Category Call to Adventure

How to spend less time procrastinating and more time writing – 4 steps to finally start writing

Are you under the Tantalus curse?

If you stroll around your day, tantalized by every little thing that stops you from writing, listen up. In this article, I’ll show you how to beat procrastination and finally start writing for good.

I’ll give you the magic potion to beat the Tantalus curse.

Tantalus was banished to the underworld by his father, Zeus, as a punishment. There, he waded in a pool of water, a branch ripe with fruit above his head.

When Tantalus reached for it, the fruit moved away. When he bent down to drink the water, it receded. He would never quench his thirst nor satisfy his hunger.

This was his curse: to always reach for things he desires but never grasp them.

Does it sound familiar? The ancient Greeks sure knew how to tell a story about the human condition.

We are constantly reaching for something: more money, more experiences, more knowledge, more status, more stuff.

But what does it have in common with procrastination?

I want to challenge you to view this story from another angle: What would have happened to Tantalus if he had just stopped reaching?

He was already in hell. He was dead. And dead people don’t need any food or water. Why did he always keep reaching for these things, things he didn’t really need?

The real curse is not that Tantalus spends all eternity reaching for things just out of reach, but his obliviousness to the truth that he doesn’t need those things.

The real moral of the story is that Tantalus was blind to the fact that he didn’t need those things after all.

That is the problem with procrastination. We reach for things we don’t really need, but at this very moment, we are convinced that we do.

Thankfully, we’re neither in hell nor dead – a good start to take a step back, and be honest with yourself.

Before you get the magic potion and learn how to start writing, here are the four steps you need to take to stop procrastination.

Step #1 to start writing: Set aside dedicated time

‘If I know how you spend your time, then I know what might become of you.’ Goethe

Let’s start with the obvious. If you wander through their day without even strategically planning a dedicated time for story writing, you’ll never write.

Researchers in Great Britain found that one simple act raises the success rate to 91%. One that takes less than a minute.

The implementation intention.

It describes is a plan you make beforehand of when and where to act.

All you need to do is write down the following sentence:

„I will write at [TIME] in [LOCATION].“

Sounds incredible? It’s research!

You need to set aside a time and location to write. Many beginner writers just rely on finding the time somewhere in the day. It won’t happen.

Instead, use the technique of Timeboxing and create a weekly calendar where you dedicate your time to writing in a very strategic way.

If you don’t commit to writing, don’t write down the exact time and place you want to write, you’ll never write. Simple as that.

But when you’re like most writers, you’ve set aside the time. Full of story writing ideas, you sit down at your desk… only to start googling stuff you need to research for a book.

The mundane suddenly is fascinating. Whatsapp messages start coming in. Important emails. Your stomach grumbles. How could you concentrate when you’re hungry?

The clock ticks.

The page remains blank. White as a cute baby butt.

Step #2 to start writing: Acknowledge the resistance

Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote in 1863, ‘Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.’

You thought of a polar bear, didn’t you?

What’s more interesting: Research found that those who are allowed to think of the polar bear think less about it than those who don’t.

Flight attendants on long flights have less craving to smoke than those with a flight stop-over. What does this tell us?

How we look at things matters.

The more we try to flee from the resistance, the more it will drive us to procrastination. Instead, we need to acknowledge that there is this uncomfortable feeling.

Bricker’s study had helped thousands of people quit smoking. In this study, he suggests the following steps that can also be applied to writing:

1. Notice the sensation.
2. Write it down.

Also, acknowledge that resistance is normal. In his book War of Art, Steven Pressfield even says that resistance is a good sign.

„Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates to the strength of Resistance. Therefore the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul. That’s why we feel so much Resistance. If it meant nothing to us, there’d be no Resistance.”
― Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles

After acknowledging resistance and the fact that it’s normal, there is another step that will give you power over it: Understanding.

Step #3 to start writing: Understand the deep-seated issue – What’s your discomfort?

Procrastination is a flight reaction.

Your brain would do anything to avoid discomfort. So it flees to distraction. It pushes away the uncomfortable sensation the blank page evokes.

But where does this discomfort come from?

It can be a deeper-seated issue. Insecurities about your skills. Financial worries. Family crisis.

Don’t be afraid to look deeper into the root of your resistance, because you might find things you need to deal with in order to resolve it.

But if you are the fortunate human who lives in the most prosperous day of age, and still resistance snatches you, know this: We are wired for this. You might never find this place of full and complete satisfaction, at least not for long.

# Your hardwiring

„Studies have found people are more likely to recall unhappy moments in their childhood, even if they would describe their upbringing as generally happy.“ – Bir Eyal, Indistractable

Somehow, we tend to stick to the bad memories, forgetting the good ones. This is called negativity bias. Yes, it has a name.

As does our tendency to keep thinking about bad experiences, over and over again. *He said this mean thing about me, and they didn’t accept my proposal…* and on it goes. The term for this is rumination.

But the worst of all is Hedonic Adaptation.

Did you know that people who won the lottery report that things they have previously enjoyed now lost their appeal?

Hedonic Adaptation describes the tendency to return to the base level of satisfaction, no matter what happens to us in life. Don’t throw your hand up in frustration and curse the gods yet.

It’s a good thing.

This way, we are always motivated to strive for more. Be better. Discover new things. If not for Hedonic Adaptation, we would still live in caves and poop into the mud.

Use your hardwiring for motivation. Instead of fleeing, understand the root of your discomfort. If you can, deal with it. If not, use it to become a better writer.

As the eighteenth-century English writer Samuel Johnson put it, ‘My life is one long escape from myself.’

