Category Transformational

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

My best year – and how you can transform 2018 into your best year

Don’t you always hope that the next year will be better than the last? Well, you might as well bang your hand against the wall.

Seriously.

Hoping for the best is foolish. Like hoping you will get fit miraculously or win the lottery. Don’t leave this year to chance. Take back control, and transform it into your best year.

Let me tell you a story.

In the beginning of last year, I knew that I needed change. I was a freelance filmmaker, but my job didn’t take me anywhere. I was unfulfilled, and I had no goals except for the next projects that awaited me, projects “imposed” on me by my clients.
I was thankful for my job, but was it what I wanted to do for the rest of my life?

Additionally, I was unhappy with my body and my habits. I wanted to have a sustainable lifestyle, have more energy and stop feeling ashamed about the way my body looked and felt.

I’ve been trapped in my own little wheel of the mistakes I used to make over and over again, and I wanted out. Sounds familiar?

Last year, I started this blog and wrote down three simple resolutions:
1. A healthy lifestyle
2. A fitness routine
3. A creative routine

Those simple but serious resolutions changed my life. They have transformed this year into my best year so far.

How to create life-changing resolutions

 

In a two-step process, I will share with you what I learned about principles that evoke life change and I will talk to you about the evolution of resolutions so that you also can transform this new year into your best year (so far).

hello

hello

STEP #1 The four principles of life change

2017 changed my life. Looking back, I discovered that these four principles enabled the positive and drastic change I had been craving my whole life, but never managed to stick to.

Those principles can change your life, too, if you understand them and implement them. They are simple, yet challenging because they require your active participation.

hello

1. Real Evaluation

Be honest with yourself. This is the first condition you need to meet to evoke real change in your life. Stop lying to yourself. Stop sugarcoating things.

Determine where you want to go, and be sincere about where you are. You are probably nowhere near your goal. The first step is to acknowledge that, even if it hurts.

Where are you? Where do you want to go?

Those are the questions you need to answer bluntly. Without deluding yourself. If you are not sure where you stand or where your abilities and skills are at the moment, ask people who will be honest with you (not those who will say what you want to hear).

Why do you need this? Because in order to make a map and develop a strategy, you need to know the direction and your own location.

hello

2. Change your THINKING

We don’t want sustainable change, we want the quick fix. But the quick fix won’t produce sincere and lasting happiness. That’s why diets don’t work. And still, there is a whole huge industry luring us in with those empty promises.

But how can you make a real lifestyle change? – Work out every day, eat healthily, establish a creative routine?

By constantly changing your mindset.

Stop thinking and saying things like:
“That’s just the way I’m wired, I am a sweet tooth and I need my sugar.” OR “I’m just not a workout person.” (What is a workout person anyway?)
Instead, replace those thoughts AND phrases with:
“I don’t need sugar because that’s just not who I am. I am a healthy person, and I love healthy food that provides my body with nutrients. I don’t need empty calories that destroy my body!” OR “I love working out! It distresses me, makes me strong and gives me power.”
Start seeing yourself the person you want to become as if it’s already you!

Do you want to be a writer? Start saying: “I am a writer. I love writing.” Stop repeating after everybody how hard writing is or how difficult it is to write. Start loving writing if that’s who you want to be!

You’ll see that those mindset changes are like a self-fulfilling prophecy, either way. If you change your thinking, you’ll change who you are. What you say and what you think matters, A LOT! It will finally determine your life.

hello

3. Find Inspiration sources

In February already, most New Year’s resolutions are flushed down the toilet. Why? The main reason: lack of inspiration and motivation.

How do you stay motivated? There is a sure secret:
Actively envelop yourself in motivation.

Stop believing the lie that motivation is something that comes and goes like the wind, without you having any influence upon it. You CAN determine your own level of motivation.

Podcasts, books, people – all of them will bring you back on track on a daily basis. Find several podcasts you will listen to weekly. Find people you can regularly have coffee with and dream about your life, talk about your progress and be motivated by. Make a list of book you will read throughout the year, books that will take you where you want to be.

Vision and changes do not happen in a bubble. You will never be able to change by yourself. And why would you even try? People have found inspiring ways and lifestyles before you, all you need to do is pull from this endless well of inspiration and your life will change accordingly.

Make sure you check out my Inspirational Resources Page.

