Author Michael La Ronn has already written three books this year, and he will likely write three more before the year is done. Today I want to explore how he is able to fill his life with creativity, infusing writing into all he does.
It’s worth framing all he is responsible for in a given week:
- He is married and has a five year old daughter, plus a dog and a rabbit.
- He has a full-time job working in insurance at a Fortune 100 company
- He is the author of more than 50 books, mostly fantasy, science fiction, and self-help for writers.
- He is going to law school on nights and weekends.
- He is a part-time teacher of insurance classes.
- He posts a weekly video to his YouTube channel.
- He posts a weekly podcast.
- He is the outreach manager at the Alliance of Independent Authors.
I’m not going to lie, I’m exhausted just writing all that out, let alone considering how he does it all. And somehow, he makes it work. When I last interviewed him two years ago, he was already writing 10 books per year on average. This week I talked to him to discuss how he sustains this, and how the pandemic has (and hasn’t) changed his process.
Invest in Mental Health First
When I asked how his creative process has changed because of the pandemic, he said that he first invested in his mental health. He decided to sleep an extra hour each day, because he treats mental health as the foundation of all he does in life.
I loved hearing that, this idea that rest is a critical part of creativity and work. He says, “If you don’t have your mental health in shape, it’s gonna be difficult.” He is trying to use this period of time to feel more grounded and improve his own creative process. That begins with sleep and mental health.
Make Every Moment a Creative Moment
How will Michael write 6 books this year? By ensuring he can create wherever he is, and let tiny moments of creativity add up to an incredible body of work. He put it this way:
“Before the pandemic, I wrote 40% of the words on my phone — in the backseat of an Uber car, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office. Little moments adds up. I use the Scrivener app on my phone. That is how I learned to be really efficient. The most important thing you can do is to master the tools of your trade. If you can master those, then you can be more efficient.”
It is inspiring to see how he changes the context of everyday moments to turn them into creative experiences. He tracks how many words he writes on what platform (computer vs phone) so that he can understand the importance of that tool, and the process.
Focus on What You Can Control
As Michael and I discussed the way the pandemic has shifted his process, he talked about how he was focusing on the things he could control, not the things he couldn’t.
“I asked myself when all of this started: when this is all done, what do I want my story to look like? What did I do for my family, for myself, for my readers.”
Michael is so intentional about where he puts his attention and energy. He didn’t just focus on disruption, he instead envisioned what he can create.
Fail in the Short Term to Succeed in the Long Term
He said that he pursues so many different fields — in law, writing, and his job — as insurance for the future. So that he has more options for success.
“The decision I made to be so busy are hedging my bets against the future, and having something to fall back on. I’m going to allow myself to fail as often as possible, because failure is a far better teacher than success. This helps me become a smart, better, and more efficient writer.”
This is something that came out again and again in our chat, how every experience in his life is something he viewed through the lens of how it makes him a better writer. Everything is geared towards craft, even things that someone else may think are separate. Michael talked about how his day job in insurance makes him a better writer, and how going to law school makes him a better writer. All the pieces fit for his clarity of his goals.
“For me, everything I learn at work, I can bring it over to my writing, and vice versa. One of the only reasons I went to law school is so that I can become a better writer. So I could learn copyright law, learn business, all those things that writers need to know, but don’t know.”
He encouraged people to not have a wall between work life and personal life. To bring what you learn from one to the other. I think that allows someone to be in the writing mindset all the time.
Don’t Let Impostor’s Syndrome Stop You
When I asked him about impostor’s syndrome, he shared advice that a mentor once gave him about how he can work through it. If he ever feels impostor’s syndrome about a specific task or goal, he asks himself these three questions:
- Can I learn?
- Can it advance my career?
- Can I influence people moving forward?
So he focuses on how each action he takes moves his writing process forward, and his career forward. He reframes the thinking that stops so many other people. Again, his creative clarity is just so inspiring, and it’s amazing how it leads to clear actions he takes each day to create and share.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking ‘play’ below, or in the following places:
You can find Michael in the following places:
- Podcast: The Writer’s Journey
- YouTube channel: Author Level Up
- His book: Be a Writing Machine: Write Faster and Smarter, Beat Writer’s Block, and Be Prolific