He totally got us.

Step #4 to start writing: Find new ways

One of the hardwiring problems I didn’t mention above is a huge source of discomfort.

Boredom.

Contrary to the assumption that we flee when we encounter the unknown, boredom can actually trigger a much stronger discomfort.

Knowing what and how is about to happen. Doing a monotonous task.

You might not think of writing this way, but your fear and resistance might actually come from boredom.

The best way to start fighting procrastination is seeing the task in a completely different light.

Remember what we established above? How we look at things matters.

Instead of seeing the labor, the countless hours of insecurity, see the fun in writing. Allow yourself to experiment.

Find the novelty in your process.

You could write in another place – on a cruise ship or in a meadow; use dictation while taking a walk, or write your story completely out of order, or do collaborative writing. Bring in new weird characters and open yourself to ideas that seem bonkers.

Just spice the process up. Do interesting things. Change up the scenery, and see writing as an adventure, not a task you must complete with iron discipline.

Finding new ways will help you avoid the discomfort of boredom and instead see the novelty in writing.


So here are the fours steps again:

#1 Make time for writing
#2 Acknowledge the resistance
#3 Understand where it’s coming from
#4 Find new ways to approach writing

So what’s the magic potion to beat the Tantalus curse? To stop procrastinating and reaching for things we don’t really need?

The potion is the 10-minute-rule.

When you feel resistance coming, distraction crawling your way, and feel the urge to succumb to something that will distract you from writing, give it ten minutes.

Allow yourself to indulge in whatever you want to – but only in 10 minutes. Because once resistance appears, and you still press on, relieved by the sense that you will be able to do it later (in only 10 minutes), you’ll likely forget about the distraction.

So when you sit down, feel the urge to procrastinate, acknowledge it for what it is and give it ten minutes to subside.

Unlike Tantalus, you have better things to do than to reach for the emptiness. You are a writer. Trust the passion for your work to pull you towards writing.

What are your strategies to beat procrastination? Share them in the comments below!

Story writing ideas: 5 hacks to beat the blank page forever

The lies we tell ourselves every day are deep-seated.

Thank you, society.

Myths and misconceptions about ideas and creativity are so deeply rooted in our thinking that we barely recognize them anymore.

“I’m not a creative person.” – as if Hemingway was born with pen and paper.

“I just can’t come up with a good idea.” – as if it’s supposed to drop from the sky, and sorry: ideas are just not on the forecast today.

Waiting for a story idea to randomly hit you is like hoping to solve a mathematical problem by taking a Tango dance class.

A mystical magic fog surrounds the notions about great story ideas, as if only “chosen” people are blessed with them.

Ironically, it’s never you. It’s the Hemingways and Tolstoys and J.K. Rowlings.

And this is a treacherous lie.

What if you could train your brain to come up with great story ideas every single day? What if you’d never have to fear the blank page again?

Throw away all of your misconceptions. Clear the stinky fog around story ideas. These five scientific hacks will teach you the process of coming up with great writing. They will show you how you can become the master of your author journey, not a victim of society’s myths.

Ready to take your story writing ideas to the next level?

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1. Story writing ideas need a mental inventory

“Instead of working systematically at the job of gathering raw material we sit around hoping for inspiration to strike us.” A Technique for Producing Ideas, James Webb Young

The first step to understanding the idea process is a mental pool of information to draw from.

You need a library of content ranging from pottery classes, shark attacks to conspiracy theories.

An “idea shop” – as author R.L. Stine calls it – is a collection of your experiences, knowledge and memories. James Patterson recommends “having a vast universe of stimulation”.

Your mental inventory is a habit developed through effort. But it’s also an exciting lifestyle to live!

Forget the crazy writer sitting in his dungeon, typing words, days on end until his fingers bleed. A true storyteller equally spends time in the world – exploring places, ideas, people and crafts.

Now you have an excuse to binge your favourite TV shows, travel the world, try exotic dishes and stare at people in the coffee shop – all for the sake of becoming a better storyteller.

It’s natural to think about yourself and your little worries and problems when you wonder about your daily life. Fight this instinct. Look, listen, become a sponge soaking in everything around you.

Your ideas will come from the places you least expect it:
A couple arguing at the airport line. A child asking his mother a peculiar question while waiting for the bus. The slogan on a street poster. A smell triggering a childhood memory.

Targeted research falls into the same category. If you have a rough idea what you want to write about, widen your horizon with books on that topic, travel places, watch films and do online research.

Every morning, before you leave the house, get into the mindset of filling your mental inventory with new information.

2. Synthesia: story writing ideas through combination

A “new” idea is nothing but an innovative combination of old elements.

Step two is what scientists call Synthesia: an original combination of things you know. Now you see why you need such a vast library of information.

In a presentation, neuroscientist Dr. Vilayanur S. (V.S.) Ramachandran explores how creative individuals associate particular numbers and/or letters with colours (referred to as colour-graphemic synesthesia).

“Synesthesia is eight times more common in artists, poets, and novelists. Why would this be the case? This is the basis for creativity – linking seemingly unrelated ideas, concepts, or thoughts.”

Filmmaker Kirby Ferguson urges people to let go of this romanticized idea of “originality.” Ideas don’t come out of thin air; your subconscious is processing all these influences from memories, education and experiences.

Designer Andrew Vucko, argues: “Originality comes from making connections. Seeing patterns where others see chaos. Taking old ideas and elevating them to new perspectives.”

The movie Alien was pitched as „Jaws in space“. „District 13“ combines elements of documentary filmmaking with the bizarre idea of aliens living as refugees in South Africa.

