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The minimalistic guide to copywriting – 6 secrets to tell a story that spreads like wildfire, with minimum effort

You hate marketing.

All writers are the same. We love to tell stories. We love the process of story writing. We love to elaborate and fill this blank page. The white, empty space drives us nuts.

But marketing is the dirty, ugly word nobody wants to whisper in the artistic gathering. The sound of it cuts our ear like a dagger.

MARKETING.

URGHH.

Let me propose an outrageous notion: If you combine marketing and storytelling, you become indestructible.

You can either ignore the power at your hands and remain in the dark forest of marketing-haters. They will never be read, by the way. Or you embrace this notion and ask instead:

How can I use this power?

The answer is: Copywriting.

Combine the power of writing with the force of marketing. Out come stories that are too wonderful to resist.

What’s the snag? – Be brief.

Are you exhaling with frustration yet? Good.

Being brief is a skill that will come in handy with every piece of writing.

How to convey all the depth and the meaning into only one paragraph? Trim it down to several sentences?

The secret is not trimming and cutting. It’s focusing on the right things. Telling a story with the right tools.

There are countless guides on copywriting out there. But I wanted to write one that is directed at you – the storyteller.

The one who is wondering about all the book marketing strategies: how the hack she can write a short book description, amazing email copy or a sales page that blows away the reader.

Who is eager to tell stories rather than sell.

Who needs a minimalistic guide – a checklist every time you edit a piece of copywriting.

I’ve got you covered. Here are 6 secrets and a printable PDF checklist to tell a story with minimum space.

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Copywriting secret Nr. 1: Concentrate on feelings

The problem with short writing is that we’re focused on conveying information; bring in plot points, exposition, data on why you should buy the product or read this book.

We think the information is necessary. But is it?

People don’t buy with their brains. They buy with their hearts.

Instead of focusing on conveying as much information as possible, determine the feeling you want your reader to experience. The atmosphere you want to create with this story.

If you start writing a book description, ask yourself what you felt when you write this book? When you edited it? – This is the same feeling you want to convey to your reader.

When writing copy, focus on feelings instead of information. Keep in mind the target – the feeling you want your reader to get when he reads those words. Focus on this feeling. Narrow everything down to it; your choice of words, your syntax, the way you build the story.

When editing, be honest about whether you managed to convey this feeling, and if not, ask yourself how you can make it more powerful.

Focus on the feeling rather than information.

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Copywriting secret Nr. 2: Build relatable hooks

Build your text like a pyramid.

Every beat is a hook.

The title is the first one – the most powerful hook of all.

The first sentence is the second one – as powerful, to get your reader into the story.

Then follows the next paragraphs and so on.

Every piece, every paragraph, has to be a hook. It has to raise a question that guides your reader through the story, and as you answer one, you immediately raise another.

But there’s another element to the hook that needs to be head-on: relatability.

You cannot hook the reader with confusion. With a story they neither understand nor care about.

Hooks make the audience want to know more. Find out the answer.

Here are some viral headlines that use this principle:

No, You Don’t Need to be Great at Everything – and Why You Shouldn’t Even Try
How To Write A Great Article – The Easy Way
How To Create A Blog In 5 Minutes
Struggling For A Blog Post Headline? 50+ Viral Headline Examples

Numbers do well in headlines because they are relatable and easy to grasp. Questions that propose outrageous ideas are great. The „how-to“ phrase instantly tells the reader what it’s all about. It’s relatable.

Here’s an example of a bad headline:

The yellow frog and other phenomena.

It might raise a question. But it tells me nothing about who it’s for, what it’s about. It doesn’t hook me; just causes confusion.

The same goes for the book title. Don’t just put it out there – a title that tells the reader nothing about the story. Give it a long hard thought: How can I make the title more clear? More of a powerful hook? How can I make it appealing to genre readers?

Make your copy a story that is a combination of hooks, questions and answers, that you build like a pyramid.

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Copywriting secret Nr. 3: Make it about the reader

You are not the hero.

The reader is.

Too many copywriting texts revolve around the author – his struggles, his victories, his story. But a good copy revolves around the reader.

There is a very simple test: Do you use the word „you“ more often than you use the word „I“?

Make the text all about the reader’s benefit.

If it’s a fiction copy (book description), define your hero and make him relatable. Again, it’s all about the reader. Make him understand the hero straightaway, root for him, identify with the situation, sympathize.

Make your reader the hero of the story.

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Copywriting secret Nr.4: Make your story unique

The secret to uniqueness is surprise.

A twist.

Here are some examples:

  • The serial killer isn’t on trial. He’s on the jury. (13)
  • How do you save someone who’s already dead? (Solomon Creed)
  • Jaws in Space (Alien)

Those taglines have two elements: They introduce the premise and then build in an impossible twist. Something we can understand before we go: Whoa, I didn’t see this coming!

What’s special about your story? How is your book, product or blog post different from all the others out there?

Discover what makes your story irresistible. And sell it with a twist.

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Copywriting secret Nr.5: Structure the hero’s journey

The hero’s journey is a monomyth. A template that fits the main stories and tales that shaped our cultures.

“A mythological image that has to be explained to the brain is not working.”
― Joseph Campbell

Campbell stresses that the myth of the hero’s journey is so deeply embedded in our human DNA that it needs to explanation. It can be used to structure your stories in a manner that will appeal to readers.

It can also be used in copywriting.

Start in his ordinary world. In the world your reader is in – and call him to adventure. Have you noticed that I did exactly this at the beginning of this article?

I started in your world – the disdain for marketing. And then called you to adventure: to use the power of copywriting.

Then you go on with trials and battles. If you propose answers to those battles, you always raise new challenges.

End with new life. A new-found revelation, outlook or skill the reader can use now (or will be able to if he buys your product). Offer a reward that is combined with a CTA.

Structure your copy according to the stages of the hero’s journey. You don’t need to use all of them (there are 17), but the most important ones.