Your body is what you feed it. The same goes for your mind. If you feed your mind will all the negativity surrounding us – news, tv shows, negative people who always moan about politics and society – this is who you will eventually become. Make the decision to feed your mind the right things – plan them out like a battle plan against all the negativity in the world. And be sure to cut out all the things (and people!) that have been tearing you down before.

Actively envelop yourself in motivation. Click To Tweet

hello

4. Develop a flexible strategy

Now that you know where you stand and where you want to go, how you will gradually change your thinking and stay motivated, it’s time for an actual strategy. The practical steps to reach your goals.

There are many techniques to form goals. But there is one thing I learned that is highly unusual: the strategy has to be FLEXIBLE. The things I did at the beginning of the year to reach my goals are not those I am doing now. My strategy has developed. I have learned what worked for me, and what did not.

If your strategy is stiff and set in stone, you will be so disappointed if it doesn’t work that you will give up on the plan entirely. It took me years to find out what kind of workout I could transform into a lifestyle. I tried all of them: At-Home-Workouts like Insanity, Running, Freeletics … until I finally stuck with weight lifting in the gym and discovered that this was something I could really do for the rest of my life.

When you develop your strategy, think realistically.
If you are not a morning person, don’t make the resolution to get up at 5 a.m. and write 3000 words a day. Start smaller. Get up at 6.30 a.m. and write 500 words. If that works, push the threshold a little bit further. Try out places you can write in – at your home office or public places like cafes.

If you hate endurance sports (like I do) and the weather is cold and rainy in winter (like in Germany), don’t make it your resolution to run every day. Find workouts that excite you instead. For all those out there who have always wondered about weightlifting, but have never been brave enough to try it (like I did for a very long time): find a program that will gradually introduce you to a gym, weights, sets and supersets and the different ways to lift. Just do it. Just start.

Also, don’t set a ton of goals at once. Make them short, manageable and clear. Make them so exciting that they provide a reason to get up in the morning and look forward to the next day.

hello

hello

#2 The evolution of resolutions

Last year changed my life.

Not because I earned more money. To be honest, it was a tough financial year.

The revolutionary change sprang from clear career goals, sustainable routines and change in thinking.
I realized that I wanted to be a full-time author, and made it my goal. I started regular weight-lifting, learned and implemented a healthy nutritional lifestyle (and I have never felt so good about my body), built my blog and finally finished my first book.

Remember: I haven’t made any money from all those things. Yet. But this year, I finally came to believe that I CAN make a living writing.

Start with a year that will change your life in a sustainable way, and don’t measure it with earnings yet if you’re just starting out in your dream career path. Instead, measure it with craft and lifestyle changes. Because those changes will empower you to make the next year your best year so far, and so on.

I will be blunt with you: after a whole year, I am still perfecting my routines and trying to find the best ways to make them work. I painfully had to realize for example that getting up earlier and being productive during those early hours in winter pales in comparison with the beautiful and illuminated summer months. Winter is literally killing me, and I need to find ways to cope with that. So much for a flexible routine.

But as I celebrated Christmas this year, I realized how happy I was with my life and where it was headed because I learned to love the process: those small routines that made my day-to-day life what it was, while I was headed for bigger goals, one step after another. Believe me, if I say: Routines and habits will change your life. Only they will deliver real results.

So this is how my resolutions have evolved since 2018:

hello

Nr.1 – Routines

Last year, I managed to establish a workout routine. I lift weights and do HIIT 4x a week no matter what. I also have managed to change my nutritional habits, get an understanding of how our body works and what it needs to function properly, implementing it in my life. Also, I have a creative routine of writing and editing every morning.

In 2018, I am planning to perfect and improve my established routines to become more productive. If you want to know HOW exactly, download the Routine Workbook with tools, resources and practical tips that I will implement to improve my own daily habits.

hello

Nr.2 – Production Plan

2017 was about finishing my novel, and creating an archive for my blog.

This year, I have created a (very ambitious) production schedule for books, blog, podcast and the course I want to release by the end of next year (see image below).

It might be too ambitious, but it’s better to aim high and land a little further below then aim low and land on the ground, right?

hello

Nr.3 – Growth & Financial Goals

As mentioned before, 2017 was all about figuring out what I want, how to get it and establishing the necessary routines and habits in my life in order to make the changes possible.

I consider 2018 my first year as a full-time author and blogger. I will still do freelancing jobs in film to survive financially, but this time, I also have established goals for the number of subscribers I want to gain in 2018 and the money I want to earn from the books I plan to publish at the beginning of the year and throughout.

