Before I get started on this month’s post, I wanted as promised to give everyone a quick update on how my first month of indie publishing Georgiana Darcy’s Diary has gone. Obviously there are a LOT of authors out there who are either pursuing or considering the independent publishing route. And besides that, I tend to think J A Konrath has a point when he says that we should all be more open about sharing hard core numbers. So in that spirit and in the hopes that it may be helpful to other authors out there wondering whether the indie route is for them, I’ll tell you that in it’s first month of sales, Georgiana Darcy’s Diary has been priced at $2.99 and earned me just about $800 (That’s 70% of the total sales, as per Amazon and Barnes&Noble’s royalty rates). So far this month sales have been growing, and I’m on track to earn roughly one and a half times that much in the second month. As a starting point, I’m very, very happy and grateful. And of course thank you so much to all WU readers who bought copies!
Anyway, on to my topic for this month, which is feeding your creativity.
Like I’m sure most mothers of young children, my personal time is, shall we say, limited. With my baby and my older girl (who we homeschool), ‘personal time’ typically means that I’ve gotten to take a shower. Of course I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I’m so lucky to get to do my dream job while also staying home with my girls. And I kept telling myself that for right now, writing has to be the sum-total of my creative outlet, my only real focus apart from the kids, even if that means doing nothing else and never leaving my house. (Seriously. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve driven somewhere without my kids in the last two years. And I can tell you exactly how many adult conversations–apart from with my husband, of course–I’ve had without my girls being present: two).
But after a year or two of it, I started to go a little stir-crazy, honestly. And more than that, I started to feel just so depleted. I always love writing, but my creativity started to feel like a run-down battery. Dean Wesley Smith has a really, really fantastic post up on his blog currently in which he says, “The creative side, the deep part of our brain, has been taking in story, story structure, sentence structure, character voice, and everything else for a very long time, since each of us read our first book or had a book read to us. It’s that place where our author voice comes from, where the really unique ideas come from.” And then he goes on to say, “The creative side is just a better writer than the critical side, no matter what the critical side tries to tell you. Remember, the critical side has a voice of restraint and worry. But the creative side, as Kris likes to say, is your two-year-old child. It has no voice of reason and no way to fight. But if you let the child just play and get out of its way and stop trying to put your mother’s or father’s or teacher’s voice on everything it does, you will be amazed at what you create.”
But I think that for most of us, that critical side is more vocal than the creative side, and constantly in danger of overpowering the creative parts of our brain. If it’s going to survive all that critical onslaught, our creativity has to be nurtured and fed. Because writing is my job, the critical side of my brain is of course constantly in evidence. And I ultimately realized that meant that regardless of time constraints, I needed to do something–anything–creative, other than writing. I needed to find a creative outlet where the end result didn’t matter, where nothing at all hinged on the outcome. I settled on learning to sew. Which my girls, incidentally, thought was a GREAT idea, since what I wound up sewing was mostly toys for them. Here’s a doll I made for my 4 year old (hair colors picked by her!).
Not exactly going to win prizes at the county fair, but I had so much fun making her and others–and more than that, I couldn’t believe the difference it made in how I felt, just having carved out 20 minutes here and there to do something creative just purely for fun. It absolutely brought a whole new energy to my writing. And, speaking of numbers, literally doubled my daily word-count output from 1000 to 2000 words a day, even though the time I had every day to write was obviously staying the same.
So for anyone feeling like their writing is in a rut or just uninspired and flat, I highly recommend finding some other way to use–and so feed–your creativity. Paint, sing, dance, cook . . . anything at all, just as long as you’re not being judged on the outcome and can just completely let the creative, inner two year old part of your brain run free.
And as a side note, for anyone out there who either sews or wants to learn, there’s currently a really fantastic drive to collect handmade dolls and other toys to the children victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For more info. you can go here.