Creativity is work

Join me on Wednesday May 25th for a free online event with Jennie Nash: “How to Get People to Care About Your Writing.” We will dig deep into the topic, plus celebrate the launch of her new book: Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book! Register here. Onto today’s message…

I said something in a workshop for writers recently that seemed to resonate with some of them. It was an offhand comment, but something I believe in deeply:

Creativity is work.

The context for this was to encourage the writers to show up for this work. To not wait until they have ample time and energy, when everyone around them has made it easy for them to be creative. You have to prioritize this time, even when others dismiss it. You have to create systems around it to do so. You have to mentally and emotionally prepare to work through your inner boundaries to get there. All this, just for the opportunity, to create. And the same goes for sharing what you create, which is the work I help writers do.

Should it always be that way? Gosh, I hope not. I genuinely hope you find creating easy. That it is magical. That it flows. That your life opens up to make room for it. And while I have had periods in my life where that has happened, it is not the norm. It is work, to show up for your creative vision.

I’m married to an (amazing) artist. Of course, inspiration fuels her. But I see her show up… every day… for her creative vision. I see her work.

My friends have always been creators. Dancers, visual artists, designers, writers, performers, and the like. We had this special wing of our high school for a performing arts program. I would see my friends show up for that work. A line of dancers along the wall… working. A group of students huddled over the video editing bay… working. The actors sprawled out in a hallway building sets… working.

When I was young, it seemed like so many people were talking about creative goals. Thirty years later, how many of them are still pursuing those goals, even as a small hobby? Whoever is, is working at it. And of course, this is how my days are spent with writers: showing up to do the work of developing their careers, of understanding who their audience is, forging meaningful connections with readers, and sharing their writing.

This doesn’t just happen. Not usually, anyway. You have to show up for that work.

Eight years ago Jennie Nash and I began meeting once a week to discuss creativity and business. We showed up for each other’s goals and challenges each week. The phone calls are not social, they are not chitchatty. They are us doing the work. We get on the phone, and one of us is immediately like, “YOU GO FIRST.” We each come prepared with specific challenges that we would like feedback on. We are never subtle. There is no “Oh, the week is fine, you know, just soooo busy.” It is always: “I’m losing sleep over this thing, let me present to you the decision I’m working on for this tiny aspect of my business (or creative work)…” Of course, we are incredibly supportive of each other, but we also call each other out on habits that need to change, on perspectives we are missing, and on flipping ideas entirely on their head.

Every. single. week.

Creativity is work. And you have to show up for it. So is how you share that work. Which is why Jennie and I are hosting the free event next week on “How to Get People to Care About Your Writing.” You see, Jennie is a book coach, and even established an entire company where she trains book coaches. More than 100 people have been certified as book coaches through her program. That’s amazing. To not just create, but empower others to do so as well.

Whether you intend this or not, I think that is what writers do through what you create. Whether fiction, memoir, nonfiction, poetry, or any kind of writing, you are creating a gateway for readers. You open up new worlds, new ideas, new experiences for readers. For many people, just to read a book can be work. How many books have you purchased that you never read? Or never got past the first chapter, even if you intended to? This is common. I was chatting with a writer just this week who told me, “I bought your book when it first came out. But I haven’t read it yet.” This happens all the time. I speak with writers who are shocked that their closest friends or family haven’t even bought or read their books. Of course we hope that they say, “I stayed up all night… I just could not put it down!” We hope for books to be a magical force, just as we hope creativity to be that as well. But that doesn’t always happen.

In the same way, your writing will not just magically get shared. People have to take that action. Yes, we hope that readers will love what you write, and feel compelled to share it. But as anyone who has ever published a book knows, that isn’t always true. It is work. Which is why I help people learn how to develop their identity as a writer, understand who their ideal readers are, and connect them with this writing in meaningful ways. Like, that is my whole career: to learn how to share what we create.

All of this is a craft. Of how we connect. How books bring us together. How what you create becomes part of who you are, and your daily experience in this world. Not as… “I created a product that you can buy in a retailer.” But as “My days are filled in creation and conversation around the ideas and themes I love, with people who think about them in a similar way that I do.”

Often writers view the goal of sharing their work as: “How do I grab people’s attention so that they see my book?” But that isn’t the goal. It’s how you can share what you create in a meaningful way with real people. How doing so leads them to be curious about the story you share. It’s about them loving it, and then, sharing it with others.

Jennie is doing that right now. She just published a new book, Blueprint for a Nonfiction Book: Plan and Pitch Your Big Idea:

Writing this book, publishing it, sharing it, that is all work she is doing in addition to so much else in her business. But this is her living her mission, constantly in conversation with writers and those who support them.

Likely, you don’t have any kind of business around what you create. You want to write and have people read it. I am simply encouraging you to show up for that work fully. To not shy away from doubling down on it and on the power your own voice. On sharing it like you feel it truly matters not just to you, but to others.

This week I shared my latest podcast interview with author Corie Adjmi. She shared how she grew up in a house full of athletes: “In the bookcase in my house, there were very few books, but a lot of trophies. But they always gave me the opportunity to take classes.” That support translated into a life of dance, art, and then… writing. In releasing her first book, she described her ethos of the launch process: “This is fun! How can I be creative in showing people my book, and sharing what’s inside, and what kind of great conversations can we have? And it has been amazing, a really busy two years.”

Corie and I worked together awhile back, and it feels great to share her perspective on sharing her work as fun.


Pease join me on Wednesday May 25th, for my event with Jennie nash: “How to Get People to Care About Your Writing.” We will dig deep into the topic, plus celebrate the launch of her new book. Register here.