In addition, I decided to cut costs and postpone things in my life, like an extensive road trip to the USA or moving into a bigger apartment, investing all of my time and money into my author business. It was a tough decision to make but I had to set priorities, and I decided that my Nr. 1 priority this year would be gaining financial freedom and becoming better and stronger in what I love. All the other things can wait until the years to come.

hello

Nr. 4 Private and Spiritual Goals

I think it’s important to also set private goals that have nothing to do with my business and career, like working on certain character traits, establishing traditions and changes in relationships and family, and growing spiritually.

In his book “Quarter-Life Calling” Paul Sohn stresses that our calling is composed of four different ones that are equally important:

  • Your calling to your family
  • Your calling to your church (if you are a Christian)
  • Your calling to your neighbours (the people that are next to you)
  • Your vocational calling 

“… when your vocational calling takes precedence over other callings in your life, you experience an unnerving disequilibrium. […] What if instead of identifying with a job description, you begin to see the whole mass of things you do as one portfolio of activity?”

This thought struck me as a slight shock. I always considered my work my primary calling. The thought that there was more to my calling somehow liberated me to strive for excellence as a wife, daughter and friend, not only as an artist and writer. We need to strive for balance to lead a happy and healthy lifestyle.


I always spend the month of December in a mixture of bittersweet nostalgia for the past and tingling expectation of the future. I enjoy the Christmas holidays with family in thankfulness, and the time before New Year’s Eve in expectant preparations for the dawn of the new year.

I invite you to join me in those preparations. Don’t let 2018 intimidate you or hit you unprepared. Instead, own your time, make illustrious plans and dare the future with a fearless laugh. After all, anticipation is the most satisfying of all the forms of joy.

Join me in the New Year’s preparation here on the “My Best Year” workspace where countless FREE resources await you.

I have created a worksheet for you to write down and create your own life-changing resolutions, as well as the “Routines Workbook” mentioned above, and a list for inspirational sources you can you to keep your motivation level throughout the year.

I hope this was helpful! Let me know in the comments below how you plan on making this year your best year so far, and let’s embark on this adventurous journey together!

PS. Thanks for reading up until the very bottom of such an extensive and blunt article 😉

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.

send

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.

send

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 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 story writing 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 creativity 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 in reading creativity 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 story writing and book publishing:
It’s a massive ecosystem 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 book 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.

10 creativity blogs that will take you to the next level

I need my dose of inspiration. Daily.

Yes, I’m a junkie.

There were days where I thought I’d never make it as a writer. Days where I wanted to stay in bed, pitying myself.

Those days are over.

Why?

Because of all the amazing people who made it work, and who share it. Their example and encouragement took me to the next level.

Their creativity blogs are a constant resource of inspiration, ideas, information and fun that takes my life to higher grounds.

They are my dose of daily inspiration, and I know that all creatives need one (or more).

So if you struggle to discover those creativity blogs that are worth your while, let me share my addictions with you.
But beware: You’ll likely to become an addict faster then you think.

The upside: Your creative life will never be the same.

sdsdsdsd

5 creativity blogs on writing

I have to start with writing because this is what my creative life is essentially about. I am captivated by storytelling & stories and encourage everyone to discover the “untold story” inside of them and write. Just write.

It’s really a fantastic time to be a writer! I do believe that.

This belief came from studying the following blogs and the life of these people.

sdsd

1. Empowerment
The Creative Penn – Joanna Penn

creativity blog from Joanna Penn

You need a mentor.

It’s great to have a personal one, but online mentors are as important.

In her podcast, Joanna Penn once emphasized the importance of having an online mentor, and I thought to myself: Well, then it’s definitely you!

Joanna loves authors. Her first and foremost aim is to empower them, and that’s how I feel after following her for probably years now. Empowered.

Reading Joanna’s articles and listening to the podcast is a delight. Especially the introductions always fuel me with new ideas and motivation for how to proceed with my story writing. I never miss a podcast episode. Her voice radiates an always positive attitude, she is real and genuine about her writing life.

Joanna is a visionary. She started self-publishing before it was a trend. She podcasted before everyone else jumped on the train. She is geeky about futurist stuff and loves new development instead of condemning it. This is probably one of the reasons why she’ll never be behind – and you will also be always on top of things following her.