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Copywriting secret Nr.6: Trim down unnecessary words and long sentences

White space is your friend.

When you’re finished with your copy, edit it.

Did you hear me? Edit it. Several times.

Be sure to trim down all of the fill words and trite expressions. No popular sayings. No words that your text could do without. Rewrite sentences to be shorter. More precise.

Work with language.

Copy always profits from short, precise language. Think again about secret #1, the sentiments you want to evoke, and trim your language to achieve exactly that.

The short sentence, all alone in a paragraph (like a did in the paragraph above), is your trump card.

Use it.


Copywriting is hard. But so is writing a book.

You are a storyteller, and this is what you were meant to do; be it in 100.000 words or in 100.

If you use those 6 secrets and get your hands dirty, start writing copy regularly instead of avoiding it, you’ll become invincible.

Remember: Copywriting is the combination of marketing and storytelling. Its power is immense.

Master the skill. And see your stories spread like wildfire.

Download your printable PDF-Checklist that you can use every time you write copy.

Why writers are the best marketers – 5 book marketing strategies that will make your sales explode

Connoisseurs from all over the world swear: wine tastes better from a Riedel glass.

Really?

Scientific tests have proven that there’s no difference between his glasses and others.

Why has his company remained in business for over 4 centuries, despite the ridiculously high prices?

Because Riedel has adapted a powerful marketing strategy.
He told a unique story: The glass is the interpreter, translating the message of the wine to the person who drinks it.

It’s a beautiful story, and we want to believe it. This is why it’s true – despite counterevidence.

We don’t buy products because of what’s truly inside.
We buy the story.

We buy Puma and Nike sneakers for over 100$ while the manufacturing price is 5$, deliberately buying the lie.

The story.

Writers hate marketing because they don’t understand one thing: Great marketing is as much storytelling as is writing a novel. Instead of using their strongest virtue, they consider themselves lousy marketers.

“I just want to write my book. Can anyone else do the marketing for me?” A fatal error in reasoning.

If you’ll adapt the 5 book marketing strategies I’m introducing below, you’ll not only love marketing but have the potential to explode your book sales.

book marketing strategies

Book Marketing Strategy #1: Market while doing what you love

Marketing is nothing else but telling a story.

Isn’t that what you love about being a writer?

That’s who you are. That’s what is required when marketing your book. Tell a story to your reader. Captivate her. Make her want more.

The secret of success to this book marketing strategy: you’ll need to switch your perspective: You’re not marketing. You’re telling a story.

If you manage to tell a great story, your reader will thank you for selling your product. Sounds incredible? More on that later.

book marketing strategy love

Book Marketing Strategy #2: How you can use your best assets to become an amazing marketer

All the rules apply.

Everything you learned about storytelling, every story writing principle and strategy that works for your books – you can use in your marketing.

Meaning: You have the skills already!

You just need to learn how to apply them.

According to some advice, authors put on two different hats – when writing and when marketing. I’d argue that this is not necessary.

Maybe for the technical stuff, the mindless tasks that are required.

But for the actual marketing part, you can be who you are: a storyteller. This is your power. Your asset. Use it.

Leverage your skills, become the best storyteller you can be, and benefit both in your books and in your marketing.

reader book marketing strategy

Book Marketing Strategy #3: Why the reader will happily allow you to sell

We want to believe in stories.

We make them up in our heads every single day. They give our life context. Meaning.

The public is not outraged when Netflix releases yet another amazing series, or when another great movie hits the cinemas to steal their money and attention.

We happily sell into the story. Because we want to.

The same goes for your reader. He wants a great story. He has already given you permission to tell one.

Now you need to use this benefit of the doubt – and deliver a marketing story that rocks his world. That makes him go: I need to buy this book!

Create a marketing story that hooks your reader – in your packaging, your platform, email marketing, freebie. A story that is at least as good as the book itself. Take him from one great turning point to the next and by the end, the reader will happily allow you to pitch a sale.

the reader will buy your book marketing strategy

Book Marketing Strategy #4: How to make your reader believe your lie

Stories can be frauds.

a bad book marketing strategy

The most recent example is the Fyre Festival that told an amazing story about the festival of a lifetime, collected money from happy customers and then – never delivered.

In the 70es, Nestlé told a story that killed thousands of newborns.

Don’t be a fraud. Make your story authentic.

An authentic story is a story that is true in every little thing – all the platforms, packages, promises, and of course, in the way you present yourself as an author.

If readers sign up to your mailing list, they want to know who you are. But at the same point, they want to believe a lie. A story.

For example: When you’re writing thrillers, they don’t want to hear about your children’s flu medicine. Instead, they want to see your research, heard about your darkness – see the part of you that ‘fits’ into the rest of the story you’re telling with your marketing.

And here’s where frauds are distinguished from those who authentically live their story. Your passion for the genre won’t go unnoticed by the reader. Your authenticity will become visible.

If you’re writing romance just for marketing reasons but don’t like the genre, your readers will sooner or later notice that you’re a fraud.

With the story you tell in marketing, you build a relationship with your reader. Step by step, they chose to trust you. So if your story is incongruent at any point, the reader is unlikely to forgive it.

Tell an authentic story – with everything you do. By actually living the story yourself.

be the hero book marketing strategy

 

Book Marketing Strategy #5: How you can convert them into lifelong fans

When “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” was released, it shattered virtually every book sales record ever, selling over 10 million copies in the first 24 hours.

Of course, by the last Harry Potter book release, the book marketing strategies were in full power: the movies were going strong, the franchise was as popular as it’s ever been.

But why then, a decade after the release, are fans still fiercely loyal?

While the power of storytelling – the story that those books are so amazing you’d miss out on an incredible adventure if you didn’t read them – got the skyrocketing sales numbers, the lifelong fans are created by the product itself.

The worst fraud is when the product does not match the rest of the story.

I’m outraged when I’ve sold for a stunning trailer only to find that the movie itself was awful. The trailer made a promise – but the product didn’t deliver.

