read more. Business books, female entrepreneurial books, fiction, blog posts, articles that are relevant to what I’m doing, and the like. I’ve gotten to the point I can let my house go if necessary (but not for too long… I can’t work for too long in the equivalent of a college frat house). But putting my business and myself first has helped me add to my creative well and pull myself out of the time sucks. I’m a much happier person now that I’m not wasting so many precious moments on things that mean nothing. The caveat to this is, once again, sports. My son loves sports. Sports broadcasting is what he wants to go into when he goes to college. We watch sports together. It’s something we’ve always done. It’s one of the ways we connect and share time together. It helps that I like sports, too.

What are you tackling in your creative life or in your life in general? Leave a comment below! And have a great Thursday!

~lissa

Dear Readers… February 28, 2017

I… am a writer.

Of novellas.

This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. And damn y’all, I wish I didn’t struggle so much with so many things, especially when it comes to this writing business.

At the same time, with each struggle, whether internal or external, mental or emotional, I learn something new about myself. This is a really good thing. And… by the time I’m 100, I should have my path pretty much figured out.

In all seriousness, though, I have been struggling with relevance in regards to book length. Can I still call it a book if it’s a novella? Do I call it a story? Is it worth publishing? Charging for? Is it worth even bothering at all?

I have written short short stories before… 3000-5000 words.

I have written longer short stories, too… 10000-15000 words.

I have written many novellas… 18000-40000 words.

I have also written 45000, 50000, almost 60000 words.

That novella line though… more than 25 of those in the years I’ve been publishing.

There are some authors who make a really good living writing novellas. They publishing 10 or so a year. They charge $0.99 for them most of the time. And they’re usually part of a series, released in quick or at least methodical succession. This is something to learn from. Something to watch closely for someone like me who writes novellas.

My writing productivity has fallen off the last few years as all of you know. Self publishing has made me incredibly uncomfortable and doubtful in my ability to write. While it’s giving many authors a sense of power, it’s given me a great deal of anxiety and stress and way too many ‘what the fuck am I even doing anymore?’ moments. This has to change. There is no choice, no other option but for it to change.

And as the two big small press publishers have closed their doors in the last 60 days and the books that had been published with them revert back to me… It’s the majority of my catalog. 15 titles between Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. I have several titles that have reverted to me from Loose Id as well. All of them… there’s 18 in total… They’re novellas.

It’s my preferred length. That’s obvious.

I can write longer. I can write shorter.

But there’s a lot that can be done with novellas. It’s something I’d forgotten. It’s something I’d pushed to the back of my mind in the face of conversations that talk only of the success and desire for novels of 70000-120000 words. I don’t write that. I don’t even read that most of the time anymore.

Then, I began looking again at those who do write novellas and who do find success with them. And I remembered a conversation I had with someone in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds division about the success that writers are having writing novellas in different worlds.

I suddenly felt foolish at having doubted myself and what I wrote. For years I made money and wrote a lot of words in a lot of different stories that touched a lot of different people who still talk about those characters and want them.

So, yes… I… am a writer.

…Of novellas.

And that’s pretty damn awesome. It took me a long ass time to come back around to that realization. And it’s a strength, not a weakness as I was trying to convince myself it was, as others tried to convince me it was. Maybe for those writers, it is their weakness. But it’s not mine.

~lissa

Dear Readers… January 17, 2017

I think I’m going to take a page put of Kathleen Kelly’s book in You’ve Got Mail and begin as though we’re in the middle of a conversation… Or, maybe I’ll just talk. Or maybe… Who knows…

I’ve been writing and wondering and second guessing every word, every phrase, every scene. Time is really of the essence and I don’t have it to waste. This is a busy writing year. Or supposed to be.

See, I’m going to end something in a way that will pass off the majority of people who read it. That’s just all there is to it.

It’s like in Stranger Than Fiction. Emma Thompson’s character Karen is at a point in her novel where she doesn’t know how to kill off her main character. She doesn’t believe in writer’s block, but she’s struggling to land on the death of this man.

I was struggling, too. Not on how to kill a character, but on how to end a book.

How do you end something when you never intended it to be what it became? How do you do that without passing people off? The truth is, you can’t. I can’t.

People will hate it. Readers will be disappointed. Upset. And that’s rather daunting for me and perhaps other writers as well. To know that I’ve written a tale that has made someone else FEEL something.

But if those who read it, dislike it… Then I’ve done my job. Then I’ve stayed true to what had evolved across the pages. Do I want that? To have my words disliked, my work reviewed harshly? No. I’d rather people love it. It’s much easier when they love it than when they hate it. At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.