Blog tour:
The blog is filled with resources for independent authors: books, podcast, online courses, tools. Here are some favorites to start with:
A great article and webinar on goals (for 2017, but still worth a look)
A list of articles on editing and recommended editors – a brilliant resource!
Podcast on the future of publishing – geeky stuff.
Joanna is an advocate for going wide instead of Amazon exclusive, here’s why.

 sdsd

2. Craft
Helping Writers Become Authors – K.M. Weiland

creativity blogs from K. M. Weiland

Katie Weiland was my first mentor concerning writing craft.

Craft comes easy with her. It’s practical. It’s doable.

And it works.

While I struggled to start writing my first novel, I stumbled upon her blog and bought her books on outlining and structure – they literally changed my writing life!

I understood the process of outlining which helped me shape my novel. The understanding of structure revolutionized the way I wrote the middle section (Act II) of my novel, which I always struggled with.

Her resources are all about practical advice on writing fiction, things you can instantly and easily implement into your routines.

Blog tour:
There is an easy structure to get you through her blog: on the lefthand side, you’ll find the most relevant articles to start with. Don’t miss:
Storytelling according to Marvel – those movies are hyped now, but why do they work?
The story structure database – in order to understand structure, you can study famous books and movies according to their plot points. The database is always updated!
The 5-step game plan to outlining your novel. 
Using Scrivener in writing process – so practical because Katie gives a glimpse of her own writing with Scrivener.

 sdsd

3. Business
Self Publishing Formula – Mark Dawson

creativity blogs from Mark Dawson

Self-publishers have reached the right address here.

We’re leaving the safe waters of “writing craft”, and entering the uncertain ocean of business. But Mark navigates this ocean for you.

Let’s face it: we need a book marketing strategy and navigation around writing business, because as indies, we’re not just creators but also businessmen (and -women).

This blog is a treasure chest for the secret of success, including technicalities. Mark makes navigating the ocean of self-publishing doable. With the blog, it’s easy to achieve real-life, hands-on results.

But Mark does more. Just look at the way he presents his blog visually – he makes it fun and straightforward!

Blog tour:
I love the visual look of the blog! It makes business look easy, and the content will confirm it. Navigating is simple as all podcasts are available in transcription as well. A great place to start:
The One Thing I Wish I’d Known When Starting My Indie Author Career 
How to start an Indie Publishing Empire
Masterclass on Amazon Ads

lklkl

4. Skill
Fiction Notes – Darcy Pattison

creativity blogs from Darcy Pattinson

Darcy’s blog is all about the little details. Literally.

She emphasizes the importance and skill of colorful and extraordinary descriptions.

Her posts are short and easy to digest, but sum up the issue in a nutshell.

For everybody who needs a little something to inspire and fix your story writing quickly, this is the creativity blog to go to.

Blog tour:
The blog is divided into several categories, but the best way is to just dive into it. Open up any post that grabs you by the title, and give it several minutes to refresh your motivation.
A short article on the most important rule: Show, don’t tell.
Spice up scenes that you think are good (but boring).
A great and inspiring note on a novel by Janet Fox. 

sdsd

5. Writing Life
Nicole Bianchi – a lifestyle blog for writers

creativity blogs from Nicole Bianchi

A lifestyle blog for writers.

A niche deeply needed for our doubts and downs.

Nicole borrows from those who have gone this way long ago: Hemingsway, C.S. Lewis, John Steinbeck, William Faulkner, Arthur Conan Doyle – the list goes on.

Films about writers, famous authors’ unusual hobbies and lots of articles on being a prolific author. This is a blog full of practical tips and tricks for the everyday writing life that will sometimes “wow” you, and motivate you to actually WRITE (which we too often get distracted from).

Blog tour:
Her blog is easy to navigate. There is a “Start Here!” section, a writing resources tab and a Facebook group of fellow writers to join. Those are my absolute favorite articles on classical writers:
5 Writing Tips from Ernest Hemingway – number 1 was an eye-opener.
C. S. Lewis’s Letter to a Young Writer – five inspiring rules which are more about the semantics, sentences, and words.
How to Use Benjamin Franklin’s Daily Schedule to Reach Your Writing Goals — not about a writer per se, but lots to learn about schedule and success.

sdsdsd

2 creativity blogs for inspiration & story ideas

As a filmmaker, I am a very visual person.