This is where you need to be different.

Offer value.

If you got your reader as far as buying your book – make sure it’s so powerful it converts them into lifelong fans.

This again is the power of storytelling. Create an incredible world. Write a passionate story.


As a marketer, you don’t need to lie or cheat. You just need to tell a really good story. In everything you do.

Use the power that’s already at your fingertips. Adopt storytelling principles for marketing to hook your reader and make your marketing work.

So what’s the challenge?

Become a great storyteller.

Hemingway said: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

But we can become better. We can learn. We can apply. We can tell stories in everything we do – our marketing, our fiction, and even our lives.

Watch my power of storytelling series to learn 15 storytelling principles that work for every aspect of your career.

The only secret of success for writers

I’m tired of living this way.

It was a cold autumn morning.

My husband had a short break when we talked on the phone, my daughter was running circles around me. I was staring at our bank balance.

A huge debt staring back at me.

I had to hurry: drop my toddler off at daycare to finally start writing novel #4. I didn’t want to write. When scraping money for groceries, story writing seems redundant.

This morning, I decided to ask a question. A question that held a certain finality.

One I had to answer – before admitting to my defeat and going back to a day job.

What’s the single most important trait that makes successful writers?

Is there a secret behind successful indie writing careers?

So I did.

I asked successful indie writers in the industry for this one secret. Not everybody answered. But the answers were surprisingly unanimous.

And unglamorous.

There is a secret of success. But it’s not a magic wand.

It’s something that challenged me at exactly the point where I needed it most.

It will hit you right where you need it. So if you’re not afraid of a challenge, read on.

K.M. Weiland:

Diligence. The ability to wake up every morning and do the work is key. You can’t control how you feel about what you’re doing. You can’t always control the results of what you’re doing. But you can always control what you’re doing and the fact that you are doing it. Putting the emphasis and the enjoyment in the work rather than the immediate results allows you to be patient as you persevere.

Joanna Penn:

Persistence 🙂Everything else can be learned.

J Thorn:

Without a doubt, perseverance. You have to be gritty and willing to toil in obscurity, have books that bomb, and make mistakes. That’s how every great success story begins. You only lose if you give up.

They might have used different terms. But they all meant one thing.

The only secret of success is: Perseverance.

“You only lose if you give up.”

A knot tightened in my throat. Wasn’t it what I was about to do? Give up. Get a day job. Live like “everybody else”.

A writer I knew put her self-publishing career on hold and explained it in a blog post. She called self-publishing a fast-food book industry, angry with the writing-fast model and the emerging pay-to-play environment, blaming scammers, readers, and fellow writers.

There was bitterness in this post. A bitterness I understood.

Self-publishing is far from a dreamy vision of: Everybody can become a famous author overnight.

I felt her pain that morning. I still feel it now.

Could it really be that simple? Just keep going and you’ll succeed one day?

I dug deeper. Analyzed the answers Katie, Joanna and J had generously given me. Looked into what others had to say.

How can we persist in the face of the terrible things that might even threaten our existence? Is there a right way to persevere?

These are the 4 secrets I found. Secrets that will enable you to persevere.

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Edison’s secret of Success #1: Expectations

Wrong expectations ruin careers, marriages, relationships, and lives.

When I got married, I knew marriage would be hard. But I didn’t expect it to be that hard.I didn’t expect my first child to alter my life this massively. I didn’t expect my first years of writing to go this badly.

You do prepare for difficulty.

But somehow the high of the excitement about this new adventure suggests: Maybe you’ll be spared from the abyss? After all, it’s such an exciting event. And you’re prepared.

You’ll be fine.

We are somehow under the illusion that the motivation, this ecstatic feeling – of standing at the altar, holding your baby or finishing your first book – will never wear off. And when it does, we’re disappointed.

We didn’t expect to fall that deeply. We didn’t expect the abyss to be that dark.

Why do we give up?

Because reality doesn’t match our expectations.

Secret of Success from Edison

Maybe the most realistic expectation is that your fall will be greater than you think. That you’ll fail harder than you even through you could. That it will be very, VERY hard.

Why persevere then?

Because the reward is worth it.

Thomas Edison was considered unteachable at a young age. When he went on to create the electric light bulb, most thought he “failed”.

He simply said he found over 1,000 ways to not build a light bulb.

Returning to J. Thorn’s quote: Every great success story begins with making mistakes.

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John Grisham’s secret of success #2: Small results

Have you heard of paralysis by analysis?

It’s another way to give up.

This is what sets in if you concentrate on the big picture. You’re paralyzed by the enormity of it.

Establishing a writing career is a task too huge to face: A catalog of over 20 books, marketing, covers and book descriptions, podcast and blogging. If you look at it in all its enormity – or compare yourself to those who have been in the industry for over a decade – paralysis by analysis hits you.

That’s John Grisham’s recipe to persevere: Focus on writing one page per day.

He didn’t focus on the task of writing 45 titles or 1.4 books per year. Instead, he only focused on one thing: at least one page per day.

If you focus on daily small results that move the needle, the small successes that you achieve, you’ll persevere.

Secret of success small results

brek

Tony Robbins’ secret of success #3: Decisions

Persistence is about choice.

Remember K.M. Weiland’s quote? You can’t control how you feel about what you’re doing.

Stop chasing the high. Feelings change moment to moment, minute to minute. Don’t let the feelings define you.

Staring at the high debt, I felt tired. Defeated. But was I? It was a feeling, and now I had a choice to make. Do I act on that feeling? Or do I choose to persevere?

You can always control what you’re doing and the fact that you are doing it.

secret of success decisions

Learn to step away from your feelings.

In directing class we learned to never give directions to an actor that involved feelings. “Act as if you were sad/angry/happy.” Why? Because an actor cannot decide how she feels. She can only decide on an action.

This is how we’re wired.

Choose to write time and time again. Fail. Fail better. This is the secret to perseverance.

