Five Creative Rules I Live By

There are five creative rules I work (and live) by. I don’t expect you to agree with me on these and I do expect you’ll have your own.

Rule #1 Kill Your Darlings

When an article or post (or any writing) doesn’t work, the odds are there’s a word, line or paragraph in the post that’s wrong. And usually, it’s my favourite word or paragraph and I really hate to edit or modify it.

So I don’t. I delete the damn thing and be done with it.

And 99% of the time, this solves the problem.

Rule #2 Change Is Inevitable

What worked yesterday is no guarantee readers will like it today. Or, even that readers will find it today (I’m talking to you, Google Search.) Things change so fast online, I’ve finally given up even trying to figure it all out.

My change is not giving a damn what Facebook or Google (or even you) think about what I write. I’ve worked to be in sync with all those things for too many years. Now, I’m only writing and creating for me.

Rule #3: Leap and the Safety Net Will Appear.

This is a question of faith in your own abilities and making the decision that you’ll survive no matter what happens around you.

I’m in the middle of leaping (again) and it’s a gut-churning thing.

Rule #4: Stop Digging Your Own Hole

This can be a tough one. I lived with my gardening sites doing this.

  • “If I try this one thing – Google Search will love me again.”
  • “If I set up the website following these directions, I’ll increase my search engine traffic.”
  • “I just have to pay Amazon more to sell more books.”

I dug that pit working to get things right for far too long and I do regret that time and misplaced effort.

Rule #5: Creators Set Their Own Limits

There’s no guideline that says, “Do this and wait X time and you’ll know.” We’ve all heard about the writer or creator that spent 30 years working away in poverty only to be discovered on his deathbed. And we’ve read stories about the wonder-kind that stormed the creative bastions as a teenager.

You’ll be the one to say “stop” or “full speed ahead” as the creative spirit moves you.

Post it Notes

I have these posted and stuck to the wall over my desk.

Feel free to copy these, edit them to suit yourself and work by them.

Consistency Is For Lesser Mortals

Almost every morning for me is like Christmas with a new idea, a new book, or a new image capable of penetrating a busy mind.

But understand, I do not create by your hours or on a timeline.

I do not follow your concepts of what should be. Or, how it should be done. 

And I no longer expect some of you to understand this as you cement yourselves into your old age. I fight that stickiness with all of my being.

My creative world reflects outwards in many ways – back into a broader world of constant change, and adaptation.

In my world if I’m doing the same thing, or telling the same story each and every day with different words, I am failing.

I have packed several lives into this one mortal coil, and if I had one regret, it would be my kid brother died far too young to reflect together on our adventures.

So then, I create.

I create something different every time I fill a fountain pen, turn the page, open a word processor, build a link or dictate a sentence. 

Creation in my world also happens when I knead some clay, pick up a stone hammer, stone chisel, place a stone on a wall or sow a seed into the cracks in that stone wall to grow and bloom.

It also happens when I delete the old work behind me to make way for the fresh work. Hint: stay tuned…

And as I create, I change and grow ever deeper as a creator.

And that, gentle reader is how I see all things this morning.

In some psychological models of personality, trying to put a real creator into any kind of box or expect consistency is considered a serious waste of time. 

Consistency

I inhabit a body with a creative personality type, and I will drive anyone batshit crazy who’s intent on ongoing creative consistency (an oxymoron if there ever was one.)

Finally, creators easily hold conflicting points of view in their heads.

Note that partners of creatives are either true creatives themselves or saints, (mine is both.)

Note: my tongue is firmly in my cheek with the title of this blog but it’s sure to enrage someone out there.

Rough Notes On My Future View Of Creating Content

I’m feeling very much an endangered dinosaur species this morning as I make notes, review the latest on my online trends, and fiddle with getting the intravenous coffee hook up working.  Creating anything isn’t on the top of my mind until my caffeine stream has been replenished.

Here’s a personal take on the non-fiction content world. 

  • Online text notes – like the majority of my websites – aren’t quite dead. But they are an endangered species. 
  • Video and audio will continue to grow in popularity and displace more and more text.
  • YouTube and Facebook are the two biggest content delivery systems.

The short version of this impact is creators can make videos and upload them to both Youtube and Facebook rather than maintaining individual websites. Or, the content can be linked to a creator’s website but the main viewing will be done on Youtube and Facebook.

Personal websites will increasingly become backwaters in the information highway we’ve created.

For the immediate future, these personal websites will survive as reflections of the creators personality and as a home base to collect emails for a newsletter, but the financials have already shifted to YouTube, Facebook, and Amazon. And the writer-reader relationship will shift there if it hasn’t already.

While I can create notes and how-to posts reasonably quickly to meet seasonal questions a video takes three to four times longer to produce. 

And because I live out on an island, I can make and drink a pot of morning coffee in the time it takes to upload a video. 

Creators such as myself will adapt, remain a niche/cult or become irrelevant to crowd-sourced social media data.

And that my friends is where the net sits now. Imho.

What’s this mean for me? 

I can’t do it all. Nor do I want to anymore.

And this – the what, where and how much time –  is what I’m evaluating now.

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My guess – off the top of my head – is that Amazon ebooks will remain the most viable source of creator income for the immediate future. And it’s certainly my main creative focus at the moment.

I invite you to subscribe and follow along as I dissect the writing and creating worlds.

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