Staying true to the work, to the words, to the characters… That’s my real duty. And once I freed my brain of the knots holding my creativity hostage, the What if’s, the Maybe I should’s, the Oh no, I can’t do that’s… That’s when I landed on what I am supposed to do, what the characters and events are leading me toward.

After all, it’s their story. Not mine. Not yours, the readers. But the story belongs to the characters.

One of my favorite lines in yet another movie, Wonder Boys, a classmate says of another’s writing, “He respects us enough to forget us. And that takes courage.”

I’ve quoted that line before on the blog and it has relevance here again.

I respect everyone who reads my books. I respect their opinions, whether good or bad. But I can’t write the story anyone else wants. I can’t only write the story that belongs to the characters who’ve come to life through me.

~lissa

 

(Movie images courtesy of IMDB)

Let’s Talk Writing and Fear

Because let’s face it, there’s a crapload out there to be fearful of when it comes to writing:

Failure

Success

The success or failure of other writers

Falling behind the curve or being way ahead of it

Writing great stories

Writing craptastic stories

What are other writers saying

What if other writers aren’t saying anything at all

Doing it right or doing it wrong

Being different

Being the same

And there are countless more fears… We all share some level of the same fears, but we also share some level of more personal ones. None of it feels good. Fear can motivate and fear can paralyze.

I’ve talked about fear some this year, and it would seem that while I thought maybe I’d admitted most of my fears, it turns out I was wrong.

BEARINGTHEINKFINAL-USA150I promised a book by the end of October and I didn’t deliver. Then I promised it by the end of the year and I didn’t deliver. I then promised it by the first week of February and still nada. So, while I’ve been working on this book, I’ve not finished it. And part of the reason for that, is fear. I’m scared.

Are you wondering why?

When I started working in the Southern Shifter Kindle World, I had only planned one book, Ink To Bear. Then, I was asked if I’d write another one. I said yes and added on to Gus and Bex’s story with Inked By The Bear, which ended in a bit of a cliffhanger. I didn’t want to leave it for long, but I did have other commitments to finish at the time, and I worked on it. Real life bit me in the ass HARD and I lost all sense of time beyond exhaustion; mental, physical, and emotional. I didn’t have anything else in me. I had no creative spark. I’d sit down to write and end up going to bed instead. I looked to all the things going on and I just couldn’t do it.

Now, when I was writing Inked By The Bear, and hearing a lot of other voices in my head, I got a wild idea to connect all myInkToBearFinalUpdate-USA150 bear worlds into one big conspiracy. I drew no frills diagram on my whiteboard. I started playing with how to connect things in my brain. It consumed me and I was ready to spend the next few months on this.

Then life happened. Then the holidays happened. Then deep thinking happened. Then new directions happened.

And in the midst of all that, fear happened. What the hell was I thinking? I couldn’t connect different worlds like that. I couldn’t pull off something that big. I didn’t and don’t like reading things that intricately woven together, how on Earth was I going to write something so intricately woven together? I wasn’t a paranormal romance author. I don’t watch all the paranormal shows. I don’t read all the paranormal romance books. What the hell was I thinking? I didn’t and don’t have people I can turn to and ask for help in plotting such a massive over-arching storyline.

Those were just some of my thoughts. There were others. The point being, Bearing The Ink isn’t finished and part of it is because of fear. Fear that I wouldn’t measure up. Fear that I would fuck it up. Fear that I would tank more than I usually do. Fear that other writers would laugh and mock. Fear that they wouldn’t even notice. Fear that readers would hate it. Fear that I would hate it. Fear that I would fail. The thought of succeeding never entered my mind so I couldn’t be fearful of it. I was and am very scared and it paralyzed me.

INKEDBYTHEBEAR-USA150Paralyzed. Past tense.

I’m still fearful. In fact, I’m scared shitless. But I’ve been scared shitless since the beginning of the 2016. I’m writing contemporary in a new voice and trying new things. I’m looking at marketing a little differently. I’ve walked away from a couple of projects. And I’ve begun working hard on Bearing The Ink again. All of it scares me. Every bit of it. The fear of screwing up, of making a fool of myself, of failing freaks me the fuck out and I truly want to go crawl into a hole. But, I’m not going to. I’m going to do this, no matter what. I’m going to deliver the book. I’m going to continue writing. I’m going to figure it out.

And if you’re along for the ride, hold on.

If you’re waiting for Bearing the Ink, please hold on just a little longer. You won’t be disappointed.

~lissa