“Decision is the ultimate power.” – Tony Robbins

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The greatest secret of success #4: The process

“Love the process.” – a phrase so hackneyed that it makes me frown.

So how is the process a secret?

According to multiple studies, about 70% of all lottery winners end up going broke and filing for bankruptcy.

Why?

They didn’t earn it.

They never prepared to be the people they needed to become in order to handle such an amount of money.

The secret of the process is that you need to change who you are to earn your success. To get where you want to get, you need to become another person. A better version of yourself.

You need to earn it.

Not only will this be a triumph but it will become a success that lasts.

secret of success the process

Beware: Giving up is life-altering.

It’s addictive.

Habits form because of a reward we get from an action – mostly, a good feeling. Giving up feels good. The resistance is gone. You feel an amazing sense of relief.

Next time resistance hits you – the option of giving up will be more alluring.

It’s another cold autumn morning. And I’m still here, writing.

Are you?

Collaborative Writing – how to avoid burnout and soar with creative excitement

Squeezed out.

That’s how you feel.

Like a lemon when pressure is applied from all sides.

The never-ending pace of everyday life, expectations, stress, to do lists piling up – life is all about giving. In this state, inspiration is a paradise island you’ll never be able to afford.

An effective antidote? Collaboration.

Working with creative people will provide the energy and inspiration to make you soar.

And while in other industries it’s common to sit down at a table with many creatives, a writer is joined at his desk only by me myself and I.

Directing film and stage shows, I thrive on the creativity and energy other people bring. Recently, writers have picked this drug up and even pronounced this year the year of collaboration. Movements like “Writers on a train” begin to emerge.

But beware, dear writer: your days in the creative wilderness might have made you an incompetent collaborator.

Let’s look at 5 important things to consider to make collaborative writing work for you.


1. Why collaborative writing sustains inspiration

For almost 80 years, Harvard studied the lives of 268 sophomores – one of the world’s longest studies on adult life. They found that of all things, relationships are what make a happy life.

“Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism.”

Robert Waldinger

So while you might enjoy your lonely hours at the writing desk, creative relationships are the ultimate antidote to writer’s block.

This is how it works when you’re a director:
The idea starts in your head.

But the result is the work of many creative people combined.

The room sparks with energy when you sit down with passionate creative individuals and discuss a story, throw ideas in the air only to be picked up by others and transformed into something amazing.

You feel like space engineers, embarking on a problem solving journey.

“It’s not only the things you learn along the way, but the amazing people you get to work with.“

Ron Howard

Creative loneliness is often the writer’s decease. This is why she lacks inspiration and is blocked.

Do you need a new wave of inspiration and creative energy? Embark on a problem solving journey with other writers, and this process of discovery will inspire you in ways you never thought possible.

2. How to give power to organic creativity

Collaboration can be painful.

If you’ve been stuck in the creative wastelands for long, it’s easy to get stuck. Possesiive. Consider your output the only acceptable truth.

But as soon as you try to enforce your own ideas in a creative collaboration, you’ll lose the spontaneity and organic creativity, says Ron Howard.

director In a collaboration

As the director of a huge crew of creatives, he knows his way around leading a creative team. On his set, he is always willing to say ‘yes’, be open to other ideas instead of editing them as long as they serve the purpose of the overall scene or story.

Only if you revel in the excitement of collaboration and have an open mind for all the different ideas will you sustain the priceless organic creativity that collaborative writing offers.

As Starbucks founder Howard Schulz puts it: People don’t want to be managed, they want to be part of something bigger than themselves. They want to see themselves valued and appreciated.

And if you consider not your own ideas – but the overall story – as the big purpose that holds it all together, you will be able to appreciate every suggestion and thrive in a collaboration.

3. The one common standard of collaborative writing

In Starbucks, there was only one standard for every single team member.

By creating the atmosphere that suggested: we are building something that’s langer than ourselves and valuing everyone’s participation and opinion, Schulz could establish a common goal.

And he would demonstrate that he worked harder towards that goal than everybody else.

collaborative writing in Starbucks

What was that standard?

Excellence.

If a collaborating team is to be driven by excellence, it’s important to establish a common goal – aka the story – and demonstrate that you are willing to work harder than everybody else.

Writing is work.

And a writing collaboration needs a strong work ethics to create an amazing story.

4. Kurosawa’s Power Triangle

The legendary director Akira Kurosawa swore by the power triangle: Working in teams of three produces the strongest results.

Which makes sense, because ideas can be voted quickly in or out. It doesn’t mean that you can’t collaborate with another author. But having a collaboration of three makes it work even smoother.

power triangle of collaborative writing

5. What to look for in a co-writer

James Patterson considers collaborative writing a combination of strengths.

When searching for a co-writer he advises to look for someone who is able to write convincing scenes. Because this is what you’ll be doing: writing scenes.

Also, this person has to be willing to do their research on everything. This will make their writing deeper.

When deciding on a co-writer, he also recommends working with someone who is either willing to adapt their style or has a similar style to yours in order to avoid unnecessary conflict.


Now that we’ve looked into the principles, let’s learn from Patterson’s practical collaboration process.

He writes an outline and send it to his cowriter(s). Patterson wants them to be involved into the outlining process for two reasons: because they might have good ideas and because he wants them to be invested in the story.

The hardest part of the initial process is finding the voice of the characters and of the story. Once you have that established, it’s much easier to adapt the scenes.

Patterson recommends to regularly send writing back and forth to avoid too much rewriting. His co-writers write ten chapters, send them over. The next day, Patterson instantly gives feedback so that the process does not stall. This way, they can stop things if something’s wrong or he can say: good, keep going.


Start with an experiment.

collaborative writing

Commit to collaborating this year at least once. Even if just for the sake of FOMO.

Maybe, you’ll end up with a relationship that will nourish your creativity for years to come. Or you’ll just receive new inspiration, energy, and practical ideas.

On some days, I just love sipping coffee with another creative and talk about ideas. Just ideas.

On others, I love inviting people into my process.

