In The Creative Shift with Dan Blank, I interview writers and artists who have doubled-down on their creative vision. I delve deep into how they moved from merely dabbling with ideas to becoming a doer — someone who creates, finishes, and shares their work.
My questions tend to focus on the aspects of managing one’s career that are hidden: how we make decisions, deal with anxiety, the habits and routines that matter, and the reality of what it looks like to be a full-time creative professional.
Find and listen to the newest podcast in the following places:
“Because I was finally following my passion, everything fell into place.” My interview with author Gigi Pandian
igi Pandian is a USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author of 10 books. Today we explore the huge creative shift she made to stop pursuing a PhD in order to fill her life with more creativity develop her career as an author. She shares the long road to getting the first book published, how that book found a readership because of her active involvement in the community of readers and writers, and how that got her the book deals she hoped for for two of her series.
From a 25+ Year Career in Education to Her First Book, with Valerie Bolling
For years, Valerie Bolling worked in education. One day, a visit from her nieces inspired her to write some stories. She set a goal to get published and “wrote and wrote and wrote.” Through a Twitter pitch, her book was acquired by a publisher. To find her agent, it took more than 150 queries (50 of which came after her deal for the book.) Valerie shares so much inspiring advice on creating and sharing.
How Star Wars Led to an Amazing Creative Shift, with Steve Sansweet
Today I want to share the story of an amazing creative shift. Steve Sansweet was working as a journalist when he was allowed to see an early screening of Star Wars in 1977. That day changed his life, and he went on to amass the world’s largest collection of Star Wars memorabilia. He eventually left journalism to work inside Lucasfilm, and today runs Rancho Obi-Wan, an interactive museum of Star Wars memorabilia. His story is incredible, and inspiring.
From Professional Basketball to Becoming an Author and Entrepreneur. My Interview with Malcolm Lemmons
When Malcolm Lemmons shifted his career away from professional basketball, he describes how he struggled to find a new purpose. What gave him a clear path? Writing and storytelling. In today’s episode, we talk about his creative shift. There is so much in this episode that directly applies to the work that writers and artists face each day. Malcolm is the author of two books: Impact Beyond the Game and Lessons from the Game
“It Keeps Growing.” Promoting Your Book 2+ Years Post-Launch, with Beth Ricanati, M.D.
“I’m selling more books and the message is getting out there.” This is author Beth Ricanati, M.D. described the results of continuing to promote her book two years after release. She has been running workshops in-person and online in support of her book, Braided: A Journey of a Thousand Challahs. In the process, she is finding new audiences she never considered before, is having more people reach out to her, and it has paved the way for her next book.
“The book that won the Caldecott was my 99th story idea.” My Interview with Andrea J. Loney
Earlier this year Andrea J. Loney’s book, Double Bass Blues, received a Caldecott Honor. When I asked her about that journey she described how her very first book deal was for her 11th manscript. The next book she sold, Double Bass Blues, was her 17th manuscript. In our interview, she talks about the value of collaboration, persistence, and how her experience working at a circus, in theater, stand-up comedy, and writing for TV helped her realize her dream of being a children’s book author.
“I Can Choose My Outcome.” On Creativity, Identity, and Success, with Vesper Stamper
Today author/illustrator Vesper Stamper shares powerful wisdom on the lessons she has learned in four decades of creative work. As a child, she found escape in books, she attended the arts high school featured in the movie and TV show Fame, and then pursued music, illustration and writing. She talks about the long road to success, the role of art in our lives, the power of collaboration, and why relationships need to be at the center of creative work. Her new book, A Cloud of Outrageous Blue is out this month!
“You always have a choice, so operate from within that power.” On Money and Creativity, with Jacquette Timmons
Today I want to explore a topic that many writers and artists avoid: money and finance. I’m excited to welcome financial expert Jacquette Timmons onto the podcast. She talks about the psychology and emotion around money, and how it can limit your potential as a creator. I love the way she frames this: “We are talking about money all the time, but we aren’t having the right conversations.”
