August 9th, 2017

How To Channel Your Creative Badass

Creativity

You know those perfect writing days, where you float to the page with your creativity on overdrive, and the words just flow? Yeah, me either. I wish I did, but I schlep to the desk and throw myself in the writing seat like everyone else.

What does kick that creative keister to The Chair? How do you channel your inner creative badass?

Caffeine helps.  At the very least it buffs things up with a serious adrenaline turbo charge for my creative self.

Blogs like WITS, where you can learn and chat with others, help.

Awesome conferences where you meet all the cool writers and learn all the cool things...those fill the skill and friendship wells.

And then you go to your writing space...

  • You stare at your page/scene/chapter.
  • You write a little or a lot.
  • You erase a little or a lot.
  • You browse social media.
  • You clean the house.

[I totally made that up about cleaning the house.]

Finally, if you have the discipline (or a deadline), you get after it.

Perhaps you aren't feeling the joy that day, but you're in the game. You're in the chair. You're doing the work, and that's important.

My friend, Walter Trout, is a very successful musician. He loves music and performing, and he adores interacting with his fans. Walter has put out an album every year for 20+ years. Every. Single. Year. Even during the time a few years ago when he was hospitalized with end-stage liver disease, waiting for a transplant

Read: An article summarizing Walter's amazing story.

So, frame that in your head. This guy almost died. He had to fight like a Trojan to get an album done before he was too weak to hold a guitar. Then, after a successful liver transplant (thank God), he had to do PT for almost a year to be strong enough to play a guitar and perform again.

He still put out the albums.

His post-hospitalization album, Battle Scars, was pretty dark, but it reflected the dark experience he'd just survived. Like all of us, he brought his journey to the page or, in his case, the musical score.

One day, several years back, I asked him about his creative process. (He's a true Creative Badass, and enquiring minds wanted to know.)

Me: You’ve made an album a year for twenty years now. What is the creative process that allows you to do that?

Walter smiled at me, a really benevolent cozy smile that made me feel better about bringing work to our Saturday night of fun. And then he said, “I don’t really know.”

Me: WHAT? That’s it? Come on! I thought this music business was different than being a writer. That’s exactly what all my writer pals would say.

He looked at his wife, Marie, who is a major force in his success, and said, “Well she books the studio each year and tells me about three weeks beforehand that I need to write fifteen songs.”

She and I exchanged an eye-roll and I said, “There’s got to be more to it than that.”

Walter: Jen, every year when it’s time to record a new album, I feel like I’ve done it already and those are all the songs I have to write.

He paused a moment and added, "Then I’ll hear my mother’s voice in my head, like she’s right there talking to me: 'Walter, you said you wanted to be a musician; it was what you trained for and practiced at. It was the only thing you EVER wanted. So, get off your a$$ and write some music, and quit crying about it.'"

And he does, every single year.

Don't you want to put the writer's version of that Memo from Mom above YOUR computer screen for those really crappy days?

You want to be a writer.
It’s all you’ve EVER wanted to be.

It’s what you spend all this time on,
training and practicing your craft.

Get off your a$$ and write your page
and QUIT CRYING ABOUT IT.

I'm gonna paste it up somewhere prominent. Who's with me??

What helps you bolster your creativity? Get up your gumption to finish a page that’s going badly? Do you ever feel like you just can’t write another word? What has helped you bust through this fear and get to the other side.

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About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or here at Writers In The Storm.

32 responses to “How To Channel Your Creative Badass”

  1. Laura Drake says:

    Your bud Walter IS a badass! I think I even got the opportunity to meet him once - at your baby shower?

    We all fight this, every day. When I find myself avoiding the chair, I remind myself that the fear isn't real - my brain LIES!!!!!

    My post this month is on this subject, too!

  2. Great post, Jenny! I want to grow up to be a badass writer!! 🙂

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Well JEEZ, Miriam...don't go all drastic on us and think you have to grow up! But definitely keep writing. That's the only thing we have any control over. 🙂

  3. Sandra McHugh says:

    I LOVE Walter Trout's mother's attitude: It's ALL you ever wanted to be; Quit crying about it. Write it already. And his wife's: The studio's booked. You've got three weeks to write fifteen songs to record. From both: Calm expectation is the shared reality. Incredibly supportive springboard.

  4. Kristi Rhodes says:

    Thank you for the funny inspiration. I loved the photo of superman, the badass coffee cup and your wonderful friend, Walter's story. Perfect post for a hump day. Now I'm off to write....

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Right on! I'll take your thanks on sharing Walter's stories, but the photos are all thanks to Laura Drake. She did them for me, because she's the coolest friend ever. 🙂

  5. Posting the Memo from Mom on my computer. Now I'm off to write!

  6. Julie Glover says:

    Wow, thanks for the morning whip-crack to get myself in gear! Lol. Sometimes I think I'm a much better procrastinator than writer, because I've had so much more practice putting off tasks. I'm a pro! But yeah, Walter's example and your words clarify what's gotta happen: You just have to do the work. That's how the books get written. No other way. Thank you!

  7. Awesome and inspiring post! I get stuck a lot but mainly because i have to fit writing into my exhausting schedule. I try to write a little a day now. Coffee definitely helps as well as outlining so I have something to work with on days i'm not inspired 🙂

  8. annawillett says:

    Thanks, Jenny. Great post.

  9. K.B. Owen says:

    Fab post, Jenny! Good for Walter, that's amazing. The only thing that works for me is actually opening up that file and typing more stuff into it, day by day. Not as easy as it sounds, of course! I'm slow, but I still get there.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Laura is that way, where she just keeps plodding on, even when it's slow. Y'all get books finished and that's what really matters. 🙂

    • Laura Drake says:

      K.B., you and me, Babe! My happy place word count is 500. That's it. But you know what? If you do that EVERY day (plus a 10% 'shit happens' factor), at the end of 6 months. you have a completed novel.

      It works. Do the math.

      • Jenny Hansen says:

        I admire this so much. I absolutely freak when all I get is 500 words for the day, but then I don't sit down every single day. This tenacity is just AWESOME.

  10. christopherlentzauthor says:

    If I need a creative ass kicking, I get on my treadmill (yeah, the exercising kind of treadmill) and watch a movie that I haven't before. I study the story's structure, the dialogue, the body language. The other trick I use is eavesdropping. Anytime. Anywhere. Diving into someone else's day/life/conversation can spark all kinds of ideas. My favorite place to drop an eave? Disneyland.

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      That's a super-smart way to kick into gear, Chris. You just do something else! And I would love to see how you do Disneyland...I'll bet you know all the cool places. 🙂

  11. Fae Rowen says:

    Badass one day, pansy the next. I may have a split tortoise/hare personality, but at least I'm still standing...

  12. All I know to do to churn out the words, is think of that great feeling when I reach my daily word count goal - and how dissatisfied I'll be if I don't. I want to go to bed feeling like I gave it my best - even if the words weren't great words - I did my best.

  13. dholcomb1 says:

    I need to give myself a deadline or word count, etc... a friend sent me a planner so I can be more accountable to my time. have used it some, but will be more serious about it in Sept--I have to get two kids in college in the next few weeks.

    denise


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