“How did I think this was good?”

…every creative person who attempts to be creative for more than a few months at a stretch will eventually come face to face with this painful question.

If they are actually doing what they should be doing, that is: attempting to improve.

Learning. Growing. Getting smarter and nimbler and, hopefully, humbler, too.

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TC Productivity Tip: The Big Bite

We’re in a cultural moment of compulsive solopreneurship, gigging, and freelancing, and this makes the current national obsession with Productivity and its many tools, hacks, and schools pretty unsurprising.

Work faster! Work smarter! Work better! Work harder! Those are the ascendant goals for every independent contractor, creatively inclined or not, and, really, when you’re paying your own way through the world without the cushion of a salary or benefits or sick leave, it’s wise to pay close attention to how much you’re getting done and how efficiently you’re doing it.

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What Would the Cool Kids Do? On Creative Envy and the Definitive Value of Shouting into Voids

You can’t escape the Cool Kids.

Sorry. You can’t. No matter how old you get, no matter the profession you choose, no matter how far from your hometown you travel, there they’ll be—outpacing you, outmaneuvering you, outshining you, and doing it all with the kind of purposeful ease that makes averagely gifted bystanders want to punch granite.

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Wanna Define Writing Success on Your Own Terms? Ask Yourself One Magic Question.

About four years ago, out of a desire to clarify a few longer-term writing goals, I hired a creative career coach to take me through a few visioning sessions.

As we sat together on the floor of my office one sunny Tuesday, sketching out a visual map of my deepest writerly desires, I earnestly announced that I believed I had something important to teach other people, and that I felt I could best achieve this through the written word.

She listened carefully, and then she posed to me what I have come to think of as the Magic Question. At the time, though, it felt less magical and more like an upper cut straight to the guts: “Why does it matter if other people read your work?”

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Bringing the Pain: Why Writing Well Hurts

“Eliminate things until you cry.”


Ever noticed how painful writing is?

I don’t mean the bodily act of it, although that definitely smarts, especially around the eyeballs, neck, and shoulders. (FWIW, yoga and stretching are shockingly beneficial for those committed to sedentary creative pursuits, as is learning to stop craning your neck forward like a horny turtle every time you get excited over a particular bit of prose dancing across your screen.)

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Ten Million Unwritten Novels: How To Keep Creating Stuff When There Just Isn’t Time

Driving home tonight, I found myself feeling almost unbearably creatively suppressed.

Dramatic, right? But it’s true. I’m terribly busy with family obligations, plus the task of wrapping a large editing project with a tighter-than-tight deadline, and it’s felt lately like all I do with the miniscule shred of free time that’s left is sit in the damned car. Traffic has become unbearable in my city these past few years, but there is a bright spot: I have also discovered that my mind does some of its best wandering when I’m spacing out at the wheel.

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