Book Launch Case Study Part 3, with Leigh Stein
Welcome to the third part of my book launch case study with Leigh Stein. A year ago she and I began working on the marketing strategy for her novel, Self Care, which was released a few weeks ago. In this episode, we discuss the many ways the book has been successful, and how a year’s worth of marketing work has paid off.
“I Look at Obstacles as Opportunities.” My Interview with Filmmaker Angela Tucker
Today I’m excited to share my interview with filmmaker Angela Tucker. We discussed the creative and business challenges of filmmaking, and consider the many lessons that has for writers and artists as well. She is the producer on a new film that is being released into a changed world — one where theaters and festivals are largely closed. We talk about how she is navigating that process.
“You Can Hide Behind Amazon All You Want, But People Want to Know Who You Are As a Person,” My interview with Evan J. Roberts
When I asked Evan J. Roberts how he has been able to promote the 18 books he has written in the last few years, he told me: “As an author, you can hide behind Amazon all you want, but people want to know who you are as a person. It also challenges you to start talking about the book and the relationship of what it means to the reader. That is a totally different conversation to have.” This is an inspiring conversation of how a trip to the library catapulted him to become an author.
“It’s Not Selfish to Pursue Your Dreams, and It’s Never Too Late.” My Interview with Author Kalynn Bayron
Kalynn Bayron has been a musician, dancer, opera singer, and is now an author. Her new book Cinderella is Dead was just published from Bloomsbury. In our conversation, we talk about that path to publication, including the 70 queries it took to find her agent, and the 4 year path to publication. She described the culmination of this process as readers telling her that they see themselves in the story, “I see there is a space for me.” Kalynn concluded: “If nothing else ever happens for me, that will have been enough.”
“The Best Artists Pick Up What’s Left, and Generate Something New and Exciting,” My Interview with Writer Sonya Larson
Today I’m excited to writer Sonya Larson. We discuss her role as Director of GrubStreet‘s Muse and the Marketplace writing conference, and how they are adjusting to serving writers amidst the pandemic. I love her take on finding hope amidst challenges: “The best artists pick up what’s left, and generate something new and exciting.” GrubStreet runs 600 workshops a year, have 1,000 people attend their conference, and are moving to a brand new 15,000 square foot facility.
“You Have to Shift From Consuming to Creating.” My Interview with Marcus Whitney
Something Marcus Whitney said to me has been bouncing around my mind all week: “You have to shift from consuming to creating.” Today I am excited to share my interview with Marcus, where he shares an inspiring message of what creative power is, and how to turn ideas into action. He has a new book out called Create and Orchestrate: The Path to Claiming Your Creative Power from an Unlikely Entrepreneur. He is also the Co-Founder of the Nashville Soccer Club, Jumpstart Foundry, and Health:Further.
Success as a Writer is Joy Inside You and a Connection with Readers. My Interview with Monica Bhide
Today I want to share the inspiring story of Monica Bhide, who followed her dream to becoming a successful writer. Her journey is filled with amazing wisdom for what it takes to find your voice, get published, and truly have an impact in the lives of readers.
Make Every Moment a Creative Moment, with Author Michael La Ronn
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.
Generosity, Social Media, and Living Your Mission as a Writer, With Author/Illustrator Jarrett Lerner
When I first noticed author/illustrator Jarrett Lerner, he was using his Twitter account to constantly celebrate other authors and books. His generosity got him noticed. The result? 20,000+ followers. His first book was published in 2017, his second in 2020, and he has 9 more books in the works to be published within the next two years. In today’s conversation, I talk to Jarrett about what it means to live your mission as a writer, and what that daily work of creating and sharing looks like.
“What Can I Create?” The Powerful Question to Navigate Change, with Jenny Blake
Today I talk to author Jenny Blake about how to navigate change and uncertainty. Her book, Pivot, The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One, showcases her process for this, but our chat goes deeper. When everything shut down in March, her entire speaking and workshop business got “wiped out.” This is an honest conversation not just about managing the strategy of having a creative career, but how to manage the emotions of it as well.