Now that you’ve filled your mental inventory, make Synthesia work for you.

Practice it by taking a common storyline and giving the idea a completely new twist, combining it with other elements that might even seem bizarre.

Exercise Synthesia with short stories and don’t be content with the first thing you come up.

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3. Three effective ways to train you story writing idea muscles

#1 Trick your subconscious in the morning

Mornings are when our subconscious is the most active. This is your most productive time for creative output and there are effective exercises to trick your brain into subconscious originality.

One is a simple method suggested by James Scott Bell: Write 350 words first thing in the morning.

Another is the morning pages — three pages of free writing without censoring yourself.

Writers and creatives swear upon those methods to be not only therapeutical but also hidden goldmines for ideas.

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#2 Creativity through stress

Time pressure can inspire people to come up with genius ideas. Why? Because it silences your greatest enemy — the inner critic.

Other forms of stress accomplish that as well: juggling multiple projects, working on tight deadlines, setbacks and failures. Stress, in small doses, motivates your brain towards specific goals.

“If people and companies feel that they have a real deadline, they understand it, they buy into it,” Amabile wrote in a Forbes article. “They understand the importance of what they’re doing, and the importance of doing it fast — and if they’re protected … so they can focus, they’re much more likely to be creative.”

As a writer, you need to create this form of stress for yourself. It’s often easier if you can hold yourself accountable with a deadline: to your editor, your street team, your readers. Take your own deadlines very seriously.

Putting on two hats of the creative employee and your own draconic CEO can be helpful — even at the danger of schizophrenia.

story writing ideas through stress

Be careful with stress though. Know the fine line between positive pressure and burnout. There can be a lot of pressure for writers out there – financially, productively, always measuring up with Amazon algorithms, marketing strategies and comparisonitis.

Never lose sight of why you wanted to be a writer in the first place — telling great stories and having creative freedom.

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#3 20 bad ideas

Drop your standards and think of 20 bad ideas

Studies at MIT and the University of California Davis have shown that the sheer volume of ideas inevitably produces good ones along with the bad.

Seth Godin wrote about the importance of producing a lot of bad ideas. Entrepreneurs, writers and musicians all fail far more often than they succeed, but they fail less than those who have no ideas at all.

„Someone asked me where I get all my good ideas, explaining that it takes him a month or two to come up with one and I seem to have more than that. I asked him how many bad ideas he has every month. He paused and said, “none.”“

Don‘t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid of bad ideas. Gold is filtered from large amounts of sand.

Use these exercises to train your idea muscles daily, whether you do morning pages, write down 20 bad ideas or put yourself on tight deadlines.

This way, ideas will come to you with the snip of a finger.

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story writing ideas can be bad

4. Instant story writing ideas by triggering habits

Your creativity is a shy animal.

It always peaks out to check for a safe environment before it fully emerges. This is why you need to create a safe haven for your creative child to play.

If you set time aside regularly, it will signal to your brain that it’s safe to work on creative ideas. Triggers like a particular space, a daily cup of coffee or other repetitions set a habit loop in motion. According to research, our creativity is affected even by the temperature and noise around us.

What is the best time to set aside for ideas?

Scientist Mirjam Muench compared two groups of people, one being exposed to daylight, the other to artificial light over the course of several work days.

“Compared to the afternoon, people who had DL (Daylight) were significantly more alert at the beginning of the evening, and subjects who were exposed to AL (Artificial light) were significantly sleepier at the end of the evening.”

Too much artificial light or poor lighting conditions led to “sleepiness” and a significant drop of cortisol levels, alas more stress and destabilized energy levels.

Being creative in the early morning has not only proven beneficial for authors and artists but is scientifically more sustainable and productive.

“I’m not a morning person.,” you might argue.

But this is only a limitation you set for yourself in your mind.

It’s a habit. And habits can be altered.

If you train your brain to work in the morning, while the birds sing with the first sun rays and the house is quiet – no phone buzzing, no mailman ringing the doorbell, no kids jumping all over you – you will catch the magic of the early fairies and it will provide you with ideas made out of gold dust.

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5. Story writing ideas through distraction

While working in the patent office, Einstein experienced the most successful years of his career. He published three papers that would change the course of science for generations to come.

Why do the best ideas pop up in our minds during random activities like showering or exercising – or working at a patent office?

Alice Flaherty, one of the most renowned neuroscientists researching creativity, says the answer is: dopamine. The more dopamine is released, the more creative we are.

“People vary in terms of their level of creative drive according to the activity of the dopamine pathways of the limbic system.”

All activities that make us feel great and relaxed provide the brain with an increased dopamine flow. But that’s not all there is.

Another crucial factor is a distraction, says Harvard researcher Carson:
“In other words, a distraction may provide the break you need to disengage from a fixation on the ineffective solution.”

This requires thinking long and hard about a problem first. Distraction then turns on the “incubation period”, as scientists call it: Your conscious mind can let go of those problems for a while and make your subconscious work.

So while you go about your day, it will bring back unexpected solutions into the conscious mind that feel like the kiss of a muse.

That’s what happened to Einstein. And that’s what will happen to you if you stop obsessing about the ideas and let them go after an intense period of research and pondering.


Great story writing ideas do not depend on the favour of the creativity gods. They don’t come by chance.

This is great news.

It means that you can implement the best practices above in your daily life that will nurture your author journey with constant ideas. No more dread of the blank page, which essentially is a blank mind. No more writer’s block.

Daily best practices – like a creative morning routine – can mean the life and death for your author success.