I derive most of my inspiration from films, scenes, lights, camera work, and moods. James Patterson stresses the importance of having a movie projector in your head when writing. So cinema and TV is my number one resource to become a better storyteller.

This is where I go for visual storytelling.

1. Bad Writing?
Just Write

creativity blogs on video

Sage Hyden’s video essays are dead on.

The insight he brings doesn’t spring from opinions but from deep research he cites in his videos. He allows us to take part in this research and become better viewers, writers, and creatives.

But it doesn’t mean the videos are boring – ou contraire.

Channel tour:

My favorite essay is his takes on why Game of Thrones failed so miserably in the last season: What Game of Thrones kinda forgot. It precisely spots the issue and helps us do better with our writing.

Engaged in the Joker discussion and wondering whether art has a social responsibility? Here’s a great essay on that: Joker: Should Movies Teach Morality?

sdsd

2. Cut to:
Lessons from the Screenplay

creatives blogs on screenplays

Michael’s channel is worth a follow.

Whether it’s looking at the anatomy of story structure, or how to create the ultimate antagonist, he tries to make every video provide a useful lesson while also highlighting the reasons we love our favorite movies.

There is a seemingly endless number of great films to examine, and he finds the lesson in all of them.

Channel tour:

If you want to understand antagonists and their power, don’t miss out on this video (my favorite!): The Dark Knight — Creating the Ultimate Antagonist

Why the USS Callister episode of Black Mirror is an act of genius: Black Mirror — Now Entering the Twilight Zone

nnmnm

3 creativity blogs on lifestyle

Lifestyle is the sum of the days we live – day in, day out. It is our routine.

The optimization of our daily routine is what makes our creative lives successful. We need to know how to use our time wisely.
Those were the blogs that changed my routines, helped me live more productively and altered my outlook on everyday life.

seeds

1. Habits
James Clear

creativity blogs on habits

This one is probably the best blog on productivity and habits! It contains endless articles and resources on lifestyle topics, and it really helped me understand how the human mind and habit forming works.

At its core lies the question: How can we live better? James answers it in two ways.

On one hand, by trying to understand the forces that shape failure and success, on the other hand, by applying the principles to everyday life.

Blog tour:
Start by just clicking on the Articles category where James will lead you through all the aspects his blog contains.
My favorites are:
How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide – this is a mind changer when it comes to habit building.

For a More Creative Brain Follow These 5 Steps. Many say: I’m just not creative. This is a lie. Everybody can be creative, I honestly believe that. This is a misconception, and those five steps will help everybody kickstart their creativity.

The Paradox of Behavior Change – find out about the myth of Radical Change that we all believe in.

6 Truths About Exercise That Nobody Wants to Believe – and this leads me to the next (b)log.

sdsd

2. Fitness

Get Fit with Whit

creativity blogs on fitness

Sorry, this one is for the girls.

There are probably lots of great resources for men, and I apologize that I have to put my focus on the next two blogs on women, but as a woman, I find it important to stress that our lifestyles and habits might differ from the men in our lives. Which is good, because the differences spice up our lives.

Whitney was a game-changer for me, and what I like about her the most is the creativity she proves when making workouts. There is always something new on her channel. She was the one who ushered me into a fitness journey as a creative and is still with me all the way.

I’m an absolute fan of her workouts, and they DO work, if you work hard.

Channel Tour:

Start with: Fit Tips with Whit – here, you’ll find videos like fitness philosophy, what to do after a workout, workout schedule and a “beginner’s guide to getting FIT”.

The Highlight: Workout with Whit. Everything you need is here. Everything. High Intensity, leg training, chest, back, arms. And again, I cannot stress it enough, those workouts are creative and never get boring if alternated.

There’s also an excellent section on At Home Workouts. I use them for vacation.

sdsdsdsd

3. Happiness

The Barefoot Blonde – Amber Fillerup Clark 

creativity blogs on happiness

This is another blog for women, and I’ll talk some “girly” issues here, so men, feel free to skip to the next one.

I just love this blog because it gives me courage as a woman.

It never takes more than five minutes of my day to skip through the beautiful photos, read a little of the post. But every time I find myself lost in those five minutes, I realize that I’m filled with hope.

There are beauty and bravery to it, a hope that family life can be amazing, adventurous, filled with happiness, ease, and love.

Just open the blog, the very first post. Have a look at the photos. You’ll catch yourself smiling involuntarily.  You’ll fall in love with it.