Focus on What You Can Control. A Book Launch Case Study with Leigh Stein
How can you launch a book in a constantly changing world? Author Leigh Stein is finding out. She has been focusing on what she can control, remixing strategic plans, and devising new ideas filled with creativity and connection. We dig into it all in today’s conversation. This interview is part 2 of my book launch case study with Leigh as she prepares for the June 30 launch of her book: Self Care: A Novel.
Giving Away Your Creative Power (and How To Get It Back), With Shannon Connery, PhD
In today’s episode, I speak with Shannon Connery, PhD about how many writers and artists give away their power to create and share. We dig into the narratives that tend to limit our potential, leaving us with excuses instead of creative actions. Shannon shares several stories to illustrate the point, digs into the psychology of what is going, and most importantly, shares how to fix it! Her advice: lead with your goals and values.
The “Why Bother?” Book Launch, With Jennifer Louden
Today, author Jennifer Louden takes us through her new book, Why Bother?: Discover the Desire for What’s Next, and the six-step process she guides you through to find your own path with your creative work. She also goes behind the scenes of her book launch, sharing how she got more than 170 five-star reviews on Amazon in less than a week, how she is focusing her marketing efforts, and the biggest mistakes authors make in their book launch.
Embracing Vinyl Records in a Digital Age, with Kevin Smokler
I’ve known author Kevin Smokler for years. Recently, he did something astounding: he helped create an amazing documentary film called Vinyl Nation. In today’s episode, I chat with Kevin about how he took that left turn creatively, and his advice for collaboration with people you admire. We also dig into the topic of the film: why did vinyl records come back into fashion, and how does that inform how we come together around music, art, and writing.
Anxiety, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship, With Artist Jay Alders
So many writers and artists I speak with struggle to deal with anxiety. This is especially true when one also earns all or part of their income through their creative work. Today I chat with artist Jay Alders about how he manages the mental health side of working as a full-time artist, raising a young family, and supporting the work of his wife who has her own mission and business as well.
A Radically Honest Conversation on Marketing, with Tad Hargrave
So many writers and artist struggle to consider how they can best market what they create. How they can develop a fanbase that leads to a sense of fulfillment and sales. I invited Tad Hargrave onto the podcast to have a candid conversation about marketing — what works, what doesn’t, and why so many of us are uncomfortable with it.
“Where is the real authentic me? Because she got lost somewhere along the way.” The Rewilding of Betsy Brockett
I’ve been asking Betsy Brockett if I could interview her for awhile now. She finally said yes. What she shared in our interview was her journey not just to create, but to find who she is. The themes that we explore about Betsy’s journey align to what so many writers and artist struggle with. What we create is wrapped up with the identity of who we are. How we share can be complicated because we may seek external validation, instead of internal fulfillment. This conversation opens it all up in a magical way.
“At least it’s my own desk, in my own garage.” The Creative Shift of Tony Bonds
Tony Bonds just took a big creative leap. He left his day job in order to do his creative business full-time, to double-down on his dream. I recorded my interview with him via online video, from his new office. That would be his garage, complete with messy shelves, exposed pipes, and baby carriages hanging from the rafters. This is where so much creative work happens – in less than ideal places, amidst a ton of risk. But as Tony put it: “At least it’s my own desk, in my own garage.”
The Transformation Your Writing and Art Promises
This week I’m considering how you can help others experience the transformation that your writing and art promises. All of us seem to be in the midst of a creative shift, whether we intended it or not. What is inspiring me this week are those who are reaching out to share, to connect, and to find new ways for others to experience the transformation of writing and art.
Leveling Up Your Art and Business, with Megan Carty
Today artist Megan Carty shares strategies and insights into how she has been leveling up her art and her business. She gives an unfiltered look into specific ways she is doubling down on her business, and what she has learned in growing her career. She also goes into detail as to how she grew her following with this advice: “It’s all about relationships on social media. I stopped posting and started engaging.” This interview is packed with useful and inspiring advice.
“I wanted to be creative, independent, and make stuff.” My Interview with Christine Koh
Christine Koh took a risk that so many people dream of. She left a successful career iorder to create and make stuff. Today she takes you behind the scenes of that process, “the good, the bad, and the ugly” as she says! Christine Koh is a music and brain scientist turned multimedia creative. Since leaving academia in 2006, Christine has launched a successful parenting blog, design company, podcast, book, and so much more!