There is no downside. You’ll only learn. Make your world richer. Emerge from the experience like a freshly picked lemon an a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Full of creative juice.

collaborative writing makes you fresh

12 habits that made Tolstoy a highly prolific author – conquer the writing battle

The earth shook with cannon fire.

Debris flew around his ears, the screams of the dying suffocated by the sound of the impact.

Yet still he wrote—even on the battlefield.

Tolstoy produced 119 works of literature, at least two of them considered the best novels of all time.

He proved that being a prolific author does not contradict writing on the highest quality level, on the contrary. He wrote 7 novels, 6 novellas, 51 short stories, 6 plays and 49 non-fiction works. His novel “War and Peace“ is one of the best literary works in history, and “Anna Karenina’s“ first sentence grew famous all over the world.

Only think about all the excuses you use: laundry, errands, kids. We all have them. In comparison, a war would have been a superb one.

Still, Tolstoy composed the second book in his autobiographical trilogy while at battle during the Crimean War.

He was a human like you and me: lead a turbulent life, possessed extravagant views on society, and a stubborn, depressive, always searching, innovative character. So what made him so productive?

A glance into his works and diaries reveals that he cultivated strict and sometimes unusual habits. Habits that provide insight into how you can conquer procrastination and adapt productivity as a lifestyle.

No more excuses – be it on an actual battlefield or the battlefield we call our daily lives.

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Prolific author habit #1:  Love those to whom I could be of service

“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.”

Human nature is self-centered.

We stick around those people we can benefit from, who make us happy, successful or rich. But as writers, we have to act against this nature and think of ourselves as servants to our readers.

If we learn to love them, care about how they perceive our work and how it might change their life—how it might benefit them—this is where our writing finds a true value.

We are servants to our readers.

Generous givers to our community.

Not because we want to receive back, but because we want to add value to their lives and genuinely help people around us.

How is it possible? If we learn to love the readers and be of service to them.

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Prolific author habit #2: Establish routines

“Wake at five o’clock, go to bed no later than ten o’clock.”

Tolstoy knew the value of getting up early and getting enough sleep.

It might have been simpler in his days to go to bed at 10 pm, without the TV or the internet. But imagine 5 in the morning during the Russian winter:

The house is freezing cold until you get the fire running. It’s pitch dark and the sun won’t come up for the next hours. The only light source: a candle or an oil lamp.

It was not a piece of cake for Tolstoy either. But there is something magical about the early morning hours, something beautiful to getting words down on the blank page while the world still sleeps.

Consider that Tolstoy slept for at least 7 hours. It’s important that your body is recharged to have the early morning energy, which is at least 7-9 hours of sleep.

People who sacrifice health for success are short-sighted, unable to recognize that bad habits will demand a payoff. Instead, strive to introduce healthy habits into your lifestyle that will ensure a long and productive life.

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Prolific author habit #3: Pay attention to food

“Eat moderately, avoid sweet foods.”

Even without the danger of ice-cream, cakes and sweets accessible on every corner, Tolstoy warned about the danger of too much sugar.

The quick sugar rush blurs our mind and causes tiredness, thus stealing the creative energy we need to get our writing done.

There is no such thing as „bad“ food, but there is balance, and balance is crucial when it comes to nutrition.

A PLoS One study found that for every extra 150 calories from sugar available per person each day, diabetes prevalence rises by 1.1%. Moreover, science shows it takes just 30 minutes or less to go from a sugar rush to a full-on sugar crash, which means that we get more tired than energized thanks to sugar consumption.

A study published in Public Health Journal followed nearly 9,000 people to study the link between depression and eating sugary sweets and fast food. After six years, those who ate the most junk faced a nearly 40% greater risk of developing depression, compared to those who shunned junk food the most.

What I also love is the first part of this advice: Eating moderately means listening to your body. Many have lost the connection to their bodies due to binge eating and endless supplies of cravings.

Try to listen again.

You don’t need a fancy diet if you take this simple but highly effective advice seriously, and stop eating when your body tells you that it’s full.

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Prolific author habit #4: Work out physically

“Walk for an hour every day.”

Tolstoy’s quote above incorporates both physical workout as well as daily routine.

What can regular workout do for you?

It can clear your mind, relieve stress, give your unconscious time to ponder on ideas, and keep you healthy for many years of writing to come. Daily movement is especially important for us writers as we spend hours behind our stationary desks.

 

Prolific author habit #5: Focus

“Only do one thing at a time.”

This principle of focus has been rediscovered after media distraction took over our daily lives. The smartphone is to blame.

But interestingly, Tolstoy stressed it during the 19th century. Daily distractions have prevented writers from getting things done for centuries.

In our time, it’s harder to focus than ever. In his book “The ONE Thing” Gary Keller argues that “Multitasking doesn’t save time — it wastes time.” and suggest instead: “You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects.”

Your mind can be trained to focus , and the more you practice doing one thing only, the better you will get.

When writing – focus on your writing only. Eliminate internet connection and every possible distraction and get „in the zone“.

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Prolific author habit #6: Be bold and brave

„Stop caring about other people’s opinion of yourself.“

A teacher once told me that if you try to please everybody, your art will become meaningless.

Tolstoy was an artist who polarized. He evoked both great admiration and outrageous criticism.

And while it’s our task to provide value to our readers, we should not be afraid of judgment. People judge all the time, and everybody has their own opinion on everything.

Don’t let this intimidate you.

Instead, choose to filter criticism to make it work for you.

Great art polarizes. Your best story writing ideas will turn into bestsellers once you stop worrying about other people’s judgment.

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Prolific author habit #7: Write daily

“I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine.” – This is one of the few diary entries Tolstoy made during the mid-1860s when he was deep into the writing of War and Peace.

War and Peace is an epic of 587,287 words. This is ten times longer than your NaNoWriMo novel.

After Tolstoy spent three years rewriting most of this book, he set out to write the second masterpiece, Anna Karenina, which was published along with some additional novels.