What this blog does for me, is, it makes me want a family. It makes me want to throw away the fears and prejudices of being pregnant or being a mom. When I look at Amber, I am thrilled to have kids.

Sure, I’m aware that life’s not always how we see it in those pictures. There are problems. But this is not what it’s about. It’s about the fact that those happy moments outweigh the hardships because they are so precious and worth every bit of my time and investment.

Blog tour:
The blog’s highlights are definitely the amazing pictures! There is a certain focus on lifestyle, hair, and beauty, but as told above, this is not what the blog gives me in the first place.

Secret Island – love, love, love those pictures and of course those places as I love traveling as a writer.

60 Tips for traveling with kids and toddlers – great, even for a “not-yet-mom”.

Father’s Day gifts – emotional.

sdsdsdsd

Bonus: Personal inspiration & mentorship

Having mentors and role models on the internet is important. That’s the beauty of the world we have nowadays: the endless connections we can make with people around the world. But this can and should never replace personal face-to-face encounters and relationships with people whose lives we can actually witness.

Because as we see them living their everyday lives we can witness firsthand how they live what they teach. Personal conversations and exchange of ideas make us grow. Even more do projects we can passionately work on together.

Walter is one of the people in my personal environment who inspires and mentors me.

sdsd

Walter Epp – Schreibsuchti

creativity blogs in German

Walter is a German blogger who has two different blogs.

He started with schreibsuchti.de, which is primarily a blog about blogging. Over the course of several years, this blog grew to be one of the most popular ones in Germany.

Walter recently published a book on Amazon on the subject of time and how to make time for the important things in life, which became a German bestseller in the category of management.

His life continues to inspire me. Walter studied law and finished his first State examination, but he refused to be stuck in a job that he hates. Having a family and kids, he still made the bold step of terminating his clerkship and become a freelance blogger.

I witnessed it all firsthand as our families are close friends. The doubts and criticism he had to face from family and friends, the first hard years they had to go through financially. And this is the power of personal relationships. I have never seen Walter giving up. Ever.

He made a decision not to waste time doing the things he hates but instead focusing on passion and family, and he went through with it no matter what came along. He put in the hard work, the sweat and maybe even tears, and it finally paid off.

If you’re lucky enough to speak German, check out his blogs which are full of inspiring resources and articles, and read his book.

More important though: Look for people in your surroundings for inspiration. Friends. Family. Neighbors. Form relationships and cherish them, and maybe one day, you will be the one to inspire others.


One last word of care: All these resources are made to move you to action.

There are many people who read those blogs, admire and maybe even envy the people but do nothing. The temptation is there because actually doing something means moving out of a convenient and comfortable place of pure consumption.

Creatives need a healthy dose of both. If you work non-stop without loading up your creative well and educating, you will eventually burn out and get stuck.

But if you never move to create, your heart will become dull. Those resources will lose their meaning because they are meant to evoke practical change in your own life.

So now, go ahead. Fill up your creative well and start becoming an inspiration for others.

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 creativity 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: book 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 the things necessary. I just go to the gym and work through my daily workout, no questions asked. The same applies to book 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.

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.

How to create life-changing resolutions

As the new year begins, we are mostly filled with motivation for change. At least I was this year. But the silent little voice inside of me whispered: You failed last year, and the year before – why should this be different? Why even bother? We are afraid to fail, and sometimes even refrain from trying because of this fear. But this year, I realized that my failures taught me, and I learned from them. I found out that before setting a goal, I need to be informed both about the field the goal is set in and about myself. How do I react to change? How can I ease the transition? And most importantly: How can I stay motivated? Because STAYING motivated is what counts.

This is what I found: In order to stay motivated, those three ingredients are crucial:

  1. The right goal
    There is a problem with a goal – it needs to have an exact balance. It needs to be big, dreamable, something you can boast about once you reach it, something you can frame and be proud of. But then, it also needs to be achievable, reachable. You cannot have an abstract goal like painting a masterpiece or shooting a blockbuster. This is neither measurable not achievable if you are no Picasso or Spielberg. My advice is: think about what your heart longs for and then make it a measurable dream. Do not make your goal dependable on success. Make a film, paint a picture or write a book without having to measure the success yet.
  2. Constant challenges
    If I’m in the process, things need to change for me. I cannot do the same thing all over again for months without the slightest change or challenge. The problem is: You need to build in the challenge for yourself or invest into a program that does it for you. For me, it’s not enough to write 1000 words a day. Instead, I rather write for forty minutes and try to improve my word count. The same goes with everything else: fitness, food. It needs to vary and to challenge me.
  3. Routine
    On the other hand, nothing is as beautiful as seeing your creative routines become habits. For example: If I haven’t written in the course of a day, I feel exactly that it’s missing. Like having forgotten to brush one’s teeth. So make it your priority to set up a routine and hold on to it for at least 21 days (because we know that our brain needs 21 days to develop habits).

