Geetanjali Mukherjee

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Motivating Yourself To Get More (Creative Work) Done

I have been reading Adam Grant’s latest book Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, and found much of the research and ideas profiled fascinating. One idea really leaped out at me though, and I wanted to share it.

In a chapter about parenting, Grant discusses the difference in the logic of consequences versus the logic of appropriateness. The way I understood that is the logic of consequences involves thinking about how taking a certain action will impact you, or rather what is the consequences of taking some action. On the other hand, logic of appropriateness means thinking about you - is this something appropriate for me to do, would I do this?

And to me this concept seemed revolutionary in changing how I think about certain things. Let me explain.

If I decide whether or not to write a blog post, I might think oh I always write a post on Saturday. Or if I write a post, so many people will read it. Now if you’re starting out and you don’t have ‘real’ consequences for not writing a post, i.e. no one will write to you and complain, or not many people will read them, you might think to yourself, why bother, I can skip it today. The same logic goes for many things - I often think, oh today I might skip the gym, or I might eat this brownie, because surely one day won’t matter.

And this kind of thinking can be useful - for instance, most people go to work everyday because if they don’t there will be consequences. Ditto for many other things in our life. But for things that are optional, voluntary, thinking this way might mean that most of the time the behavior we want to ensure happens, might not happen.

But what if you link the action to who you are as a person? For instance, I am the sort of person who hates the idea of ever getting too drunk, or not being able to handle my drink. In fact, I would rather not drink at all, than not be completely in possession of my faculties. Which means many times I have turned down drinks, even when they are free, because I see myself as a person who can hold my drink, or as a person who doesn’t drink very often. To maintain my self-image, I take certain actions. And it doesn’t matter how much I would love another glass of wine, or whether others are drinking a lot more, or whatever. No exceptions. (This isn’t an indictment of drinking, just an example).

Now what if I were to apply this to other areas? If I go back to that blog post writing example. If I were to think of myself as someone who writes blog posts, or writes a post every Saturday, then I would, even if no one read it, or liked it. If I thought of myself as someone who works out no matter what, I would hit the gym even if I were tired. If I decided that I always eat healthy, or that I was going to someone who doesn’t eat sugary foods, then I would decline the brownie every time. You see how linking it to how you see yourself, how you think of yourself, matters?

And how does this apply to being an author? Simple. I often try to get myself to write, or do other tasks writing-related, and sometimes when I don’t want to or put it of, I try to scare myself with consequences. Turns out I would be much more effective if instead I framed it as a question of the person I am. I am an author, and an author writes, so I should write. Or I am the kind of person who blogs every week, or wakes up early and writes 500 words first thing, or whatever I am trying to get myself to do.

Changing the logic or thinking from do this or else there will be consequences, which is no fun and really ruins the experience of working on something that you’re choosing to spend time on, to do this because this is the kind of person I am is much less stressful and more effective I think. I never really have to police my drinking, my subconscious does it for me. Or to see it another way - I see myself as someone who reads voraciously. So when I find myself not making time for it, or falling behind on my reading, I do whatever I can - stay up late, read on the bus, cut out TV whatever - to maintain the self-image I have of being a bookworm.

So if you’re finding it hard to get your writing done (or painting, or designs, or whatever creative endeavor), maybe the thing to do is frame it in terms of your self-image, of who you are as a person.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Susie Kearley

Today's interview is with full-time freelance writer and author of several books, Susie Kearley

1.       When did you first start writing?
I started writing a novel when I was 16. I wanted to be the next James Herbert. It ran out of steam though - I just lost my way. I dusted it off a few years ago, and it's been revised and will be making a comeback soon. I still hope to find a publisher!

2.       What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
My first book, 'Freelance Writing on Health, Food and Gardens', was traditionally published through Compass Books. My other books are self-published, primarily because they're very niche titles and I wasn't sure a publisher would want titles with such limited commercial potential.

My second writing book is 'Freelance Writing: Aim Higher, Earn More', for people who've had a little success with their writing, but want to take it to the next level. I've been really pleased with the positive feedback and reviews on that one. Recently one reader told me she'd received writing assignments from magazines after being inspired by my book.

'Memories of the Second World War' is a collection of memoirs from people who were there, including a war nurse, a cartographer, three wrens, a farmer, people who were children, one who was evacuated to the country, and one had a first hand experience with a military hero, who saved her town.

3.       What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
At the age of about 14 I discovered James Herbert's horror novels and really admired his work. It inspired me. 'Moon' was the first of his books that I read. My school teacher confiscated it because I couldn't put it down!

4.       What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I type it straight onto a computer and work every day. I'm a full-time writer. I mostly do articles, but I do outline books, writing chapter descriptions in advance, so that I know where I'm going.

5.       What's your editing process?
I just go over and over my work, improving it, tightening it, deleting anything that's unnecessary, and rephrasing it, until I'm completely happy with it.

6.       Any favorite apps / software / technology for writing?
I just use Microsoft Word.

7.       What did you find most / least useful in learning to write?
Grammar books are helpful for checking queries, but I was always good at English.

8.       Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
My books tend to be related to articles I've written for magazines. The war book is a collection of articles I originally wrote for a military history magazine. Pagan Journeys is a collection of the articles I wrote for magazines on spiritual topics, healing, and pagan travel destinations.

9.       When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
About 8am to 6pm daily.

10.    Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
It's just a desk in my study. There's a window to the right, a desk lamp and swivel chair.

11.    Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
No. I try to avoid distractions. I need to focus on the prose.

12.    Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
I spent 15 years in marketing. It may have helped hone my writing skills, but writing full time definitely honed my skills more quickly and more sharply. I didn't enjoy writing business material.

13.    How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active on? 
I hate marketing my books in person, because they're not for everyone and I don't like being pushy. My books are so niche, they'll have quite narrow appeal, so it seems silly to shout about them from the rooftops. However, I have undertaken the following book marketing activities:
-          written blogs;
-          participated in guest blogs/interviews;
-          talked about the books in magazine articles;
-          done social media promotions;
-          Offered Kindle Countdown deals on self-published titles;
-          Talked at my writers' group;
-          I did a giveaway on one book a couple of times, but it was a complete waste of    time in terms of generating future sales.


Susie Kearley is a British freelance writer and journalist, working for magazines, newspapers, and book publishers in the UK, USA and internationally. She covers a wide range of subjects including healthcare, gardening, and travel. She also has a number of books out: two on freelance writing, one on WWII, and some other niche titles.

Pagan Journeys

This is a collection of articles on pagan living and related topics. They have all been previously published in magazines in the UK and the USA. They include interviews with Druids, as well as first-hand accounts of pagan festivals and sacred locations. There are chapters on Druid gardening, healing, crystals, meditation, and my own experience of a Druid solstice ceremony. Articles about stone circles, prehistoric burial grounds, and special places are included, and part three focuses on natural healing. It looks at the evidence for natural approaches to healthcare including healthy eating, meditation, and relaxation, as well as how a raw vegan lifestyle could have extra clout when it comes to healing.

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