He indeed wrote daily ‘without fail’, and this is the only way to become a truly prolific author.

It’s about keeping the habit.

Start by setting yourself a daily word count goal, no matter how small; Stephen King writes 2000 words every day – even on his birthday.

You can start with 500 – as long as you keep writing without fail.

 

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Prolific author habit #8: Have a goal for your whole life …

“… a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for every minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater.”

Goals are about direction.

I love how Tolstoy insists on breaking down the big picture from top to bottom:

You first need to know where your whole life is going, what kind of life you want. Most creatives fail here, they are scattered between choices they refuse to make because they are infected by the omnipresent virus of FOMO (fear of missing out). Decisions are as much about what you choose as about what you don’t.

You cannot have everything at once – but you can have the life you want.

Then, break down your goals into actionable steps. What actions can you do this year, this month, this week and today that will bring you closer to the life you want? Our daily – ever hourly – life makes the big picture, so be intentional about your time.

In the last part, Tolstoy mentions priorities. He uses the apt word ‘sacrifice’, meaning that some tasks have to suffer due to others.

You cannot do all things at once, but don’t let your life be dictated by ‘lesser’ goals. Prioritize ‘the greater’, doing the things that will get your life to where you want it to be.

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Prolific author habit #9: Be patient

“The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.”

Time.

For how long do you want to be an author? – I’m guessing for a lifetime.

Writing is not a short-term goal. It’s a lifestyle. So don’t be discouraged if success does not set in straight away. With the ingredients of time and patience, you will eventually get what you desire.

Those who lose are always those who quit. Those who win are those who choose to persist, no matter how hard the task or how long it takes.

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Prolific author habit #10: “If you want to be happy, be.”

“If you want to be happy, be.”

I love this advice.

Simple, yet so true.

True happiness will never come from the outside. Take a look at celebrities: Many have the money to buy everything they ever wanted, but still end up in drug addiction or even suicide. Happiness is not dependent on your level of success nor the amount of money on your bank account.

Happiness is not to possess everything but want for nothing.

You don’t have to wait until tomorrow to be happy – don’t have to wait until you wrote a bestseller or earned your first million. If you really want to be happy – just be.

This happiness will energize you to write more and become a prolific author, not vice versa. Learn to love the process and every single step of it.

Just be happy. Period.

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Prolific author habit #11: Use common sense 

“Even in the valley of the shadow of death, two and two do not make six.”

Creatives tend to get very emotional in the face of trouble, doubt or failure.

When those feelings threaten to take over, common sense is a great adversary.

Be realistic. Get a look at the numbers. Master them, don’t fear them.

Get to know marketing strategies, know your way around legal matters, learn the technicalities. If the success you expected does not set in, don’t run off whining, but get a hard look at the facts and the numbers, analyze them and come up with a different strategy.

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Prolific author habit #12: Help those less fortunate

“Joy can only be real if people look upon their life as a service and have a definite object in life outside themselves and their personal happiness.”

For the last advice, let’s take a look at the big picture: Why are you writing? Why are you putting yourself through hours and hours of agony, bleeding upon the page?

Money? Fame? Freedom?

Let’s shift the focus now:

On something outside of you – your friends, your children, the community you want to impact, the change you want to usher in society.

Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote a book once that changed the worldview of a nation. In 1852, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” altered the way Americans regarded slavery. She left a mark behind that became much bigger than her own personal wealth.

If one day, you can look upon your life and see that it has served people in any way outside yourself, you will realize that writing is more than putting words on paper. And you will be motivated to write today, hoping to be of service to the people around you.

“I cannot believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be compassionate. It is, above all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” 

― Gary Keller, The ONE Thing


Leo Tolstoy was a fascinating author with an insight into the human soul like none other. Even a hundred years after his death, his work remains famous and inspires movies and TV series all over the world.

You can write powerful stories such as these if you cultivate writing habits that advance both quality and quantity.

Those two are neatly intertwined.

The more you write, the more experience you gather, and the better you get – as long as you are willing to work on the craft and improve with every passing day.

Which habit do you want to adapt to your writing life? Leave a comment and let’s discuss how we can become influential and effective writers.

10 Cunning Techniques to Divert the Creative Muse

The 10 Commandments of the Couch-Potato Lord

Read the original post on the amazing Just How Cool Is That Blog.

Times are getting rough for us inner couch potatoes. We have to fight for our existence in an age of fitness, health coaching, and books of how to be prolific.

And while there have never been as many distractions as today, some people are beginning to wake up.

I’m talking about the creatives. The writers, artists, and entrepreneurs. The ones who have declared a war on us with their techniques, books, and routines. 

This is why I created this manual to ensure the survival of our kind. We have to be as cunning as ever, deceiving and misleading those creatives so that their disease won’t spread throughout the entire globe.

I’ve prepared 10 ways to trick creatives and practical advice to make them give in to you and become lazy again.

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1. MAKE HIM NEGOTIATE

This one is a recipe against the routines. You see, once they succeed to establish a certain task over several months, it will become a habit which is so much harder to break. You have to act fast while they are still in the establishing phase.

Make him think about the task ahead, make it seem tedious and overwhelming. Persuasions like: “If I miss it once, it won’t make a difference.” are really powerful.

Tell him that he is working hard and has earned a break. Make him fall for empty negotiations, like: “I’ll do it tomorrow.”, “I’ll do something else instead.”, “I’ll make up for it next week.”

He has to think that his laziness is legitimate and believe that he will make up for it in an undefined time frame called “later”, which is likely never to happen.

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2. HAVE A PHONE READY AT HER DESK AND TWITTER OPEN IN A TAB

The Internet is one of the most powerful tools we have. The secret behind it that it can be helpful and nourish their creativity, thus making it easy to deceive them if it’s not. Most of them are fed by the internet, so all we have to do is to provide another path that will lead them astray.

Make sure she takes her phone with her everywhere she goes. When she is at her creative task, it has to be within reach all the time.