So now, if you have all the three ingredients in place, let’s think about what resolutions we need as creatives, and let me let you in on mine for this new year.

  • Healthy Lifestyle
    I’ve been struggling to find the right diet for a very long time and tried nearly everything. It’s after an article I read that it dawned on me that a diet is useless. The realization just came to me: I need to lead a healthy lifestyle – it needs to be my life, incorporated into everything I do. Not because I need to, but because I want to. My body deserves to be treated with respect and to be preserved as well as possible. It’s sad that we often take more care of our phones, our cameras or anything else of value more than we care for our bodies. But think about it: your body is your ticket for a long and fulfilling life. To be creative and keep on creating you need to stay healthy and have a clear mind as well as enough energy.Healthy does not mean disgusting – it’s a sad but persistent association. You’ll find out quickly that a healthy lifestyle is tasty, and makes you feel great. Also, it does not mean eating less. In fact, if you incorporate the next point, it even means eating more – less crap and more actual nutrients. Okay, so how does this look in practice? I won’t dive into the science of it, and leave it to the experts. Here are the best books I found on this topic and also one of the greatest recipes:
    “The Bikini Body” by Kayla Itsines
    “The Shredded Chef” by Michael Matthews 
    Also, some of the best recipes are found in the program I’ll introduce next.
  • Fitness Routine
    Oh well. Fitness. This particular issue leaves us divided. There are those who need spots and those who hate it. But even if I might lose you as a reader right now, let me tell you one thing: Your body needs exercise. It will thank you for it. It will even reward you in future if you keep yourself fit. It might seem impossible now, but believe me, as soon as you start, you will learn to love it. Exercise is the best way to relieve stress. It’s the best way to feel great about yourself and your achievements, the best way to keep your body fit for everyday life. And there are thousands of ways you can exercise and love it – you just need to find the best way for yourself.My year’s absolute favorite is this program: Pamstrong. I’m following it for one week only and can see a transformation already. It supplies you with great recipes and new workouts every week, and it keeps me motivated.For the guys out there – this is what my husband is crazy about 7 minute workout. He also goes to the gym, but this little thing keeps him motivated, even on those days where he cannot squeeze in anything else. If you hate the gym, you can try also try the famous Freeletics program. For me, it was too hard to keep up with, but multitudes love it. Don’t give up if you don’t find what is right for you at once – keep on trying and start small! But the important thing is – and that’ why I called it the Fitness Routine – make it a habit!

  • Creative Routine
    Now, we’re getting to the best part. Living a healthy life needs to have a purpose, which is amongst others to stay creative and have a clear mind and schedule. What’s most important here is – it needs to be a routine. A goal you can pursue every day. For me, it is 1500 words of writing or one hour of editing to reach this year’s goal: publishing my first novel.What is your goal, and which steps do you need to take to come closer every day? Here also, you need to be informed and study what others before you have found out. My example: I found this fantastic book: 5,000 Words Per Hour: Write Faster, Write Smarter: Volume 1pastedGraphic.png. It took my writing to a whole new level and doubled my writing speed in the first days I utilized the methods! This way, I got motivated, and a whole new routine kicked in. What I’m saying is, that you need to study productivity and all kinds of tricks in your field of creativity to set up an amazing routine that you’ll stick to.

For all this, there is a small and simple trick I used this year: I bought a calendar and wrote my routine down! I plan out my week on Saturday with a meal plan and a daily routine that can change according to the appointments and tasks ahead. But this changed my life! So how can you create life-changing resolutions? By planning out routines using the help of professionals and the knowledge of your personality! Stick to them for 21 days – and let me know how your habit kicked in!

PS. There are many other important things I wrote down goals in, like family, relationships, spiritual goals, finances sleep or inspiration. Decide what’s important to you, what your life has been lacking and what your heart tells you to do, write it down, and go for it!