by Jenny Hansen
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 into 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.
Learning is amazeballs. Blogs like WITS, where you can learn and chat with others, help. Learning a language, or just reading about a topic you've always wanted to know.
Exercising clears the brain. Walking, dancing, working out. They all clear out the cobwebs and help me focus.
After you do one or more of these things, you go to your writing space and...
[I totally made that up about cleaning the house.]
Creative Badasses thrive on routine. And deadlines. If you've trained yourself, usually through routine, and have the discipline (or a deadline), you will get after that creative endeavor you dream of.
You've already done the hard part -- the most important part -- you've gotten your butt into that chair in front of your computer. Perhaps you aren't feeling the joy that day, but you're in the game. 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 so he's had to really work for it during this pandemic. He awes me with his power to sit down and do the work.
This man 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.
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 his guitar and perform again. He's one of the best guitar players in the world, and he had to relearn to play the guitar.
He still put out the albums. This year's album, titled Ordinary Madness, is about to release.
His post-hospitalization album, Battle Scars, 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.
Read: An article summarizing Walter's amazing story.
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 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 and channel your inner Creative Badass? 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? Tell us all about it down in the comments!
* * * * * *
By day, Jenny provides corporate communications and LinkedIn advice for professional services firms. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction, and short stories. After 18 years as a corporate 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 Facebook at JennyHansenAuthor or at Writers In The Storm.
Copyright © 2023 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved
I read Walter's story - amazing! And my husband is a blues fan, so I'll check out Walter's albums, too. So Inner Badass, huh? Believe it or not, mine is chronic illness. It forced me from my career 4 years ago and gave me the opportunity to finish my memoir. It jails me at home many days when writing is the only thing that makes me forget my predicament. And when I'm not insired to actually write, there are other activities that move me toward my goal of being published: engaging on social media to "build my platform," researching agents, reading and learning, as you suggested. I've never thought of myself as strong, but about a year ago, I had an AHA moment when I finished my manuscript in spite of all the obstacles. I realized I AM Badass Strong. And that realization puts my butt in the chair every day and won't let me quit.
I love that Karen! So, basically your success at finishing a book has fueled your need to finish other books. How cool is that? Way to find the blessing in chronic illness!
Routine is what saves me, every time. I do my housework right after breakfast every day, before I exercise. Then, when I get back from my walk, or bicycle ride, I sit down to write. I've honed this through the years based on when my brain works best.
Saves my badass.
You are definitely a badass. I knew you write every day...I didn't know you exercised every day! You and Nora Roberts. I just read an article about her routine and, except for the social media, your routines are quite similar.
I'm still relatively new to this whole "author" thing, so offering insights seems premature. However, the one thing I've learned about my writing journey is: Never force it. Don't get me wrong. That doesn't mean I'm not productive. My brain is usually freshest in the morning. New words flow best then. When I sense that it's going to be more like shoving raw meat through a meat grinder to make sausage, I turn away. But I don't turn away from the business of writing. That's when I shift gears and do some marketing or bookkeeping or research. We've all learned that writing in only part of this career that's chosen us. It's essential, surely. But running a business is too. So I capitalize on creative explosions. I feed my muse regularly by reading (often trashy magazines) and watching vintage films while sweating on the treadmill and studying clouds parading across blue skies and dangling my toes in the water from the dock and traveling (Climbed the Great Wall? Check. Swam over the Great Barrier Reef? Yes. Kissed the love-of-my-life atop the Eiffel Tower? Yep. Had a broken heart...a dream come true...kept some secrets? Uh-huh.) I've come to discover that my Inner Badass is really my Outer Badass. Living life. Facing fears. Choosing to walk in the light. Being the light. And, most of all, telling stories that are born when the time is right, not forced by premature delivery.
I like that you reach to new experiences to fill the creative well. I love hearing about your travels...especially right now when we can't go any-damn-where! Write on, my friend. Write on. 🙂
p.s. I try never to think about how they make sausage!
Well said my friend, well said.
Thanks, Polley. 🙂
I'm not sure I have an inner bad-ass. I think it's more of an inner survivor. I seem to have the ability to just grit my teeth and get through whatever is in front of me at the time, then fall apart after the smoke clears. Maybe that's why deadlines work best for me. If my back is against the wall I can do just about anything, but if I have lots of runway I stall until the wall is in my face. I'm kind of like Neo in the Matrix--somehow I usually manage to dodge the bullet at the last possible moment.
But who doesn't want to be like Neo?? I think you DO have an inner badass. I really really do.
Way ahead of you. I NEVER cry about it, not any more.
And if the body and mind can be persuaded that day to be 'on,' more words and more finished scenes are added to NETHERWORLD. If they refuse to kick on that day, I don't sweat it - it doesn't matter, and tomorrow is another day (this happens on the days I exercise the tiniest bit necessary to keep from turning into a statue).
Fear and whining use up an enormous amount of time and energy, and give you nothing back.
Bravo, Alicia! I agree that whining is ALWAYS a waste of time. And good for you, keeping the workout schedule up. 🙂
I'm chuckling. Lately said workout schedule has resulted in huge amounts of excess pain.
As I tell myself: so? The alternative is worse, to become more and more frozen in body. I will keep it - and writing up - as long as I have breath, intention, and control of anything. So there.
Exactly, Jenny. We have to get with it! When I need a kick in the pants I think of a conversation with my grandmother. I told her I had written a book. I was frustrated at the time trying to find a publisher and whining in my head about how hard it all was. She just smiled and said, "You're very lucky." Lucky? I realized later that yes, we who have the freedom to pursue our dreams are lucky, so go to it! :O)
Your grandmother sounds like a wise woman! And how lucky you were to have her in your life for so long. 🙂
*slinks off to office chair*
I need to work on my badassery. Need to sit in the chair and create.
We ALL need to work on our badassery, Denise! That's why we hang out with other writer peeps - they know when to remind us to get to work. 🙂
Walter mentioned that when it's time to get the songs written it feels like it's already done. I am starting to think that is key. If you visualize the work completed, eventually you'll get there.
Having a writer tribe for support and motivation is important. I love each and everyone of mine.
Awesome post, Jenny!
For two decades I've written sketch comedy, humor articles and finally (two years ago) I self published my humor memoir, openly sharing my traumatic childhood.
What makes me a badass is that I finally did it, and as predicted, affected some family members.
What I know: Family is who we CHOOSE.
My comedy troupe is my trust circle. Has been for a couple of decades.
Don't wait to write, to share and to learn.
Thanks for this wonderful article!!