If she is working on her laptop – all the better! Make sure that all kinds of social media are open in a tab, the more, the better. Let her scroll and skip instead of reading one helpful thing and implementing it. Make her save things for “later” instead (you see how powerful this “later” concept is).

 

3. KEEP HIS MIND DISTRACTED AT ALL TIMES

Distraction is a concept you’ll have to use non-stop. Make sure he never concentrates on a task for more than 5 minutes. Let several things compete for his attention simultaneously.

Once you destroy his ability to concentrate on one thing only, you’ve defeated a huge potential given to the artist. Anything can help here, the source does not matter: internet, emails, social media, the spouse or the kids, phone calls, messages, TV, blogs…

Make sure you bring in remorse and bad conscience, give him the feeling he has to manage everything and be everywhere at once, that he is neglecting important areas of his life.

“Multitasking” is a good lie we managed to implant into their brains some decades ago. Work with that.

 

4. HAVE HER PHONE AT HER BEDSIDE, READY TO THROW HER OFF GUARD

Make sure she starts her mornings by checking emails, messages and social media. This will rob a huge amount of creative potential.

Use lies like: “I need it to get up in the morning.”

Very effective!

If you can make sure she stays in bed longer while plunging into the loop of social media, half of your work for the day is done already.

 

5. LET HIM COMPARE HIMSELF TO EVERYONE ELSE

Comparisonitis is a disease that social media helps feed in their hearts.

Fuel it. Make him think that no effort will ever take him where those “influencers” are. That their lives are unreachable, like winning a lottery.

Make him feel bad about himself to an extent that will prompt him to give up, at least for the day. Make sure you let him linger on those sites that are so far away from his current situation that a bridge would be impossible, and stay away from those he could perceive as “realistic”.

 

6. MAKE HER BELIEVE THAT SHE NEEDS MORE TOOLS AND MORE COURSES

Another way to turn around consumerism and make sure they never really produce something of their own – but without the side effects of the TV or social media that makes them feel guilty instantly – are courses or tools in their niche.

Make her think that there is always another course she can take and another tool she needs to buy before she can actually start DOING and producing something.

 

7. KEEP HIM BUSY WITH “URGENT” TASKS

Nothing keeps them working towards a dead-end as seemingly urgent tasks.

Make sure that there are lots of them, and that they always seem important, purporting to keep them busy and “working” while they are truly only satisfying immediate needs.

If there are lots of them, bombarding him all at the same time, he will be stressed out quickly and you’ll find him sitting on the couch again.

8. MAKE HER BELIEVE THAT EFFORT IS “USELESS” IF SUCCESS DOESN’T COME STRAIGHT AWAY

Make short-sightedness play to your advantage, always keeping her impatient and unsatisfied. If a goal is not reached within weeks or months, she will be discouraged automatically.

Feed this disappointment, whispering in her ear that success will never be hers.

Pay attention that she never falls in love with the process! This is the worst kind of evil you can encounter.

 

9. CUT HIM OFF FROM ANY POSITIVE COMMUNITY AND SEND SOME RELATIVES WHO WILL NAG AT HIM

The people around him are key to success or failure.

Cut him off from any positive community and any peers in his niche. Make sure he never encounters those who are only several steps ahead of him – those are the worst kind.

Instead, send him some friends or relatives with a narrow world view, who will criticize and discourage his creative efforts. If those are people important to him, this will be even more powerful.

 

10. MAKE HER SETTLE FOR THE CONVENIENT LIFE

Convenience can become addictive, and this is where you want to get her to. She gives up once, she settles for the comfortable solution twice, and she will become addictive to the feeling of relief it gives her.

The further away you get her from this creative muse and the urge to do something meaningful with her life, the easier it will become.

“Everybody does it.” and “This is just how life works.” are impactful with the combination of the people who settle for convenience in her surroundings.


Take those 10 principles seriously.

They have been proven to be very effective, especially in combination.

Our existence is dependent on your effort, so never give up!

Make use of them wisely and cunningly.

Kind regards,  
The Couch-Potato Lord


Join the discussion & let me know if you have ever fallen victim to the evil techniques of the Couch-Potato Lord.

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.

Seeking progress is masochism (or the paradox of audience)

The lights are dimmed. The theater is nearly full. The title of the film appears, and my palms sweat.

It’s been 2,5 years since I’ve seen my film „Prometheus Rising“ on the big screen. Back then, I was proud. But this time … it hurt. I was not prepared for that. But the audience tells you everything – if you are just willing to listen.

Isn’t it so, that very often we make up ideas in our heads, and work on projects that we never show to audiences? An audience is truthful. It’s ruthless. It can make you, or break you.

Let me explain.

My film was accepted to be screened at the fantastic festival in Berlin, the „Genrenale“.

I’ve been part of the festival last year already when I pitched my TV series project „Nibelung“ to a professional jury and a large audience at the ARRI Genre Pitch.

So let’s talk about pitching first. Because this is your first attempt to win an audience.

 

 

1. Pitching is not bragging – it’s exercise!

It has been a very enlightening experience. Pitching is something a creative should always do. Pitch to your spouse, your friends, your parents. Don’t annoy everyone with your crazy ideas. But if they are eager to hear: pitch it!

Often, creatives are very secretive about their „ideas in progress“. Even if they’re asked specifically, they restrain from telling about the project. I know I do. But why?

Maybe I’m insecure about my ideas. Maybe I just feel like bragging. Maybe I’m afraid of a negative reaction to an idea that I hold so close to my heart and that contains a piece of me.

But no matter the reasons – it’s still a stupid strategy. We are creating for an audience, after all. We should be eager to hear their reaction to our projects. We should be ready to incorporate what they have to say, and also to get the word out about our work in progress.

So, what is a pitch? It’s a short summary of your work or idea. Make a particular emphasis on the word: short. Don’t go into the details here. Let your work speak for itself. Practice summing up your idea in 2 to 3 sentences, in a way that intrigues your audience, and makes them want to hear/see more.