If you want to know what other daily routines will make you succeed as a creative and how to implement then, download my free “Journey of Desire” routines workbook.

Hidden Content

The “Prometheus” Idea

“If Prometheus was worthy of the wrath of heaven for kindling the first fire upon earth, how ought all the gods honour the men who make it their professional business to put it out?” – John Godfrey Saxe

Dystopia – done carefully – can kidnap us into a story world which incredible depth. At least this is what happened to me countless times. “The Hunger Games”, “The Handmade’s Tale”, “Brave New World” or “The Giver”.

I wanted to break the current trend of the young adult dystopian book, returning to the roots while transferring them into the modern world.

Dystopian novels have the power to reveal new worlds, interesting characters, deal with science, politics and be critical while not imposing. If the world is created with enough plausibility and a strong concept, deep and multi-layered characters, it has the potential for a highly thematical page-turner.

So let me invite you into the journey of the Prometheus Prophesy, the fire brought unto mankind and the idea that lies behind it.

There are three ingredients that compose the Idea of the Prometheus Trilogy. Let’s start with the most obvious one.

 

The Prometheus Myth & its meaning

Prometheus is a titan in the Greek Mythology who created mankind from clay. He defied the gods by stealing fire from heaven and bringing it down to humanity, enabling progress and civilization.
For this transgression, Zeus sentenced him to an eternal punishment. He was bound to a rock, where each day an eagle was sent to feast on his liver. As Prometheus was immortal, each day, the liver would grow back to be eaten again and again.

This myth had found its way throughout the centuries to art, poems and stories, music and even science, signifying the theme of invention, discovery and scientific-progress (for example the name of the sixty-first element, promethium). In political terms, he symbolizes revolution and freedom from suppression. Several connections to the Bible have also been considered because Prometheus is seen as the “creator” of humankind.

 

A dystopian novel with a strong male protagonist

Dystopian novels are often characterized by young adult protagonists, mostly female. I wanted to break this cliché and work with a strong male protagonist in his late twenties/early thirties. I intended the series of novels to become a story about themes of science, morale and politics rather than focusing on coming-of-age.

I chose Adama (the first man), a red-haired doctor who had a military background and was in the middle of questioning his life and his values. From own experiences and the people around me, I wanted also to focus on the quarter-life-crisis which is not very often discussed in novels but is a huge deal for most people around thirty.

 

The Fascinating Highlands of Scotland

Braveheart, Merida. Those movies tear at something deep down inside of me. They evoke a feeling of nostalgia. Since I visited the Highlands for our book trailer shoot, I knew that I wanted to explore this region, it’s culture and the fascinating nature. This is why the Highlands have become a place that is very central in the Prometheus Trilogy.

I myself grew up in the mountains of Middle Asia, so I am a mountain child.
Still, the Highlands are very special. Their beauty evokes something mystical, a secret and an invitation to explore – if you dare.

Historical and Science-Fiction elements

To predict and understand the future, we have to throw a serious look into the past. I am fascinated by history, and I wanted to bring in historical elements into a futuristic world of Prometheus.

In 1887 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, said this about the fall of the Athenian Republic: “A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. […] with the result that every democracy will finally collapse […] always followed by a […] The average of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been 200 years.”

Consider this: Hitler and Stalin are only 70 years away. North Korea has a dictatorship next door.
This society seems so progressed that dictatorship or any other form of political suppression seems madness. But history proves that this is only realistic.

I incorporated elements from those dictatorships, like labour camps and media propaganda, trying to see how this would work in a society of a modern world – a hidden dictatorship with freedom on the surface. A merge of futuristic and historical elements is what I was striving for in the Prometheus Trilogy, deriving from patterns of the past and the predictions of scientists for the future.

 

From those elements, the Prometheus Saga was born.
Let me know if you have any thoughts. Have you read the first book already? Don’t miss the opportunity to get the free prequel novella that deals with themes of future science and explains the origins of the world as well as Adama’s past.

How to be creative and why you should

The 10 steps to happiness

Creativity is contagious.

Everybody dreams of creating something meaningful.
When I speak to people about being creative, they seem to light up after a while, fueled by their own ideas, musings, and ponderings of what they always wanted to do.

But the fire expires quickly.

Why? Because there are no sparks. No fuel. And no faith.

There is one thing I am convinced of: If you want to lead a fulfilling and happy life, you need to create. You need to be creative.

I want to give you 10 simple steps that will change your life if you let them.

But first, I want to explore why it’s important to be creative, and why everybody should create, no matter if you’ve always thought of yourself as an analytical, cynical or logical person. You are meant to create.

Let me tell you why.

Creativity is contagious. Click To Tweet

The misconception about creativity

Creative.

What kind of person do you associate with that word?

Most have instantly a crazy artist in mind, a chaotic person, someone who is constantly fueled with ideas. Not a businessman. Not a scientist. Certainly not a mathematician.

But think of Michelangelo – one of the most genius artists and sculptors of all time. He was secretly a passionate scientist (because it was forbidden in his time). Those two things do not contradict each other.
I love being creative. I’m also pretty good with math.

The important part about creativity is creating. All of us are creators, whether we invented games and worlds or build Lego castles when we were kids. Creation is in our DNA.

But the difference is that we had faith. We believed in our creations. We thought them awesome, worthy of attention and enriching the world of others.

But as we grew up, we lost faith.

We chose security. We chose doubt in ourselves. We chose pragmatism.

We got caught up in the hamster wheel.

