Be a good steward of your gifts. Protect your time. Feed your inner life. Avoid too much noise. Read good books, have good sentences in your ears. Be by yourself as often as you can. Walk. Take the phone off the hook. Work regular hours.
This one rings in my brain like a bell because it describes the way I keep the creative juices flowing. I have finished two books this year, Hope Wins and Feisty Aging. I am nearing completion of a third, based on my Turtle Talk photographs and tiny stories. I add stories to This Gives Me Hope three times a week, my other blogs less frequently. I have a memoir in the works and plans for many other books. Keeping up with social media takes another chunk of time. As soon as I finish this, I will head out with my camera to capture some of the beauty of fall. Some of the photographs will illustrate books. Others will appear on social media.
Any project that’s held up in revisions and meetings and general fear-based polishing is the victim of a crime. It’s a crime because you’re stealing that perfect work from a customer who will benefit from it. You’re holding back the good stuff from the people who need it, afraid of what the people who don’t will say.
Stop polishing and ship instead. Polished perfect isn’t better than perfect, it’s merely shinier. And late.
Guilty as charged. I can polish a project so long it is set back weeks, months, even forever. The slightest imperfections (and they are legion) in a project I have released into the world follow me around like a mean-spirited ghost, nattering away. “I knew you would never get it right. What a bozo. Who would want to read it anyway?”
Even when I do an end run around the mean-spirited ghost, I run up against the Dread of Marketing. My inner critics line up with more of the “who do you think you are?” crap, accompanied by my inner procrastinator, who can come up with a gazillion excuses to put off telling people about the work I really want to share. (Seriously – I do want to share it.)
So the smile on my face lately as I have sat down at the computer to start planning the marketing of those first two books of the year is wildly improbable. But it is real. I am enjoying some light bulb moments, thanks to practical advice from people like Joanna Penn, Derek Murphy, Joel Friedlander, Joseph Michael, and Mike Balmaceda. They are not the only talented, generous entrepreneurs who have nudged me forward, but they are some of the best for writers wanting to get their work out there.
I am not the only writer, or creator of any stripe, who would rather be working on the next project than spending hours figuring out how to turn the work I love into something that helps pay the bills. But here’s the thing. We have all received spirit-lifting gifts from writers, photographers, artists, and performers of all kinds. It would be ungrateful not to let our fledgling creations take wing and fly. A page of a book, the chorus of a song, a particular photograph may be the gift that eases another’s heart or inspires her to release her own creative outpourings.
The inner critics and foot-dragging procrastinators in all of us will do their best to silence us. They are, after all, just our vulnerable, uncertain selves. Give them a hug. Then do the work, and share it widely. The world needs your unique vision. Spread your wings and fly.