Today I twisted my husband's arm a bit and asked him to share his creative habits. I'm excited to share his thoughts here because he tends to approach things in the exact opposite way that I would. ;)
Crystal: Please tell readers a little bit about your background.
Thaddaeus: I have a degree in metallurgical engineering, but don't hold that against me. I've been a lifelong reader and have always wanted to someday write stories like the ones I loved to read. Last year I decided I was tired of waiting for someday to come and I quit my corporate job to become a writer. I can't say that's the best way for everyone to go about following their dream, but I think it was the only way for me. Lots of people keep telling me how much they respect me for "taking a leap" but it doesn't really seem that scary to me. My absolute worst case scenario is having to go back to what I was doing before. Anything other than that feels like success to me. Since I parted ways with meetings and annual reviews and people watching my daily comings and goings I have been a much happier person.
Thaddaeus: This year is different because I can't wiggle out of my commitment to write. Not only do I have a great cheerleader in my corner (although she does not do perky) watching Crystal work is a constant reminder that my work needs to get done as well. I can also expect to be called out quickly when I spend very much time on things that distract me from what I really should be doing. Another difference is that I am treating writing like a job and not a hobby. I am spending time reading about how to get better. I'm pushing myself just to see what happens. I have read somewhere that creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it becomes. Before this year, my creative workouts were more like intermittent gym visits that do little more than make you feel good about yourself. My original plan was to write non-fiction, but I have branched out into fiction, sketching, and poetry. I am doing research to improve my writing skills. I am reading more in an effort to absorb the styles and skills of writers that I admire. I am beginning to look at the world through the eyes of a storyteller, finding interesting "what if's" and filing them away for when I am stuck. Most of all I am sharing what I have written. Even if it is horrible, I am putting it out there. There seems to be no other way to find out what people like and what I should avoid. That is a painful but necessary process. I remember trying to learn to ski in Colorado. The more I tried to control things the more I fell down. When I gave myself up to gravity and just focused on making small adjustments that kept me on track, before I knew it I was at the bottom of the mountain. That's how this year feels so far.
Crystal: Who/What inspires you?
Thaddaeus: I am inspired by people who stubbornly keep going even when they have no clue what they are doing. People who are not afraid to fail ten-thousand times if it means achieving something worth the struggle at the end. I'm inspired by people who are not afraid to blaze new trails. People who challenge ideas. I am inspired by people who don't live their lives in fear.
Most of all I am inspired by people who can tell great stories. Some of my writer heroes are Jack London, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, William Shakespeare, Ayn Rand, Patrick O'Brian, Stephen King, Orson Scott Card, Scott Westerfeld, J. K. Rowling, Jim Butcher, and George RR Martin.
Thaddaeus: I am currently working on writing 500 words minimum of fiction every day no matter what. I threw myself a curveball for the month of March and decided that I would write and publish one poem to my blog every day. I have not quite decided what April will bring, but I have a few ideas. You'll have to stop by in another week if you want to find out. Besides the writing I have been trying to keep a Sketchnote logbook this year. I try to capture the essence of each day's successes and failures and joys and disappointments in a few simple sketches and words. That one is the hardest to keep up with. It seems like if I lose focus for even one day, I end up with a lot of blank space. That space is amazingly hard to fill in accurately even as little as one day later.
Crystal: How's it going? Tell readers about your successes and struggles.
Thaddaeus: My greatest success (although it is not making any money yet) is my fiction writing. I have really been enjoying the stories I have been writing. In the next few day's my first book Stephenson Spencer Junior Inventor Book 1: The Science Fair Disaster will be published to the Amazon store. I love the story and have had good feedback on it from some of my target audience. Also the sheer volume of what I have written just floors me. It is amazing how quickly the words add up when you are consistent and committed.
My biggest failure is probably the same thing. I have collected five rejection letters to date, and I expect to have quite a few more before something sells. Still that is just the nature of the game.
My other failure, at least in my eyes, is my passivity. I have really done little to go out and make opportunities for myself. If this whole writing thing is going to work, I am going to need to take the fight to the editors. I need to pitch books and stories. I need to find out what they need, then give it to them. That is an area that I need to develop in the near future.
Thaddaeus: My best advice is to start. Even if you don't have a great idea or don't think you have the right skills. DO SOMETHING! The only real barriers are in your own head. Start down that hill and figure it out along the way.
P.S. My daily drawing for today is here.