Behind the Book Launch of a Novel, My Interview with Leigh Stein
Today I take you inside the book launch plans of author Leigh Stein. She and I worked together last year in preparation for the launch of her new book, Self Care: A Novel. We take you step-by-step into the process she went through to identify her ideal readers and develop her marketing plan. We also talk about the need to plan way ahead. We worked together nearly a full year ahead of launch.
“I Silenced a Part of Myself for a Long Time.” My Interview with Illustrator Anna Raff
How do you make a major creative shift in order to do the work you love? Today, award-winning children’s book illustrator Anna Raff shares how she did exactly that. This is how she described what she learned when, mid-career, she began taking classes again: “I realized I was missing out and silenced a part of myself for a long time.” I also love her advice on how what you create and share needs to be focused on who you are: “If you are sharing work that is an extension of you, it will be your best work.”
The Reality Behind a Book Launch, My Interview with Author Teru Clavel
Last summer, Teru Clavel released her first book: World Class: One Mother’s Journey Halfway Around the Globe in Search of the Best Education for Her Children. It was published by a major publisher, was well reviewed in major media, she appeared on the TODAY Show plus other TV and radio, and was interviewed on dozens of podcasts. In this episode she gets radically honest about the book launch process – what worked and what she learned along the way.
Filling Your Life with Creativity After the Bottom Drops Out. My Interview with Shannon Connery.
How does one find the time and energy to embrace creativity after the bottom has dropped out of their life? Today I am excited to share a powerful interview with Shannon Connery,PhD who gets radically honest about what it means to build a life filled with intention, creativity, and happiness.
You Have to Risk it All: Inside the Harrowing Creative Shift of Jennie Nash
One of my favorite quotes is from Bono reflecting on the transition U2 made in their music from the 1980s to 1990s: “You have to reject one expression of the band first, before you get to the next expression. And in between you have nothing. You have to risk it all.” Today I share an extraordinarily honest interview with book coach Jennie Nash who is making a profound creative shift with her business. Her story applicable to every writer or artist who dares to create and release it to the world.
Social Media For Writers
Writers have felt an intense pressure over the past decade to jump into social media. I’ve worked with thousands of writers on this, so I understand why many are for it, many are against it, and most are stuck somewhere between the two. They are interested, but apprehensive. They ask, “Will it actually lead to book sales?” The answer? Nope. But social media does so much more for writers. In today’s podcast I want to discuss the benefits of social media for writers.
How a Major Career Shift Led to 8 Book Deals. My Interview with Illustrator & Author Aura Lewis
Illustrator and author Aura Lewis shares her story of making a huge career shift to focus on the arts, how she developed her first book, got a book deal, and then in the last year signed deals for 6 additional books!
Lessons From 10-Years of Running a Full-Time Creative Business
I’m celebrating 10 years of running my business, WeGrowMedia, full-time. In that decade, I have worked with thousands of writers and made space for creativity in my daily life. Today I want to reflect on what that decade has taught me, and how I am using that to set my goals for this year, and for the next decade.
Why You Should Join a Mastermind Group
Today I review what I have learned in running a mastermind group for writers and artists for the past four years, and why you should consider joining one yourself. I have found that these groups offer the accountability, mentoring, and community that is so valuable for anyone who is trying to establish a creative habit, or find growth in their careers as writers or artists.
Going Back to the Well
I spend the last quarter of every year going back to the well. Back to my source of creative inspiration in order to find ways to better live my mission as a writer and creator. Today I take you inside my process for how I create specific plans for the next year.
The Introvert’s Guide to Book Marketing and Author Platform
Today I reflect on marketing practices that I feel are not only highly effective, but well suited to introverts. With so much of the work I do with writers, I find that people are apprehensive to “put themselves out there.” I try to make the entire process more approachable, and dare I say, fulfilling.