And even when sometimes your creative mind thinks of ideas that make your heart beat faster, you quickly dismiss them because they seem unrealistic, too difficult or you simply “don’t have time”.

And if you want to choose security, chose it. But remember first the time when you had a great idea and were so excited by it that it made the blood pump through your veins faster, and your eyes light up with excitement. When I see this spark in a person, I see their whole being coming alive.

To be creative, you don’t have to paint or compose music. You can write, dance, design a computer program, a class, a project, anything. You are the creator, and whatever you see missing in the world – create it.

It will make you come alive. It will make your hours and days of effort feel electric. And when you’re finished, you will leave a legacy and become so addicted that you will never stop creating.

Aren’t you already excited? Can’t you feel your heart beating, your ideas circulating in your head, telling you: “Well, I’ve always wanted to …”

Don’t postpone it. Take the 10 steps to become creative.

 

1. Make a decision to believe

When talking about creativity, it’s weird to start with something as rational as decision making. But this step is so essential.

In order to become creative, you need to make the decision to act. Now.

Don’t postpone it to “someday”. Stop making excuses. Make the decision to exit the hamster wheel and create.

But there is more to it.
Your decision is first and foremost about what you really believe.

If deep down, you still believe that you’re better off in your day job, stuck in this office, you will never truly be creative.

If you believe that you have nothing to give to this world, or nobody will appreciate it, you will never finish your project to share it.

If you believe that the status quo is better than taking a leap, you never will.

So what is it that you believe in?
There are so many things we believe we don’t even realize. Question yourself. What do you really believe? And decide to believe the truth, which is:

There is something inside of me that the world needs.

People will appreciate my creations.

I am creative.

I want to leave a legacy behind that is capable of making the world around me a better place.

 

2. Take time out of your schedule

How that you’ve made an important decision, you need to sacrifice time.

All of us are given the same amount of time. It’s up to us how we use it.

So it’s a lie if you say: “I don’t have time.” You have it, you just choose to spend it doing something else. And yes, it’s a choice, even if more often than not, it’s not a conscious one.

Take back control of your time. Don’t let it be dictated and stolen by others: your chef, your friends, social media, TV. You are the warden, and it’s time you act like one.

This does not mean that you cannot relax and watch a TV series. But if you’re serious about being creative, you’ll need to understand that you have to sacrifice a daily amount of time and invest it into this endeavour.

Remind yourself why you’ve made this decision:
To lead a fulfilling life. To leave something behind. To change the world around you.

Remind yourself why it’s important, and if you truly believe that it can have an impact, you will gladly make time for it, even if it means to sacrifice.

3. What are the fields of my passion?

Now it’s time to discover what exactly to do in this time you set aside. There are 3 questions you need to ask yourself in order to understand it, and the first is about your passion.

If you could do anything now, live any life and have any job, and money was no issue: What would you do?

What are you ready to do even if nobody pays you?

What are the things you’ve always dreamed of doing in your quiet moments?

Think about it, and write it down, all of your ideas, no matter how crazy they seem. Allow yourself to believe in them now. Let them be shaped into something that could be real after all.

What are the things you've always dreamed of doing in your quiet moments? Click To Tweet

4. What am I good at?

Now, you have certain fields of expertise. You’ve studied or learned something, you have some natural talents.

Look back at your life and analyze it. What have you always been good at? How can you use your knowledge, your life experiences and your studies to advance your creations?

If you really take time to think about it, this will give you incredible insight into your own unique capabilities.

A good idea is also to ask friends and family, this may reveal things you’ve never thought about. Ask your parents what you’ve excelled in as a kid, and friends what qualities and skills they admire about you or think you are good at. Believe me, this can give you incredible input.

 

5. What is missing in the world, and how can I make it better?

The last question is about what the world around you needs. And there is so much noise in this world, many things that people have already thought of. But this is missing.

Be it global, be it something in your community. But you’ve had these thoughts: If we only had this, and this would make it so much better. A void you’ve seen.

Now, combine all of it: your passion, your knowledge, and the void. Where those three overlap, this is your field of creation.

 

6. Do your research

Now that you’ve determined what it is you want to create, you need to do research. Order books, subscribe to blogs and do research to get a head start into what you need to do and how you need to move on.

The fantastic thing about research is that it fuels you with ideas. It’s like an endless web you enter, of ideas that lead to more ideas and more possibilities.

The important thing is to start, invest your time into reading blogs and books and begin to understand what your creative field is about and what you need to do to get started.

7. Immerse yourself in your field of work

Whatever you decided to do, you need to understand that there is a whole world behind it that had existed before you entered it.

Take my field of writing and book publishing:
It’s a massive eco system of principles, rules, people and ideas that had existed, changed and evolved, and still is constantly moving and breathing.

This goes for every field of work, be in business, filmmaking, teaching, psychology, craftsmanship. Everything.

Now you need to learn the rules of this world, understand who is important, what works and what does not, and you need to become part of this complicated world.

Don’t expect it to happen over night. There is a massive history of this living and breathing world, and to become a part of it, you need to immerse yourself slowly into it.

Enjoy the process! It’s like discovering Narnia, a beautiful world full of people, tasks, ideas, principles, and the most amazing thing about it: it’s the world you are passionate about!

 

8. Find friends and motivators – a community

Now that you’ve slowly become a part of this world and know your way around, you need to build a community, be it online or locally.

Meet people who will motivate you. Find online mentors whom you follow. Also, find people who are on the same stage as you are so that you can support each other.

Make sure you never pitfall into competitive thinking, but instead build up and encourage the people around you. There is enough room for every creative person, and as we nourish each other, the world becomes richer.

Your community will also keep you motivated, and nourish the faith into the fact that it’s possible to live your dreams.

When I find myself not listening to any podcast on book writing or marketing over the course of a week, I find my motivation slowly sinking. On the contrary, when I hear of people’s struggles and success stories, I am motivated to keep working.

A community is so important, even for introverts! And you can really find them anywhere: on blogs, in Facebook groups, or maybe next door. Those will be the people that will build you up when your lowest moments come.

Your community will keep you motivated, and nourish the faith into the fact that it's possible to live your dreams. Click To Tweet

9. Make a plan and set deadlines

Now you are nearly fully equipped to start your journey.

But who would embark on such a dangerous adventure without a proper map and route? Unfortunately, many do.

This is why many also fail. They get lost. They get tired, all because there was no plan to guide them.

Don’t make the same mistake. Sit down and take time to plan out your endeavor. Break it down into steps, and give those steps deadlines. Even if self-imposed, deadlines are crucial in order to finish what you started. Take your work and yourself seriously, and make commitments to stick to the plan.

Here also, there is a lot of help found in books and online, crucial tips that will help you form a step-by-step plan. It will likely change over time, but you still have a map and a routine, and this will make sure you reach your destination.

 

10. Create and FINISH at all costs

The time has come. You are fully equipped, and you can start creating.

To reach this step, it really all comes down to step one: the decision to believe.

This is the adventure of your lifetime, but also only the beginning. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t meet your expectations. Know that there will be failure, and maybe even disappointment.

But don#t forget your decision and the fact that the road is as important as the destination, and that this is not the last time you will be creating something.

Have mercy with yourself, and allow yourself to fail as long as you finish what you started, learn something, and embark on a new journey of a new creative project where you WILL be better than the first time. Promised.

The most important thing is: make it your commitment to finish, no matter the costs. Nothing is a s satisfying as having the finished product in front of you, knowing that you overcame the obstacles and demons.

There is something inside of me that the world needs. Click To Tweet

 


So remember: being creative and sharing it with the world is what we are made of. It’s in our DNA.

But the road towards happiness is hard – thank God! How unsatisfying and boring would it be if it was easy? All of us are waiting for an adventure, and adventure means also danger and difficulty. So don’t be afraid of it, embrace it.

Also know that as long as you finish, you will always triumph, no matter the setbacks.

So if you follow those 10 steps, starting with a simple but radical decision, your life will never be the same. Neither will be the world around you.


To learn more about kickstarting your creative adventure, go ahead and download my ebook “CREATE” for FREE.

Three simple questions to discover your creative goals

“The question I ask myself like almost every day is, ‘Am I doing the most important thing I could be doing?’” – Mark Zuckerberg

All of us have dreams. But is this enough?

I had this dream since I can remember dreaming:
To touch and change people’s lives with stories.
It’s an invisible drive, a yearning that lives in every one of us, as unique and individual as we all are.

But soon, I found that a dream can ruin your life.

How life works

The most difficult time started when I finished my studies and began working. Before, there had always been a milestone set for me – finish school, finish the studies, get my Master’s degree. But as soon as all those “classical” milestones were reached, my life felt empty.

My dream still was out of reach.
There was nobody left to tell me what to do with my life. I found myself at an impasse.

I opted for the “safe” way and became a full-time employee in a creative agency. It did not take a month for me to fall into depression.

I hated this job, hated sitting at my desk and working on projects that didn’t interest me, hated having neither time nor freedom to do the things I loved.

The unfulfilled dream was nagging at me from the inside, ruining my life with its teasing whisper that seemed too far away to reach.

The truth is: In school, nobody tells us how the world out there works. Nobody warns us about the emptiness that awaits us. There are only minorities who are fortunate enough to hit their “calling” – their dream job – from the start.

We leave the secure structures of school, and we have to learn the new rules all by ourselves. Only later did I understand that it’s a process that needs time researching, trying out and thinking.

I wish somebody had told me that it was okay instead of putting me under constant pressure.
“So where do you want to work? Have you thought about a retirement plan yet?” – You know those people.

Let me tell you: Life’s too short to wait for retirement. It’s too short to live on the “safe” side (which is, by the way, not really the safe side anymore – the rules are changing).

I am truly grateful for the decision I made three months later: I decided to dive into freelance filmmaking as long as I was still young, knowing full well that the longer I’d wait, the harder it would get. I decided to start a quest for my dream life.

It didn’t give me security. But it gave me freedom.

Life’s complicated. And wherever your dream career is: you need to learn the rules your niche plays by. This requires research, conversations, experiences. This requires an open heart and mind until you find your “sweet spot”. But where exactly is this “sweet spot”? And how do you find it?

Question 1: The mind switcher

I once read one idea that changed my life.

I always had this dream of writing a bestseller or filming a blockbuster. Classic. It’s good to dream big. But what on earth do you do in between this huge dream and while real life happens?

But then I read this idea on not dreaming about one single event in your life because this is not what life’s about. Dream instead about your perfect EVERYDAY life.

Imagine it. How would your ideal morning look like? How would you like to spend your ideal Monday afternoon, evening?

This is a game changer.

I didn’t know it just then, but this was a question that started my juices flowing. The quest for my dream life began, and this question was constantly in the back of my mind: How do you want your ideal day to look like?

After try and error, I discovered that for me, it was:
1. the freedom to write and create
2. spending time with my family and friends
3. living location- and project-independently

I evaluated my activities, I tried out things, and I understood what I valued the most in my EVERYDAY life.

This changed my whole outlook on creative goals. It made them reachable and realistic because they suddenly were broken down into what all of us experience, day in, day out:
Simple everyday life.

Question 2: The body of work

The idea of “body of work” is an amazing concept.
It stands for all the work you have ever created, all the products and results you have produced in the course of your creative life. Considering this concept makes you look ahead, and think about what you want to look back at in five or ten years time.

First, think about the body of work you want to create. What do you want to be known by? What is the mission you want to achieve? What do you want to stand for?

Then, target the immediate projects you can work on that fit into this body. This can be building a blog, writing a book or a script, starting a podcast a.s.o. Once you have the projects (I would not recommend more than three at a time), they are much easier to break into concrete steps.

Question 3: Marketing

As creatives, we are not content with “just” creating.
We want our creations to reach people and touch lives.

Why would I want to write a book nobody reads? Paint a picture that nobody sees? Our deepest desire is for people to appreciate our work, and our work to become a part of their lives and emotions.

That’s why I love creating theater and musical so much. It’s short lived and cannot be consumed over and over again, like a book. But the feedback is instant. You see and hear the audience’s reaction, you look into their eyes when they leave the theater. This is so encouraging.

Nothing is as frustrating as a blog nobody reads, music nobody listens to. We need the audience for our work to be valid and valuable. We can only measure our creations by the lives they touch.

For people to see your work, you need to do the inevitable: marketing. Yes, we all hate it. But there’s no way around it. We need to come out of our comfy rooms and start shouting into the world for the world to hear us. If you are unwilling to do this necessary step, you’ll never get the audience you desire.

I found it easy to do marketing considering these two rules:

1. Offer value to people and be generous

There are enough scammers on the internet. I don’t want to be one of them. If I offer people something to buy, it has to have the value of the price I ask, or maybe even more. To build their trust, I offer things for free and am generous in helping people, offering advice, communicating and being open and honest.

2. Make a plan

I write down the steps I need to do for marketing, and I do them without second-guessing. It’s like all things necessary. I just go to the gym and work through my daily workout, no questions asked. The same applies to marketing. I write down the steps and do them. They are necessary. Period.

Remember: Marketing is a necessary tool in order to reach your audience, touch lives and also make money doing the thing you love. Always have the target in mind.

Again, think about those three questions that will help you form your creative goals:
1. How do I want my ideal EVERYDAY life to look like?
2. What is the body of work I want to create, and what are the immediate projects I can start with?
3. How can I market and sell my work?

Answer them step by step, and they will give you a blueprint for a creative lifestyle and the steps ahead. Don’t forget that it might take time to experiment and seek the dream life you’re after.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” – C.S.Lewis

 

Start living your story.

Diana

How to know if you are called to create

Ordinary people (if there is anything like this) will think you crazy. Insane. And being honest with yourself, you’ll also notice your craziness. But in reality, you haven’t lost your mind. You just have the heart of a creator. Here’s how you know:

1. There is a constant urge inside of you

We’re not workaholics, even if it might seem this way at times. No, in reality we’re lazy. We despise work that we think stupid, unproductive. We even hate working for money, at least in the long run.

But there is a certain restlessness to life, a certain feeling, a pressure. We wake up with this and go to sleep with it as well. Sounds familiar?

When it comes to creation, nobody forces me to work. At least, it seems so. Except for the constant urge that is pushing me like a madman. I hate routines, I hate discipline, but at the same time, I cannot live without it.

We know that creation cannot be done without discipline or hard work, so we push ourselves, make time, and sweat blood and tears to get our projects finished.

Ordinary people watch us with incomprehension. Why do you do it? You don’t get paid for it. Nobody is watching over you, forcing you to do work. Oh, if you knew, people. If you felt this constant urge, the pressure, you would understand. We have no choice, really.

 

2. In the middle of your project, you swear you’ll never do it again

I just finished a massive project, one that I’ve been carrying inside my heart for months. It was a stage show I wrote and directed for Easter. My feelings have been such a crazy mixup in the past two weeks of intensive rehearsal that it became hard to judge how the audience would react. It’s been an adventure. It’s been a travel through community and the creation of something a big amount of people have been part of.

But this will be another blog post.

Being responsible for such a great project, with so many people involved, is an enormous pressure. The same goes for all the short films I wrote and directed. But also with books, when I’m in the middle of my first draft, or revising it.

When the pressure rises and you don’t really know of this even works, when everything goes wrong, when you have to rethink your project, look for alternatives, deal with tired people and rising emotions, lack of sleep, you swear to yourself one thing: This is my last project. I’ll never do it again. I’m done. Finished.

You even start wondering why you ever signed up to do this in the first place. A neat workplace at the office might just be the right thing now. Yes, you hate your job.

3.By the end of it, you are already thinking about the next idea 

But then – you see it coming together for the first time. The first applause. The premiere. For me, it was just several days ago (and I was more nervous than at my wedding).  And guess what? I was already gathering the ideas for the next project to come.

Yes, it’s true, I AM this crazy.  And if you have a creative heart, you will instantly relate. While still rehearsing I was already gathering ideas and thoughts for the next project that would be even bigger. And now, the day after everything is finished, where every sane person would just relax and be content, I’m fighting this damn black hole.

The performers are happy to relax. But not me. As the creator, I have to fight a feeling of emptiness. Is this it? Are we done already?

Luckily, I am familiar with this feeling by now. And I know how to fight it.

I hit the gym to release all the stress that has been building up in the past weeks, I write this article to get it off my heart, and I gather my ideas for everything that is to come.