Unless, of course, you are a pitching to producers. In this case, you should pitch your story idea from beginning to the very end. For them, this is not a teaser. They need to know the whole idea to understand if it works. Still, this shouldn’t keep you from making it as intriguing as possible.

Keeping it short is hard. Very often we as creators are so enveloped into our project that we lose sight of the big picture. This is why pitching is such a good exercise. It forces you to return to the basics of your idea; it helps you to think about the premise, and not to lose sight of what is important.

Having pitched your idea, pay particular attention to the reaction:

Have you made your idea clear, or is the person confused?

Can they relate to the topic? Do they look interested, or are they just faking interest?  Are they asking more questions? Have you intrigued them?

So – Pitching is practice! Pitch to as many people as you can. And if you ever get the opportunity to pitch to professionals, value it, and make the most of it.

Pitching my TV series idea in front of the professional jury was an invaluable experience. I got remarks and corrections that helped me shape the idea and change it into something unique.

But the criticism, in front of a large audience, it hurts. Because this is the truth about progress: Praise and approval caress the ego, but honest criticism is what will help you become a better creator.

 

 

2. Let your ego be whipped once in a while

So, let’s return to the movie theater in Berlin.

Once the ten painful minutes of my film were over, I realized that I have grown.

I saw the audience’s reaction with perfect clarity.

It dawned on me that while my film was visually compelling (the reason why it was probably accepted for the screening), the story could not make an impression. It was far too complicated for a short film and failed to create momentum. The audience did not react the way I wanted to.

Yes, it felt like whipping. What could be worse than having your audience laugh up their sleeves while you want them to burst into tears? I felt mocked. I felt whipped.

But at the same time, the realization that I knew WHY it did not work made me understand that I have grown. There were so many story moments where I was angry with myself for not having done them differently.

Two years have done by, and I realized the impact of learning the craft of storytelling. You never learn enough. You just grow with every single knowledge you acquire and implement.

So in a way, seeking progress is some kind of „masochism“, because outgrowing yourself is painful.

And while the audience can support us and tell us that we are on the right path, it can also destroy us if we failed. Your audience is merciless.

But mercy is not what you want, is it?

You want them to react honestly because you want to touch the deepest parts of their hearts. And how could you know if they faked interest or emotion? A whipped ego breaks us first but then makes us strive for more.

 

 

So again, remember:

  1. Exercise pitching!
  2. And let your ego be whipped by audiences once in a while

This is the way to grow your creative and storytelling skills!

If it’s one of those days – don’t lose heart

I wake up with an uneasy feeling. It’s snowing outside, the first snow this year. But I don’t really care.

I open up Facebook and Instagram and see how all the people I follow are doing so great. All those photographers, lifestyle bloggers, writers, all those people are living their dreams. The beautiful photographs, videos, selfies, landscapes, couples, beautiful colors, and lighting, mostly they inspire me, but today is the day where it pushes a different button. I know it’s wrong. Everybody says: be content with yourself, love your life, strive for the best. They’re right, of course. But that’s not how I always feel.

Writing this, I just hope I’m not the only one out there having those days. As a creative, there are some of those days where I feel that I’m just not enough. Where the haunting feeling creeps in that I’ll never ever make it. Well … Those people are lucky. They find their niche, they know what they’re doing, love their jobs. They live in the cities I want to live in, meet the people I want meet. But I just wake up in this boring old bed in my boring old apartment, looking out the window, wondering if things will ever change.

Please don’t get me wrong. I still love my job, and I love my life. I’m grateful for everything I have. But there are those days. There is so much more I want to do. There is this drive we feel like artists, every morning and every evening. It’s good, generally, because it drives me to places and forms my work. But sometimes, this drive only reminds me of the unfulfilled dreams.

So what now? I guess we all lose heart, especially in these depressive winter months. But how exactly do we fight this feeling? I made up a battle plan for me today.

 

• Be thankful. 

I shut down all the social media accounts, put my phone on the side, and make a beautiful breakfast. Sitting at the window, staring at the white snow outside, I remind myself of all the things I can be grateful about. Sounds cheesy, but bear with me. I think we underestimate the power of gratefulness. And there is so much we can be thankful for in our lives. My yummy breakfast for instance. My husband who is sleeping next door.

I think about my projects: The book I’m writing, the theater piece I’m preparing, the things that are still on hold. This could be an exciting year after all. All the travel plans we made this year. All the great projects that will come up. Well, I do feel better right away.

 

• Stop believing the lie.

The people on Instagram and co. generally inspire. But sometimes, we feel that lie that their lives are perfect. The truth is: We don’t know. We have no clue. For all there is, they have their own problems, struggles, and fights.

How do I know? Because I AM this person. I do have my blog, my Instagram account, but I got up this morning, feeling miserable about my life. YOU are this person. Maybe we’re not where we want to be, but what artist is? Even at the top, the striving for more never stops. I even heard that reaching the top, many feel more miserable because they got what they wanted, and it didn’t fulfill them. So what’s the lie? The lie is that your work, your success, and your creation will finally fulfill you forever. It’s never going to happen. You will never stop striving. This can mean only one thing: You need to love the process.

• Stay in the moment

There is no other life for you than the life you have right now. And I believe that this is the best life there could be for me. I do make decisions that impact my life. But there have been decisions that were made for me, like the place and family I was born in, the social status and much more. I believe those decisions God (or fate, or anything else) made for me were beautiful ones. I love my family, love my birthplace and all the steps that led me here, even though it is far from ideal.

Make peace with your past and live in the present.

I finished my breakfast, got up from the window and wrote this article. Next, I’ll commit the rest of my morning to correcting the first draft of my novel. I live in the moment by creating. Because if you tasted it once, you know that this is the true joy of it. Not the likes, the clicks, and the comments. Yes, the feedback is invaluable. But real joy lies in the moment of the creation process as soon as you lose yourself in it. So – let’s lose ourselves and create.