Quitting Your Day Job for Your Creative Work, with Brian Sherrill
Brian Sherrill was miserable in his day job, and one day, he sat down and listed out all of the things he enjoyed in life. On that list was his love of playing guitar and mandolin, and of social media and the internet. In this conversation, Brian and I talk about how he got from that moment to earning a full-time living by writing a musical composition each week and teaching people how to play it on guitar. If you ever consider if you can radically change your life to focus on your craft, listen in!
“Writing a book seems magical.” My Interview with Elise Blaha Cripe
Two years ago, I first interviewed Elise Blaha Cripe about how she developed her career as a creative professional. Someone who spends every day creating, shares her process with her tens of thousands of followers, and who has developed her own products. Her new book is about to be published, Big Dreams, Daily Joys: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crushing Your Goals, so I reached out to her to discuss the process of writing and launching her book, and the advice she has for making creative goals a part of your every day life.
“This book launch, I’m going out there as my full self.” My interview with Kelly McGonigal
Today, psychologist and author Kelly McGonigal is going to share with you a radically different vision of what it means for an author to connect with readers and prepare for a book launch. Her new book, The Joy of Movement, comes out in December, and she shares specifics on what she is doing and why. She also shares what having a viral TED talk with twenty million views, did (and didn’t) do for her career. Oh, she will also explain why she turned down an invitation from Richard Branson!
Choosing Your Own Path as a Writer, My Interview with Jennifer Louden
Bestselling author Jennifer Louden is about to upend your idea of what success as a writer looks like. She’s been a bestseller, she’s been on Oprah, and she’s been a successful author for more than 25 years. But the wisdom she picked up along the way will surprise you. We dig into topics of book marketing, navigating your writing career, the creative process and so much more.
Human-Centered Book Marketing Strategies & Tactics: My Interview With Jessica Lahey
What happens when a celebrity with 11 million followers tells them all that she loves your book? Today, author Jessica Lahey and I discuss that exact situation, and dig deep into the tactics and strategies of book marketing.
How Boston’s GrubStreet Went From Teaching 8 Writers Per Year, to 6,000+, with Eve Bridburg
Each year, Boston’s GrubStreet offers more than 600 courses and programs for writers. They began in 1997 with 8 students, and today, they serve more than 6,000 writers per year. In this episode, I talk to GrubStreet Founder and Executive Director Eve Bridburg. We dig into how she and the GrubStreet team make decisions, take risks, and challenge themselves to expand how they can serve writers throughout the Boston Community.
Navigating Creative Burnout, with Illustrator & Author Rebecca Green
How do you navigate creative burnout? That is something that illustrator/author Rebecca Green has been working through. With more than 225,000 Instagram followers, and a thriving career filled with art, books, and other projects, youl would think that managing creative focus would be easier for her. But it isn’t. She goes deep in our conversation to discuss the reality of what it means to find balance and fulfillment while pursuing your creative vision.
Embracing Possibility, with Illustrator and Writer Meera Lee Patel
Meera Lee Patel and I dig into her journey as an artist, and how she made a profound creative shift to become a full-time artist and writer. Her latest book, My Friend Fear, is an amazing work that turns fear into something beautiful. She talks about the turning point for no longer ruling her life by fear. She says: “Being scared is not a good enough reason to do things.”
“Not only does it not get any easier, it actually gets harder.” My Interview with Author Dani Shapiro
Writers and artists often seek to reach a place Where it is easier to create, easier to feel validated, easier to reach your audience, easier to get your next book deal, or client, or exhibit, or the like; to where it is easier to earn money from your craft. Author Dani Shapiro responds with this, “Not only does it not get any easier, it actually gets harder.” In our interview, she talks about the emotional side of the creative process in a way that I think every writer and artist needs to hear.
“It’s not just what film you want to make, it’s what film can you make.” My interview with filmmaker Angela Tucker
In this interview, Angela and I talk about the realities of crossing that gap from one’s creative vision to making it a reality. What jumped out at me was how incremental everything is in her work. From both the creative side to the funding side, her work moves forward one small commitment at a time. She also talked about how how large projects start with small conversations and experiments.