 

 

4. You juggle several ideas and/or projects at once

When you sit down for your creative time, you often don’t know where to start. Your head is so full of ideas that you need time to bring order to it. More often than not, you have several projects opened on your desktop.

As a creative, I find myself wanting to do everything: dance, sing, play piano, act, write, film. And don’t even get me started on the different niches inside the creative arts. What to write first? A blog post, a novel, a series pilot? Do a short film, or maybe a travel movie?

I love to watch other creative’s work (maybe with even a small feeling of jealousy), love to read books on those topics, can’t get enough of good YouTube tutorials. What to learn first? Storytelling, new editing techniques, color grading, or a new piano piece.

If you find yourself in the same situation, don’t be angry with yourself. Learn to control your inner creative child. Give yourself some focus by writing ideas down and prioritizing projects.

Very important: finish projects! If you have started something, see that it is also finished. Don’t allow yourself just to start tons of projects you are exited about.

This way, you will get discouraged very quickly. You need to be able to look back at the body of work you created, and of course, experience that satisfying feeling of having finished something, and given it to an audience.

5. You hate „status quo“ 

I hate doing the same thing all over again. Even in the gym, I have to variate my workout EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I’m not content with just writing another story. It has to be different, it has to be bigger, it has to change in a way audiences perceive it.

Yes, I need and like some routine, but I hate status quo. I can’t bear stagnation. Be it in relationships, travel, food and especially my creative work. I regularly have to reinvent myself and my life.
If that’s you as well, welcome to being a creative. This doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy some kind of routine, habits or places we feel secure in. But we have to challenge ourselves constantly. We change ourselves, and everything around us. We can’t help it. It’s inside of us.
If all of those qualities sound familiar, you are a creator by heart. Accept it. You’ll never be able to stop. Your heart will push your constantly, so you better stop resisting, and follow it to the next adventure.
Bring order to your creative life and start focusing on a project that is important to you. Finish it. Follow through with it.
One last thing of letting go:
In your heart, a project will never be finished. You need to draw a line, one way or the other. Let go of it. For me it’s hard. For you, it might be as well. But think about this: your next adventure might just be around the corner.

Why you owe it to the world to become a creative storyteller

The world needs your story. The world needs your creativity.

Inside the imagination of the most, a storyteller is an elderly chap with grayish hair and cosy wrinkles, sitting in an antique chair by the chimney, or at a wooden table where he still writes with ink on paper.

He has a mysterious and inviting smile, and who wouldn’t take at least five minutes to join him at the chimney in his typically British house and listen to what he has to tell?

Even for me, this picture bears a nostalgic yearning.

But in truth, every one of us is a storyteller.

There is a unique story inside every one of us. Not one is identical, not one is the same.

People are so unique in their experiences, their DNA, their upbringing and their character that not one story equals the other.

Your story is unique.

 

1. The agony of an untold story 

I’m not a writer. That’s what many think.

Meanwhile, most lead a sorry existence in their day jobs.

I believe, this is because there is the agony of an untold story inside of us. Those who become authors, bloggers or pursue other creative careers are finally able to express their stories. And they love it, despite the struggles.

This is what creative storytelling offers – the opportunity to tell this story that has been created inside of you throughout the course of your life. It gives you the joy of sharing and impacting the people around you with your uniqueness.

There are endless ways to tell stories. In our world of media, stories can be told in film, photography, design, music, as a speaker, a coach or a teacher.

This is also the most exiting time to become a storyteller. Why? Because nowadays, your creations can be accessed by the whole world through the power of the internet.

 

 

2. The power in your hands

Very often, when considering creative career change, the first thing we wonder about is money. It is an issue.

But money can never be a reason for your story to be told. Because if it is, you will abuse the power given to you. And there are enough scammers roaming the internet to find their pray and make fast money.

You owe it to the world to tell your story for one reason and this reason alone: To help the people around you. You story is an enrichment, it is an inspiration, an anchor in time of need and a truth amongst lies.

So the first thing to ask yourself is: How can my story help people? What are the unique experiences and character traits I possess that can help the others grow? What knowledge base do I have to nourish?

 

 

3. The builder of a house

Have you ever walked into a person’s house, and suddenly felt at home? Have you ever left a house feeling inspired by the interior, the light, the language every bit of decoration spoke, the rich conversations and laughs?

Story is a home you build. Your home. A place for others to feel safe. A world that speaks out of the deepest parts of your soul.

Don’t be fooled. It takes dedicated work and time to build a house. To create a story, a good story, you’ll sweat blood and tears.

It takes skills to build a house.

When I decorated my home, I didn’t just bring anything together that came to my mind. I looked for inspiration, current trends, interior design, styles and colors. I can’t even imagine how many more skills are needed to build a house „from scratch“.

The same goes for a story – to make it accessible, beautiful and strong, you need to learn the skills:

From the basics of laying a foundation to the details of decorating the rooms.

But it will always be worth it in the end because this is a house where others find endless wonder, rest and inspiration, and maybe even a home.

 

4. Practical ways to start

I don’t know why you stumbled upon this blog. Maybe in search of inspiration, out of boredom, looking for help writing a book, or in desperation about you current unsatisfying life situation.

But I hope what you are looking for is change, an adventure, an impulse for creativity.

If you remember one thing that it has to be this: You need to tell your story.

There is nothing mystical behind it – it’s the mastery of storytelling principles and a switch into a dedicated creative lifestyle.

Start by downloading my free ebook „Create“, and roaming throughout my blog for advice and inspiration.

Start by changing your lifestyle and making commitments. Start by telling stories.