Why Caring is at the Heart of Creating. My Interview with Tina Roth Eisenberg
How can one woman not only manage five huge projects/businesses, but do so in a way that empowers other creative professionals to grow their craft and earn more revenue? Today, I talk to Tina Roth Eisenberg, who runs temporary tattoo company Tattly, a monthly meetup series CreativeMornings, a to-do list app called TeuxDeux, a collaborative workspace called Friends Work Here, and the popular design blog Swiss-Miss.com.
“One thing I would tell my younger self is to not be afraid to take risks.” My Interview with Children’s Book Writer and Illustrator Debbie Ridpath Ohi
In our chat, we discuss how Debbie took a huge risk in leaving her safe corporate job to pursue a creative career, how she deals with both positive and negative feedback, and why you should regularly move a little bit outside of your comfort zone in order to move your creative work and career forward.
Finding Fulfillment and Success as a Creative Professional, With Elise Blaha Cripe
How do you forge your own path to success with your creative work? Elise Blaha Cripe tells us how she turned a blog into platform, a podcast, and a series of products that has helped her thrive. But more than that, I was blown away by her reflection on what she has built, after 10+ years: “I have felt more and more fulfilled by the work that I am doing.”
Social Anxiety and Sharing Your Creative Work. My Interview with Ellen Hendriksen, PhD
Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen helps millions calm their anxiety and be their authentic selves. In our chat, we dig into topics that writers and artists constantly struggle with, including: impostors syndrome, permission to create, comparison to others, seeking validation, sharing your work publicly, collaboration, and entrepreneurship.
“Whatever You Are Doing, Be Fully Engaged In It.” My Interview with Illustrator and Writer Jake Parker
There was a moment in illustrator and writer Jake Parker’s career, where this is what he, his wife and five children faced: “There was a summer there where we had no money. We went through savings. We had some food storage we saved for when times get hard, and we were like, “Let’s break out the mac and cheese and beans. I was really depressed, I took serious stock of everything. I said, “This is never going to happen.” In this moment, he did something that I found astounding. He didn’t hide away, he didn’t diminish. Instead he did this: “I doubled down on sharing online and hitting my social media hard. I really figured out where jobs were coming from, and about three months after, everything started falling into place.”
“I was back to work two days after I gave birth.” On making documentary films, with Stephanie Wang-Breal
In this interview, Stephanie and I discuss the risks she has taken as she navigated her career, and the many ways that she make hard decisions that lead to more meaningful work. One thing that jumped out at me is the nature of how a documentary film is made. She begins without knowing who the characters will be, where there story will go, and if it will lead anywhere. Also, that funding can only happen after she has committed a year or more to the project, and from there, it can take an additional three years for a grant to actually come through.
Stop Following Others, Be More Like Yourself. My Interview With Musician Will Ackerman
When I asked Will Ackerman about the journey from playing his guitar in an alcove in college, to earning all that money, this was his description of what happened: “If you begin something that is inspired entirely by heart. You are not chasing something that is indicated in the current market to be viable. Because of the love of it, you are willing to do something whether it has economic potential or not. That it is something you love. In so doing, you end up being a unique thing, that happens to hit the world between the eyes.”
Find More Time For Creative Work You are Proud Of, With Writer and Podcaster Srini Rao
In this episode, I speak with Srini Rao, who is the host and founder of The Unmistakable Creative podcast, and the author of Unmistakable: Why Only Is Better Than Best. In this chat we discuss how to find more time to do the creative work that you love.
The Business of Being a Writer, My Interview with Jane Friedman
Today I’m excited to share my interview with author and publishing expert Jane Friedman. In our discussion, we dig into the nuts and bolts on how to earn a living as a writer.
We frame the conversation around her new book, The Business of Being a Writer, which shatters romantic assumptions around publishing, but then arms you with practical advice on how to develop your career.
The Man Who Writes 10 Books Per Year – My Interview with Michael La Ronn
How can one man write 10 books per year, while working a full-time job, going to law school in the evenings, and raising a young family? Today we find out. I am so excited to share my interview with author Michael La Ronn. He has published more than 40 books in the past six years: science fiction, fantasy, and nonfiction books on writing.
Many people have asked me what equipment I use to podcast, here are two posts that outline my tools and process in great detail: